In the middle of the 1980’s, the fervor and momentum surrounding the most recent release of the Rocky franchise, Rocky IV, was in full-swing. This film was one of the favorites of my childhood experience, even though my young mind this not fully comprehend the larger forces at play in the movie that tried to embody the entire attitude of US-Soviet Cold War relations between two boxers. All I knew was that I wanted to box like the huge Russian played by German-born Dolph Lundgren. Imagine that, a boy growing up in United States 1980’s Florida wanted to be like the communist face of this movie? Well, that’s another story, but out of this boxing fever that was shared by my friends and I, one of us had a father who was very handy with woodworking and power tools, so he agreed to make us our own back-yard boxing ring. Now, I am not entirely sure how he went about doing this, but I know that required nothing more than a best miter saw , wood, hammer, nails, padding, and guard ropes. He started construction on this backyard masterpiece in April of 1988, and by July, it was complete, and our circle of friends was the envy of every neighborhood kid in our age group. In this backyard ring, we held everything from boxing matches to wrestling matches to martial arts competitions and skateboarding sessions as we got older. There were a few of us who suffered from bloody noses and black eyes, and even one guy who ended up with a broken leg from trying to jump off the top rope like some of the choreographed wrestlers do for entertainment. Unfortunately, he did not know that these tricks were carefully worked on and mastered, and spent the entire fall season of 1991 in a full leg cast.
Sometimes I wonder whatever would’ve became of our teenage years had we all lived in the same area, and how our lives would’ve been different if we had the backyard boxing ring to fully grow up with. Boyhood scuffles could’ve been settled in style. When Fight Club hit the movie theatres, I wonder if we would’ve tried to emulate Tyler Durden’s unconventional techniques for learning how to feel.
From the boy who loved the communist character to the man who grew up to love socialism, I wonder if Rocky IV and the backyard boxing ring, made from an amateur father and his miter saw, had any impact on my political leanings of today. This is, of course, a philosophical question which can never be answered, but to reminisce about the many days spent in that ring, the afternoons spent working out frustration by punching best friends in the face, has made this author smile with great humor to think of those carefree days. Having such a wonderful release may have been the reason why I did not get in many altercations, since I could have a fight whenever I deemed fit. Anyway I look at it, I was lucky to have this wonderful piece of boyhood awe-inspiring landscape to journey off to at a moment’s notice.