Okay children, fine, have it your way this year. Yes! You may actually box on Boxing Day. You may don nothing but high-top boxing boots with thick waisted Everlast shorts and engage in the sweet science of bruising. I will this year and this year only, allow you to pound each other with gloved hands on December 26th. I can't believe I'm doing this, I can't believe you've resisted my endless pleas to sanity including my notes that Boxing Day is not an American holiday and here in Iowa we are deep in these United States. That even in countries that celebrate Boxing Day (a list that includes but is not limited to Canada, the United Kingdom, Barbados, Kenya and Hong Kong) boxing in a ring, in a fight that lasts up to twelve rounds, is not at all the way the holiday is observed.
But you know what? You four are going to get what you want this year and you'll never again be able to say your father refuses to allow you to pummel each other and be scored round-by-round on a ten point scale the day after Christmas. I will build a ring in the living room. In preparation I will spend hours Googling the ring regulations for all four major professional boxing sanctioning bodies, the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO respectively, to find the set of rules most fitting for four children ranging in age from six to eleven. You should consider yourself lucky that we live in an area with real estate affordable enough to allow us the space for such a ring on your parents's modest middle class incomes.
I will stretch canvas across the raised platform of the ring (which will be no more than 1.2 meters in height, one rule that seems to be consistent across the major sanctioning bodies) and hang ropes between the posts in each corner, every rope attached to a turnbuckle on each of it ends. It will be your choice amongst the four of you if you prefer a round robin style competition or a knockout-style, lose and you're done, tournament. Though I will say your mother and I prefer the tournament so we can get this over with before our holiday party at the Davenport's.
In each match either myself or your mother will be your cornerman. We promise we will play no favorites. The match-ups look reasonable across the board. I say without bias that even six year old Lisa has a puncher's chance against eleven year old Brian. As the father of both of you I've witnessed a lot over the years and frankly Lisa has a killer instinct I've never seen in Brian. Lisa's brand of persistent rancor can really make up for major disadvantages in both size and reach.
There will be medics on hand at ringside. And let me just remind you that boxing is a brutal sport that has taken the lives and caused permanent damage, physical and mental, to many a man in it's glorious history that dates back to the first Olympics. Your mother and I would be heartbroken if one of you were to be injured or God forbid, lose your life in the ring shortly after our post Christmas brunch with aunt Grace so please follow WBA regulations carefully, comply with all the instructions from our referee (whom, let me remind you, I am paying out of our Disneyland savings) and the instant you feel like you may not be able to go on, don't try to roll with the punches PLEASE take yourself out of the fight! I can't emphasize this enough. If I insist on one thing as your father let it be that there will be no macho displays of false heroism on our family Boxing Day that put any of you, my children, at risk of serious injury within the confines of the squared circle. If you're punch drunk, you need to throw in the towel and that is that. If I see things get really bad, you may cost yourself some TV time next week, or even lose a bit of allowance money. And I can't imagine your mother being happy if any blood splatter ended up on her meticulously chosen living room pillows and lamp shades.
The other thing I have to insist on is mandatory drug testing. I am already giving up on one of boxing's most vital safety measures, the use of weight classes. There simply is no way to both allow my six year old daughter and my eleven year old son in the same boxing tournament while also taking weight classes seriously. Drug testing is the least I can do. And allow me to remind you that we are not merely testing for anabolic steroids but also for stimulants and focus enhancers such as Adderall and Ritalan. And I have been able to procure a cutting edge test kit that allows me to sample your blood for traces of human growth hormone. Which is to say, when your parents say there will be no abuse of performance enhancing drugs in our family boxing tournament we mean business.
So come the 26th, I want to see confident jabs and crisp uppercuts. It goes without saying no child in this family has a glass jaw. No playing possum, no rope-a-dope, no sucker punches and no low blows. I have contacted Michael Buffer to ask if he is available as ring announcer or if he will be kind enough to license his trademarked catchphrase "Let's get ready to rumble!" for a reasonable fee. Most importantly I can say with pride that I look forward to crowning one of you undisputed Kiddieweight Champion of the Johnson family.