SOME PUNCH LINES

The art of pugilism was much more popular in the old days. Now with judo, karate, kung fu and taekwando, it’s lost its punch. Prize fighting is okay, but it’s full of rules and regulations and the referee gets in the way too much. If you want to see a real fist fight these days you have to go to a hockey game.

Hollywood still gives us the phony movie brawls which are quite misleading when it comes to showing the consequences of a slug fest. We kids cheered for Hopalong Cassidy as he duked it out with a half dozen bad hombres in the Last Chance Saloon. We’d shout encouragement and warnings and throw phantom punches during the melee where chairs, bottles and spittoons were weapons of choice. In the background were the shrieking dance hall girls and the piano player who continued his set while ducking an occasional airborne beer glass.

There might have been a couple of knockouts in the choreographed fights but, miraculously, no wounds, fractures or lost teeth. All combatants exited briskly through the debris rubbing their chins and brushing off the barroom sawdust. Hopalong never even lost his ten gallon hat.

There are websites now that give pointers on what to do if you’re faced with the possibility of a real fist fight, but there is so much information on how to survive, I hope if I’m ever confronted by an aggressor he’ll give me a few minutes for review.

I like Rule One best. We’re advised to try to avoid the fight altogether by talking our way out of it or dashing to the nearest exit. If that doesn’t work and we’re being overwhelmed by an oversized attacker, we’re told it’s okay to fight dirty or call in a few friends for help. I can manage the dirty fighting, but making a cellphone call while I’m being slugged sounds too difficult.

I’ve never been inspired to have a colorful pugilistic career. I’m afraid the colors would be black and blue with a dash of red.

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