Pondering Sports Brutality and Passing Judgement musings on boxing cross-country football and Track Esteban Erik Stipnieks


Somewhere perhaps there is a runner from Ryder high school at Wichita Falls Texas that recalls fading rapidly while running the 3200 at district 1994 at Lewisville high school. After the first mile he withered like drought soaked crop in Texas heat. Behind him lurked the son of Denton ISD's first Latina assistant superintendent who was thinking along the lines that would make officers of his uncle during WWII (SS) proud! Do not die on me yet hoping that the runner from Ryder high would be fast enough to hold off the pass to the ideal position (for the runner making the pass) on the straight away into the wind minimizing total distance of the pass and getting some wind break advantage. The words that were through the Denton Runners mind….Don't die on me yet….and this was followed by profanity as he was forced to make pass about 50 yards sooner than he wanted! Even on the cross-country courses thoughts if read would be surprising "You're hopeless but it is funny watching you try to avoid the inevitable" "Thanks for surrendering the pass" "I'll get you later"

I love distance running but I will admit to this side there is a profound thrill having executed the bulk of a well thought out plan seeing the fates of others who lacked the discipline, or fore thought as they go by powerless to stop the inevitable permanent pass. There is also a bit of double obnoxiousness as a team tries to bottle neck a course (obnoxious on their part) and the runner who uses terrain and stealth to slide through the blockade on the course as it is being formed (eat your crow pirates!). In the heat of passion there are lessons of life but their means of education are far more brutal than the untrained observer catches on. The actual thoughts are straight out of North Dallas 40! I will admit some of my most satisfying memories as a cross-country runner were passes executed with all the warmth of a Siberian winter on runners whom I knew were totally powerless to alter the tide of events because they had made assorted errors before the pass were made. I still grin when I think of how I cannon balled through the Poteet Pirates attempt a blockade at Norbuck park in North Dallas near White Rock lake. It was textbook form text book use of course and oh so satisfying to extend my stride accelerate rapidly downhill and thwart what I considered to be a dirty tactic. Naturally I would rather not mention all the times the Fighting Farmers of Lewisville and Broncos of Denton made team passes acting as they were teammates on a runner from Marcus high. These are made more funny to me because Marcus HS was oh so much like NBHS the school I left behind.

There is another sport I have participated in and covered (I spent a lot of time at track meets and cross-country meets behind the camera….including getting a black belt wanting to kill me for a picture I took of her!) that sport is boxing. I am being ambiguous for a reason as I tell ….

One story involves a person who was a minor when the grudge was born…. The other has profound ability to stimulate but out of respect for the boxers and now deceased involved I will omit their names. I also have a couple stories on the male side which I can be more open about.

Rape…..the word has a powerful connotation. I chose the bout not wanting the participants known not wanting speculation on the guilt innocence etc but well because short of murder rape is easily the most brutal thing any human being can endure. The idea of showing kindness to a person you feel to be a party of your rape and aligned with your rapist seems unimganiable. If one wants to get revenge and lash out violently in retaliation a rape victim is easily such a person. One boxing match I have covered (not saying when) promised to be grudge match because rape was origin of dislike between to the two boxers. One in fact accused the son of the man in her opponent's corner of rape. (Guilt or innocence of accuser acusee is besides the point so please refrain from speculation) The case did make it to court. I will not say where and when this bout occurred because quite frankly it happened a long time ago. The two women were in fact EX gym mates. The match was thrilling with a knockdown it was highly spirited living up to its grudge match hype. After it ended the seemingly surprising occurred an embrace two boxers who went after were visibly friends. They were sisters of the ring who would never see eye to eye their private thoughts about the incident remain regardless of the hatred it was visible to those who were there that the force of sportswoman ship between the boxers was more powerful than the scars of controversy or incident. They were sisters of the ring.

