There are just a couple of problems with this enticing scenario for the average boxing fanatic, Ali is in no physical condition for any form of rigorous physical activity, no thanks to Parkinson’s, a syndrome normally associated with practitioners of this particular genre of sports, Frazier’s a couple years on the other side, the mix of people in this audience can most definitely not afford an Ali, Frazier rematch or aren’t even eligible to spectate in one, we have here children, kiosk and store owners nearby, passers-by and hawkers who have dropped their goods and figure their legs could use a little rest and their eyes could use a little “entertainment”, life is not all about earning a living after all, and they attest to it well by stopping by.
Okay, so Ali and Joe Frazier decide to have another go at it, Ali is all pumped and warming up with his famous shuffle, ready to go 12 straight rounds, Frazier is working up his left hook, he’s banking on replaying the same left hook knock out punch that saw Ali hit the ground in madison square garden 1971, he’s bustling with energy as usual, and from the look of things these two are hell bent on seeing this all the way.
Yes this crowd might not spend a dime on a legitimate boxing contest, but they however provide valuable service to this action display, they do a rather excellent job of enclosing the combat arena for this open and apparently entertaining display of one of the consequences of the nation’s unemployment problem (youth restiveness) to take place. We could very well mistake this for a local wrestling match, if it weren’t for the rather ill-placed location, a sandy un-tarred road in this not so eye-catching part of the town of Warri, Nigeria.
The two main actors in this mid-day display of “we ain’t got better work to do” are not registered boxers, Oh no no no. These two definitely aren’t Ali and Frazier, these are two not so highly esteemed Nigerian men of the “Okada” riding profession, who have apparently become too bored with the fairly productive routine of faring passengers across locations in exchange for a couple of Naira notes, and the occasional hooting and ogling at voluptuous, “bumbum bigger than bombay” women going about their own activities, minding their own business.
It is an otherwise normal day like every other, except that sometime during the day, these two young men had an argument about how the road should have been used by both parties, probably bored or having stuffed their pockets with enough financial supplies to last them through any rainy day, they decided to skip the part where human beings use their mouths and their thinking ability to drive their points and fast-forwarded to the part where hands did the talking, (they probably figured the fists make a louder, much harder point). They come up with some “creative way” of spicing up their otherwise, probably uneventful day, and the day of the audience they attracted. The busy bodies will at least profit by having something to talk about for the next half hour after the show was over.
I would say these two men are doing a service to this community, they attract a larger crowd than a presidential visit to this part of the town might.
One, two, three, go! A couple of threats are exchanged between combatants to be, one aggressor shoves the other in the chest, the other returns the favour, “ghen ghen ghen” it’s not long before fists are swinging at faces, legs are springing at stomachs, arms entangle necks, hips are gripped, attempts are made to sweep the rival off the ground, balances are lost and regained, in the twists and turns of this live action, the partakers get a good view of the ground from time to time before getting back up, even more spurred for some “serious” action, both combatants re-enact the higher levels of a mortal kombat tournament. Flurries of punches are exchanged by both men, like dogs over bones, like rural kids over biscuits, like lions over claim of a pride, these two appear to go non-stop at each other.
It takes a while for the enthusiasm and energy to die down with these self proclaimed “athletes”, but nothing lasts forever apparently (or rather obviously, the way these two went at each other, you would think it was immortalkombat they were locked in). After a while the jeers and cheers of the crowd fade, the spectators figure there’s a life to return to and eventually get back to going about their daily activities, not before spending a large chunk of the 12 productive hours people in search of and actually earning a living in a civilized society will usually cherish and try putting to good use, apparently this is the wrong kind of “civilized” society to expect that from.
Yes people have differences and cooler heads don’t always prevail, and it’s not something to be proud of when a person suspends the voice of reason, having said that, The actual partakers in this scenario that I applaud with gross shame are the SPECTATORS
THE SPECTATOR who ordinarily had his own line of activities (or “no activities” perhaps) but somehow found it more profitable to take a good portion of their time to help perform the function of a boxing ring, and audience, all in one package, providing “ginger” to the combatant they support and jeers or nasty remarks to the combatant they don’t. It’s surprising because actual violence wouldn’t appeal to the normal productive mind. Yeah, when it’s on the big screen, where it’s obviously unreal, we could find it fascinating to watch maybe even engage in (for the video gamer), but something about the real life scenario, where only tangible destruction is obvious, erases the luster the big screen gives it, the unnecessary injuries, the probable visit to the doctor or worse, undertakers, the very fact that encouraging this kind of spectacle will make a community pretty uninhabitable if everyone resolved conflicts using their fists.
When I think about how much a shell worker earns and how much a brick layer makes (not that i’m judging) and compare the amount of physical work both put into their daily work affairs, it’s clear that more of brains and less of brawns give a way higher standard of living, I think I’ll pick a shot at having a possible civilized dispute with a co-worker of that caliber in that working environment than risk having a boxing contest with the regular brick layer over some petty conflict. I’d prefer to spectate more at brainy activities than ever having to watch some public brawl, I can contribute to the former, the latter? puh-lease, by no means, I think I’ll pass, I think I’ll pass graciously. I’d so get my ass whooped, am definitely not a favorite for a “thrilla in manila“.