Boxing has an enigmatic magnetism for me. Enigmatic, because I was born without a fighting gene. If you don’t count clench-eyed childhood fisticuffs flurries with my brother, I’ve never hit anyone. I copped a whack to the jaw once, in primary school, when I accused an opponent of cheating in “handball” (no resemblance to the European game). Came out of nowhere, sat me on my arse and shocked the hell out of me. I’ve never forgotten it.
So what attracts a wuz like me to boxing? My initial interest probably derived from watching championship title bouts on TV as a kid with my father and brother. In those days, there was no pay TV – all world title fights were broadcast, and were events not to be missed. This was the time of local heroes Lionel Rose and Johnny Famechon, and of course the great icon of the 60s/early 70s, Mohammad Ali.
Ali embodied the paradoxes that made boxing so compelling for me. The showbiz pizazz, the sense of theatre. The bemusing cohabitation of bone-rattling brute power and grace that tipped over into kinetic poetry. The pre-fight bragging and playful wit that charmed the media and public while serving a dual function as the psychological weapons of a smiling assassin. The nobility of the great warrior superimposed on the primal savagery that lurks within the athlete killer in the ring.
Then there is the backdrop – the flood-lit roped-off square of canvas sanctifying grievous bodily harm and murderous intent. The crowd baying its blood lust. The enormous stakes, the terrible risk of annihilation, the sweat and the fury, the impossible art of it all.
In the combination of these disparate elements lies boxing’s allure.
My interest in boxing does not generally extend to boxing movies. However, I attended an advance screening of Two Fists One Heart last Sunday with a heightened sense of curiousity, firstly because it was filmed in Perth, and secondly because I was aware that it was the culmination of a 10 year dream of “Northbridge identity” Rai Fazio. Rightly or wrongly, I associate Fazio with seedy suburban gyms and the shady mythologised figures of Perth’s underworld – not the sort of demographic that typically spawns movie makers and artists, you’d think. Intriguing. Continue reading ‘Two Fists One Heart’ – Better Than OK, Not Quite A KO