Get out and vote!
By Martin Wade (November 13, 2004) 
Photo © Marty Rosengarten
Greetings fellow boxing Junkies Red and Blue, I am sure that like myself many of you are just now coming out of your election day hangovers with eyes reddened and fangs sharpened. With the country undergoing its ritual four-year period of upheaval, windstorm and policymaking I’ve granted myself license to lighten up and fantasize about boxing. If the vast and diverse community of boxing were an entity that functioned much like a country it would be deemed the Republic of Hard Knocks. Unlike many more uniformly organized sports boxing is at its very core a strangely resilient yet political beast. Historically many of us have cited this same political chaos and lack of an American based body to govern the sport as the major roadblocks to acceptability from mainstream outlets and sports fans. So yes boxing fans in an election year with boxing in high gear I feel like it is the perfect time to imagine the fighters themselves running for office. Like I always say (okay, actually this is the first time I’m saying it) I aim entertain, enlighten and at the very least amuse. In the republic of Hard Knocks if a presidential election were held, which boxer would rise to the occasion and represent boxing fans as commander in chief? Which fighter could best serve our republic with dignity and humanity while addressing the issues that plague fighters and fans alike? Allow me to introduce the candidates, their strengths, platforms and their respective running mates.

Oscar De La Hoya and running mate Fernando Vargas

Mr. De La Hoya is the favorite naturally, a real “politician's politician”, complete with campaign friendly responses that cover the gamut of emotions that many critics question the sincerity of. Mr. De La Hoya, out of concern for the blue-collar boxing fans view of him as “out of touch” selected an old rival Fernando Vargas as his running mate. Mr. Vargas, now a real estate/high tech mogul, can still garner votes in the club fight districts with his staunch views on fiscal education and long-term career planning for boxers. Many have speculated that future investigations of Oscar's campaign funding are imminent. These questions are centered on Home Box Office/Kerry Davis and whether their sizable donations have circumvented funding guidelines, thus creating an unfair competitive balance with other candidates. De La Hoya’s “Clintonesque” appeal is apparent as he is he is still serving as chairman of the Big Fight merger committee despite his obvious “in ring” decline. Young female voters of Latin descent are projected to turn out in unprecedented numbers.

To better illuminate on De La Hoya’s appeal is to reference a conversation between a then nervous senator by the name of John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra. Kennedy expressed feeling anxious about the outcome of the 1960 presidential election to then “chairman of the board” Sinatra. Sinatra replied; “look at it as if it were a movie and you're playing the lead role, can you honestly see Nixon getting the girl?” Point taken. In the game of politics, defeats are often viewed as mere setbacks, so expect De La Hoya and Vargas, despite their ailing backs, to drive the popular vote to a decisive victory at the polls.

But hold on, not so fast…

Power to the People!

Tito Trinidad and running mate Miguel Cotto

Language barrier? What freakin' language barrier? Tito Trinidad is a statesman; an unassuming kingpin able to swing votes his way with a waving fist and beatific smile. Attacks on the Puerto Rican monarch's virtue are futile at best; just ask Bernard Hopkins. Tito Trinidad is the kind of politician who can get out amongst the people and kiss babies in earnestness. Trinidad also can attract older voters who long for a time when boxing was a “noble” occupation. From his classy two-piece suits to the “old school” 9” length of his trunks, Tito radiates the image of a man who exemplifies traditional values. Tito, a natural for public office represents the fastest growing population in this country plus he’s as “New Yawk” as Derek Jeter. Mr. Trinidad and senior advisor “Papa Trinidad” chose a virtual newcomer in Miguel Cotto as a running mate based on the prodigious growth potential he brings to the campaign. Cotto, though young, is no stranger to politics as he is currently being groomed for mainstream political success by legendary campaign Svengali Bob Arum. Trinidad will campaign tirelessly as he feels the duo of De La Hoya and Vargas is far more formidable at the polls than in the ring. If elected, expect Tito’s state of address to resemble his legendary offensive attack. Statements will be measured, passionate, short and to the point, never failing to hit their mark. Trinidad’s mastery of grassroots synergy is so potent he can only be derailed if he uncharacteristically decides to unleash a Howard Dean like yelp during one of his speeches.

In any campaign there’s always a dark horse, an independent rabble-rouser dogged in offsetting the result of the election for better or worse. In the republic of hard knocks the above mentioned Bernard Hopkins is the epitome of the revolutionary, always itching for a good fight.

Shred the Files!

Bernard Hopkins and running mate Antonio Tarver

With a campaign slogan of “Down with Promoters, Sanctioning Bodies, Networks, the Press, Managers, Advisors and anybody else we can think of” Hopkins/Tarver is a match made in anti-establishment heaven. Though not as moneyed as the other two candidates, B-Hops and the Magic Man plan to utilize the internet to connect almost daily with potential voters. A veteran (of the streets that is) Hopkins represents social reform for boxers and independence through hard work and just plain old stubbornness. The many years of underexposure and lack of mainstream acceptance gives Hopkins credibility and assumed valor among boxing's too large underclass. Many concerned that Bernard is fighting too many battles on too many fronts worry that his legal warfare with Czar Don King will compromise his campaign. What they don’t know is Bernard’s political spats are a full time, year-round indulgence much like his training. Running mate Antonio Tarver is a political wildcard, a chameleon in his ability to portray the hell-raiser and the capitalist with equal dexterity. Like most politicians Tarver can adapt to political climates to benefit his agenda, yet he always maintains a license to return to the pulpit if it suits him. Hopkins is already suspicious of Tarver trying to diminish some of the spotlight from him on speaking tours. Hopkins is also suspicious that Tarver’s dumping of the WBC strap to rendezvous with HBO for a possible multi-fight contract is a form of “selling out”. Tarver’s response was to flash his patented million dollar smile and release a brief statement informing Hopkins that he was not “selling out” he was “buying in”. If this duo can stay together anticipate a significant increase in the pre-election polls after every televised debate.

So who will it be boxing fans? What platform is important to you? Is it the polish and emphasis on prosperity of De La Hoya/Vargas? How about the passionate promise of a return to “old school” values from Tito Trinidad and Miguel Cotto? Or do you prefer the guarantee of revolution courtesy of Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Tarver. Remember fans, the choice is yours and apathy is like… well, it’s kind of like the Roy Jones Jr. 2004 campaign.

Until the Next “Jones”
The “Boxing Junkie”
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