Boxer hospitalized after confronting burglars

I just read a story about professional boxer Anthony Crolla. How he got into a fight outside of the ring and it ended badly. All the details aren’t out just yet, so take everything with a grain of salt until more details are released.

What seems to have happened is this:

  • Anthony Crolla noticed burglars climbing over the neighbor’s fence into his yard.
  • He chased them and managed to get a hold of one of them.
  • The other one grabbed a brick (or slab of concrete) and hit him over the head with it.
  • Crolla suffered a broken ankle and fractured skull and was taken to a hospital.

That’s pretty much all we know so far.

I’d like to make two specific points here. Neither one is related to Crolla as an individual. Before I do, take a look at this highlight and keep in mind that Crolla was scheduled for a world-title fight next month.

You can argue many things, but you can’t argue that Crolla is a poorly skilled boxer. He’s a professional, young and in awesome shape, especially given his upcoming title bout. Yet all that wasn’t enough to avoid getting his head bashed in and as a result, he might never fight again. At the very least, that title bout is gone and he’s in for a long recovery.

The first point I want to make is this:

If a professional, world class-level boxer can’t make boxing work in such a situation, why would you think you can pull it off?

You can again argue many things against this statement, that he is a lightweight and maybe the burglars were heavier. That it’s two against one, or some other issue you might want to bring up. If you do, you precisely make my second point:

You shouldn’t assume that being great at one aspect of fighting makes you great at another (or all others.)

I love boxing. I think it’s an amazing martial sport and also a great self-defense system. But to a certain extent, the ring and the street are mutually exclusive. Like I’ve said ad nauseam: the differences are just as important as the similarities:

  • There are no weight classes in the street.
  • There is no such thing as a fair fight.
  • You fall and break your ankle? There is no referee to stop the fight.
  • Weapons, improvised or not, are always a danger.
  • Multiple opponents are always a danger.
  • Etc.

I already covered all this before in a lot more detail. Take a look at the last two bullet points in the drawbacks list in Boxing for self-defense, which I wrote last year. They apply in spades in this situation.


The reason I bring all this up?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or read somebody claiming “he can handle himself in the street” because he fights in the ring or the cage or practices a martial sport. I heard it thirty years ago when I started training and I still hear it today.  For some reason, people simply assume their skill in a sports context automatically translates into self-defense skills. The short answer to that statement is: yes, no, maybe, sometimes so, sometimes not.

The longer answer is this:

“You fight the way you train” is an old saying in fighting sports. This implies that fighting in a sports competition requires specific training for the rules the fighters have to follow and the arena they will fight in. All of these are very different in a self-defense situation. Why on earth would you assume you don’t have to train for the specifics of the street when you accept you have to do so for the ring/cage? It simply doesn’t make sense.

The only reason I bring up Crolla (who I think is a fine boxer) is to demonstrate that it isn’t as simple as people like to think. As I said before, if he can’t defend himself against two guy with his ring-skills and experience, what makes you think you can?

Violence is a tricky thing. Don’t let it fool you into believing you are unbeatable.

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  1. That caught my eye too when I saw it earlier. You make very clear points as usual. For me, I still see a general reluctance in taking on board what you are saying in the martial arts forums I look at as I’m interested in other points of view. But I hear that self defence is obvious or just common sense, sparring/duelling is all you need, just buy the ‘gift of fear’ book and pepper spray and one person actually said that he felt that the George Zimmerman case was caused by self defense training as I guess he felt it made you paranoid and looking for trouble. A while back, I thought I would try some karate at the most prominent place in the town I live in: I finished formal classes many years ago and have tried lots of other things but I still remember everything taught to me and practice it with the other things I’ve learnt. Anyway, the teacher who is an extremely nice person was telling me that he had been a trainer in the police force for I guess would be called defensive tactics: I thought excellent but then over the other classes I attended when he talked about self defense to some young people and showed some applications in class, it was still the same stuff that I remember 20 odd years ago like standing directly in front of someone in horse riding stance while blocking a punch totally exposing your groin and not being in a good enough position to strike back with the arms. No mention of violence dynamics, running away, appropriate legal force, the stress you will be under but still the same Japanese way of doing things which is fine if you make it clear what you are doing and why but to the young ones (mid-teens) and perhaps the older ones it is being presented as good self defense and he has the supposed authority to validate it all. I do accept that I may be wrong but everything I now see validates what you are talking about and how nuanced things have to be for them to work. I hope the boxer makes a good recovery.

  2. Forgot to mention, very often I click in from the Chiron Blog but you blog is not updating properly from it ie the title for your latest blog is not there. Hope that helps.

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