2018 : The resurgence of BOXING Interest in the US!

The last couple years have shown a real resurgence in mainstream US interest in Boxing.

 

Now that Interest has never waned abroad, and is arguably stronger than it has ever been everywhere from England to Russia, but only in the States that for most of the 20th century was the heart and head and seat of professional Boxing (The home of Boxing’s greatest champions From Jack Johnson to Evander Holyfield), has Boxing been shuffled off the main stage, into all but minor league obscurity.

And while MMA is undoubtably big these days, it is not Boxing. And it is not better than Boxing, it exercises different interests, the way Soccer differs from Football. They both have their strengths.

For my money while MMA has its strengths, and I am glad for its growth, that growth should not come at the expense of Boxing. Anymore than the growth in Rugby should mean we stop giving airtime to Football.

While I like MMA as a discipline and there have been many great matches, the standup game of Boxing and that specification of strikes, and limitation of styles, lends itself to truly epic engagements deserving of apellations such as fight of the year, far more often and regularly than MMA.

 

Boxing due to its length and its style lends itself to being… more than a sprint, when you have two great fighters and styles in the boxing ring, you get these epic engagements of will that allows you to see a fighter’s chin tested and his endurance tested in a way that the sprint, submission style of MMA, rarely lends itself to.

Again there are many great fighters and matches in the past and present of MMA, from the domination years of Royce Gracie to the domination years of Sakuraba to the domination years of Anderson Silva to the current domination years of fantastic fighters such as Jon Jones (currently the best UFC fighter and a personal favorite, who I like to introduce, whenever I see him fight, in my best Boxing Announcer voice as… ‘JON JONES…… THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER!!!!! You have to be a comic book fan to get the reference, but I think that is way better than the idiotic nickname of ‘BONES’ that they give him) and such phenoms as Buakaw (if you do not know that name, go searching for any of his over 200 professional fights. Yes I said over 200 fights!!!!! He is the stuff of legend.); but these exceptions aside, as a whole Boxing’s stand up style lends itself to far more interesting engagements.

 

I recently watched (on the big screen TV, I don’t watch video on a phone or tablet or laptop. If I am going to take the time to watch something, I want to watch it as close to its intended scale as possible. Only then can you get close to adequately consuming, or reviewing and forming and intelligent opinion on the content consumed.  David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA  seen in 70mm on a full size movie theater, which I have done, is a completely richer experience than watching it on someone’s LCD monitor. How you consume content, is part and parcel of the experience), courtesy of the Youtube App on my Roku device, a bevy of classic 70s and 80s Boxing matches, with men who fought true wars in the ring.

 

Of course Ali, Frazier, Norton, George Foreman (people remember Foreman for his later post Ali years as Champion and beloved funny guy and elder statesman of boxing, but during his first life, as a boxer, that went from 1969 to 1977, this guy… in a heavyweight scene full of fearsome men, was the most feared man on the entire planet.

He was a young, gigantic, brutal,and undefeatable force of nature breaking everything in his path. Ivan Drago’s character in Rocky 4, the character played by Dolph Lundgren (‘I will break you.’) that was George Foreman in the late 60s early 70s. An unbeatable force of nature, till a man called Ali found a way to beat him.)

 

And similar, stuff of legend wars… were fought in the lighter divisions by men with names like Tommy the Hitman Hearnes, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Roberto the man with the hands of Stone Duran, And Sugar Ray Leonard.

I watched the 1st Duran Hearnes fight, then I watched the Hearnes Sugar Ray fight, and its eight year later sequel.

Here is the thing people forget about Hearnes, he much like George Foreman, because of his height and frame and reach… was something new in boxing for his weight class. A kid, like they all were back then, coming out of Detroit he cut through the middlewight division like a knife, earning the name of Hitman by knocking out everyone he faced. An undefeated champion, he and Sugar Ray Leonard, also a champion, would meet in September 1981 for a winner take all unification match.

It was called the showdown and lived up to its billing. Being a 15 round war and one of the greatest fights of that year or any year.

I take this trip down memory lane to say that… what is great about Boxing, can not be replaced or usurped by MMA. There is a uniqueness to Boxing, that makes it, when you get a talented crop of Boxers, the stuff of legend.

