Newspaper Archive of
Post-Gazette
Boston, Massachusetts
Lyft
June 5, 2015     Post-Gazette
PAGE 16     (16 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
 
PAGE 16     (16 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
June 5, 2015
 

Newspaper Archive of Post-Gazette produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2017. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.




Page16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, JUNE 5, 2015 THE GLOVES ARE AL WAYS LOADED Jack Dempsey May 31 St was the 32 "d an- niversary of the death of the great Jack Dempsey. On social media people marked the date by showing clips of Jack winning the Heavy- weight Championship in brutal fashion from Jess Willard. In that bout Demp- sey floored the giant Willard seven times in the first round administering one of the most severe beatings ever seen in a boxing ring. By the end of the third round Jess was unable to continue having suffered broken bones in his face and ribs. For years it had been rumored that Dempsey's hands were loaded (some- .thing heavy was put into his gloves along with his fists) for the fight. His former man- ager, with whom Jack had had a falling out, fed the flames by claiming to have taken part in the scheme. His accusations were driven by a desire to hurt his former champion. This controversy has been argued to exhaus- tion by fight fans over the years with most agreeing the fight was on the up and up, so I will not rehash the arguments here. What has not been dis- cussed much is the fact that in reality all boxers enter the ring with their gloves loaded, and I don't mean with just their fists. It is interest- ing to learn just why the box- ing glove and the taping of the hands came into exist- ence, as most people believe it was to make the sport safer. That couldn't be fur- ther from the "truth. In real- ity, the boxing glove has made the sport more danger- ous. I will give a very short history of how the boxing glove evolved and I think you will begin to understand what I mean. The Cestus The first version of a box- ing glove appeared in an- cient Greece. The boxers of that era found they were breaking their hands when hitting each other in the head, so they began wrapping pieces of leather around their fiats as a way to give more support to the bones in their hands. The ancient Romans, being the innova- tors they were when it came to making sports more bar- baric, started adding small spikes to the leather hand wraps in order to make them even more deadly. There is an excellent ex- ample of this hand wrapping, or what was to become known as the cestus in the remarkable statute of "The Terme Boxer" or as it is more commonly known "The Boxer at Rest" in Rome. I have written about this in- credible work of art before and include a photo of it with this article. The Father of Boxing James Figg I will now skip ahead a couple of millennia to the pe- riod in England when boxing started to become very popu- lar. In the 18 th century, James Figg, who has become known as the "Father of Box- ing," began developing a style of boxing, that while quite different from what we know it as today, set the stage for what would later develop into the modern sport of boxing. Figg incorporated many moves from the art of fenc- ing into the sport that was to become known as boxing. This early version allowed for punching, but that was not the main emphasis. Grap- pling was also a big part of what went on in these matches. One of the reasons for the lack of punching was the fact that the combatants would break their hands hit- ting each other on the head. Our hands are made up of many small bones that break and bruise easily. Just ask anyone who has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and they will tell you how deli- cate the human hand can be. As the sport moved on into the 19 th century, fighters continued to deal with the best way to avoid breaking their hands. In many ways boxing became more primi- tive as many of the fencing moves were lost and the grappling increased. Many of these later bareknuckle matches would last for hours as neither participant would want to take a chance on throwing a knockout blow until they were sure their opponent had slowed down enough so they could land a clean shot on the jaw, thus not injuring their hand. Eventually, many of these fighters began wrapping their hands and wearing light gloves in order to allow The Boxer at Rest. Cestus them the freedom to land more head punches without fear of hurting their hands. As boxing moved into the 20 th century, hand wrapping became much more sophis- ticated and the gloves im- proved quite a bit. At no point were the gloves im- proved with the idea of making the sport safer. They were further developed in order to allow for more head punching. This actu- ally made the sport much more dangerous, for it was now possible for a large num- ber of punches to be thrown at and landed on the head. This resulted in an increase of head injuries. At the beginning of this article I stated that boxing gloves are always loaded. I will explain. If you have ever had your hands properly taped for a fight you will know that first a roll 9 f gauze is wrapped around the hand. This is followed by having the gauze secured with a goodly amount of tape in or- der to keep it in place and to greatly strengthen the hand and protect the bones. Once this taping is done, that "loaded hand" is placed into a boxing glove which gives it even more protection. Take a well wrapped hand encased in a boxing glove and you can throw a full throttle blow at a brick wall and not hurt your fist. I have actually done that. Now, just think of how much harder you can hit another human being in the head