Tag Archives: boxing

Boxing and domestic violence – Why boxing is not to blame

When the news breaks that a high-profile boxer has been involved in domestic violence, one of the immediate questions that springs to mind is whether the boxing, the actual training, has simply taught a fighter to be aggressive, whether in or out of the ring. Personally, I think this is highly unlikely, and you would have to find numerous examples of boxers that became more aggressive outside the ring, the longer they trained. Naturally, there is some quibbling to be had over what it is to be aggressive, but I think there are other better answers here.

Boxing is intimately linked with working class backgrounds and poverty. Many boxers have learned to fight as a means to earn some serious money and escape poverty. And make no mistake, for the few that have been able to succeed as professionals, many more have remained broke and had to find alternative or additional ways to earn a living. The connection between poverty and boxing is a phenomenal case study in itself, but here are three things that I think can at some point influence a boxer in their life if they have come out of this environment.

These three things are not unique to boxers, but I think they are factors when boxers have become aggressors in domestic violence.

1) As success increases and a boxer no longer worries about food, rent, clothing, and having the time to indulge in soul enriching activities, like hobbies, they will have very vivid memories of what it was like to have none of that security. This in itself is added motivation as they continue train and behave in ways so that they do not have to return to a desolate way of life. There is nothing inherently wrong with this drive, however if the boxer experiences something that they interpret to mean their current way of life is threatened, and they might have to return to what they fought so hard to escape, they could become irrationally reactionary. Their noble drive to succeed has become polluted by irrational thoughts, and could result in an aggressive outcome.

2) If a boxer has done well in the sport and managed to pull in some money and fame, it is possible they will develop an entitlement complex. They have had to work very hard to get where they are, and subsequently if anything is experienced that is perceived to threaten this status, it’s almost like a challenge to their identity and perception of self. When those things are challenged in this way, again, it is possible to react aggressively. I don’t think a sense of entitlement is necessarily bad, because we should feel good about ourselves if we have achieved a lot in life, but it again it’s when this is over-exaggerated and irrational that problems can result.

A boxer is going to be challenged to keep those two things under control throughout their professional career, and they can be made worse by a number of reasons. If a boxer is surrounded by the wrong people, people that have a strong influence over the boxer, such as saying things akin to, “They don’t respect what you’ve been through,” “They want you to return to the ghetto,” “They think you’ve got where you are through luck and there simply wasn’t a decent opponent to take you out.” This is why, throughout the course of a boxers life, they need to be surrounded by good people. I would wager that many are, but a few are not.

3) The experience of poverty, hardship, and violence can have a profound impact on a child. It’s worth noting that a child’s brain is still developing, all the way through birth and up until the age of 25. Key areas of development, though, are taking place before puberty. Extreme stress, abuse, and trauma can have an impact on the brain’s development, and could even result in such things as stress disorders and personality disorders. How a child deals with or reacts to stress could easily be a result of how the child’s brain has developed and how they learned to respond. Stress and personality disorders are connected with violent behavior, but there is no formula for determining if they’ll develop or not. There is no equation – Poverty Aspect 1 + Poverty Aspect 2 in the presence of Poverty Condition 3 = Stress Disorder 5. Still, they are very real possibilities when a child has come out of this background. Stress disorders can result in impulse control problems, increasing the likelihood of violent outbursts, and personality disorders can result in planned violence for personal gain. Of the two, reactionary aggression is far more common.

These three “explanations” are only theories, and I would love to see more research on them, especially stress disorders. Learning violence, experiencing violence, and being unable to control aggressive impulses as a child, can easily lead to the cycle of violence, and it’s a hard cycle to break. However, I would like to stress again here, these things are not unique to boxers.

The Disciplining Effect of Boxing

I would like to take some time here to explain why boxing can actually help control aggression.

There have been numerous instances where joining a boxing gym has literally helped to keep kids off the street and out of gangs. This has the immediate affect of preventing children from being exposed to criminal violence.

