IS boxing brutal or brilliant?
The age-old question arises every so often, usually when there has been a tragedy in the ring.
Those occasions are few and far between, thankfully, and the boxing authorities insists everything is done to avoid people suffering serious lasting damage in the ring.
It doesn’t stop many observers thinking the sport should be banned, wrongly in my opinion.
Boxing ranks as my third favourite sport behind football and athletics, and I can get as much interest and enjoyment out of a good fight as out of any football game or Olympic track final.
I can understand why people take the opposite view however.
The blatant aggression of the sport is naturally offensive to many people’s sensitivities. And I’m not just talking about physical aggression but verbal too.
Take these words from Carl Froch in the run-up to Saturday’s big rematch against George Groves this week: “The fans want to see a conclusive finish,” he says.
“It’s quite a brutal, barbaric sport and the people who watch it want to see someone out.
“That’s what I do for a living. I always like to get that finishing blow and satisfy the crowd.
“When you start mixing it up, you can hear the crowd and feel the vibration. It’s going to be phenomenal at Wembley.”
That kind of openness to violence is not nice to hear, but it is a part of boxing and if people don’t like it they shouldn’t watch it or read about it.
And before criticising the sport, they should take a look at the good it does for people, families, towns and countries.
In Bolton we have nine or 10 boxing clubs (the number increases so often it’s hard to keep count) and they cater for hundreds of local people.
Many of them have never been near a ring and don’t have any intentions of doing.
They do boxing training to build their fitness, confidence and discipline under the watchful eye of respected qualified coaches that Bolton is lucky to have.
At some clubs members are there from 6am.
This all leads to a more healthy life.
Many people want to take their interest further and compete. This needs discipline, quality which has seen many people turn around their lives.
It is extremely unlikely they will get hurt in the amateur sport as they wear effective head protection.
Yes, those who turn over to the professional ranks might get hurt, that’s the nature of the sport. But they know what they are doing when they go into it.
Although I have no figures to back it up I would venture to suggest boxing has enhanced more lives than it has harmed by 10 fold.
And for that reason I think the answer to my opening paragraph question is somewhere in between: boxing is brutal, but it is more brilliant.