with this set-up. The modem boxer does not go into the ring with lead weights in his gloves, but he does enter the ring with a fist that is greatly enhanced for the purpose of causing more damage to the head. Dempsey's hands were not illegally loaded the day he destroyed Willard, but I can guarantee you he would not have been able to land those head punches if his hands had not been wrapped. The idea that somehow the boxing glove was develoPed to make the sport safer is a myth. The boxing glove, along with hand wraps, have made boxing more danger- ous. An argument can be made that if you wanted to make boxing safer you would ban hand protection. HE HAD FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES, A GOOD TEAM, but still Tom Thibodeau was shown the door by the man- agement of the Chicago Bulls. Thibodeau, of course, is the former Celtics associate head coach who made his way to the Windy City where he revived the Bulls and made them legitimate play- off contenders. Indeed, he led Chicago to the playoffs in all five seasons that he coached the team. The Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 201 I, the same sea- son Thibodeau was named the NBA's Coach of the Year. In his five-year tenure with Chicago he went 255-139, compiling a .647 winning per- centage that, according to the Associated Press, ranks sev- enth in league history among coaches with at least 200 games under their belts. What was his weak spot? Apparently that 2011 appear- ance in the Conference Fi- nals was the only time that the Bulls got that far during his tenure. In the other four seasons, they didn't make it past the second round. Re- gardless, it was the best of times for Chicago since the great teams of the 1990s that featured an all-star cast led by Michael Jordan on the court and Coach Phil Jack- son directing it all from his seat on the bench. They won six titles in eight years. In addition, there were clashes with management. One of his assistants was let go a couple of years ago and there were further ten- sions with management this season. Thibodeau's basketball re- sume includes playing and coaching at Salem State, a year as an assistant at Harvard and numerous years with various NBA teams, in- cluding serving as associate head coach of the Celtics for three seasons (2007-2010). It was while he was with the Crimson that he coached a player named Arne Duncan, something that would go on to pay big dividends for Thibodeau. Later in life, Duncan would be appointed U.S. Secretary of Education by President Obama. And after Thibodeau was named coach of the Bulls, it all came together. As N.Y. Daily News columnist Frank Isola pointed out in a/ very interesting piece, when Obama, a former U.S. Sena- tor from Illinois, made his way back to Chicago for a fundraising event, "he spent one hour alone with Thibodeau talking about the Bulls." Regardless of what you think of Obama, consider this: How many people would get the opportunity to spend one hour a/one with the Presi- dent of the United States? Very, very few. But that's what Thibodeau had the opportunity to do. We have a feeling that Thibodeau will have another job in basketball soon -- unless he wants to take a break and do something else. After all, there are a couple of guys in Washington that could add him to their roster. NOT A GAME- It's the title of a new book by Keith Babb which goes down the unfor- tunate well-worn path of the athlete who once lived high on his multi-million dollar salary, only to blow most of it on an extravagant lifestyle that was totally unnecessary. The latest example is Allen Iverson, who grew up in pov- erty in Hampton, Virginia, but was able to parlay his basketball skills into an NBA career that rewarded him with $155 million in salary payments. We think you know where this is going. There were nu- merous residences, includ- ing a $4.5 million, 10,000- square-foot mansion outside Atlanta that was "custom- ized" and featured amenities such as rain gutters made of pure copper. Iverson's wife had become "addicted to spending," but eventually un- loaded 42 pieces of expensive jewelry "on consignment" at an upscale Atlanta shop. She did the same thing with fur coats at another shop. By the way, do you really need fur coats in Atlanta? It's hot down there in the summer and pretty mild in the winter. There were also 14 cars -- at once. Five for Iverson, two for his wife and the rest for additional family members and "friends." Just the car insurance premium pay- ments alone were $12,000 per month. Monthly mortgage pay- ments, the cars, a security detail, a full-time house- hold staff, the jewelry pur- chases, financially support- ing "friends" and yes, gam- bling and his unwillingness to change his lifestyle all con- tributed to this downfall. At a divorce hearing in 2012, Iverson estimated that his monthly expenses were $360,000. That's right. His monthly expenses were $360,000. But he really wasn't broke in the classic sense. Why? His monthly in- come was still one fifth of $360,000 -- or $72,000 a month ($864,000 a year). That present income won't cover all his outstanding bills, no t it would be more than ugh for virtually everyone else. I mean, couldn't you manage to live on $72,000 a month -- even after taxes? All Iverson needed to do is what we do all do every month -- live within our incomes. Plus, there's more money to come for Iverson. His NBA pension starts when he turns 45 (he's 39) and the re- mainder of a $32 million life- time contract that Iverson has with Reebok will kick in when he turns 55. Supposedly, Iverson moved into a hotel in the Charlotte area when things got real tight for him financially. It must have been quite a place -- the finest that $72,000 a month could cover.