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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

White Collar Boxing

The other day I saw a photo slide show from the Washington Post about White Collar Boxing.

Because it was basically a captioned photo slide show, it really did nothing more than make me go
"hmmm, that is interesting..."
or
"I would never think about getting into a boxing ring for a workout and risk potential serious injury".
or
"Isn't this sport on the way out?"
or
"after all, all the talk now-a-days is about concussions and head injuries."

If some groups are talking about shutting down junior athletic leagues because of risk of injury, wouldn't something like this be a legal and insurance nightmare?

But, the slide show did say that typical routines include core work, running, rope-jumping and hitting light and heavy bags. They don't lift weights, but it is a total, complete workout.

OK so this struck a familiar cord with me. When I was a kid, my dad had a punching bag and a large workout bag in the basement and it was a whole lot a fun to go down there and put on a pair of practice gloves and punch the 'ol bags. So I can see the fun and value in this type of workout and exercise routine.

However, the slide show also mentioned a local club that has all the usual gym equipment: elliptical machines, weights, a mirrored studio; But in the middle of the large room is an Olympic-sized boxing ring, and there are plans to add a mixed martial arts cage.

Like anything else that involves clubs, membership fees, and organized activities, questions regarding safety, there is always more than meets the eye.

So, I did a little bit of research.

Starting with Wikipedia:

White Collar Boxing is a form of boxing where men and women in white collar professions train to fight at special events. Most have no previous experience of boxing. The sport started in the 1990’s.
In 2007 the World White Collar Boxing Association (WWCBA) was formed in London with the aim of regulation and promotion of the sport throughout the world. The WWCBA provides a common platform in the form of rules and guidelines allowing boxers to become ranked nationally, regionally and globally and to contest for championship titles.
In 2008 the WWCBA sanctioned 9 events throughout the world.
In April 2009, the largest White Collar Boxing event in the world took place at Suntec Exhibition and Convention Centre according to a BBC report. Staged by Vanda Promotions it saw over 900 people attend the black-tie event and 7 bouts to decision on the night.[8] The article also cited completed events in Hong Kong and further events in Hong Kong and Singapore.

More information about the WWCBA can be found here: http://www.wwcba.org/

But, back to my original couple of thoughts like "dangerous" and "legal" . . .

In a 2004 article, Out Of The Office, Into The Ring, the author talks about how this sport has basically saved the vintage boxing rings and clubs like Gleasons in NY.

The ranks of white-collar pugs have swelled so much that at the storied Gleason's Gym -- a decidedly blue-collar boxing redoubt in Brooklyn, N.Y. -- they now account for 65% of the membership. That's up from just 10% in the early 1990s. And in London, the Real Fight Club has signed up more than 2,600 City professionals at local gyms in the past four years. At the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, 70% of the members are white-collar boxers. "They pay the rent," says Freddie Roach, who runs the club.

In fact, without the influx of hobbyists, many of the old-style boxing gyms would be down for the count. As fans and local bouts have dwindled and boxing has become a tougher way to make a buck, gym memberships have declined as well, so folks such as Oden and Smith are filling the gap. "White-collar boxers have been the salvation of Gleason's Gym," says owner Bruce Silverglade.



In a 2005 article from the UK, another author writes about the dangers of the sport.

White-collar boxers 'are risking injury or death'

In this boxing revival, men in their forties and fifties - when the brain is at great risk of hemorrhage - are stepping into the ring.

Dr Chris Allen is a neurologist based at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. "I've seen the brain of a boxer," he said. "It isn't a pretty sight. If these white-collar competitors could see the damage that they are potentially inflicting on themselves, they'd certainly think again."

Dr Allen, previously the clinical dean at Cambridge University, offered stark advice to those tempted into the ring. "If you're keen on your brain functioning when you're 55, don't box," he said. "The dangers increase for those in middle age. Reactions are slower, so more punches are taken, and the brain is more susceptible to damage and bruising." The brain also begins to "dry out" at the age of 30, making its impact with the skull more severe.


And in a 2007 article, some of the money aspects of the sport is mentioned which lead me to wonder if this type of "fighting" could have a black market to it?

White collar boxing is getting more attention these days, and Dumbo’s Gleason Gym, the famous boxing club has been in the news again. In Thursday’s USA Today, an article shows why baby boomers are taking up the sport.
“None of this is news to Bruce Silverglade, owner of Gleason’s Gym, the storied joint that embraced the likes of Jake LaMotta, not to mention Robert De Niro when he was transforming into LaMotta for Raging Bull or Hilary Swank during her Oscar-winning turn as Million Dollar Baby’s ill-fated fighter.
For the past 17 years, Silverglade has organized white-collar boxing bouts at his club, but more recently, he has been packing them in for $1,600 weekend fantasy camps. Boomers fly in from around the globe to, for a wink, live the life of a pugilist on the verge of a big prize.”
For most, the draw lies in the authenticity of the physical conditioning routine. At a boxing gym, a real trainer will not only get you into shape but show you the techniques of boxing. Gleason’s has a long history of training world champions such as Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Jake La Motta “The Raging Bull”, Roy Jones, Ray Leonard, Juan Laporte, and George Forman…a total of 129 world champions. But anyone can join for $80 per month.


And finally a 2010 article about the above mentioned club and boxing events and the whole legalality issue. . .

White-collar boxing had officially been banned. But that didn't stop Silverglade, who became obsessed with trying to revive his franchise. He met with Gov. Paterson and persuaded elected officials to sponsor a bill to legalize the events. The proposal was approved by the State Senate in 2006 but later stalled in the Assembly.

Then, last year, Silverglade brokered a deal to allow USA Boxing-Metro to sanction white-collar boxing on a trial basis as an amateur sport.

Silverglade, and other gym owners in New York, are awaiting confirmation from an insurance company to underwrite the venture before it can get started on doing shows, Auclair said.

When he finally stages a white-collar show, possibly before the end of the year, and observes the fruits of his hard work - a doctor belting an accountant - how will he feel?

"I'll get a lot of satisfaction," he said over the phone. "I have a lot of pride having started this 20 years ago. Now, to be able to do it again is great."

And one of the longest running smokers will finally be legalized.



So, where does this leave me and the sport of White Collar Boxing?

Well, for me, I think I will stick to the low impact world of Wii Fit and the use of other traditional equipment like weights and pull up bars. This along with other stuff like running, biking, and swimming are probably the riskiest things I will ever do. I know, boring, but true.

As for the sport? I leave it to promoters and the courts to battle it out.

I'm sure that it will become another "reality" TV series or some sports entertainment show like the MMA or WWE stuff has and we can all pay to watch it in all it's gory detail on our HD and 3D wide screens.

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