By Jove, boys, by Jupiter! We have dwelt in dark corners of late. Let us remove to nobler escapades. You all recognize honor and sacrifice by their blood-name. If not the sport of kings, then certainly the sport of inconsolably bawling dauphins. I speak, of course, of baby boxing!
Unlike our modern baby boxing—in which two strong men duct-tape babies to their fists and stare into each other’s eyes to gauge whose soul has grown cold enough to throw the first punch—the classic baby boxing squares toddlers against babies in the ring. We consider it cruel sport these days, but maybe you’ll feel better knowing all of these children were reclaimed from the polio pile.
In 1942 society gathered to answer a question: How young an age can we instill mankind’s propensity for destruction? Our grandfathers knew that nothing develops—nor disrupts—motor skills faster than a combatitude of fistulatory mayhem. For the only thing softer than boxing gloves are a sweet babe’s still-pliable cranium! When these gladiators were done with the razoo, they would either stand as men or die as babies. Let us salute they who were about to die ’ere they had yet truly lived.
Look at Basher—weaned from his momma’s breast an hour ago and hoppin’ mad about it.
Basher Bill vs. Tornado Tim was the title bout in the Annapolis baby boxing championships, sponsored by “NAVY.” It began somewhat normally: two hopelessly inept putti swinging hammer strikes at each other’s wrists and preying a sane adult would deliver them from the alien art of wholesale violence. Alas, the admiral merely watched, presiding like Shang Tsung on his throne of skulls. Soon one boy would be a Babality, and the other would begin a lifelong regimen culminating in 1962’s first SEAL graduation.
But until that day, the average toddler throws bitch-hooks. Cancel me if you must, but it’s simple biology that a two-year-old can’t punch straight even if Mother Russia is offering him a bounty of one extra salt-beef to kill the American Apollo Creed. The aptly named Tornado came at Basher like a flywheel that decided an avalanche was the perfect time to learn snowboarding, and for a moment, they were equals.
As the combatants squared up—despite neither being able to identify a square—the brutality began. Basher spun around to deliver a deadly nursery rhyme to the ribs, but made the mistake every child boxer learns: never turn your back on your opponent and trot in the opposite direction, you stupid baby.
While conking his opponent on the not-yet-sealed head the way we’ve all wanted to try, Tornado seized upon a new idea to draw out this murder movie: the jab.
Like all baby-harm innovations, it was crudely inspired, it was developed in a military contract program, and it was legal in Maryland. Tim faked another overhead thump, then stepped forward to let gravity deliver the punch his talent could only promise. Basher’s mouth caught a fist that would make “Googoo, gaga” technically his first words—not as babytalk but his blinkered brain’s dying efforts to describe what was pouring out of his face and how it felt. For one brilliant second, his body contained 214 Newtons, and only three of them were fig. YES, BUDDY, I HAVE DONE THE MATH.
Basher came up crying with all the fight knocked out of him, alongside what would have been his adult teeth. And it was only going to get worse. He had no time to look around for grown-ups to protect him before their lusty cheers erupted at the sight of his confused suffering. Dazed, crying, and still a wounded baby, he managed to put his hands up long enough for Tornado to continue coloring red outside the lines.
It was a two-fisted shove to a skull so flimsy that egg farmers consider it useless as packing material. The blow was fulsome enough that we had to invent freeways just to get use out of the seatbelt law it necessitated. Even today, neurologists ring up Level-6 CTE as “two Basher Bills over hard, hold the recovery, shug.”
Displaying the instinct for self-preservation common among professional battered babies, Bill stayed down, crying. It was the safest place for him, and it was all going to be taken away even faster than CPS should have removed him from his parents’ custody. The round ended, and he had one minute to pray for a kind reception from a God who had already shown no interest in letting him reach First Communion.
The second round started with Tornado tap dancing with glee. At last, he would employ father’s cruel methods for his own glorification. I have no words to describe the natural footwork of a violence-bent toddler given permission to attack a baby. Bill was a head shorter even before he got his block knocked off, but it’s entirely possible he started this fight the taller child before he was railroad-spiked into the mat a dozen times.
With merry staccato, Tim speedbagged Bill’s face all the way to the ground, then tripped over his victim in the berserker throes of a gut kick. Or as the coroner wrote in his report, “Seldom have I written that cancer would have been a kinder end for this child’s pancreas.”
I don’t want to accuse the ref of being crooked, but he teed up the littler kid for Tim’s deadly diametrics like he’d never forgiven Mrs. Referee for stepping out on him with a crying bag of sausage meat and road gravel. This is the worst defense the Navy has put up since that radar operator in Hawaii got up to get a sandwich so that FDR could pull off his inside job.
Reader, this child trusted adults to keep him safe, and now the entire world as he understands it is cheering for him to be harmed. He does not know how to violence, he knew only play. Everyone laughs at the worst fear and pain of Bill’s tiny life, even the British announcer. He is history’s loneliest human being until the priest who has to speak at Bill Cosby’s funeral.
Round three, and Tornado had mastered the craft of punching with a stiff-armed leap. He tumbled Basher’s toes to the mat behind his head in a gentlemanly gesture to let the small child kiss his ass goodbye. Sadly, the referee hoisted the corpse of what had once called itself Basher Bill to its feet so it could complete its certification as a late-term abortion.
Displaying survival wisdom once again, Bill’s body strode off, not realizing yet that it was dead. After five steps, the death punch was triggered, and the fair-haired kid crawled under the rope to expire with as much dignity as anyone wearing a diaper can do.
Years later, a reporter would ask Bill if he wasn’t grateful for the defeat that shaped so much of his life and bone structure. Having already faced the worst, was he prepared for every lesser challenge in life? From seven decades of experience, he pondered a long, quiet while. Finally, he spoke.
“Murmble staffish snoo pie,” he mused. “Jellyman. Jelly. Real plong.”
Hey, fuck you if you didn’t retweet Brendan’s most lighthearted joke this month.