Archive for October 9th, 2010


Boxing rings

Boxing rings

I’m starting a paper about the territoriality of sacred space.  It got me to thinking about boxing rings.  We enter them to do combat, and yet with all the trappings and rituals of a religious rite.  We wear sanctified garments, observe specific intervals for actual fighting, and even as we fight, we observe rules.  We fight a “clean” fight, so as not to do permanent harm.  We touch gloves at the beginning of the rounds and often embrace at the end.  Thus each fighter is mindful of his or her place in the pomp and circumstance of the experience.   It seems that the boundaries of the ring are what creates that sense of its being a special place.  Look at fighters before a fight and at what happens to them once they are in the ring.  They are no less eager to win, but the form counts for what fighters do and how they feel about themselves as they box.  Just think of our horror when Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear.  The act not only broke the rules of the fight, but some fundamental agreement on the boundaries of the ring.  Certainly one can fight a tough fight, but again, the ultimate idea is that the ring equates to a ritualized process.  Biting someone’s ear broke that covenant, just as loading someone’s gloves with weights or even badly mis-matching a fight breaks that boundary.

October 2010

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