Slappy Ending

“The image that I can’t forget—the one that truly pulls me into the savage, surreal, and ridiculously compelling world of professional slap fighting—is the open hand of heavyweight champion Damien ‘the Bell’ Dibbell smashing into the giant bearded face of Ryan ‘the King of Kings’ Phillips in slow motion. In the moment, I can’t tell whether my horror or pleasure is greater. Phillips’s eyes are closed, all 255 pounds of him anticipating the blow, hoping to endure it so he can return fire. He can’t move to evade the slap. That’s not allowed in this relatively new, super-fast-growing combat sport. Flinching is a foul—spiritually, the greatest foul in slap fighting—and the penalty is that your opponent gets an extra chance to smash you in the face. So you just have to take the blow. Dibbell’s slap takes maybe a second to deliver in real time. Phillips drops—whatever was him, gone at least briefly—and his body crumples to the ground.” Ander Monson in Esquire: Inside the Savage, Surreal, Booming World of Professional Slap Fighting. (There’s got to be some connection between our raging politics and culture wars and the fact that we’re inventing new—and ever more basic—ways to pummel the hell out of each other. I’ve been beating myself up trying to understand it.)

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