The Ring, like so many enterprises in the global economy, ended up a small piece of a much larger business network, and it wasn’t terribly important to the owners who controlled its destiny. It was “old” media that could be picked up cheaply—for less than seven figures, bragged Schaefer—by elements of the industry it covers. It’s as though General Dynamics bought Newsweek, which then pumped out prose favoring bigger Pentagon contracts. Not hard to imagine in a world where lifelong Republican fixer Roger Ailes runs a “fair and balanced” twenty-four-hour propaganda network. Maybe the rest of the world is just catching up to boxing, which was corrupt and brutal from the start, but at least entertaining.
Ring provided me with a forum to raise intractable issues I couldn’t personally resolve. By the time it snatched my years-long refuge, the magazine embodied much that was loathsome about the fight game. I’d already said just about everything I wanted to say about boxing in my 2009 novel The Barfighter. Golden Boy, for all the wrong reasons, tore me away from the sport at last. I didn’t have the strength to do it myself, but the parting was inevitable and overdue. Now I try to mimic the attitude of ex-fighters. Invariably broke six months after retirement, they voice no regrets.