Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ka-Pow!




I'm intrigued by boxing, but it's awfully scary to me too. I doubt I would ever care to watch a real boxing match--but, then, I don't know. Maybe. I do and I don't feel a connection to it. But then some of the things that fascinate me most in life strike me simultaneously as beautiful and repellent. Let me start with some stories, loosely connected, but which seem formative of my feelings on the subject of the so-called "sweet science." Don't worry. I'll keep them short.

First story: Wisconsin, in the late 1950s. My uncle fitted me and my cousin (my age) with boxing gloves. We were both pre-school age. My uncle and his friends circled around us, forming a ring, and cheered my cousin and me as we duked it out. Shirtless in shorts, I was scared, but not of my cousin, not of the threat of pain, but of not playing the game right somehow, of disappointing the adults. My cousin and I punched softly since we were like only four or five years old at the time. The men made wisecracks I didn't understand. That's all I remember.

Second story: I had a boyfriend in the 1970s, a 6'2" blond Italian who had a Michelangelesque body, somewhat underdeveloped legs, but a gorgeous torso. He was, unlike me, an athlete: football and basketball. Swimming, too. We wrestled all the time, often twice a night. He taught me how to Indian wrestle, using our legs (I had strong, muscular legs, my best feature back then). But he had always wanted to try his hand at boxing. One night he found an amateur boxer who was willing to put on gloves and step back behind the apartment complex where we lived to go a few rounds. This boxer held nothing back and messed up my pretty boyfriend. I felt genuine concern, but, seriously, the discoloration and slight swelling made him look hotter than usual. I had the bad taste to tell him so, but I think he appreciated the point I was trying to make.

Third story: In the late 1980s I taught English Composition to the soon-to-be world light heavyweight boxing champ Roy Jones Jr. It was the year before he went to Korea to fight in the Seoul Olympics, where he was a silver medalist. I encouraged him to write every essay in ENG 100 on the subject he loved: boxing. His papers were decent, a bit better than his classmates', informative and impassioned--the young man had a boner for the sport of boxing. After he turned pro, he returned to the Florida junior college where I was teaching, and he stopped by and said hello to his old English teacher. Big, proud day in my life.

I'm pretty sure the first catalog description I ever wrote for BG East was Jayden Mayne's first match. Later, BGE bossman Kid Leopard asked me what I thought of him. I told him I was impressed. Jayden looked good and had a fighting spirit. I liked what I saw. The Kid told me I hadn't seen anything yet. Mayne was training hard, and Leopard predicted he'd be a man to watch. Just recently I watched Mayne put on some gloves to go up against Attila Dynasty, another young favorite of mine, in Gloved Gladiators 4, part of a series I hadn't really followed, but whose premise intrigued me: boxing matches that turn into wrestling matches, with gloves and trunks being shed in the process.

These matches run a little more slowly than most of BGE's releases. The emphasis is on the sensuality of pounding another man with fists couched in padded gloves. The fighters punch and then allow a few seconds to let the impact settle in, as if waiting for an echo of the pain to come wafting back. When the gloves come off, the punches gain resonance. When the two fighters have taken as much as they can take, they get down on the mat to wrestle. The wrestling action is two parts real collegiate-style wrestling to one part typical pro-wrestling fakery, to, rough estimate, another two parts the slow grind of sado-erotic roughhouse. It works, but you need to ease into it. Catch its rhythm and feel its distinctive buzz.

Dynasty and Mayne are exceptionally hot in their match. Mayne looks tough, sexy, and Irish--which, in my lexicon, is a redundant statement. My experience of the Irish is that they like to fight and they like to express their sexuality through sparring, both verbal and physical. I generalize, of course. I can only speak of the Irish I have known. Facing Jayden, Attila is super-cool, suave and cocky at the same time. He's a good match for the smoldering Irishman. In Bout 2 of Gloved Gladiators 4, Skrapper proves to be even sexier than he's been in previous matches, which were plenty sexy in their own right. He has sultry bedroom eyes and a knack for working his body around an opponent's. He and his opponent, Billy Lodi, have been schooled at the feet--or rather "at the boots"--of Kid Vicious, so they know how to blend the cruel with the teasing.

There's probably not a lot in these matches for hardcore fans of boxing, but both capture the erotic undercurrents of the sport very effectively for me. They tone down the brutality of the sport, yet the punches (though clearly pulled) still do make a definite impact. I can't tell how skilled these guys might be in a real match. Skrapper vs Lodi goes further than Mayne vs Dynasty, into nudity, into frottage. But Mayne vs Dynasty offers a slightly greater sense of boxing's dangerous side. Both matches are rich in fantasy detail. The competition is playful, yet strong enough to suggest that these are men who understand the dynamics of fighting--not just goofy and amateurish playacting. It's a great little disk, different from a lot of other things I own, but similar in the important ways. I like it a lot, and it has fanned my interest in other BGE boxing-related titles.



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