Combat Sports

Combat Sports

Combat sports have moved up to match major league team sports in popularity. Used to be that boxing was the only combat sport with much of a following in North America, that and the flash-'n'-trash circus that was pro wrestling. Not anymore. Maybe it's just cuz it's a tougher world out there. Maybe the way people get used up, twisted around, and spit out by this crazy way they live has made them meaner.

Individual Combat

One casualty of the times was pro wrestling. As genuine combat sports, with flashier special effects, caught on and increased their network coverage, the grunt-and-groan circuit withered away. The last spurt of activity in pro wrestling was during the tail end of the guerrilla wars surrounding the Ghost Dance, when "good guys" with names like General America and The Cowboy slammed it out with "bad guys" named Big Chief Coyote and The Dark Wizard. These days. Combat Biker has pretty much the same kind of following and the same flavor in promotion as wrestling used to.

Many individual arts feature organized activity, ranging from collegiate and Graeco-Roman wrestling, through classic oriental combat styles (judo, karate, kendo, and so on), to flat-out street fighting. The two most popular individual sports are boxing and freestyle. Bouts are broadcast on at least one of the sportsnets any day of the week.

Boxing

Boxing uses the same weight classifications it always has, but has added two ranges. A superheavyweight class (95 kilos and up) was added in 2039 to accommodate superboosted human and metahuman fighters, and boxing now offers cyber and non-cyber classes as well. Cyberboxing fiddled with rules and limits for a few years after it was introduced in 2027, then decided to heck with it. In the modified class, a boxer can load in anything he can carry. The modified class carries only two restrictions; boxers cannot modify their hands to improve the striking surface, and cannot use cyberweapons in a match. A boxer can get his bones and soft tissues toughened, however, so that his hand can stand up to the kind of punch that muscle implants driven by wired reflexes deliver.

The gloves in the cyber classes are heavier, and made from a more impact-absorbent material, but the added protection
they provide doesn't make much difference. Cyberboxing results in ten to fifteen deaths each year and a hefty number of
serious injuries.

Like always, the heavy and superheavyweight title bouts get the most coverage. Watching two guys in the 8O-kilo and
up range going at it seems to be what the home viewing audience wants to see.

Two competing boxing organizations vie for the audience's attention; the World Boxing Association and the International
Boxing Commission. The WBA is based in Atlanta, and is basically a front for NewsNet's sports division. It is the big noise in boxing in North America. The IBC is based in Bonn, Germany, and is less commercial. It handles both pro and amateur boxing in Europe, as well as Olympic boxing worldwide.

Freestyle

Freestyle evolved gradually, as different combat styles became more and more popular on the nets. The first "official" freestyle match was broadcast in 2015 by a cablenet called SportsBlast. SportsBlast was bought up by MegaMedia in 2022, but by then other promoters and nets had introduced freestyle matches to their programming, and MegaMedia's shot at getting exclusive control of the sport and its trademarks got tossed out of court on the grounds that freestyle had entered the public domaln through common usage.

Freestyle is what the name suggests: any attack a player can make with his unarmed bod is legal. Any spot on an opponent is a legal target: eyes, joints, groin, throat, you name it. Combat goes to a knockout, a disable, or a surrender. No decisions. No "ref stops contest." No rounds, time-outs, or fouls.

Freestyle uses boxing's weight classes, and also splits into cyber and non-cyber classes with the same restrictions as
boxing. Also as in boxing, no (external) body armor is used.

A freestyle ring is a circle ten meters in diameter. If a fighter's entire body leaves the ring, voluntarily or not, the fighter automatically surrenders and loses. The ring's surface
can be concrete, wood, canvas, or dirt.

Lethal Sports

At this time, events involving deliberate combat to the death are illegal in all North American countries except Aztlan. Urban Brawl comes closest to crossing the line, but wounded brawlers are treated immediately and removed from play when badly wounded, and the object of the game is to score goals, not kill opponents. It says so right in the rules.

A number of countries and corporate enclaves promote flat-out gladiator fights; single or team combat fought with real weapons and minimal armor, to the death. Aztlan introduced death matches between condemned criminals as a form of execution in 2039. Professional gladiators, fighting under contract, came along In 2043. Urban myths about Southeast Asian death matches have circulated for a long time. Whether they were real or not then, several Asian warlord states definitely have them now.

Mixed-style matches are what the crowds seem to like, so that's what the promoters give them. Non-cyber, heavily armed fighters against lightly armored cyberkillers. Western street fighters against oriental stylists. Norm vs. meta. "Fair fights" that match half a dozen shanghaied zeros with no combat experience against a single experienced samurai. Blood and circuses.

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