Feature | Issue | Premium | May 30 2019

Arv Mittoo – Spoiling for a fight

Like so many boxers who lose fights for a living, Arv Mittoo didn’t set out for it to be that way. David Payne catches up with the reluctant journeyman 14 years after his last fight and discovers a man haunted by regret
Arv Mittoo
Alex Morton/Action Images

THERE are no easy lives in the boxing business. Even among those changed for the better, the ones saved, the ones directed away from the darkness, from the cells, from the ground. Every professional fighter complicit to boxing’s unspoken truth; that something of themselves must be sacrificed, perhaps only temporarily, perhaps permanently, in order to access the financial and emotional benefits derived from success, however modest or fleeting they may be.

This grittier reality swiftly overwrites those cinematic show reels, composed in the imaginings of their adolescence, that novice professionals may still cling to when they become professionals. The dream is nevertheless important, prizefighters are not enticed to lace up the gloves as willowy 10-year-olds, or encouraged to punish and curate their bodies into adulthood, with the expectation of losing or moreover, choosing to, being paid to.

But losing is half of the boxing story. You either win or you don’t. In the building of careers, the engineering of the greats who illuminate our weekends with their skill and courage, the risk of defeat is controlled. The young asset is protected and within this amoral capitalism, the subverted grey in boxing’s otherwise black and white simplicity, a demand for participants willing to lose arises.


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