Much of our behavior is determined by responding to cues – a none stop stream of cues that we interpret (on some level) and respond accordingly. When training in a gym, especially for long periods of time, the sight and presence of pads, bags, and ring, eventually start to mean this is the time for boxing/fighting. When pads are held up for you in the gym, now is the time to box. When you’re in the ring, with your gloves, and a referee, now is the time to box. As trivial as this sounds, boxers become taught to “do it” in the gym or the ring. These cues become reinforced by the fact that the gym is safer, it’s a controlled environment, and other people are (should be) looking out for you. Indeed, after a while, when a trained boxer enters a gym, just the sight and sounds are enough to get them loosening off and rearing to go. Having these alternate cues, I think, is likely to decrease the chance of throwing punches to other cues, because these other cues mean “now is not the time to box.” I think this can help keep boxers out of violent provocations outside of the gym. It’s not absolute, but it helps.

Gyms can also have a humbling affect on boxers. They become aware early on that there are others in the gym that can best them (to put it bluntly, there’s always someone who can whup your ass). As this is the case, it helps them to develop respect, which is then reciprocated. Without the support and respect of their peers, their own training is not likely to progress very far.

In the infinitely complex quagmire of human behavior, there will always be exceptions to these things, but this is why I think boxing has probably helped to reduce aggressive outcomes outside the ring, rather than encourage them. To be sure, there are people that have been beaten by boxers (Mayweather as the highest profile example), and I do not want to undermine the plight of the victim. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I still maintain that (ideally) boxers should have a greater self awareness of the damage they can cause, which is perhaps why they should be held to a higher standard.

Domestic violence is an abhorrent endemic social problem that impacts far too many people on a daily basis. If boxing was somehow removed from the equation, the numbers would not drop. We need increased awareness, better education, better assistance, better justice, and a push for social reform to make domestic violence a thing of the past.

Guest spot on Sportshour: Mayweather: Boxing, Money & Domestic Violence – BBC World Service

SportshourI recently had the honor of a small spot on the Sportshour podcast with the BBC World Service, entitled Mayweather: Boxing, Money & Domestic Violence. The podcast was put together in light of the mega fight taking place tonight (May 2nd) in Las Vegas, between two of the most seasoned fighters in the boxing world – Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao.

Floyd Mayweather has a few domestic violence accounts on his rap sheet, but most recently against Josie Harris, whom he beat in front of their children. Floyd did serve some time for this, had to pay a fine, and was also sentenced to community service, but if you look into these penalties on a comparative basis, you’ll immediately start to wonder if he was treated leniently.

If you consider Mayweather’s upbringing in Grand Rapids, MI, and note the poverty and squalor that he fought to escape, you can start to put some theories to his current personality and behavior. To make it clear from the outset, there is no excuse for domestic violence, but Floyd has clearly suffered a lot during his formative years, which seems to show yet another example of the cycle of violence, and helps to explain why Floyd has become such a polarizing figure.

I have included my previous post on boxing and domestic violence below, written back in 2013, and here is a more recent rebuttal of blaming boxing for domestic abuse.

Boxers and Domestic Abuse

About a month ago, I was discussing that the American heavyweight boxer, Deontay Wilder, could be one of the potential candidates to finally dethrone the Klitschkos. The Ukrainian brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, have held most of the important belts in the heavyweight division for some time now.

As I am an avid boxing fan, and respect the fighters as athletes, I was disheartened to find out that Deontay Wilder was arrested recently for domestic battery by strangulation. He was bailed for $15,000.

Dereck-Chisora-006While I’m sure that most professional boxers have never laid a finger on their partners, domestic battery has become an issue in boxing. British heavyweight, Dereck Chisora, who was recently slated to fight Deontay Wilder, was also convicted of beating his girlfriend. However, Wilder may not be able to go to the UK to fight Chisora, because of his recent arrest.

