Boxing And Prison: A Closer Look

By Gary Norris Gary
Updated: June 30, 2007

CALIFORNIA — Going or coming? There seems to be a connection between boxers and prison bars. Various boxing champions are either going or coming out of jail. It seems to define the complexity of this unique sport. In spite of the fact the boxing has a short history in America; there is a disturbing repetitive factor.

From the very first African American heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson (1908) to Iron Mike Tyson (1998) Boxers have been arrested and in some cases been incarcerated. Even boxing promoter Don King, who became a multi millionaire through boxing, was arrested for an alleged murder in the 1970’s.

On numerous occasions he stated that “Only in America” waving his little American Flag. The connection between boxing and prison is astounding there are those who succumb to the system while others overcome their sentence.

Poor men and woman of color presently enroll into this rough sport to generate and income and to raise their economic status or to escape their lengthy prison sentence.

They savor the applauses and attention from their home town and home country. It does not matter how they have behave in society as long as they are victorious in the ring.

This unique phenomenon is not confined to the United States it has also occurred in England. Many African Americans (former slaves) went back to England to escape American oppression but ended up in poverty.

Today, ethnic minorities climb into the ring with the soul intent to rise to higher social-economic level, the boxing ring seems to be a temporary answer.

This summer in South-East Asia, a feisty Thai woman was granted release from prison if she were to win the flyweight title. With her strong will and determination she gained weight and tried the heavier light flyweight division.

Siriporn Thaweesuk of Bangkok, Thailand became the first Thai female to win the world’s light-flyweight title. She did not let the opportunity for freedom slip through her fingers.

This 80-pound tiger, also known as Samson Sor Siriporn or the Black Rose defeated Japan’s champion, Ayaka Miyano, to become Thailand’s new heroine.

As a very young woman, Siriporn Thaweesuk had to support her family with only her clothing stand. This was not enough to feed her family. She acquired money by selling street drugs (methamphetamines); this illegal act landed her in Thai State Prison, Klong Prem Prison also known as Bangkok Hilton, the most famous woman’s correctional center in Thailand.

African American boxers likewise support their family and friends with their earnings and winnings in the ring. Likewise some famous boxers get into legal trouble and some make this awful experience a learning tool for their future.

The 26-year-old Siriporn did not let this temporary roadblock stop her. She just made a short detour in life and gained strength from this distasteful experience. She started heavy training in the prison’s weight room months after her 10-year prison sentence. If she won the world bout the sentence would be cut to three years or one year probation if she stayed at the prison.

This training has also prepared her for life after prison with the discipline of her boxing regiment. Also with the infusion of the life’s physiological lessons of Thai culture turn Siriporn around.

The parole board granted her freedom after her prison fight victory. While on probation she will continue to train near the facilities and will be housed by the prison officials while she waits to defend her world title in late July.

Siriporn already has one American fan: me. Her positive attitude and beautiful infectious smile just tells the world that she is now on the correct path of life.

Boxing and prison can be a horrible combination, but strong willed individuals like Ms. Siriporn Thaweesuk can overcome.