I think after 20 years of neglect, and corruption (something that the UFC seems to be dealing with, as well as K1. The japanese PRIDE was the best thing to happen to MMA, and since its effective buyout and dissolution, we have an increasingly suspect, in terms of management, UFC). 

you now have a very exciting Boxing landscape starting to form, particularly at the lower weight classes. Terrence Crawford and Errol Spence being two of the most exciting fighters to come along in decades. And suddenly you begin to see this return of interest and money to the boxing landscape, that I for one am looking forward to.

For more on Boxing, go listen to two recent, pretty darn excellent John Siuntres WORD BALLOON podcasts, that veer from comic books to boxing, in interviews with two great names in the Boxing coverage landscape.

 

http://www.wordballoon.com/

http://percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=1113527&episodeId=10850405#

http://percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=1113527&episodeId=10858419#

Completely riveting interviews, and after listening, you, like I, will be searching Youtube for great Boxers past and present and future.

Thanks for checking out this post, and if you enjoy please leave a like, or comment. And feel free to recommend your 5 favorite recent boxing and or mma matches or websites.

To get you started here are my recommendations of must watch Youtube boxing/mma videos:

I love watching Thomas Hearnes fight. He had a fantastic jab, a great left hook attack to the body and head, and one of the best, most devastating, right hands in Boxing history. Which makes the following clip, all the more amazing. And why Sugar Ray Leonard, like his idol Muhammad Ali, is the greatest of all time. Because he fought unbeatable men… and found a way to beat them.

And if that is the past of Boxing, here is the present and future: 2018 is the year America remembers what the world has never forgotten, that the boxing ring is the place where the last legends of the world…. are made.

And for more on how to stay ontop the changing world of Boxing, I recommend the following two sites (that both offer subscriptions to their magazines):

http://www.ringtv.com

http://www.ringsideseatmag.com

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Drool worthy Item/Gift/Auction/Deal of the Day!

 

BATMAN: SECRETS-SAM KIETH Gallery Edition • Regular Edition

BATMAN: SECRETS-SAM KIETH Gallery Edition
Regular Edition

248 pgs • 12 x 17″ • Smyth-Sewn Hardcover

AVAILABLE FEB. 14

Price: $125.00

BATMAN: SECRETS series, this large-format, Smythe-sewn hardcover edition is sourced from and captures the look and feel of the original boards. Rounding out this 248- page presentation is the complete art from BATMAN: CONFIDENTIAL #40, BATMAN/LOBO #1, Kieth’s eight-page story from BATMAN #38 and an extensive gallery section containing covers and pages from SCRATCH, ARKHAM ASYLUM: MADNESS and BATMAN: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS.

Graphitti Designs’ Gallery Editions replicate the look, feel and attitude of the original artwork. Every page is reproduced at full board size on heavy paper stock to provide fans and collectors with museum-quality reproductions that are unobtainable from any other source.

Containing samples of Kieth’s art from his early days (1992) to the present (2015), this book gives the fan, collector and art student a never-before-seen overview of his incredible work.

alt

 

Auction of the Day Link:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/263560025941?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

 

Movie of the Day : Netflix’s DEATHNOTE (2017)

DEATH NOTE – less horror than action-fantasy, prolific director Adam Wingard continues to prove himself one of the most innovative and exciting genre directors working; making this adaptation of the lauded manga and anime its own thing, that works beautifully for a feature film.

Great casting, great performances, and a compelling and exciting take on the DEATH NOTE source material, makes for a film that I personally like quite a lot. No it is not the manga, and no it is not the anime, if you want just that… that already exists, rewatch to your hearts content. What this is… is the concept of DEATH NOTE turned into something that works at a feature, rather than episodic, length. Job Done.

Also while I liked the anime, beyond a point I found it a bit long in the tooth, and all the characters while intriguing not exactly.. gripping. With the live action Wingard gets to flesh out the characters with really talented actors.

Nat Wolff’s Light Turner imbuing the relatively cold and calculating character of the anime, with a humanity and likability and relate-ability that makes you care. It is a fitting change to make, and it is a strength of Wingard’s recent films such as THE GUEST, to give us characters who, like most of us, are somewhere between sinner and saint.   Shea Whigham is always compelling, and brings to the role of James Turner, Light’s Dad, a warmth and strength and conviction, and nearly palpable love for his son, that is lacking in the anime.

