Is the Sport of Boxing in Trouble?
Yes, at least in the USA. Boxing has gone through its peaks and valleys, but in the past it has always remained a popular sport even during dull moments. Now, with most title matches broadcasted via pay-per-view (PPV) only, the simultaneous rise of MMA, and a lack of advancements in technology found within the sport, the future of the sport appears to be bleak.
My Personal Experiences
So why do I care enough to write about this? After all, boxing is still popular in many other countries. Like most things in life, I had to experience the sport in order to understand it, and having done so, I have been able to gain an insider’s view of all the great things boxing has to offer.
Many people believe that boxing is reserved for tough-guys who grew up fighting and want to continue doing so for a living. This is NOT the case. Many people, including myself, participate in boxing at a recreational level and still see many benefits. It’s easily the best workout I’ve ever been a part of, I’ve increased my fitness to a point where I feel good and have confidence, and best of all, it’s fun!
Although the workout focuses on conditioning and skills of a particular individual, there is definitely a team atmosphere at most boxing gyms. Often times you will help each other during workouts, spar together, and simply socialize as well. It’s a fun way to meet people who have similar interests.
The first boxing gym I joined was in a low-income neighborhood near a few schools. There were lots of kids in the area, and often times I would see them peering through the window with pure interest. Eventually, they would summon the courage to come in and talk to a trainer, who always allowed kids to join for free or at a very cheap price.
It got to the point where the hallways leading up to the gym were covered in school projects related boxing, pictures of amateur boxers (kids and adults alike) enjoying success, and any kid in the gym was always having a fun time.
I’ve been a member of a few boxing gyms and this welcoming approach to children isn’t always the case, but I certainly did see the positive effects in at least one of those gyms. The kids were staying out of trouble, they had somewhere to go after school, and I was even able to see a couple of them become pro fighters once they reached 16-18 years old.
One of the main reasons kids AND adults in low-income neighborhoods were able to have such a great time boxing is because they, or their parents, were able to afford it. Additionally, most gyms have equipment that everyone can use, so the cost of equipment for most first-time members can often be lower than $20 (e.g. your own mouth guard and hand wraps).
For a lot of recreational boxers, specifically adults, once they became familiar enough with the workouts, their level of commitment, and the types of exercises they enjoy, a lot of recreational boxers will begin shifting their workouts to their own home. For example, owning a pair of their own boxing gloves, some sort of punching bag, and maybe a couple accessories like a jump rope, was all they needed in order to squeeze in a solid workout at home if they didn’t have time to make it to the gym.
Boxing is an amazing sport, not just at the “mega-fight” level, but also at the small-time recreational level. There are so many benefits that it really is a shame to see the popularity drop in the USA. In my opinion, the most effective way to counter-act this is become involved locally. Simple things like attending local fights, trying out the sport at a recreational level, even just visiting a boxing gym and asking questions, are all great ways to get boxing back on track. I truly believe there is lots of potential for this sport in the USA (which has been proven in the past!), but it will take time and effort from those at the ground level – recreational boxers.