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Friday, July 2, 2021

David Kaminsky Training Rapper Blueface Bleedem

Super middleweight David Kaminsky is training rapper Blueface Bleedem for a bare knuckle boxing match on July 23. Blueface faces a TikTok comedian named Kane Trujillo. While this match won't be the reincarnation of Hagler-Hearns, we cannot blame Kaminsky for accepting this celebrity boxing assignment. Enhanced notoriety for Kaminsky Boxing Gym and beefing up his Venmo make it well worth it.

Blueface, born Johnathan Porter, is a rapper known for his offbeat rhymes primarily about his life in a gang. Porter played college football but had no formal training in combat sports before meeting Kaminsky.

Those who decry the increasing prevalence of celebrity pugilists such as Blueface as bad for boxing miss the point. That there is an audience willing to watch celebrity boxing matches shows the power of the sport. No one wants to watch Logan Paul or his brother Jake play tennis or basketball. They'll pay to witness the Pauls lace up the gloves, though.
                               
Boxing at its most exhilarating can be a thrilling action movie. The aforementioned Hagler-Hearns, Chavez-Taylor, Corrales-Castillo, or Ward-Gatti all fall into this category. The difference between an action movie and boxing is that in boxing, the protagonist doesn't reveal himself until the end. The plot is rarely predictable. The action is spontaneous and unscripted.

At its most beautiful, boxing can also take the form of artwork. The masterful performances of Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones, and Pernell Whitaker fall into this category. Their hit-and-not-get-hit styles were the manly art of self-defense personified.

Boxing is such a special sport, spectators will even watch a rapper fight a comedian. But the rise of celebrity prizefights exposes the failure of the business of boxing. While the combination of violence and artistry is at the heart of boxing's appeal, its failure to market its dedicated, yet anonymous, fighters is at the core of its shortcomings. Kids from hardscrabble beginnings, who toil in sweaty gyms for countless years dreaming of a world title, are too often left behind.

Actual professional boxers almost unfailingly possess interesting backstories. Many, if not most, have lived incredible lives. Yuri Foreman, for example, was twice an immigrant before winning a world title, the first Israeli to do so, and then became a rabbi. Yet, for whatever reason, their stories aren't told in a way that captivates the audience in the same manner as these celebrity YouTubers and TikTokers.

Mayweather's career shines light on the road ahead. He crept into the minds of casual boxing fans with a supremely-skilled safety-first style. He managed to promote himself into hundreds of millions of dollars while leaving the bloodthirsty unquenched. The problem is Mayweather and the industry were unable to raise the rest of the business.

The audience needs to be better educated about the sport as well. Knowledgeable boxing fans would rather watch the best fight than novices awkwardly launch wide slaps. Unfortunately, unknowledgeable fans far outnumber those in the know.

The celebrity boxers can't be blamed for trying to cash in on their fleeting fame. They owe nothing to boxing. Their desire to take up the sport, and for fans to watch them, confirms boxing's allure. But the popularity of celebrity boxing reveals the failure of the promoters, the networks, and us, the writers, to connect the David Kaminskys of the boxing world with the audience.

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