If you’re never wrong, that ain’t right

I grew up loving the sport of boxing. I remember when Leon Spinks upset Muhammad Ali. I recall the brilliance of Sugar Ray Leonard and the rise of Mike Tyson, who was once the most feared man in boxing, not just the most feared man on JetBlue flights … although that jerk he beat up had it coming. My favorite boxer of all time was brawler Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who knocked out Thomas Hearns in “The War” of 1985 — considered by many to be the greatest three rounds in boxing history.

I loved boxing because it’s raw. It’s simple. Bash the other guy. Knock him out. I became a backyard boxer myself. We didn’t have Gold Gloves in my hometown of Oglethorpe, Georgia — just some red gloves that I wore out with friends. I might not have inherited the semi-pro boxing skills of my paternal grandfather — who was more along the lines of Fido from “Every Which Way But Loose” than Muhammad Ali — but I got good enough that my friends wouldn’t let me punch them in the head. I never got a trophy, but I did have the crowning achievement of breaking an older cousin’s nose at a family Christmas party.

Pay-per-view, though, ultimately ended my love of boxing. It was 2015, to be exact, when a couple of friends and I forked out a bunch of money to watch what was supposed to be the fight of the century between Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather in 2015. It was a dud. I wasted money watching two guys dance. It wasn’t that the sport facilitates head injuries while the NFL and others try to prevent them. The issue was that I’d wasted money. Those who know me well know it’s easier to reach me through my cheapness than with a morality check.

Then last week South African boxer Simiso Buthelezi died after suffering a brain bleed. He was doing just fine in the ring and had knocked his opponent down but then began punching at invisible opponents. The bleeding confused his brain. He died at the hospital. (You can see the short video here. It’s not brutal, but it is very scary.)

He’s not the first boxer killed. As for the ones who survive, listen to them talk after age 50. There are exceptions, but often it is sad. We worry about football players and their head injuries even as we root for boxers to inflict them and actually sanction their bouts.

So, I admit it: I was wrong to love boxing. I’ve been wrong about three or four things in my life — er, I mean in the last day or so. We’re humans. We’re wrong a lot. Well, unless you’re a politician, in which case you’re never wrong. You were just misquoted, taken out of context, or that’s fake news. On video? Nah, still fake.

There’s nothing wrong with being wrong except never being wrong and never getting it right. Some of the greatest discoveries have happened when scientists experimented to prove a theory and instead proved they were wrong, gloriously wrong.

Social media histories haunt many people when they get famous as others find that, at some point, they were wrong — on race, gender issues, the 2nd Amendment, equality, placating Putin, ignoring climate change, doling out Covid funds with little oversight or coming up with stupid slogans like “Defund the Police.” (That’s a rare talent to create a three-word slogan that you then have to clarify and explain all the time.)

Even the Founding Fathers could be wrong — including with their use of commas. The 2nd Amendment begins “A well regulated militia …” and gets so wordy and comma-infested from there that it becomes difficult to understand and open to interpretation even by “originalists” who tell you what a Founding Father meant (as if they could know) as it relates to issues they never could have foreseen — like television, space travel, the internet, women voting, automatic weapons, semi-automatic weapons, etc. I can’t even read the 2nd Amendment after the “well regulated” part because they forgot to hyphenate well-regulated even before they start comma-ing. I assume the Founding Fathers use the word “individual” a lot later on in that choppy sentence to clarify that it wasn’t really about militias or groups plural but that they nevertheless wanted things well-regulated … unless we someday came up with AR-15s and high-capacity ammunition magazines — in which case forget about that well-regulated stuff, too, because it should work out fine with no slippery slope regulations needed.

Besides, I hate, hate, hate, hate commas. Oh — and long dashes, and ellipses and …

And if you think I’m a bad writer now, read my old stuff. Wait! Please don’t! This is an improvement, believe it or not! You might even find writing that didn’t age so well, such as when I pushed for Jerry Reed to win a posthumous Best Actor Oscar for his role as Cledus Snow in “Smokey and the Bandit.”

I was absolutely, 100 percent not wrong about that, but I think I used to incorrectly spell it “Cletus.”

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