Mayweather going to jailAnd of course, boxing favorite, Floyd Mayweather Jr., was alsosent to prison for 3 months (only served 2) for domestic abuse. To add insult to injury, Mayweather’s sentence was actually postponed so that he could fight in Vegas. The argument given to the judge was that the fight would be a huge financial stimulus to Las Vegas, and so would benefit the economy. Mayweather, of course, also made millions from the fight. There were also children present when Mayweather hit Josie Harris, which can have terribly adverse consequences (Holt, Buckley, & Whelan, 2008). Indeed, watching the assault on their mother, by their father, made these children victims of the assault, too.

It would be foolish to suggest that there is some kind of causal connection between boxing and domestic abuse, but anyone who assaults another individual should be held accountable, and I am of the opinion that fighters and martial artists should be held to a higher standard – they should know better. There have been instances where judges have ruled that the hands and feet of martial artists should be counted as ‘deadly weapons’. Clearly, boxers have been trained to hit powerfully and hard, and this should be taken into account during any kind of assault.

As boxing remains popular and Mixed Martial Arts is rapidly gaining many viewers, we need more studies on the relationship between boxing and fighting to domestic abuse. Studies on domestic violence committed by fighters are surprisingly scarce. Here are some good research questions we need to address:

Are physically violent people naturally drawn into boxing?

–          While it is a stretch to connect learning boxing with becoming violent, there is a chance that people who like to engage in violence become boxers to enable and promote their violent desires. If this is the case, can a gym really discipline these individuals to keep them out of trouble? A number of boxing gyms have been opened to specifically discipline young people and keep them out of trouble with law enforcement and to prevent them from joining gangs.

Does fame lead to leniency and an increase in the likelihood for domestic abuse?

–          Floyd Mayweather, Jr. had his prison sentence postponed so that he could fight in Vegas, and he only served two months of a three month sentence. The maximum penalty in Nevada for a first offense of domestic violence is 6 months in prison. To some, it might seem that Mayweather got off lightly. It is certainly questionable that an amateur boxer, who committed the crime, would be treated as leniently. Only a handful of boxers make it to the professional ranks and even fewer start to get notoriety and world title shots, but once a boxer does achieve this they start to have fame on their side and become considerable cash cows. I fear that these aspects start to shield these boxers from holding them accountable for their indiscretions. The legal immunity of celebrities, however, is not limited to boxers.

What role does stress play in turning a boxer violent?

–          Boxing is very athletic and physically demanding sport. The sport also calls for a strong mindset, which inevitably leads to a certain degree of “smack talk” even if it is just to promote the fight. The need to train hard and prepare for going twelve rounds in the ring is very stressful for a boxer, meaning that stress-related disorders, some of which are intimately connected with violence, could creep in.

Would a change in boxing promotional strategies deter acts of aggression?

–          David Haye and Dereck Chisora got into an infamous scrap at a post-fight press conference in Munich. Both fighters lost their British licenses for this, but ended up getting sanctioned through the Luxembourg Board of Boxing so they could have a ‘grudge’ match in the ring. In other words, they were rewarded for assaulting each other in public, and the fight had a remarkable effect of convincing everyone that because they’d just fought each other in a ring (with rules), we could all now forget about it. The accountability of each fighter during the incident in Munich is still very disputable and should have been determined in a courtroom.

Many boxers are not guilty of domestic violence, in fact some, such as Sergio Martinez, actively campaign against it. However, the popularity of boxing and fighting, as well as the destructive potential of those involved, mandates that we shed some light on this important issue.

Jack Pemment, 2013

Reference

Holt, S., Buckley, H., & Whelan, S. (2008). The impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and young people: A review of the literature. Child abuse & neglect, 32(8), 797-810.

The Role of Ring Girls at Professional Fighting Events

I am a boxing fan, and I do enjoy some of the promotional theatrics before professional sporting events between boxers. But what really sells the fight for me is the opportunity to watch two highly trained and highly skilled athletes box in the ring. Ring girls have always been there, and usually you just see an attractive and sometimes mostly-naked woman walking around in between rounds to let the crowd know which round is about to begin. It’s obviously all about sex appeal and something to press the deep evolutionary buttons within male audience members to give them a temporary buzz and make them feel like the event was worth the price of admission.

