On Death and Dying…in Boxing
(Originally Published: July, 2019 @ Boxing.com)
If you’ve trained fighters or if you’ve been a fighter yourself, you know the look.
The kid’s sitting in the far corner of the dressing room. Hands are wrapped, sweat is dripping down his face from the warmup. He’s there, but not really there. His eyes are down, looking off somewhere across the room, but he’s not really focused on anything.
Running through his mind is something primal. Fight or flight. It would be so damn fucking easy to just walk away. Get up, go out that back door, and go home. He wouldn’t get hurt that way. No pain, no blood, no injury, none of embarrassment of being bested in battle, none of the uncertainty that comes with putting oneself in direct danger.
You can almost feel the inner debate. He looks down at his hands, then back off into the distance. You can see a slight twitch in his leg where, maybe, he might get up and walk away. Or maybe he’s going to get up and pace the floor in nervous anticipation.
Fight or Flight.
The warriors move forward and walk into war. The “normal” folk walk back into the safety of a normal life.
On Tuesday, 28-year-old junior welterweight contender Maxim Dadashev passed away from injuries sustained in a bout with Subriel Matias Friday night MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. He leaves behind a wife and a two-year-old son in his native Russia.
MaxBoxing Managing Editor John Raspanti conducted an interview with Dadashev prior to Friday’s fight and talked about a humble, grateful young man with a great appreciation for America and plans to bring his family to the United States to live the American Dream.
Now, of course, it’s all over– the plans, the dreams, the hopes for a better life through combat.
And we are left here to put this into some sort of perspective, to work around the realities of what boxing is and, perhaps, our own culpability in young men with dreams dying for sport.
As I wrote in a piece about the death of Frankie Leal:
“There are no holy men in boxing– at any level. There’s no reconciling the fact that we all, to some degree, deal in death. We draw profit, self-satisfaction, and amusement from men and women paid to walk close to death’s embrace.
If you think otherwise– fans, media, management– you are simply not being honest with yourself.
Boxing is a dark, dangerous alley. Of those who enter, few will survive and thrive…many, many more will never emerge. There is no safe distance from which you can be part of the sport while keeping the blood off your hands.
Those who have worked in the game and know the boxing culture have come to terms with this fact…The Boxing Business is murderous by nature.
For those of us with a heart and soul, coming to terms with our own involvement in a death game is the hardest part of this whole mess.
t’s the reason I have trouble writing these RIP pieces. It’s the reason I take this game way too seriously at times. It’s the reason I toss bombs rather than engage in ass-patting sessions. My heart breaks for those who die in the ring and, equally, for those who are killed little by little from years of punishment they shouldn’t be allowed to take.
But, just as awful as the pain I feel for the dead and dying, is the frustration I feel for just having to accept it all.”
RIP Maxim, you were one of the ones who didn’t walk out the back door into a “normal” life. Like all fighters, you were special—and you paid the ultimate price for it. Hopefully, boxing will now step up and take good care of the family you left behind