Boxing as simulacra

Posted: 02/09/2010 in ARIN6903 Exploring Digital Cultures, Uncategorized

As a diehard boxing fan living in a country where only megafights are transmitted through pay-per-view, I’ve come across other ways to experiencing a fight. Sometimes it is possible to watch them in JustinTV, which offers many different channels but is unreliable as the copyright owners (HBO and Showtime, mainly), take down the user-generated feeds. Through live coverage of the fights in Twitter and sites like (see below), I have been able to follow some fights. This example is interesting for two reasons. First, it is a remediation of an old media practice in sports: the radio coverage. In the old, old days, people used to gather around the radio set to listen to boxing matches (view clip below taken from Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man), and the match was simulated by the narrator and in the listeners head. From a semiotic point of view, the match that the listener recreated with the aid of the narrator was not the same that was taking place thousands of miles away. Boxing was mediated, mediatised and needed an active creative involvement from the listener. The same can be said of today’s telegraphic feeds, in which boxing matches are reduced to a series of sentences: the narration asks for the reader’s direct involvement.

This example is also helpful because through a simulation, the brutality of the sport is sanitized. Boxing is becoming increasingly statistical: just like war, the pain inflicted between two human beings is reduced to numbers and statistics (see Compubox graphic below). Not only through live feeds, but also with the graphic content in the actual television transmissions, the sport is given the aura of a videogame.

For ARIN6903, Exploring Digital Cultures, The University of Sydney (Master in Digital Communication and Culture).

  1. Morgan says:

    I knew there would have to be one about boxing!

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