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Home Boxing GOOD DAD, BAD DAD
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GOOD DAD, BAD DAD

boxing-jabsWhile watching Mike Dallas Jr. dominate every minute of his bout with Miguel Gonzalez on Friday, one thought kept occuring to me, that had nothing to do with the fight: I have never heard of Mike Dallas Sr. Ditto Gary Russell Sr. or Roy Jones Sr. According to boxrec.com, Dallas was a clubfighter from the 90's who Ko'd or was Ko'd by most people he fought, and finished with a 12-13-1 record. It is one thing to stamp a 'junior' on someone if the father is deceased, but in every other case, more fighters should stand up the way Floyd Mayweather has. If you do better than your father, he should be proud. I have a son, and I hope he accomplishes way more than I ever do.

Call me sentimental for members of my other profession, but I subscribe partially to the late great George Carlin on this subject... "I don't respect any man who allows people to call him 'Junior'. I immediately think he's a chump and a loser. 'Junior' means lesser than, underneath, second to." Carlin goes on to brilliantly outline the problems of the 'daddy addicted' athletes, and the manhood problems they cause. Roy Jones often said that he knew at age 13, he would eventually have to leave his father as trainer, because he could never be his own man without him. "In my father's world, HE is the alpha male", said Jones, who said he thought his father had never prepared himself for the idea that his son would have to be his own man.

Naming your son 'junior' immediately puts a stamp on him that plays a huge psychological game. You are no longer a man, you are "my son". That is your identity first. It is not shocking that this selfish, egomaniacal attitude is prevalent in a sport where manhood is constantly tested. Some freely admit that they did this as a result of trauma. George Foreman, the only illegitimate son of a large family, was so traumatized by standing out in this way, that he wanted no confusion as to who his children were. They would always know who their daddy was, so he named them all George. A bit extreme, but at least he admits where it came from.

That being said, Mike Dallas Sr. recently stepped aside to add Virgil Hunter to his son's training regiment. Maybe there is less of an ego here than I thought. After all, the name thing is only one aspect. Boxing is littered with good and bad examples of parents being involved in their children's athletic lives. Some good, some bad. Jack Quarry might have gotten a CT scan done on himself and his wife, because while he passed down one heck of a fighting talent to his sons, he also passed on a propensity for chronic brain damage. Mike, Jerry, and Bobby.. all three fighting Quarrys, have suffered from dementia pugilistica to some extent. Mike and Jerry fatally, while Bobby's career was brief enough to spare that severe a reaction. One need know nothing else about Davey Hilton Sr. than what has become of his boys: Davey, Alex, Matthew, Stuart. One dead, and three felons at last count. Two former world champions in there, sure, but at what cost? Even when it works out, it often starts badly. Oscar de la Hoya said he felt pushed into the sport by his father.

Jack Mosley, however, seems to have relished the spotlight just enough to get his own stable of fighters, yet knew when to make every decent move. He scaled back his own traning of fighters when his son needed him more, and stepped aside entirely when his son needed to move on. This is not to say there has not been friction in that relationship. What father/son team has not had it? However, this seems to be a healthier relationship between less famous father, and more famous son. The Byrds (most famously Chris) are another example of a pretty harmonious fighting family. The women are even in on the act, with Byrd;'s wife involved in training, while mom and sis are in the corner, and fighting, too, respectively.

Many fighters end up in boxing because their fathers were once involved. Chavez Sr. reduces himself to a cheering and mentorship role for his boys. Howard Davis also stepped aside to allow his son to be trained by others. Muhammad Ali was barely a face in his daughter's boxing career. It seems the bigger the boxing name, the less they feel the need to pry in their children's careers. However, for the ones living through their children, we know a lot more about healthy psychology today than we once did. Parents are less free to "raise 'em hard". There are downsides to this, but one upside is the chance to form one's own identity. If Mike Dallas and Gary Russell become names we all know, it will be because of the sons, not the fathers... therefore, maybe the Jr. is not so appropriate.

Chris Strait
www.convictedartist.com

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