There’s a strange connection between the stock market and boxing success.
In the stock market there are bulls and bears; in the realm of boxing or pugilism, there also are bulls and bears. The bulls are those times when a boxer keeps on winning and if ever he loses, he quickly regains the winning form. The bears come when the boxer loses and appears to have lost the winning touch.
Some boxers just keep on winning and winning… until one day they lose big. Usually, the loss is followed by another. He may have another win or two, only to lose again, until the boxer finally realizes that his touch is gone.
That’s the time that the poor boxer finally hangs up his gloves for good, realizing that the bear market in his career is for real, and the bull market is now just a thing of the past.
Well, this bull and bear analogy between stock market and boxing is not really a new idea.
In the 1930 investment classic, “The Art of Speculation” (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1930), the author Philip Carret offered a simple yet very insightful explanation of what causes a reversal from a bull to bear market by a striking analogy with boxing.
Philip Carret, a bond salesman, financial journalist and mutual fund manager who founded Fidelity Investment Trust, known today as Pioneer Fund with $2 billion in assets, has this to say on what causes bear markets:
“As simple and as good an explanation as any other is the inability of a majority of mankind to maintain a regimen of hard work in the face of easy living conditions. Just as in the realm of pugilism a few years of soft living will make a Dempsey (referring to Jack Dempsey) an easy prey to a Tunney (James Tunney who defeated Dempsey twice for World Heavyweight Championship) so a period of prosperity contains the seeds of its own destruction.”
Well, how true this boxing connection is, can be easily gleamed from the array of former world boxing champions who, refusing to quit the sport in the midst of mounting distractions, suffered the ignominy of being forced to quit in the thick of a bear market in their careers.
With the seeming exception, of course, of a “black swan” named Manny Pacquiao who initially looks as one who continues with a winning streak despite mounting distractions.
As we noted in a previous post, ”The Black Swan That Is Pacquiao and What Lesson Can Be Learned”, Pacquiao is a “black swan”.
Bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb (“The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”), defines “black swan” as an event or occurrence that is “unpredictable” and has a “massive impact.” Pacquiao undoubtedly fits in with the definition
In fact, Pacquiao’s being a “black swan” by definition looks like a convenient explanation on why he seemed to defy all odds and avoid for a long time the onset of a bear market in his career.
Not anymore, as the guy currently, looks inexorably on the way to a bear market in his boxing career.
Just look at the many distractions Pacquiao piled up one over the other: having himself elected as a Congressman; having a regular daily TV show “Many Manny Prizes”; his dabbling in the realm of “preaching” as a Christian pastor of some sort; and most recently, his spat on tax issues with the Bureau of Internal Revenue where, with much bravado, he vowed he would fight to the finish.
These are, of course, apart from his much-gossiped occasional flirtings with starlets or his being in constant company with some prominent men not known for virtuous living.
How one is able to maintain “a regimen of hard work” with such “horrendous” distractions is of course, something very doubtful.
No wonder Pacquiao’s super-trainer Freddie Roach complains once in a while, and his physical conditioning coach Alex Ariza not just complained, but even unceremoniously left the Pacquiao team recently.
And no wonder Pacquiao’s last performance in his bout with the perennial opponent Juan Manuel Marquez left much to be desired and his win extensively questioned. The poor guy Marquez could only claim of having been cheated of victory for the nth time.
There’s an interesting side issue here which borders in the realm of the esoteric or metaphysical as revealed by local sportswriter/columnist Recah Trinidad in a recent article entitled “Twin Warnings for Manny Pacquiao” (Philippine Daily Inquirer 04/12/12).
Recah Trinidad mentioned that Pacquaio’s incoming bout with Timothy Bradley will be his 16th fight since losing to Erik Morales in their first encounter.
The columnist Trinidad then continued:
“Chronicler Marv Dumon of the International Boxing Examiner has noted that, since Pacquiao’s first pro loss to “Rustico Torrecampo in 1996, he has lost every 16th bout thereafter.”
For the record, Dumon continued, Pacquiao was stopped by Medgoen (3-K Battery) Singsurat in September 1999 to lose the WBC flyweight crown.
That defeat coincided with Pacquiao’s 16th fight since first losing to Torrecampo.”
There is something ominous, therefore, in this “16” number for Paquiao , according to Trinidad.
Call it “jinx” or call it anything. You may believe it, ponder it or dismiss it as plain superstition. But add the horrendous distractions to the equation and the bull-bear connection persists in your mind.
Back to the issue of bulls and bears and pugilism, the comparison is of course limited. While bears eventually give rise to bulls, the waning boxer hardly ever rises again. He eventually becomes a has-been, usually poor and despondent, and oftentimes, a caricature of his former glorious self.
Unsolicited advice to Pacquiao? Win or loss, make this bout with Timothy Bradley your last and henceforth, focus on politics if that’s what stirs your soul.
You will save yourself the possibility of going deep into a bear market in your boxing career and in your finances (seemingly remote but possible).