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Ego fighter

Thursday, 30 April, 2015

Norman Mailer raised the bar high for those who write about boxing with the opening lines of King of the Hill, his take on the “Fight of the Century” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1971. Snippet:

King of the HIll“It is the great word of the 20th Century. If there is a single word our century has added to the potentiality of language, it is ego. Everything we have done in this century, from monumental feats to nightmares of human destruction, has been a function of that extraordinary state of the psyche which gives us authority to declare we are sure of ourselves when we are not.

Ego is driving a point through to a conclusion you are obliged to reach without knowing too much about the ground you cross between. You suffer for a larger point. Every good prizefighter must have a large ego, then, because he is trying to demolish a man he doesn’t know too much about, he is unfeeling — which is the ground floor of the ego; and he is full of techniques — which are the wings of ego. What separates the noble ego of prizefighters from the lesser ego of authors is that the fighter goes through experiences in the ring which are occasionally immense, incommunicable except to fighters who have been as good, or to women who have gone through every minute of an anguish-filled birth, experiences which are finally mysterious.”

Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. has the ego thing. “All roads lead to Floyd Mayweather,” he’s fond of saying. He has filmed himself surrounded by heaps of dollars, and he likes to have $10,000 in cash in his pocket as walking-around money: “You never know when you might need a Brioni shirt.” As a child, he saw family members destroyed by drugs and he learned early on to look after Number One. HBO boxing commentator Jim Lampley called Mayweather “an often aggressively distasteful human being whose behaviors are a blight on the boxing landscape.” In the ring, though, he is one of the great defensive specialists in boxing history, as his 47-0 record shows.


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