Here is a problem that affects people differently depending on their age. the ring magazine – yes, that’s the correct title for the publication born in 1922 – will no longer be something you can buy at the newsstand, if you can find one.
Word dropped in last (final) issue, featuring Jack Dempsey on the cover, with copy courtesy of the editor Doug Fischer indicating that times do not change, they have changed.
Late last week, news hit the internet and the development was discussed on Twitter. The breakdown of who felt what happened like this: Most people didn’t care one way or another and a few weighed in on the meaning or lack of meaning that the ” Boxing Bible” has now ceased to exist as an entity that relies on downed trees as a component of its delivery vessel.
The same reaction happened in 2020 Playboy management capitulated to the bean counters. Production costs have increased, paper, ink, transport costs, not to mention the sums directed towards the humans responsible for sorting the process.
“Lean and Mean” is the smartest course of action, budget watchers had told Hef, who fought this “inevitability” for years. Playboy lasted 66 years, outliving Hefner, who died in 2017, while Ring lasted 100 years.
Those born before the late ’80s saw Playboy’s decision as “progress,” if they had any reaction other than a shrug. They had seen what could be seen in the pages of Playboy on the Internet, and more, so they had no emotional attachment to the switch.
Same with the Ring decision, which editor Doug Fischer had avoided for years. Fischer, a 53-year-old California resident who appeared in boxing coverage at the start of the print-to-digital transition, politely declined to elaborate with his chimerical parade of Golden Boy managers and consultants who periodically offered to close the magazine. He did, however, break the news in the latest and final issue.
“Yes, this is the last print issue of The Ring,” Fischer wrote in his “Ringside” column, after referencing founder Nat Fleischers’ 1972 print toast to “the old manly, enduring publication.”
Persistent, yes, eternal, no.
Randy Gordon, the New York fight game lifer who headed the NY State Athletic Commission from 1988 to 1995, before that, had a stint as Ring’s editor. I asked the “Commish” what he thought of the news that the Ring race was over.
“When Bert Sugar and I took over The Ring in 1979, the magazine was – for all intents and purposes – dead,” the 73-year-old Sirius/XM host told me. “We relaunched the magazine with our first issue – October 1979 – with a beautiful framed cover photo of Muhammad Ali. Fight fans bought all the magazines. Casual fans only bought the recognizable. Sugar Ray Leonard sold Michael Dokes didn’t. Thomas Hearns’ ‘Hitman’ cover set sales records. Not Greg Page. Alexis Arguello sold. Not Salvador Sanchez. Larry Holmes sold. Just like Aaron Pryor. Just like Gerry Cooney.
We had thousands of subscribers, but also dozens of “impulse buyers”, the consumer queuing in a supermarket, convenience store or bookstore, who saw the ring, on a shelf, saw a familiar face on the cover (Howard Cosell, Robert DiNiro), picked it up and bought it for our early 1980s price of $1.75. Then the world changed. Life has changed. Internet has arrived. Newspaper and magazine sales plummeted. Printing and publication costs have increased. Forward-thinking businesses have made their way to the internet, and many have prospered. Those who didn’t, struggled. Or sank. the ring was among those who took up residence on the Internet. (To note: The author contributed from 2014 to 2021.) As publishing costs increased, the number of impulse buyers declined, with fewer outlets carrying the magazine. It made no sense to the ring continue to print magazines, while their Internet version provided the bulk of the magazine’s sales. Thus, the November 2022 issue of the ring will be his last. Yes, everything has a beginning and an end. However, despite the fact that the ring will no longer print a magazine that you can touch, turn the pages, read and take with you, “The Ring” will continue via the Internet. You will have the same great content in writing, editing, photos, ratings and reports of your favorite sport, as well as news and other features that a print version is unable to do. Nope, “The Ring” is not dead. “The Ring” don’t go away. If anything, “The Ring” will continue to be there for us, bigger and better than ever. “The Boxing Bible” has stood the test of time.”
Bless Randy and his catch. The position he takes on the matter conveys his character and point of view.
Steve Farhood, another lifer from New York, held the EIC chair for much of the 1990s, before getting smart and focusing on television work. He also provided NYF with a perspective on the paper version’s demise.
“Personally and professionally, I’m quite saddened that ‘The Ring’ will no longer be a print monthly,” said the ultra-chic 65-year-old historian, who lends his expertise to Showtime.
“I was editor from 1989 to 1997, and I will never lose that connection. Add the fact that the magazine is over 100 years old, and the extent of the loss is unmistakable. Think about it: over the decades, are there any brand names that have been more closely associated with boxing than “The Ring” and Everlast? It’s a sign of the times. At least in terms of sales and subscriptions, the The magazine’s heyday was probably in the 1950s, when, dare I add, “The Ring” wasn’t always particularly well edited. The 1950s was a million years ago. Given the time frame running a monthly magazine, it’s been difficult for “The Ring” to provide fans with the timely information they need. That was a problem before I was editor and when I was editor, and it remained as such.
Or to put it another way, it’s hard to compete with the immediacy of the internet and social media. “The Ring” may be out of print, but the dozens of magazine binders behind my desk are a constant reminder that it will never die.
The Venerable Nigel Collins, yet another lifer, held the EIC title. The 76-year-old Pennsylvania resident, who is the author of a new book, “Hooking Off the Jab,” shared his thoughts with NY FIGHTS.
“I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner,” said the Englishman who was Ring chief from 1985 to 1989 and then from 1997 to 2011. “Digital is so much cheaper. It was a matter of survival. At least the Ring is still alive, which is better than no Ring.
There is commendable wisdom and pragmatism in this summary, and those drawn from past EICs. Me, I’m not going to lie, it stings a bit, because it’s part of a bigger, sadder picture. The shrinking of journalism as a whole, the savage reduction of newspapers and magazines, and the commitment to quality journalism and reporting jobs is nothing like “progress.” It’s about timeliness, efficiency, cost reduction and yes, making money. That’s the name of the game more than ever, and this quest generally ignores things, like kindness, selflessness, character, and courage, that make us human, in a good way. We can hope and expect that many of these less tangible but ultimately crucial traits will be found either on RingTV.com or through a revamped digital edition. Me, I’m resigned to the news, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a little sad. Change is inevitable, yes, but it’s not always an improvement over what was.