April 05, 2005

Fatal punch: Amateur female boxer Becky Zerlentes died Sunday afternoon, several hours after a punch to the head knocked her unconscious. Despite wearing protective headgear, the punch from opponent Heather Schmitz was enough to cause death by "blunt force trauma to the head."

posted by dusted to boxing at 12:01 AM - 21 comments

"You know, you don't go in there with the idea 'I want to hurt this person.' You go in there with the idea 'I want to win,'" Schmitz said. And you would win a boxing match without hurting the other person how exactly?

posted by JJ at 04:02 AM on April 05, 2005

I have to admit this doesn't surprise me - almost all of the Women's boxing I've seen has seemed ludicrously amateur. Just a couple of chicks throwing haymakers until someone falls down. The connection rate makes two cans, a string and some spit seem like Verizon Wireless.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:51 AM on April 05, 2005

JJ, it's judging based on scoring punches. Pain may be part of the package, but it's not in itself the point. Many boxing matches are won without excessive pain inflicted on either side. (Sugar Ray Leonard managed this trick a lot especially late in his career, and there are others I'm sure escape my mind at this hour of the morning). They don't test your serotonin levels before and after the fight to see who got hurt more. Just to be clear. And the one problem with women's boxing is that there aren't enough women that are good at it yet. Once you get even a half-dozen fighters as good as, oh, Lucia Rijker (Christy Martin was always overhyped, and Laila Ali may get there yet but she has to fight better opponents), then you have a chance to sell this to a wider audience. Until then, Weedy's right: it's nothing you can't see in your local trash bar on a Saturday night an hour before last call.

posted by chicobangs at 09:51 AM on April 05, 2005

And a Mike Tyson fight differs from this how exactly? Were there not even gunshots fired at some of his?

posted by volfire at 10:31 AM on April 05, 2005

I accept that it's about scoring points, not inflicting pain, but as long as the rule remains that you win the whole contest by knocking your opponent out, pain will be a factor.

posted by JJ at 10:38 AM on April 05, 2005

as long as the rule remains that you win the whole contest by knocking your opponent out, pain will be a factor. Strictly speaking, that's incapacitation, JJ, not pain. I'm not a fan of boxing because it has such a high incidence of producing human wrecks. Still, people have justified it as a valid sport for men for years. If the ugliness of women's boxing is arousing an emotional reaction in people, maybe that's a good thing -- if it makes us question if we're really okay with the sight of someone being brutalized, as long as that person is a man. BTW, I have done contact fighting sports, and no, it's not inherently about hurting the other person...but the "why" of that is very hard to explain to those who haven't been there

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:00 AM on April 05, 2005

And a Mike Tyson fight differs from this how exactly? Were there not even gunshots fired at some of his? This conversation is at least nominally about what happens in the ring. Hooliganism, whether among gangstas in Vegas or Jersey mooks or knuckleheads in Scotland, is an excellent topic for another thread.

posted by chicobangs at 11:16 AM on April 05, 2005

Boxing is dangerous. Many men have died as a result of injuries just like this one. The fact that this is the first woman to die in the amatuer ranks is the only thing that makes this story a story. You take your chances. When the fighting starts and instinct and adrenaline take over, anything can happen.

posted by Angrygimp at 11:25 AM on April 05, 2005

Incapacitation hurts. I'm going to have that put on a T-shirt. I've never done a combat sport before - at least, I don't think it's a sport if it just breaks out in the car park of the pub, is it? I'm looking forward (with a degree of trepidation) to doing them in my Olympic challenge - for me, they sit in that category of "I don't really get the attraction, but there must be one or people wouldn't do it"

posted by JJ at 11:53 AM on April 05, 2005

Everyone that enters the boxing ring knows about the possibility of injury. Arguing about this is pointless.

posted by mossface at 12:11 PM on April 05, 2005

Any time someone dies in the ring, it's time to step back and look to see what might have been done differently. Re-training boxers on how to protect themselves, examining the design of headguards and gloves, re-visiting the education referees and ringside doctors receive, etc. Just saying "you take your chances, it's pointless to argue" is, in my eyes, disrespectful to the boxer that died. I'm starting to think boxing should be banned outright. Even if a boxer makes it through a career alive, he or she is going to be severely damaged. On the professional side, add in the corruption, political bullshit, lack of a union or other interest sincerely looking out for boxers, and I'm even more convinced it should go. I'm obviously not in line with the majority of public opinion, since boxing audiences spend millions of dollars, and even more brutal "sports" like ultimate fighting are gaining in popularity.

