Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Contender -- Don't Knock It Until You See It

When I first heard Sly Stallone was hosting a show about boxing, I guffawed. Boxing! I'm the gentle type, a pacifist of sorts. I could never see why you would want to try and pound the daylights out of another human being, or worse yet, have him pound the daylights out of you. But then something made me tune in, curiosity perhaps. Or maybe just the fact I am reality TV's biggest fan. You can keep your CSI's, cop programs, lawyer programs or any other current drama and just give me good old-fashioned human nature on parade in its natural form and fashion.

So I tuned in and cut through the layers to reach the heart of the thing. First, I realized our politically correct society with its peacenik overtones has forgotten that boxing is a sport deserving respect, and not a mindless show of aggression. Boxing is a sport, requiring all the training, discipline, and strength as any other sport. It is a fierce combat between two men, but more importantly between two wills...to win.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself. My Epiphany evolved from meeting the players...strong young men, each one working feverishly to better himself, his life, and provide for his family. The prize is rich in this contest, a million dollars, and any one of these 16 gentlemen (soon to be whittled down to the final 2 for a face-off at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas) would be a worthy recipient. We meet them with their families-- doting wives and children, fathers and mothers, all supporting the boxers as only family can. More than once I heard a fighter say the first thing he would do if he won the million dollars is lift his family out of poverty and into a better life. I'm not laughing at boxing anymore. I've found its soul in the determination of these young men to better themselves the only way they know how, and it is the way of the sportsman.

Week by week, I got to know each contestant better. The program succeeds in presenting a well-rounded portrait of each. They undergo weekly challenges with rewards reflective of the good life--stylish new clothes or going to night clubs like they never dreamed of. It is thrilling to see these kids enjoy riches they've never known as a reward for work well done. They are humbled by the experience...and grateful. So refreshing in this "gimme, gimme" world we live in.

The boxing match each week comes in the last segment of the show, and if you thought you were entertained up to this point, you ain't seen nothin' yet. These boys are the best of the best and when they box, it's thunder and lightning. Truly, I've never seen TV as intense as this. The matches are phenomenal. Who will win? First it seems like one, then the other! Each contestant has everything riding on this fight! Whew! Tune in and find out for yourself why boxing is a sport and much more.

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