From Louis to Tyson: Wake Up Boxing World, A Change Must Be Made
By Aaron Imholte (August 4, 2004) 
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Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Mike Tyson. What do these three boxers have in common? If you said they were all former champions who were just as feared as they were respected in their primes, you're partly right. But if you said they were all great fighters who were forced to fight past their expiration date to make money to live comfortably, you have just gotten the point of this piece.

Why is it always boxers who end up broke and brain damaged and die alone in a shell of their former greatness? Why hasn’t Joe Namath gone broke? Why wasn’t Larry Bird forced to play into his late 40’s just to make ends meet? And why won’t Kirby Puckett die in some crappy apartment in Las Vegas?

One word: protection. Football players, basketball stars and big league sluggers all have a union, which provides them with a pension and health care benefits. So why not boxing? Why did Joe Louis, arguably the best heavyweight champion of all time, have to go broke and comeback only to disgrace himself in defeat against men who would have trembled at the sight of a prime 'Brown Bomber'? Why does Mike Tyson have to get into the ring at 38 years old only to prove to us time and time again that what he was 15 years ago is long gone and all that’s left is a broken down shell of that greatness?

It’s because the people who run boxing - namely the promoters and sanctioning bodies - don’t give a damn about their fighter as a person, as a human being. They see him as a racehorse of sorts. A well groomed athletic machine put in their stable for one reason: to win and make the promoter lots and lots of money. What about when that horse gets old and can’t race at top condition anymore? They shoot it. They leave it to fend for itself for the rest of its life with whatever money they have left after the promoter’s hands have been through their pockets.

So what is a fighter to do when that loot runs out and he has faded from the scene? Can he pull a steady nine to fiver with his battered knuckles and fried brain cells? No. He must return to the only thing he knows how to do, fight. So he comes back to the cheering crowds and the bright lights and the money, only to find that he cannot do what he could 10 years ago and that B-level sluggers are laying him flat on his back. On top of all that his speech is incoherent and he often struggles to find the words to say what’s on his mind. Or in the case of Bradley Rone, they die in the ring, fighting for their mother’s funeral expenses. Now if Brad Rone had been in a union that was properly organized and funded, he would have been able to draw funds from his union pension and would never have to step foot back in a boxing ring and would still be with us today.

Now listen up to any boxing big wigs or fighters who may be reading this. Please, please get organized and form a union. Please in the name of Joe Louis and Brad Rone prevent aging pugilists from stepping foot in a ring for a paycheck. Save our beloved sports heroes from getting brain damage because they had to fight into their forties because the man they busted their ass for for 15 years left him high and dry and has moved on to another young soul to rape and pillage his purses. From New York to New Delhi, from Paris to Peru, please fighters everywhere, get organized and look out for your fellow pugilists before and after their retirement so you can all be able to look back on your careers and say ‘I’m happy I got out when I did and what I have accomplished in the ring.’ It would prevent riches to rags stories like Mike Tyson and others. Because there is no reason a former champion, the best at what he did, should have to live out the rest of his life in poverty and debt.
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