And that is the only point of ring girls. Carrying cards to indicate forthcoming-rounds is the epitome of a sinecure job. Obviously, ring girls are not the only example of using sex and naked women to enhance and promote events and products, and maybe there is an argument that being a ring girl helps to promote modeling careers of the women involved. While I am ashamedly on the fence with a number of these issues, what worries me is the presence of representations of sex and aggression in the same place.

Something that should strike us all as obvious, at least in the male, is that the brain can be warmed to sex and to aggression at the same time, meaning that they are not as conflicting emotions as one might think. This does not necessarily mean one is emphatically horny and dangerously aggressive at the same time, but the general buzz of both emotions can effortlessly sit in the slightly excited body of the spectator. Perhaps both of these feelings together represent a state of mind and brain that makes one feel like an alpha male – a firing of all the cylinders in the ‘machismo’ circuit, which helps boost the ego and makes one feel alive.

Areas of the brain have been explored in men that become increasingly active during exposure to aversive/aggressive circumstances, and during exposure to sexual/erotic imagery. These tests are obviously controlled, so any activation is limited by precisely what the participant was exposed to, and the increased activation of certain brain regions must not be interpreted as these are the sole areas specifically involved in these activities. A point to note, however, is that a number of the same or similar areas are involved in both perceiving and feeling aggression, as perceiving and feeling arousal. Hopefully, one day we’ll see a study that monitors changes in activity from aggressive stimuli to arousing stimuli; my guess is that there might be one or two key differences, but the rest would remain subtle and barely noticeable. While this study would not tell you about the individual’s conscious experience through this shift, it might tell you just how lazy the brain can be when the context changes. This laziness could perhaps indicate how easy it is to shift from the aggressive state to the erotic state, and vice-versa.

But back to ring girls. While I am not going to argue for the complete removal of the girls from the sport of boxing, or indeed from other professional fighting events, I wholeheartedly argue that they be more clothed. One reason for this is that if ring girls are mostly naked, it creates the expectation that they be mostly naked all the time – the expected buzz attached to the price of admission. A model in an evening gown can still arouse the brain, but to the point of a subtle appreciation of her beauty, after all, spectators should be there to watch the boxing match. There are other places to go or websites to visit if anything else is desired.

There is a ‘ring girl’ culture growing in the United States, mainly in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and other Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events. Ring girls have televised try-outs and have to pose in outfits that would make normal underwear blush. In fact, it almost appears that MMA ring girls are vying to compete with Playboy (indeed some MMA ring girls have been in Playboy). This is no doubt a marketing ploy of MMA promoters in order for them to create a strong brand and maximize their franchising, on top of promoting their fights. The continual rise of MMA is going to be interesting to watch, because fighters are permitted to be fairly brutal to each other, showing maximal levels of aggression, and the associated ring girls are flaunting maximal levels of sex appeal.

In terms of appealing to the young male mind, the trap has been set.

References

Ferretti, A., Caulo, M., Del Gratta, C., Di Matteo, R., Merla, A., Montorsi, F., … & Romani, G. L. (2005). Dynamics of male sexual arousal: distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI. Neuroimage, 26(4), 1086-1096.

Lotze, M., Veit, R., Anders, S., & Birbaumer, N. (2007). Evidence for a different role of the ventral and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex for social reactive aggression: An interactive fMRI study. Neuroimage, 34(1), 470-478.

Fighters, ‘Smack’ Talk, and Carl Froch

Froch Kessler

Carl Froch (left), Mikkell Kessler (right)

I have always been amused by the antics and the words of fighters before a big fight. During the respective weigh-ins, Tyson charged at Lewis and Chisora slapped Vitali Klitschko. Really, it is quite hard to determine how much of it is just promotional theatrics, mind games, or just outright hostility – probably a mixture.

I am not a professional fighter, but I suspect that the days leading up to the big fight could actually be quite harrowing, especially if there is a lot riding on the fight – pride, ego,  reputation, revenge, money, and maybe a number of other things. It’s a test that the fighter is personally very invested in. I’m sure the waiting period is not unlike the time before other potentially life changing events, such as before a major exam, a verdict from a job interview, the sale of a house, or the time leading up to the birth of your child. Let’s not forget that for a professional fighter, the fight is their livelihood.