posted by dusted at 12:56 PM on April 05, 2005

Sometimes boxing doesn't help its own reputation. [Video link] dusted: If you want to box and avoid the corruption, can't you just stay amateur? But that's certainly the main problem with boxing, IMO. If I want to watch rigged fights, easy beats, and setups, I know where to find pro wrestling.

posted by rodgerd at 04:48 AM on April 06, 2005

lilbrownbat, get real and stop the nitpicking over whether boxers want to inflict pain or not! Geezus! That is a part of the game. Most fighters would love a knockout and that involves inflicting punishment. It is quite obvious you are NOT a fight fan because you don't comprehend the simplist concepts of the sport. Boxing and pain go hand in hand, whether it be the pain of being hit or the pain of training or the pain of a long grueling fight..it is ALL PAIN!

posted by bluekarma at 10:18 AM on April 06, 2005

It may not be about pain ... but putting the other guy in a lot of it certainly doesn't hurt.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:40 AM on April 06, 2005

Let's not be naive. Interest in boxing (even amateur) is driven by the knockout and the idea of pain. Most boxing 'fans' would rather see a crappy heavyweight fight featuring the 95th vs 96th ranked pretenders than a free viewing of a legitimate featherweight championship fight. Why? The possibility of a train wreck-style knockout. Same reason people rubberneck to see a car accident. We (kind of) hope no one is hurt...but have to see just in case they were so we can retell the story to our friends later. Don't question the morality of it all. It is just that dark (and curiously funny) side of human nature.

posted by 15Vikings at 12:12 PM on April 06, 2005

If going down to the gym and hooking up with a few other hardlegs and shooting hoop is considered playing the sport of basketball, then beatin some dudes ass in the parking lot of your favorite pub is like "pickup boxing". This logic (and common sense) makes boxing not a sport as far as Im concerned.

posted by Ricardo at 01:24 PM on April 06, 2005

Brilliant, Ricardo, and very true, 15Vikings.

posted by dusted at 02:41 PM on April 06, 2005

lilbrownbat, get real and stop the nitpicking over whether boxers want to inflict pain or not! Geezus! bluekarma, let's hear about your "realness". You may be a "fight fan", but have you ever gotten onto the mat yourself? What's the experience on which you base all your assertions about what fighting sports are all about?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:03 PM on April 06, 2005

What a lovely "sport."

posted by scully at 07:58 AM on April 07, 2005

Dusted: Banning boxing would just drive it underground, where it would be unregulated and MORE people would get seriously hurt. In the early years of baseball, sometimes players were killed when they were hit by a pitch. I, myself, am a racing nut. A sport with a much higher incidence of fatality than boxing, and yet nobody ever calls on racing to be banned. The fact is, nobody is forcing people to box. (Though they might very well if it was banned and went underground.) They do it of their own volition. They know the risks. It's very sad when someone dies, but it's not a surprise. You play the odds every time you cross the street. Every time you drive a car. It's just in boxing, the odds of something bad happening are greater. As for fighting sports in general, we're a barbaric society. Humans, as a species, are vicious and bloodthirsty.

posted by Drood at 09:59 PM on April 08, 2005

I dont have to stick my hand in a fire to know it's hot! I OBSERVE and I see what pain is in the ring. Been to at least 50 fights in my life, many local fights too. I see when a shot to the kidneys registers pain. I have been hit there and I did fight in the service. Had 6 fights and went 5-1 with 3 KO's. I trianed for weeks before each fight and know what it feels like to be in pain from trianing. I am not a pro by no means but I was 18 then and enjoyed the fight. When I was in the ring, I imagined my opponent was trying to hit my sister or my motherand it would make me angry but I controlled it and tried to punish the other fighter. Period end of story. Not everyone who post on these forums is a pencil pushing geek who never played sports or played them very well. I have done both.

posted by bluekarma at 06:35 PM on May 17, 2005

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