Is boxing a sin?

Father Cervantes:

None of the priests on “Ask a Priest” has had enough backbone to answer my question:  “Is boxing a sin?”  The whole premise of this sport is to beat your opponent until you’ve knocked them unconscious, or to lacerate their face to the point that the doctor or referee “might” stop the fight.  Would Jesus accept a ringside seat to watch 2 of his children beat the living hell out of each other?  Should Muhammad Ali be held up as a legend and a hero? He is a man who made millions of dollars for “legally” beating people half to death!
Hope to hear from one of the priests. – Frank



Let me make this as clear as possible.  Boxing as a sport is not a sin, never has been and will never be.   Boxing as a sport is as old as humanity itself.  Saint Paul himself uses boxing as an allusion to winning the race of life with faith.  In I Corinthians 9:24-27, Saint Paul writes this:  “This I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.  No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”  For Saint Paul, life is like an athletic race or a real boxing match (not a shadow boxing match) in which a Christian trains himself to fight the onslaught of temptation and evil that we face each day.  Saint Paul, in his writing to Timothy, kept this same thought when he gave this advice to Timothy to stay strong in faith and to fight the temptations of life in II Timothy 2:5 —“Similarly, an athlete cannot receive the winner’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”  If Saint Paul wanted to say that boxing or any sport was sinful, he would have said so.  Instead, he used sporting allusions to preach the gospel of Christ.  In the Old Testament, Jacob famously wrestled with an angel all night and wouldn’t give up, even when seriously injured, until the angel blessed him (please see Genesis 32:23-33).  No sin there.  Instead, a blessing was bestowed.  When I became pastor of my parish, I inherited a youth boxing club that was sponsored by our parish and by the local veterans’ post.  I was really impressed by the discipline and focus that this boxing club gave to both young boys and girls.  I found that this boxing club was a blessing for the youth that participated in this program.  I gladly continued the financial support of this youth boxing club.  This club eventually sent two of its members to the Olympics!  For others, this athletic experience was helpful in their future lives.  I attended these boxing matches and found the sport to be exciting and joyful.  I do not know if Jesus attended any sporting functions when He was on earth.  The scriptures do not say.  But if he was truly human and was involved in His surroundings, I am sure that He saw and even participated in many sports of that time, and may have even attended a boxing match!   – Father Cervantes