Setting Back Boxing: A Young Journalist’s Attempt To Connive the Sweet Science
By Coyote Duran (April 1, 2008) Doghouse Boxingn (Photo © German Villasenor)  
As a boxing writer, I sometimes feel a conflict within myself to vent about whatever might be bugging me about Our Sport on any given day. Sometimes I feel the need to mildly bitch if I don’t get my way (such as if a certain fight I’ve been looking forward to falls through) and sometimes I feel like losing it; Lewis Black-style (think sanctioning bodies. That’s all you need to know). But mostly, I’ll curb my tongue, have a beer or a glass (or six) of Sangria, light up a smoke or sleep on it. Then, I’ll find a way to Psych 101 whatever was bugging me and ultimately see the humor in it. I’m not special in my approach, by any means. It means I’m trying my best to be a professional. And if
that means refraining from releasing personal vitriol, then so be it. What would Al Bernstein do?

Which leads to me to concern for my fellow writers; or writer, for that matter. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t discouraged, even miffed, when I was directed to another boxing website and discovered an article written by former Doghouse Boxing scribe, Dan Horgan. Noticing that the subject was Jesus Gabriel Sandoval Chavez (who returns to action on April 4 against Daniel Jimenez), a fighter I truly enjoyed watching, I was quick to read. However, the title, 'Jesus Chavez’s Story Is Far From Inspirational', was rather off-putting and I found out why.

Chavez is not a cat who’s had an easy go. There are few fighters today or yesterday who have or had. Often, a hardscrabble life is what motivates the fighter to fight. Boxing has often been the metaphor for escapism with many of these men (or women, to be fair): Leave your past behind by fighting your way to success; discovering success along the way. Sometimes the endings are
the things of fairy tales. Often the end mirrors the beginning. It’s almost the nature of the beast to fall victim to excess. Nature and environmental influence undoing the special, personal evolution of the fighter.

But ‘El Matador’ was the specific target of Mr. Horgan’s ire. No one else.

The criticism, which bordered on attack, merely hinted at Chavez’ return minimally. The rest was a dissection of where Chavez came from. And that was truly uncalled for.

Instead of talking up Chavez’ upcoming Telefutura bout, Mr. Horgan chose to judge the fighter Chavez is today based on who Chavez was in a ‘past life’. Yes, Jesus Chavez came here illegally. Welcome to real life. Look, I’m not a proponent of immigration reform. My maternal grandparents were grandchildren of immigrants but they went through their channels to experience American life without the stresses of looking over their shoulders every second of the day. That being said, do me this favor: Think about how life sucks for some Mexican nationals who come from impoverished rural regions. Then think about The American Way. Think about how fortunate we are to come and go as we please. Many fighters we enjoy watching were given their lives today from parents that had the same mindset and want of freedom that Jesus Chavez’ family did. And thank goodness for that.

And if we were to judge them merely on the action of entering into the country in a less-than-legal way, well…we’d be almost shit outta fighters, now wouldn’t we?

Mr. Horgan mentioned Chavez’ jail stint for robbery. So what? Does Bernard Hopkins’ stay in Graterford make him bubonic as well? Chavez had an issue falling into a gang lifestyle at 21. OK, not great. No one but a gang member really knows why one joins a gang but from what I can ascertain, most join for a sense of belonging. The kind of sense of belonging Chavez couldn’t quite find with his biological family. All because you’re 21, doesn’t mean you’re too mature to elude peer pressure. Another Sandoval of note, Sonny from the rock band, P.O.D., rode the same highway of social discontent. If my memory (and my CD collection) serves me correctly, he turned his life around as well. Chavez’ frequent enjoyment of marijuana in past days was also brought up twice; along with cigarettes, of all things. If that’s grounds for exile, then Hell, I should be shot to the moon.

So, illegal immigration, cigarettes, doobage and doing a stint in a gang. Things that all came to a head 14 years ago. Things that have everything and, at the same time, nothing, to do with the man Jesus Chavez is today. The former being the schedule of life classes one man can only suffer or learn from. The latter being that the indelibility of the lessons only remains in the strength of the man who’s left.

That man I’ve met a few times and from my impression, has been nothing but soft-spoken, polite and kind. He’s the kind of guy who is far from the ungrateful, criminal letch Mr. Horgan made him out to be. He’s also the kind of guy that, after suffering the deep loss only a family and a fighter can feel, has already suffered enough in the last two-and-a-half years than anyone should ever have to after fighting Leavander Johnson. But Mr. Horgan thinks that karma should come to call on Jesus Chavez and make him pay for indiscretions far and deep into his past. In suffering through the tragic death of Johnson, isn't that enough for a man who only really hurt himself in his days of youth? How many times can a man win or lose and have to mandatorily search his soul for answers to his question of fate? Doesn't that itself denote life-learned selflessness?

Mr. Horgan makes no claim to know Jesus Chavez personally or know the man that he is today. Then my advice is to set up an interview with him instead of just filling a paper with useless words and sanctimonious, mealy-mouthed judgments. Look into his heart, hear his words and feel his pain and regret before you make an assumption about his character or about the person you think he needs to be. Most of all, live some life and gain some years before you profess to know about life. Remember, at 21, Chavez made some mistakes. Last time I checked, an 18 year-old has three years less wisdom.

Yet, still I remain restrained.

Why? Simply because I know better. I know that by the power of words, I can only do so much for Our Sport. I'm not the one taking the punches, therefore, my criticisms must remain constructive and reasonable. Fighters don't sit down at the keyboard and blog about what kind of assholes we are so why on Mother Earth would I step up and tell them why I don't think they're going to succeed at a certain age, all the while conjuring up half-assed evidence as to such? I guess that's because there are some of us who know that we have our jobs to do and they have their jobs to do and there's no way we writers can ever bring back a sport that the ill-informed believe is dying, if we're busy holding a pillow over its face behind closed doors.

Scratch that. Boxing is merely lying in wait and recovering nicely on its own. It's the conniving sensationalism and cheap-self-promotion disguised as cutting edge journalism that doesn't last (unless you can someday make a living from kissing the sweaty asses of the Boxing 4 Real guys). I can't speak for the rest of my fine contemporaries at Doghouse Boxing (although they all have my undying respect) but I'm gonna sit back and watch Jesus Chavez face Daniel Jimenez on Friday night and whether Chavez wins or loses, I'll know that the really important thing is that he came back (very likely, after another round of soul-searching) on his own terms.

Now that's bringing back boxing.

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