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The demise of boxing journalism

By Carlo Rotella
November 11, 2011

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The nostalgia inspired by Joe Frazier’s death has been for a time when a boxing match could mean so much to so many people. Boxing, which once upon a time shared with baseball the status of America’s most popular sport, has receded from mainstream to niche for a variety of reasons. Some are structural: our culture’s increasing estrangement from skilled manual labor; the collapse of the old neighborhood order that included the corner gym; the rise of football, basketball, TV, and suburbia. Some of the reasons for the decline are more specific to the boxing business, like the short-sighted profit-seeking that led to the fragmentation of world titles and the embrace of pay-per-view. There’s been a parallel and related decline of the boxing press. George Kimball was one of the very last of the professional boxing writers. He exemplified a class of journalists who, like boxers, have to strike some kind of balance between doing it for love (so to speak) and doing it for just enough money to temper enthusiasm and cynicism with the rigor that comes of routinely delivering the goods to earn a living. Carlo Rotella

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