Sugar Ray

Found myself on watching the video of the 1981 Sugar Ray Leonard - Tommy Hearns fight on Youtube yesterday evening:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGLL0itOAe8

The Leonard-Hearns fight had been keenly anticipated for a long time. Going into this fight, Hearns, who grew upon the streets of Detroit, was regarded as far more formidable, since he had knocked out almost all of his opponents in the first few rounds.

I've seen ballet, modern dance, and jazz dancing, and none of them ever really grabbed me. It's impressive to see a great dancer move. But most dancing strikes me as fey, not necessarily all that demanding from an athletic standpoint, and somehow pointless.

There is a similar grace in boxing, yet it is far more compelling. A great boxer can have all of the willowy lightness and rhythm and control of a great dancer, yet to be successful he must combine it with lethal power and speed.

Of all the boxers I've ever seen, Sugar Ray Leonard embodied all those attributes the most completely. He also showed a preternatural calm, in what has to be one of the most nerve-wracking situations you could possibly find yourself: in a ring with another man who wants to knock your head off, with big money at stake, and millions watching.

The fight linked above was a dramatic bout, with the bull and matador switching roles halfway through.

Of course, all fights are inherently more dramatic than any dance, given the downside of a poor performance in each.


(Here's a higher quality video, though it's only the first of six parts:)