Lakeith Stanfield, the actor who plays the quirky, candy loving, ‘L’ for my money makes that character even more compelling and interesting than in the anime. It is an inspired bit of casting and his performance largely steals the show.

And speaking of genius casting,  Dafoe’s voice as Ryuk… GENIUS. 

All the pieces of performance,writing, direction ends up with a DEATH NOTE feature film that deserves to be on your keep list. It joins THE GUEST and YOU’RE NEXT as Adam Wingard’s best films so far.

Grade : Strongly Recommended. B+.

 

 

MUST LISTEN Audio Books for BLACK HISTORY Month and every other month! :) Part 2 of 2

The 2nd must listen audio book for Black History Month or any month is the mind breaking MUMBO JUMBO by the great Ishmael Reed.

Ishmael Reed, who was honored with the MacArthur “genius” award, is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and two-time nominee for the National Book Award. Mumbo Jumbo, a literary masterpiece, is an ironic and unconventional detectivestory infused with African-American cultural heritage. A strange psychic epidemic called “Jes Grew” is spreading through the country, affecting millions. PaPa LaBas, a HooDoo detective, is trying to find the origins of the JesGrew – not because he wants to cure it, but because he’s ready for a new kind of society.

mumbojumbo

Composed of the memorable personalities and the little remembered tragedies and triumphs of the roaring 20s, MUMBO JUMBO weaves these truths into an overarching fictional narrative that goes from the beginning of civilization to the fall of man.

But the fiction is so peppered with essential truths, like the best of all fiction, that it will change fundamentally how you look at everything, from museums to curse words to bull fights. If MIDDLE PASSAGE is my favorite audio book, MUMBO JUMBO  I think , in opposition to its name, is the most enlightening and powerful audio book I’ve ever listened to, for the  way it opened up my mind to… broader definitions of history and broader definitions of ourselves. Magnificent.

Version:

Unabridged
Author: Ishmael Reed
Narrator: J. D. Jackson
Genres: Fiction & Literature
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published In: July 2005
# of Units: 8 CDs
Length: 8 hours, 30 minutes

Get your copy here:

 

Mumbo Jumbo

MUST LISTEN Audio Books for BLACK HISTORY Month and every other month! :) Part 1 of 2

I first became familiar with these two novels, both by master writers, as novels proper. And both blew my mind in ways both stunning and lasting. Later I listened to the Audio Books. Audio Books, if you get the right reader, for the right work, can be rewarding experiences, even to lovers of the novel.

I love me some Walter Moseley EASY RAWLINS mysteries, I’ve read just about everyone of them, and I have to tell you the pairing of Moseley’s iconic words with a formidable actor such as Michael Boatman, is to have those works enriched, and nuances discovered that may have been skimmed over by even the most loving reader.

A great Adaptation, a great marriage of words and performance can do that, can alchemize into something more than the sum of its parts. Something magical. And an audio book avoids the constraints of time and budget and indeed visuals, that a film or TV show runs into. An audio book has the biggest theater of the world, and the biggest budget, in which to breathe life into the writers words,… the theater of the mind.

So Audio Books when they get that mixture right, become part of a sacred line of story and storytelling, going back to the cradle of not just Black History, but all history.

 

This 2 part post, honors two of the best, that should be loved and listened to and cherished by everyone.

They are:

Charles Johnson’s seminal and National Book Award winning novel, MIDDLE PASSAGE. It is an American epic, a rousing seafaring saga, blisteringly funny at times, deeply harrowing at others, both poetic, prosaic, and magical all at the same time. As someone who has read Melville, and Dickens, and Hemingway, and Crane and Poe and Bradbury and King and Baldwin, all the quintessential American masters, this is the novel I would save when everything else is burning.

 

middlepassge

 

I give the hardcover out as presents. I consider it, in an imperfect world, an arrow toward a more perfect union. So having it on a pedestal that high the audio book has to bring it. It was made into an audio book twice, the first was an abridged and hence flawed cassette version, but read by the author himself, I quite liked it. He brought something… wonderful to it.

The 2nd time was on CD, unabridged thankfully. The performer Dion Graham, gives a different performance than Charles Johnson, that I slowly warmed to. And as the story drew you deeper so did his voice. It’s a wonderful way to be introduced to this great novel.

