Michael Wilbon Joins a 134 Year Tradition of Knuckle Heads

Boxing’s Doomsday Prophets Are Nothing New

As it is, the school of boxing is rapidly dying out, and when the professors of the present day have passed away it will be hard to say where the new ones are to come from.
Professor Ned Donelly, The Art of Boxing, 1879

Professional boxing is dying a natural death
LA Times, 1913

Tex Rickard, veteran promoter of boxing contests, today told the Staff Press the end of boxing in New York state is so near he can almost feel it. Even if Gov. Whitman, in the opinion of Rickard should suddenly relent in his avowed intention of crushing the game in this state, the sport has been given such a black eye that it should never recover. This of course, indicates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rickard, stager of sensational matches, no longer is to be considered a factor in moving for big bouts in this city or state. … ‘There is no attraction, no matter how great in the boxing world,’ the promoter said, ‘that would be worth a man’s while in New York. The attendance would be so small money would be lost on any great venture in the sport.‘” H.C. Hamilton, 1917

“[Kid] Howard, who has seen champions come and go, believes that professional boxing is dying and that it will be supplanted by the amateurs. ‘And it will be just too bad,’ Howard said. Himself a former featherweight, Howard believes he knows whereof he speaks. ‘Boxing is a sport for men and not young boys,’ he explained. ‘The result, in my judgment, will be distressing if they allow young boys to engage in the game. The results of early training and abuses in the ring will bring about mental, perhaps physical, injuries if there is not supervision of their conditioning and their performances in the ring.’ … ‘The sport is dying,’ he said reminiscently. There are not enough good boxers or attractions left. I can see no future for the sport.'” Register-Republic, 1934

The game of boxing is dying today because the boys do not know how to box. There is no one to teach them how and they won’t work anyway“.
LA Times, 1940

Radio is not “causing the demise of big-time boxing”, John Ford, WTCN-Blue newscaster, told his audience in rebuttal to an attack on radio and boxing, published by Dick Cullum, sports editor of the Minneapolis Daily Times, 10 days ago.
Cullum had charged that because sponsors want their full time on the air in which to get in their commercials, fight broadcasts go without knockouts these days and become uninteresting dancing exhibitions.
The Billboard, 1944

Now a traffic representative for a trucking concern, [Gus] Lesnevich mourns the fact that boxing is ‘dying’ but doesn’t see the say when it will become extinct. ‘In New York City alone there used to be seven fight clubs running each week,’ he recalls. ‘Now I don’t believe there are that many in the whole country. But the amateurs will help to keep it alive and there is still big money to be made, even though the government takes most of it.‘” Oscar Fraley, 1958

Boxing is not dying”, said Jack Dempsey sadly, “it’s dead”. Even as the old champ spoke last week the corpse of a one lively sport was just barely twitching… Jack Dempsey was not the only old champ to grieve. Mickey Walker and Gene Tunney were equally mournful… “It’s gone, boxing. Today you show any style and they put you on TV. They’ll take anyone.” Neither Tunney nor Walker knew quite what to do with the corpse.
Life Magazine, 1961

Jack Dempsey celebrated his 66th birthday yesterday with a wish that boxing would take steps to save itself — and its fighters. ‘TV, or rather too much TV, and the people who profit from it, has put the independent promoters out of business,’ the Manassa Mauler said. ‘There are few, if any, small clubs in the country. Those clubs were the source of talent. Without fresh talent, boxing is dying.’ Dempsey suggested that a fighters’ pension fund could be established with a percentage of television fight receipts. ‘A small percentage, just one percent,’ he said.” Associated Press, 1961

The experts have been saying for years that boxing is dying because kids no longer are hungry, because boxing no longer is the way for a poor kid to get rich quick.
LA Times, 1963

 “I said boxing is dead, and I guess it’s true,Rocky Marciano 1965.

Yes, it must be. They told me it was dying when I got into it as a professional in 1936. I think it started dying at about the dawn of history. So I guess it is still dying.
Archie Moore, 1972

Boxing right now is dying with its superstar Muhammad Ali fighting competitors not worthy to try for his crown.
Black Belt Magazine, 1976

The whole heavyweight division stinks at the moment. I’m just waiting for the old, fat bums to disappear.” Bob Arum in 1985.

A lot of the people who say Mike Tyson shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame because he never won a big super match with a big fighter of his era. The truth of the matter is there wasn’t too much around in his era at the time when Mike Tyson was in his prime
Emanuel Steward about the 1980s-1990s

Reason 2,571 that boxing is dying: Too many champions. Someone out there is the Intercontinental Boxing Federation featherweight champion. Big deal. Everyone is a champion. And no one is a champion. The sign in the corner of the little gym on Greene Street tells what boxing used to be. This is James J. Corbett’s famous quote about fighting one more round: ‘When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black, and you are so tired that you wish your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round.’ Most of these kids probably never even read this sign. They are here to fight, not read. But they pass it by every day. Boxing has become glitz and glamour. It’s become The Mirage in Vegas and Trump Castle in Atlantic City. Has-beens fight has-beens, and champions lose their heart, and fighters die in the ring, and fighters fight to build bank accounts of ruthless promoters. Boxing is dying. But they all look to fight one more round here in boxing’s last oasis. Just one more round. Unless there are other places like this one, one round might be all boxing has left.” Joe Posnanski, 1992

Most of his opponents could only aspire to be tomato cans
Larry Merchant, about Shannon Briggs in 1996.

There is a huge choir of cynics out there, particularly in the boxing written press, who will never be impressed with anything Lennox Lewis does. Their take is that Lennox Lewis he rose to the top of the division at a moment when there wasn’t any real competition there to face him.
Jim Lampley, 2000

“[I hear] every, every year “Boxing is dying”. Every year “Boxing’s dying”. I’ve been hearing this for so many years, it’s a joke. At the end of the day there’s more televised shows than ever.” Frank Warren, 2012

He’s the last headliner out there in professional boxing,” stated Wilbon about Mayweather.
What other names do you know? You know the Klitschko name, that’s it. Who else do you know,” said Kornheiser.
He’s the last guy out there for a sport that’s all but dead,” said Wilbon. “This is it. It’s over for boxing after this.

Nothing will kill boxing. And nothing can save it.” Larry Merchant

Matt Hamilton, for ESNewsReporting

Matt Hamilton

Matt Hamilton