As the weeks of social distancing and quarantining stretch on, many couples and families throughout East Tennessee have taken up an old sport: boxing.
One participant, Tim Greely, who started a so-called “family fight club” in his house on Norris Lake, said it’s been a tremendous help in dealing with the frustrations of being cooped up together.
“It’s been nice,” said Greely, sporting two missing teeth and a black eye. “I thought I was gonna kill my kids before we started this, but now I don’t have to. My daughter, Donna, didn’t put her glass in the dishwasher the other day, but instead of yelling about it, we just stepped into the ring we made in the living room. My son put on ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and we just went at it.”
Being stuck in the house together can be frustrating for even the most loving, functional families, and beating the crap out of each other is much healthier than one might think at first glance, at least according Richard Reer, a clinical psychologist from the University of Tennessee.
“It’s a much older form of conflict resolution,” said Reer. “You have to remember, for millennia, humans lived in close confines with one another. A lot of the time, their houses were only a single room, and in the winter months, they’d be cooped up for weeks or even months together.
[Boxing] causes a cathartic release of pressure, the exercise releases endorphins, and as long as you avoid certain swings, concussions can be kept to a minimum. It staves off aggression, and multiple studies have shown that couples and families that regularly box have a much lower instance of domestic abuse.”
Of course, it’s important to have limitations and rules set up before jumping into the ring. For instance, children can be in drastically different weight classes, so it helps to give them a fighting chance against larger opponents, perhaps with weighted gloves.
Another good rule is that children below a certain age (toddlers for instance) should not wear gloves because their hands aren’t big enough to hold the gloves in place.
Babies are at the most disadvantage in a boxing match and therefore should be given a gun, at least according to the recently-formed Happy Haymakers, Happy Homes Association, usually shortened to 4-H.
Unfortunately, like in all contact sports, accidents happen.
“We had our 2-year-old daughter in the ring with our 14-year-old, and we gave the youngest one the gun like the experts recommend, and then we blew the whistle and – well, yeah, he’s fine now, but the doctors aren’t sure if he’ll have that tremor for the rest of his life or not.”
When asked whether the negative side-effects of family boxing are worth the benefits, 4-H spokesman Donald Duque said, “Of course they are worth it.
“Look, there’s no proof that family boxing causes any more casualties than any other sport. Of course, there’s always rules that can be tweaked and changed and stuff, like we’re considering limiting the caliber size of the bullet for our younger participants, but family boxing is a healthy sport, and one that’s needed during these trying times.
“Besides, if those kids can’t handle a measly little boxing match with their family, how do they expect to handle the boxing match that is life? Huh?”
Truly exciting times in the world of sports, with repercussions and concussions that will ring for years to come.