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· Anon.
1,562 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Don't Blame Ruby: A Boxing Tragedy Revisited
By Mike Silver on July 30, 2012

"If boxing is a sport it is the most tragic of all sports because more than any other human activity it consumes the very excellence it displays-its drama is this very consumption."-Joyce Carol Oates

On March 23, 1962 Benny "Kid" Paret, the welterweight champion of the world, was beaten into a coma in the 12th round by former champion Emile Griffith at New York's Madison Square Garden. Despite emergency brain surgery Paret never regained consciousness and died ten days later.

Boxers had been killed in the ring before (192 in the previous 16 years) but never in the modern history of the prize ring had a champion died defending his title. And never before had anyone ever been fatally injured in front of a nationwide television audience. (Twenty months later Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, would be the second person killed during a live nationwide broadcast).

Estimates put the number of people who watched the Paret vs. Griffith fight at 14 million. The tragedy, being so public and involving a world champion, shook the boxing world to its very core. The memory of the fight and its brutal ending-unforgettable to those who witnessed it on television or in person-remains an iconic moment in the history of boxing.

There is an infamous side story to the fight that involves Paret's insulting Griffith at the boxing commission's weigh-in on the morning of the fight. Paret's gay-baiting remark and boorish behavior was meant to unnerve Griffith and it worked. Griffith was furious and had to be restrained from starting the fight then and there. But that ugly incident is not relevant to the purpose of this article which is to set the record straight as to who was really responsible for Paret's death and to determine if it could have been avoided.

Details of the fight resurfaced not too long ago in obituaries of Gil Clancy, the well-known trainer and co-manager of Emile Griffith. Most of the articles stated that Paret had died because the referee, Ruby Goldstein, waited too long to stop the fight. This explanation has been repeated so often over the years that most people just accept it at face value. But an examination of the facts leading up to the tragedy reveals a far more complex answer to the question of who bears responsibility for the tragedy.

The competence of boxing referees remains an ongoing problem in professional boxing. In no other sport can a wrong decision by an official have fatal consequences for the athlete. It is a very heavy responsibility. There have been a number of previous boxing fatalities that can be directly attributed to a referee acting too late to stop a fight-but this was not one of them.
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· Registered
337 Posts
Interesting article, it's pretty much all news to me, but assuming the facts are straight, it's quite hard to argue. The last paragraph before the epilogue is all horrible hyperbole though which suddenly sours my opinion of the writer. I mean, "the soon-to-be-ex-champion was literally a dead man walking"? Do me a favour.:bart You've made your point in a convincing and articulate way throughout the whole article, no need to say he was a ticking time bomb and the guy who knocked on his door may as well have been an executioner.

I watched the knockout and regretted it, it's horrible viewing.

Cheers for sharing though @scribbs

· Old Style New
4,318 Posts
In this instance, you have to go against the tendency to seek an individual out and assign them the blame; it needs to be spread around. To Paret for enticing an already motivated Griffith into not having any interest in showing the slightest bit of mercy towards the perpetrator of an unspeakable insult. To Alfaro for trying to get every dime out of Paret before he was going to leave Benny's career on the side of the road like trash. To Goldstein for inexplicably getting caught up in the moment and not objectively doing his job. Finally, to the randomness of life. The beating Paret took from Fullmer should've been enough to have done this, but all it really did was set Paret up for the final fall against Griffith.
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