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The Sound of Silence
By Bernie McCoy
June 26, 2004
(JUNE 26) The press releases have flown around the sport of Women's boxing recently with the speed of left jabs. It appears that every fighter seems to think that the boxing community is vitally interested in the trials and tribulations that have been recently visited on them. We've had boxers, or their minions, unraveling the conspiracy theories surrounding why they are or are not willing to fight each other. Another top fighter, frustrated, with some reason, by her lack of visable opportunities in the ring, resorts to calling out potential opponents by insulting their weight, age, courage and even nickname. The boxing public has even, most ludicrously, been subjected to a "fighter", who barely deserves the label, but who talked in terms of a "million dollar payday". Such talk will, now, hopefully, mercifully cease as reality descended in the form of an opponent who had the temerity to intrude on that pipe-dream by punching back. At times, these rantings seem motivated less by intelligence or good sense, than by what, around a pistol range, is known as "firing for effect".

In reality, this cacophony of words, threats and insults is to quote the Bard of Avon "a tale by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing". And yet, amid all this inelegant drivel, largely unnoticed, was a very powerful statement by a fighter who not only richly deserves that label but should serve as a "guide-on" for how to conduct oneself amid stress and turmoil.

On June 12, at the Foxwoods Casino,
Jaime Clampitt  lost a ten round decision to Jane Couch. It was a very close fight, (96-94(2X) 96-95), and was, it seemed, from a viewing of the tape, ten rounds totally devoid of clinches. It was a fight in which both two women traded punches almost nonstop for twenty minutes. It was, in short, the type of fight seen all too rarely in the sport of Women's boxing. Couch deserved the decision and as a result won the NABAW and IWBF junior welterweight titles. That's the top line. The back-story goes much deeper and offers an object lesson to all those currently in the thrall of press releases.

In the runup to the Clampitt/Couch fight, in news reports and during the fight itself on TV, it was frequently stated that, shortly before the bout, Clampitt's longtime trainer, Tiny Ricci, had, days before the bout, succumbed to a long illness. There was, reportedly, brief talk of postponing the fight for a month. However, given the fact that Couch was traveling from England for the bout, Clampitt agreed to go on. Not only did Clampitt agree to go ahead, but once that agreement was made, Jaime Clampitt tacitly acknowledged that the death of her trainer was no longer an issue as it related to the fight. She would not discuss it, refer to it or, most certainly, not use it as a rationalization, whatever the result of the fight.

Jaime Clampitt fought very well on June 12 against another very good and experienced fighter. It was a close fight and it didn't go Clampitt's way and the decision for Couch was the correct one. After the fight Couch gave credit to Clampitt as "a great fighter". Clampitt declined to comment to the press and with that silence Jaime Clampitt spoke volumes. She certainly had the opportunity to elicit, at the least, great credit for a fight well fought and probably some unspoken, heartfelt sympathy for fighting with the burden of a death of a close friend heavy on her mind. Instead, Jaime Clampitt implicitly declined comment, which was the highest possible tribute she could pay to her late trainer, herself and her sport. The sound of silence was never louder.

Thus, amidst all the "sound and fury" that currently permeates the sport of Women's boxing; the insults, the excuses for not fighting, the demand for undeserved purses, the overwhelming penchant for the use of the first person pronoun, we have an example of a fighter who simply stepped in the ring, under trying conditions, who fought with a great deal of courage and professionalism and then, quite deliberately, disdained the opportunity of exploitation.

Jaime Clampitt lost the fight to Jane Couch on June 12 in Connecticut, but Jaime Clampitt was never more a winner in the way she conducted herself before, during and after that bout. She set an example that would be well followed by her fellow athletes in the sport the next time they feel the need to issue some screed about the fact that they're not getting the fight they want, the respect they deserve, or the money they feel they so richly deserve. Words can be powerful but they're only words; oft times, the sound of silence shouts much louder.

Bernie McCoy


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