It is because of this reason that I am convinced a fighter is at their most unstable in the hours/days before the big fight, and they’re already going to be ‘fighting’ tooth and nail to mentally hold it together.

Smack talk is no doubt a way for the fighters to let off a bit of steam, but also help them keep it strong in their own minds that they are going to win and that their opponent does not stand a chance. And some fighters probably need to do that more than others. From the standpoint of selling the fight, it’s probably a delightful side effect of this necessity that smack talk also helps promote the fight.

Recently, Carl Froch, in the wake of his big rematch with Mikkel Kessler on May 25th, got into trouble with some comments he made about his opponent.

“On Saturday night, if I have to, I will kill [him]. It sounds brutal, it sounds horrible, but this is what it means to me… I’m going to leave it in the ring. And when I’m smashing his face in, I am going to go for the kill. I am going to go for the finish.”

Clearly, Froch intends to go into the ring with Kessler and fight harder than he’s ever fought before. In Froch’s professional career, he has only lost twice. Once was to Mikkel Kessler (the other was to Andre Ward). As Froch is at the tail end of his career, avenging past defeats is obviously very important to him as he attempts to leave the best legacy possible.

British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) general secretary, Robert Smith, is looking into Froch’s comments, calling them “uncharacteristic” of Froch, while acknowledging that this is a major fight for Froch and there is no doubt a lot of pressure. Putting this in the context of smack talk before a major fight, and knowing that it will take place in a ring with rules, and knowing that Kessler and Froch are actually friends, is something Smith seems to have willingly forgotten, and seems to be becoming indignant for the sake of it.

The only argument that I am convinced scores any points against what Froch said, is whether or a not a child saw their boxing hero talk this way. But any child, using these words as a justification for violence, especially on into their teens and into adulthood, would not have been condoned by these words alone, but rather promoted by a lack of parenting, or a serious pathological problem. Any boxer knows exactly why Froch said what he said, and would not deliberately misunderstand it.

And to be perfectly blunt, there are far worse things getting said on TV all the time.

News Source

BBC News: Carl Froch threat to kill Mikkell Kessler investigated by Board

Boxers and Domestic Abuse

*see here for a recent defense of boxing.

About a month ago, I was discussing that the American heavyweight boxer, Deontay Wilder, could be one of the potential candidates to finally dethrone the Klitschkos. The Ukrainian brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, have held most of the important belts in the heavyweight division for some time now.

As I am an avid boxing fan, and respect the fighters as athletes, I was disheartened to find out that Deontay Wilder was arrested recently for domestic battery by strangulation. He was bailed for $15,000.

Dereck-Chisora-006While I’m sure that most professional boxers have never laid a finger on their partners, domestic battery has become an issue in boxing. British heavyweight, Dereck Chisora, who was recently slated to fight Deontay Wilder, was also convicted of beating his girlfriend. However, Wilder may not be able to go to the UK to fight Chisora, because of his recent arrest.

Mayweather going to jailAnd of course, boxing favorite, Floyd Mayweather Jr., was also sent to prison for 3 months (only served 2) for domestic abuse. To add insult to injury, Mayweather’s sentence was actually postponed so that he could fight in Vegas. The argument given to the judge was that the fight would be a huge financial stimulus to Las Vegas, and so would benefit the economy. Mayweather, of course, also made millions from the fight. There were also children present when Mayweather hit Josie Harris, which can have terribly adverse consequences (Holt, Buckley, & Whelan, 2008). Indeed, watching the assault on their mother, by their father, made these children victims of the assault, too.

It would be foolish to suggest that there is some kind of causal connection between boxing and domestic abuse, but anyone who assaults another individual should be held accountable, and I am of the opinion that fighters and martial artists should be held to a higher standard – they should know better. There have been instances where judges have ruled that the hands and feet of martial artists should be counted as ‘deadly weapons’. Clearly, boxers have been trained to hit powerfully and hard, and this should be taken into account during any kind of assault.

