By Simon Andras
Boxing has quite a history, perhaps more than most major sports these days. Legendary fighters live on famously (or infamously) for decades after they quit stepping into the ring. Stories of the epic fights live on in our minds and hearts for decades - they inspire us as people and competitors to reach out and be better. Maybe boxing is where the story of the underdog really comes from.
Boxing's history goes back thousands of years, and one item that has always been inextricably linked to the sport for as long as we can remember has been gambling. Watching and gambling on a fight almost always went hand in hand. We've seen this time and time again in the news and even in some of Hollywood's continual retellings of the best boxing stories in history. Unfortunately, boxing isn't quite the same sport that it used to be, but it still fights on.
Boxing has endured it share of hardships and has sadly become a shell of its former glorious self. The days of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson gracing the ring with their presence are gone - there are still great fighters but no sport changing names that will go down in history like some who have went before. Many of these hardships are due to the match fixing scandals which ran rampant for quite some time. By all accounts, boxing has cleaned up their image and is headed in the right direction - but many fans and gamblers alike lost faith in the great sport of boxing - and now who can really blame them, anyways?
A second item that has hurt boxing is its competition against other major sports. There were times when boxing wagers outnumbered the NFLs - but those days are now long gone. All major sports now have bigger television followings and longer seasons - they take precedence in almost all facets of the media. The biggest fights often get relegated to a pay per view basis, leaving all but the die hard fans in the dark.
For most of us, it's hard to imagine a world where boxing was bigger than the NFL - which is an enormously powerful multi-billion dollar organization itself. The Super Bowl alone receives billions of dollars of gambler's money each and every year, but it wasn't always like this.
In decades past, that's how boxing was - with nearly the entire country rallying around their TV (or radio) sets for the main fights with the sports biggest names. Anticipation would build for days, or perhaps weeks before certain events, and even to this day the cinema world is reliving some of those epic moments of boxing's history.
I'm not saying that boxing is dead - because it's not by any stretch of the imagination. Neither is sports gambling. In fact, boxing does appear to be regaining some steam in the world of sports, and maybe one day we will see this great sport ascend to the space that it once occupied not so long ago. Boxing is evolving with the times, and is even developing new offshoot sports which are now landing some pretty major television deals. Maybe boxing isn't for everyone, but companies have found ways to make mountains of money off of it and if it has to live on through a pay per view style of programming - so be it.
Among all the competition and scandals, boxing slowly started to fade into a lesser place. It still lives in our hearts, but remains vastly misunderstood in today's sports crazed world. Why is this? When was the last time you wagered on a fight? Share your thoughts in the comments section!