You have to have real memories of the 1980s to remember the J Giles band hit Love Stinks. Adam Sandler had a comedy routine where he torments an ex….the movie War of the Roses is about a divorce couple having it out. Break ups and the emotion that comes with them lead to angst anger and real hatred. Imagine meeting a special somebody at a sporting event and then later after your break up getting to put on gloves and loading up the leather on your ex's face. Oh the drama I witnessed (not saying the fight) two ex-lovers (same sex) go after it for a few rounds. They had also thrown punches at each other as a couple…another story. It was a good clean fight with an ending once again absence of hate between to two either women or men. Out of respect for those boxers I am not revealing their names but like the other fight many at the venue knew when they faced at each in the ring that there was real animosity at the start of the fight.

Having been in the ring and having run distance let me explain one thing in the ring you are too busy to be wrapped up doing too much to have time to dwell on your emotions this applies most of the time. The concentration level of boxer in a bout is comparable to that of a fighter pilot in a dog fight. In the often fatal duels of dogfighting it is when there is a clear winner that any emotion takes place. One WWII ace recalls a sick feeling when his Nazi opponent's parachute failed and he saw in passing the figure the pilot of ME 109 he shot down crash dead to the ground besides his burning airplane. On cross-country course or running distance in track the concentration level required is MUCH LOWER. The mental capacity required even on the most demanding cross-country courses I ran allowed for thinking of things other than the task at hand…this applies even to course at Prince Solms/Hinman Island Park designed by Noel Hansen. I loved the mental work load imposed by the courses he designed. Simply put in the mental capacity not used in actual racing is the ability to experience a whole host of human emotion fully including greed, ambition, anger, the very things I wrote about. Those emotions are reflections on the runner themselves and are as diverse as the runners themselves. Decisions made compared to boxing relatively few and their effects play out over seconds and minutes instead of fractions of a second. The dead space between decision and outcome as a distance runner allows all kinds of thought. Sixty seconds in the ring is a whole heck of a longer than sixty seconds even on the least flat, least straight, most narrow, most crowded cross-country course imaginable because so much more thought and so much more happens in the ring this pushes out malice and hatred. I had plenty of mental capacity to ponder the fact that runner from Ryder high gave me only one very uncomfortable option….no wind break…..much longer distance total to make the pass. I hope if he reads this he laughs now.

Generally speaking….Another aspect of boxing for many boxers themselves is the shared experience nobody but the two boxers throwing leather at each other know what that fight was about. Each bout is an experience shared only by two people the boxers themselves. Most boxers I know are drawn to the intensity of the sport for the reasons mentioned in the paragraph above. So their opponent becomes a means to an end to go through that experience. The difference between male and female is often shown post fight as women discuss their bouts and consider their opponents….this is not to say I have not seen male boxers do likewise even in the pro ranks. Steven Hall's last pro fight is a classic case in point on a fight card of life and death. I have even joked about my pro fight with my opponent adding the historic punch line. Women tend to be more vocal about it.

This is not to say they are not sadistic boxers or coaches that encourage a degree of sadism. They are in the sport and their goal is win at all costs and more so in the male ranks a sincere hatred of your opponent! The opposite is nothing personal logos just business. Generally speaking those boxers and coaches are not liked within the sport and tend to generate towards themselves grief and hostility in proportion to the extent their sadistic streak is known. Now on the other side do I know some gyms coach dirty tactics (yes) do I look out for it in the ring (ABSOLUTELY a picture is worth a thousand words six pictures of the same fouls per bout tend to end debate). Have I photographed fouls of a boxer in hope some future official would know what to watch for…yes. Do I personally like those who teach such things no. I am hardly alone within the boxing community quite frankly I am THE NORM!

Boxing is often viewed as a sadistic cruel sport and the misinformed seem blown away by the reality. By the same token some sports that seem tame allow time for the darker aspects of human emotion to flood their participants mind. I took the most extreme example the alleged rape victim whose opponent was trained by the father of the person accused of rape to hammer the point. Even ex LGB lovers showed no real malice after their break up bout. Given those two extremes what happened with Steven Hall's last fight is almost to be expected. The real news is when a sadistic boxer shows that side. It was no surprise to me when a trainer of the victorious boxer was the guardian angel of her opponent. Well my rant is over with go in peace. / Back to Main page