As boxing remains popular and Mixed Martial Arts is rapidly gaining many viewers, we need more studies on the relationship between boxing and fighting to domestic abuse. Studies on domestic violence committed by fighters are surprisingly scarce. Here are some good research questions we need to address:

Are physically violent people naturally drawn into boxing?

–          While it is a stretch to connect learning boxing with becoming violent, there is a chance that people who like to engage in violence become boxers to enable and promote their violent desires. If this is the case, can a gym really discipline these individuals to keep them out of trouble? A number of boxing gyms have been opened to specifically discipline young people and keep them out of trouble with law enforcement and to prevent them from joining gangs.

Does fame lead to leniency and an increase in the likelihood for domestic abuse?

–          Floyd Mayweather, Jr. had his prison sentence postponed so that he could fight in Vegas, and he only served two months of a three month sentence. The maximum penalty in Nevada for a first offense of domestic violence is 6 months in prison. To some, it might seem that Mayweather got off lightly. It is certainly questionable that an amateur boxer, who committed the crime, would be treated as leniently. Only a handful of boxers make it to the professional ranks and even fewer start to get notoriety and world title shots, but once a boxer does achieve this they start to have fame on their side and become considerable cash cows. I fear that these aspects start to shield these boxers from holding them accountable for their indiscretions. The legal immunity of celebrities, however, is not limited to boxers.

What role does stress play in turning a boxer violent?

–          Boxing is very athletic and physically demanding sport. The sport also calls for a strong mindset, which inevitably leads to a certain degree of “smack talk” even if it is just to promote the fight. The need to train hard and prepare for going twelve rounds in the ring is very stressful for a boxer, meaning that stress-related disorders, some of which are intimately connected with violence, could creep in.

Would a change in boxing promotional strategies deter acts of aggression?

–          David Haye and Dereck Chisora got into an infamous scrap at a post-fight press conference in Munich. Both fighters lost their British licenses for this, but ended up getting sanctioned through the Luxembourg Board of Boxing so they could have a ‘grudge’ match in the ring. In other words, they were rewarded for assaulting each other in public, and the fight had a remarkable effect of convincing everyone that because they’d just fought each other in a ring (with rules), we could all now forget about it. The accountability of each fighter during the incident in Munich is still very disputable and should have been determined in a courtroom.

Many boxers are not guilty of domestic violence, in fact some, such as Sergio Martinez, actively campaign against it. However, the popularity of boxing and fighting, as well as the destructive potential of those involved, mandates that we shed some light on this important issue.

Jack Pemment, 2013

Reference

Holt, S., Buckley, H., & Whelan, S. (2008). The impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and young people: A review of the literature. Child abuse & neglect, 32(8), 797-810.

The Problem of Self Defense

All schools of martial arts (including boxing) make promises, in fact, that is part of what makes them marketable. Self-defense and fitness are probably the two most parroted terms. The fitness claim is not really disputable; if you engage in physical exercise in moderation one’s level of fitness tends to improve. Self-defense, on the other hand, needs to come under intense scrutiny, and the reason for this is because it is a very serious concept. In the eyes of the law an argument for self-defense has the power to validate an appeal for a retrial where the initial trial resulted in a verdict of murder, as in State v. Leidholm (1983). If there is an argument for self-defense, therefore, there could be a degree of legal leniency.

Cases of self-defense, however, frequently involve a death, and the justification for self-defense offered by the North Dakota Century Code (used in the aforementioned case) states, “A person is justified in using force upon another person to defend himself against danger of imminent unlawful bodily injury,” in other words, defending oneself against an act of violence using what also amounts to violence. A worthwhile study would investigate style participation based upon the use of the word violence instead of the term self-defense and could involve the following questions: Would you practice a fighting style that teaches you violence to defend yourself? Would you rather defend yourself with the use of violence or self-defense? The difference between violence and self-defense is minimal to illusory, but in all probability nobody would choose the former as a reason to practice a fighting style.

