Kimbo Slice… Don’t Believe The Hype
I get the whole MMA/UFC phenomenon. I totally understand today in our microwave, text message, Ipod ADD society the development, growth and popularity of the sport and I think it is without question a sport in our pop culture society. Let’s keep it real, on over the air broadcast television recently it got better ratings than the Stanley Cup Finals…yea the Stanley Cup Finals. That probably says more about how far hockey has fallen, but that is not the main focus of this blog. The hottest thing going in the sport is a fellow by the name of Kevin Ferguson, you know him by his combat competitive name “Kimbo Slice”.
This is a man who rose from homelessness on the streets of Miami to gathering a major rep as a bare-knuckle street fighting knockout artist whose exploits were first exposed on the internet. He has taken that success and reputation and made himself into one of the hottest names in MMA and clearly created buzz in our pop culture. Proof is in the fact that he just headlined the 1st MMA (mixed-martial arts)UFC(Ultimate Fighting Championship) card on over the air tv. Does this rags to riches story sound familiar? I’ll tell you why it does because it use to happen and be brought to us in the world of boxing, and because of a number of reasons that doesn’t happen nearly as much any more with the great sport of boxing.
All of my life I have been blessed to have eras in the sport of boxing that made it compelling, interesting and must see TV. Believe it or not it still has that element today, but boxing has destroyed itself in terms of being in the forefront of the American sports scene, staying on the consciousness of sports fans and relevant in our society. Lack of top flight match-ups especially in the heavyweight division has muted interest across the board. Boxing pool of candidates has been affected by the fact that the sport once looked at as a way out poverty is not as much as it was in past generations in this country, although it has been seen a way to wealth and success in other countries, which is why most of your champions these days are from countries we can’t even pronounce, much less know exist. I grew up with Ali, Leonard, Hearns, Duran, Holmes, Lewis, Holyfield, Trinidad, De-La Hoya, Chavez and of Course “Iron” Mike Tyson, who carried the sport in and out of the ring from 1985 up until about 2004.
This gets me back to new kid on the block, to sustain success you need rivalries, you need dynamic characters, you always need, great drama in the context of competition and you need those moments that you never forget in the match-ups that you never forget. Boxing has destroyed its self with the many sanctioned groups with championship belts, lack of quality promotions on over the air television (they are not alone on that one) and just flat out greed. We will see where the “new” sports goes in terms of interest and climbing that ladder of importance in the world of sport. I’m a curious bystander and have been so of the MMA-UFC sport since it began its rise in the early nineties, but I also understand that in the world of boxing its been left for dead on many occasions and rose from its grave with a couple of good fighters in their prime or one compelling fighter capturing the attention of an entire society. Is Kimbo Slice the 1st real Jack Johnson, Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali of this sport…stay tuned; as decided in those eras of boxing, our society will decide that too in the infancy of MMA-UFC sport.
Steve Haywood, Host of “That Being Said”
ESPN Radio 540 Milwaukee