João Carvalho was beaten to death.
This is not a judgement-filled statement. This is simply a fact. João Carvalho died a violent death at the hands of another man.
It’s true that the man who killed him did not intend to do so and it’s also true that João Carvalho was himself a willing participant in the fight that ended his life, but we could say that about many confrontations outside nightclubs at three in the morning.
How many men (and it always seems to be men) have died as a result of a punch to the head ? How many men, and again it always seems to be men, have faced manslaughter charges for giving in to an impulse we might all have, both men and women? Who hasn’t, at some time in their lives, wanted to punch somebody in the face?
As a human being I’m not free of that impulse and although I have never done it, I know what the urge feels like.
I have witnessed mindless violence. I have seen people being kicked in the head by other people who are entirely oblivious to the potential consequences of their actions, and it has always sickened me because I do not like violence. I recoil from physical assaults against people or against animals and therefore I have never liked cage fighting but of course my personal squeamishness should never count for anything.
So what if I don’t like it? There are many other things in our society that would have to be banned if we allowed people’s personal likes and dislikes to dictate how we run our country. Hardly a year ago, we legalised same-sex marriage despite the outrage of those who didn’t like the idea, and that’s how we should operate a civilised democracy. So I won’t be calling for a ban on mixed martial arts.
I won’t be calling for anything, in fact.
All I’ll be saying here, like it or not, is that one man beat another man to death in the National Stadium in front of a cheering crowd. And I’ll be saying that I don’t like the idea of hitting your opponent when he’s down. I didn’t like it when Conor McGregor punched José Aldo in the head after knocking him down, even though it’s permitted in the rules of MMA. I like it even less when I hear that Charlie Ward had the opportunity to punch João Carvalho in the head nine times as he lay on the floor before the referee intervened.
It might be in the rules, but perhaps the rules are the problem. Perhaps the rules are simply a codification of the fight outside the nightclub. Perhaps the problem is within us, since so many of us are willing to condone and even enjoy practices that at one time would have been considered beneath contempt.
Kicking in the head and punching on the floor, I don’t like them. That sort of thing is not how I was brought up and if you don’t like my opinion, you can call me old-fashioned.
In this instance, I’ll be proud to wear that badge.
I don’t want to see any more men like João Carvalho beaten to death in the name of entertainment.