Armchair Sports

We've heard the news before. ... On Saturday, 26-year-old super lightweight Martin Sanchez died in a Las Vegas hospital, less than 24 hours after he had been knocked out in the ninth round of a bout against Russia's Rustam Nugaev. He is the fifth boxer since 1994 to die in Nevada as the result of injuries in a bout. ... On April 3, Becky Zerlentes, 34, died as the result of a head injury she sustained during the third round of a Colorado Golden Gloves bout in Denver. Though wearing protective headgear, she succumbed after taking a hit to the head above her left eye. She is the first female boxer to die in the ring in the U.S.

There was a time when the death of a boxer from injuries in the ring would have prompted calls for the sport to be abolished. Too brutal and too dangerous, the critics said.

While there are critics who still feel the same way, boxing continues to serve as a positive outlet to so many young athletes. And that's important to remember.

Ray Tavares, founder and former coach of the Reno Jets boxing club, told Nevada Appeal boxing contributor Mike Houser in a 1995 interview: "My biggest disappointment is when people call boxing a brutal sport. Boxing to me is not a brutal sport. Boxing to me is an art. There's more people hurt in football than boxing ... In other sports, if you're not good enough you sit on the bench. But in boxing, no matter how bad you are, there's always a place for you to compete."

Having a place to compete is a good thing. For many, it's an alternative to the route to the street. And for the young men and women who are passionate about the sport of boxing, it would be wrong to take that route away.


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