I would say both audio book versions are indispensable. Start with the unabridged CD version, and then follow up by listening to the Abridged version. And have a copy of the paperback or hardcover, to read over especially loved passages.

In an America where folly holds sway, the words of men who both remember history and learn from it, is of the highest value.

Check them out at the links below:

Middle Passage Cassette Audio Book read by the Author!

Middle Passage Audio CD Unabridged!

By Charles Richard Johnson Middle Passage (Reprint) [Mass Market Paperback]

 

If you like this blog please support it by using the links above and by leaving comments! And come back for the 2nd part where we discuss the 2nd, must own, Black History Month (and other months) Audio book!

Fanfare for a Death Scene (1964) and best Cinematographers!!

Today’s recommended movie FANFARE FOR A DEATH SCENE (1964)

fanfare

This is a forgotten little 1964 made for TV movie, that sports the phenomenal camera work of the great Conrad L. Hall. The opening sequence alone is reason enough to view this film.

You can view the film courtesy of Amazon Prime.

Click here for Fanfare For A Death Scene

When it comes to the great camera men of cinema, Conrad Hall, in terms of bravura visual styling and seminal impact, is right up there with the best of cinematographers.

The best of them being Karl Freund (the father of cinematography in many ways, creating much of the visual techniques and language of cinema in ground breaking films such as METROPOLIS and DRACULA) Karl Struss (SUNSHINE) and Freddie Young (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA), James Wong Howe (SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS), Vilmos Zsigmond (two great collaborations with Robert Altman, IMAGES and THE LONG GOODBYE), Geoffrey Unsworth (2001, SUPER MAN), Bradford Young (MOTHER OF GEORGE, AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, PAWN SACRIFICE, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, SELMA), Guy Green (GREAT EXPECTATIONS), Lisa RInzler (MENACE II SOCIETY), Sergey Urusevskiy (I AM CUBA), John Alton (his wonderful collaborations with Anthony Mann, such as T-MEN, RAW DEAL), and Yoshio Miyajima (particularly with his collaborations with Masaki Kobayashi in films such as HARA KIRI and KWAIDAN).

For more on FANFARE FOR A DEATH SCENE there is a wonderful article on the production by Stephen Bowie here!

Come back next time for more VOD picks and reviews!

KICKSTARTER OF THE DAY : Worthy Causes!

refoundry
REFOUNDRY – Sports a worthy goal of combating the explosive and unsupportable rates of incarceration in the United States. I think the rewards could be a bit nicer, and priced less steeply, but that said I can see putting a frame on the HAND MADE HAND and using that as a bit of art, and the $25 Door Stop would make a memorable paper weight; and above all that… the funds are going to a needed cause. With 56 days to go this is well on its way to meeting its goal.

selfjournal
SELF JOURNAL – Making lists, writing down your goals I find indispensable to productivity, But I find myself often using an awkward combo of sticky pads, and computer apps. I think the SELF JOURNAL is an artful way to wean myself off the sticky pads.At $26 it is a might on the expensive side, but if this gets you in the habit of journaling you can always transition into more affordable journals. Also this project has been fully funded.

laptopstand

BEST LAPTOP STAND – I am not an Apple user or fan, but man this is a nice stand. And it appears it will support my Dell Latitude in the open position. And this serves the worthy cause of getting rid of hunched over the laptop syndrome. At under $50 it’s not bad. Plus this kick-starter is already completely funded. Sold!

earlessheadphones
BATBAND Earfree Headphones – A headphone that uses the scary sounding vehicle of Bone Conduction to bypass your outer ear to deliver sound to your inner ear. It’s like LaForge’s visor from STNG but for your ears rather than your eyes!

At $149 it is not even remotely cheap, and while a woman may get away with wearing this as a fashion statement, I think it will look silly on most guys. But as the first stab of an idea, it definitely has promise. It just needs to be designed so it is less obtrusive, and i think it will be ready for prime time.

It’s implications beyond simple music playback could be staggering. Does it work better than conventional headphones? Can an evil super-villain use it to remotely turn your brain into jelly? Who knows, but boy I’d like to try it. It is projects like this that reminds me in a good way, that we are living in the 21st century. 🙂