The New Republic on McCain, Boxing, and MMA

July 30, 2008

The New Republic has an excellent article up on Senator John McCain and his noted love of boxing, with his lack of love for MMA receiving much play. MMA stalwart Eddie Goldman makes an early appearance in the article:

John McCain has made plenty of political enemies in his day, but among the most surprising is Eddie Goldman. The New York resident doesn’t fixate on McCain’s position on campaign finance, or his religious views, or his support for the Iraq war. What upsets Goldman is the way John McCain treated ultimate fighting.

Yes, ultimate fighting–that no-holds-barred hybrid of boxing, wrestling, and martial arts immortalized in the hit movie Fight Club. Ultimate fighting sprang up in the early 1990s with a flurry of neck chops, spleen blows, and roundhouses to the face. Goldman, a longtime sports commentator, was an early fan and evangelist; McCain was an early and vociferous critic. He condemned the sport as “human cockfighting,” leaned on cable companies not to televise it, and sought to ban it nationwide. “It’s an abuse of power story!” fumes Goldman. “The vehemence of McCain’s position had no rational explanation.”

The article goes own to put forth McCain’s love of boxing and disdain of MMA at the time into a broader personal context for the politico. The article puts forth boxing and MMA in a more philosophical terms as it relates to McCain’s beliefs and ideals, though MMA fans may disagree with the characterizations of our sport:

Far more likely, ultimate fighting offended McCain’s core sensibility: that there is such a thing as a good fight–one that is both clean and fair. Ultimate fighting had blown up the traditional rules and etiquette of boxing. It appeared to McCain lawless and wild and utterly without the supposedly dignified “honor” of an old-school heavyweight fight.

Boxing, in other words, represents McCain’s belief in the honorable war, one in which both sides follow a mutually agreed-upon code of organized violence. George Will has even suggested that McCain, as a former POW and torture victim, believed ultimate fighting violated the boundaries of “appropriate manliness.” Or, as Goldman puts it, “From just an ideological standpoint, [boxing] is the pure, noble, manly art of fighting. And anything else–fighting on the ground, kicking–you just don’t do!”

Republican or Democrat, Agree or Disagree, the article is a good read.

Comments are closed.