It can be argued that self-defense simply implies using your mind to escape a harmful situation without inflicting harm upon an aggressor. There may be some truth to this, but every style teaches how to engage physically with an aggressor and self-defense in legal terms is generating a sufficient defense for using violence. Using the term “self-defense”, therefore, carries a great deal of responsibility, and it is questionable whether all styles and schools are qualified to use the term. Further problems arise when a person has trained to a sufficient standard that they are no longer considered to act out of self-defense, but are instead considered to be at more an advantage than a person considered unlikely to defend themselves against an aggressor; in other words, the more self-defense is practiced, the less lenient the law could be in the victim’s defense.

There is no question that the full contact fighting styles, such as boxing and MMA, train fighters to use violence and to receive violence, but these styles, especially boxing, do not tend to use self-defense as a reason to partake in the style and will openly admit that you will be hit hard and you must learn to reciprocate; the aggression employed is a lot more obvious than other styles.

Do psychopaths fight professionally?

Out of the estimated 1% of the American population with Antisocial Personality Disorder (the most extreme of whom could be psychopathic individuals), how many of them have made a career (or are currently making one) in culturally accepted forms of fighting and aggression, such as boxing or MMA? Here it is important not to confuse serial killers with psychopaths (it’s estimated that in the US there are about 8 serial killers operating at one time), and 1% of the American population is 313,000, and so it’s quite a different question to ask if serial killers become boxers (they probably don’t).

In much of the literature on aggression there tends to be two types of aggressive male; those who are reactively aggressive, and those who are instrumentally aggressive. Numerous boxers, including Michael Bentt, have said recently (commenting upon the recent Haye/Chisora/Klitschko debacle) that boxers are naturally aggressive, and if this is the case then those two categories of aggressiveness are probably also present among fighters.

There are both psychological and physiological differences between reactive and instrumental aggression. Reactive aggression frequently involves losing your cool in the face of a perceived harmful stimulus, whereas instrumental aggression involves carefully planning how to use aggressive behavior to achieve a goal. Reactive aggression is associated with a rapid rise in heart rate and a diminishing capacity for logical thought, whereas those with a tendency for instrumental aggression are able to keep a low heart rate when faced with the kinds of shocking/harmful stimuli that would cause the rest of us to lose control.

Psychopaths are renowned for instrumental aggression and ALL fighters have to utilize instrumental aggression in order to win (they have to plan/scheme/adapt in their fighting style to best their opponent and receive all of the benefits and rewards that come with winning). Of course a crucial difference here is that psychopaths also have no remorse or guilt, and I can imagine the kinds of discipline and rule following that accompanies fighting would only serve to frustrate a psychopath, hindering their quest for extreme stimulation and power. So would psychopaths fight or not?

On the one hand, it is not hard to imagine why a psychopathic individual would turn to professional fighting. Firstly, they get to hurt people, and this could be accompanied by extreme exhilaration (the basic reward circuitry in psychopaths is often underdeveloped and poorly functioning. It could be argued that because of this psychopaths often turn to alcohol and other drugs, as well as violence to feel exhilaration). Secondly, provided they were good at it, they could obtain a high social status (powerful people who could be manipulated and controlled), wealth, and access to gorgeous women (who could be manipulated and controlled).

On the other hand, they could lose and end up with none of that. Psychopaths, particularly unsuccessful psychopaths (those deemed to have lower neurological integrity in the frontal lobe and tend to end up in prison more than their successful counterparts), are notoriously bad at making risky decisions; this could support the notion of unsuccessful psychopaths becoming fighters. It would be much easier for a psychopath to rely on their charm to manipulate in an innocuous environment to gain control and fulfill their egoistic goals than to subject their bodies to tremendous punishment in a ring with a lot less certainty of success. Psychopaths who do or would fight, would in all likelihood be unsuccessful psychopaths, and could be identified by a number of factors: One, have they been involved in domestic abuse? Two, have they shown any remorse concerning said domestic abuse? Three, do they also assault people they are not familiar with/have no relationship with? Four, is their ego ridiculously high, even for a fighter?

Ring any bells?