Part of boxing's lure has long been the sport’s connection to the “gritty underbelly” of society. While most pro athletes must cope with the sting of a lost endorsement after an embarrassing legal mishap, on a boxer, a criminal arrest record
suits their career just fine. Jailbird Mayweather’s ultra-controversial image just gives the advertising gurus an extra-juicy left hook.When most folks think about the world of boxing, we tend to conjure up images of scrappy, street-savvy men from the streets exchanging blows in some wonderfully seedy back alley boxing ring. Yes, this sport certainly has a tough reputation, and the public has an unusually high tolerance for boxers who live outside of the law.Our Love/Hate Relationship With Floyd MayweatherWe all expect young, successful boxers to display a certain level of cockiness. As celebrity pop culture has repeatedly shown us, most adoring fans will happily overlook the occasional DUI arrest, messy breakup, or drunken public rampage. But Floyd “Money” Mayweather
has continuously managed to pile on the final straws of bad decisions that force us to finally say, “F@#$ that guy.”Then we see him in a fight. And all at once we are forced to overlook how ridiculous he is as a human being, and simply respect his abilities as a boxer. I truly believe that boxing is the only sport that allows for such a conflicted relationship between fans, and players.Mike Tyson Somehow Evades Public Scrutiny Then there’s former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, who still remains a staple in pop culture despite being arrested a staggering 38 times
during his teenage years. Could an athlete in any other profession have achieved the same level of international stardom if they had a rap sheet this long?Tyson’s legal troubles didn’t stop after his adolescence either. Since he began his boxing career, “Iron Mike” has been arrested for felony drug possession, assault and battery, as well as the famous arrest in 1991 for the rape of Miss Black Rhode Island, a charge for which he was convicted and served three years in prison.And let’s not forget that Tyson also bit part of a man’s ear off during a fight. And yet. . . this convicted rapist was still able to land himself a hilarious side role in the Hangover. Why are we so forgiving when it comes to the heinous transgressions of the boxing elite?Boxing Begins To Pack A Positive PunchOf course, not all up-and-coming boxing sensations are juvenile delinquents. Many argue that the sport of boxing is actually a great way to keep at-risk kids out of trouble. The Gene Lewis Boxing Club
in the state of Arizona hosts a program called “Boxing for a Better LIfe.” This program goes above and beyond the normal training classes in a boxing gym.Young people participating in the “Boxing for a Better Life” program are taught about proper nutrition, teamwork, and must maintain a GPA of at least 2.5 to stay. The club is free, and serves “kids from all walks of life.” Their mission statement is, “To promote decency and prevent delinquency through services geared to “providing behavioral guidance and the promotion of health, social, educational, vocational and character development of boys and girls.”Hopefully America’s next generation of boxing stars will be a little more like Manny Pacquiao
and Miguel Cotto, and a little less like Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson.Do you think the future of boxing will usher in a new generation of righteous fighters? Author bio: Jessica Ruane
is a diehard boxing fan. She specializes in blogging about sports, crime, and pop culture at blog.instantcheckmate.com
. When she’s not investigating the arrest records of pro athletes, she’s probably at home playing with her cat.