A few days ago at the recently revamped Crisis magazine, Fr. George Rutler wrote an ode to boxing. It is based on a series of lessons he took after being knocked unconscious by a robber at his church. As some of you may know, I boxed in Aquinas Institute’s (of Rochester) legendary Mission Bouts program, and the experience was transforming. So much of what Fr. Rutler wrote resonates personally, including his description of MMA fighting as “brutish,” his characterization of golf as a “game” and not a sport, boxing’s requirement of “quick reasoning and psychology,” and his recognition that “[n]o one is disinterested in you, once you have punched him.” About the last, I remember squaring off against a nonchalant big man on campus and sticking him early with a solid jab. New to boxing, he gave me a look that said, “This isn’t exactly what I bargained for.”
My oldest son is now carrying on the tradition with the Cincinnati High School Boxing program, and I couldn’t have been prouder of him during this his first year. He won his first fight handily but fought a more experienced fighter the second time and thought he could man-handle him. He course-corrected by the third round, but it wasn’t enough. At the boxing banquet, his coaches remarked on his toughness and dogged determination, qualities that will serve him well later in life. Enjoy Fr. Rutler:
The amateur boxer learns three things immediately. First, few activities are as physically demanding and, at least in my case, one three minute round can be more exhausting than running five miles. Second, boxing is highly intellectual, requiring so much quick reasoning and psychology, that of all sports, it is the one rightly validly called the “Sweet Science.” Third, the immediate instinct to punch someone who has punched you, issues in a thrill when you do so. When it is done gratuitously in sport, it can make one even less eager to do it in retributive anger. No one is disinterested in you, once you have punched him, and so boxing with strangers can even create bonds of friendship.