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February 14, 2003

by Bill Hogan


On February 14, 1929 five men – three wearing police uniforms – walked into a warehouse on Chicago's North Side and gunned down seven members of gangster Bugs Moran's underworld crew. The slaughter would forever be known as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.

No cards, no chocolates, just a whole bunch of bullets. Happy Valentine's Day.


Apparently, selling booze in Chicago during prohibition was a tough business; especially when Al Capone wanted to take over your territory.

Though it was widely believed that Capone ordered the hits – Bugs Moran being the primary target – it was never proven, the case went unsolved and Capone continued to serve most of Chicago with bootleg liquor.

You're probably wondering: what the heck does that have to do with sports?

Well, twenty-two years later – February 14, 1951 – Chicago was again the site of another Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. This time the butchery took place inside the boxing ring.

For the sixth and final time, Sugar Ray Robinson "laced 'em up" against the Raging Bull, Jake LaMotta. Robinson won four of the first five and was the reigning welterweight champion. On this night, in Chicago Stadium, he was after LaMotta's middleweight title.

Trading blows early, the bout was close through the first seven rounds. Robinson took control of the match in the eighth and began hammering the Raging Bull. LaMotta refused to go down under the extreme punishment. Midway through the thirteenth round, referee Frank Sikora stepped in and stopped the fight.

No flowers, no diamond heart pendants, just a good beating. Happy Valentine's Day.

Two different events, two different worlds, one familiar slogan: Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. Probably not the image the folks at Hallmark want to project.

It's the twenty-first century and look how far we've come: prohibition has been repealed (probably a sportsfan who shot that little piece of legislation through congress), and the ESPN Friday Night Fights marquee match-up this Valentine's Day is a bout between two women.

And I'm not talking about runway models wrestling in a mud puddle – these are professional female boxers mixing it up between the ropes. The headliner brings to the table the most famous name in boxing history: Ali. That would be Laila Ali, daughter of The Greatest.

Call me old fashioned, but I cringe at the thought of two women pummeling each other with jabs and uppercuts. And not because boxing is "a man's sport". Not because they're not strong enough or tough enough or athletic enough.

But for the simple reason that girls, ladies, women, females should not be hit – ever – under any circumstances – even by another female, and especially with rabbit punches to the back of the head.

Like I tell my four-year-old: "son, no matter how annoying they are, no matter how much they get on your nerves, no matter how irritating they can be, you must never hit a girl – not even if she tries to kiss you on the jungle gym."

I don't doubt the sport's legitimacy. And I'm sure this bout will be competitive and entertaining – especially with one of the fighters tapping into the Muhammad Ali gene pool. But I've seen what a ten round battering can do to an ugly man's face, let alone someone with delicate features.

I'm sure, for some, the idea of two women wearing leather booties, boxing trunks and a sports bra dancing around the canvass may seem stimulating. But where do you go with that quasi-erotic image once one of them leans between the ropes and vomits into a spit bucket?

Let's face it, when a formerly fetching female turns to her corner man between rounds and says "I can't see, Mick, you gotta cut me. Cut me Mick", it's not theatrical, it's just downright morbid. I'm getting a little queasy thinking about it.

And how does the referee separate the fighters from a clinch without running the risk of a sexual harassment suit?

Who had the idea to stage this fight on Valentine's Day anyway? The one day of the year when even the most half-witted husband knows enough to pick up flowers and make dinner reservations.

Only to be rebuffed by a wife sitting on the couch with a beer and pretzels – "Not tonight, dear, Laila's on Friday Night Fights".

I hope the other boxer knows what she's doing because, if Laila is anything like her father in the ring, this fight could turn out to be another Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.


Copyright ©2001-2003, 115sports.com and Bill Hogan. All Rights Reserved.