Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Thu10022014

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Can fighting act as bullying deterrent?

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WHEN I first found out about Saturday’s upcoming Guam International Boxing Council (GIBC) anti-bullying fights, I was taken aback. At first, I scratched my head and thought to myself: This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. Still scratching my noggin, I pondered: How on Earth could fighting, by its nature a violent sport, be used as an instrument for changing the behaviors of youths possessing a proclivity toward violence?

For a better understanding, we need to take a historical look back on the existence of conflict and conquering. Throughout antiquity, and at all levels, there have always been fighters. Whether it was during the times of the Holy Roman Empire with gladiators fighting to the death, or Genghis Khan and his army slaughtering thousands on the battlefields of Mongolia, fighting has been and always will be a part of the global society. So, with fighting a societal certainty, controlled and supervised environments and arenas must exist as, not only learning and exercise environments, but also as emotional steam vents.

Having either written about or photographed mixed martial arts (MMA), boxing, wrestling and other aggressive and dominating sporting events on Guam for several years, I can say with certainty, especially with MMA, that their popularity is on the rise. Recently, Guam’s own Baby Joe “The Juggernaut” Taimanglo and Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck advanced their careers by making the world stage in their sport, the former with Bellator MMA and the latter with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Both Taimanglo and Tuck are two of the most disciplined, friendly, and hard-working people you’d ever want to meet. They act as great ambassadors not only to the sport of mixed martial arts, but to our island as well.

Dark cloud

Certainly there are combat sport practitioners who do not or cannot leave it in the ring, but these I argue are the exceptions rather than the rule. Unfortunately, these few outlier types, such as the recently convicted local fighter Alex Castro, sentenced to the Department of Corrections for three years for committing aggravated assault and highly publicized through the media, serve to cast a dark cloud over sports designed to teach hard work, determination and discipline.

Not helping the sport’s cause was when, earlier this week, Mike Tyson came out in the international media declaring that he was still using drugs and alcohol at a feverish pace. Tyson, pound-for-pound one of the most feared fighters ever to walk the planet, was convicted and sentenced in the 1990s for rape. Tyson, having made a cameo in the Hollywood blockbuster film "Hangover," publicly declared that the only reason why he took the role was so he could fund his cocaine habit.

I applaud GIBC President Arnel Francisco and Domino Lux for their efforts in helping the island’s at-risk youth turn their lives around. By providing them an outlet in which they can constructively learn to harness and release their negative energies, perhaps these children will grow up to become responsible adults. While not every child or young adult can be reached and have their life turned around, to quote Francisco: “Boxing is life-changing. It’s really a vehicle to release potential. Through proper training, they’re learning motivation, dedication and hard work. It exemplifies their potential. Win or not, they always win when they fight.”

Spare A-Rod, spoil a child

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GROWING up as a child in Southern California during the '70s and '80s, I fell in love with sports.

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