To be quite plain, no, it is no gentelmen's sport, and it never has been. It's not filled with gentlemen, or for that matter, good men - guys in the boxing business (not really talking about the fighters as much as EVERYONE ELSE involved in the sport) are kind of the biggest pieces of shit and the shadiest motherfuckers that you'll ever meet.
I mean, c'mon. It's organized fighting. This is the hurtin' business. It's dominated by those in the lowest class, and the immigrants, the derelicts, the kids from the projects, and the guys who got nowhere else to go who aren't smart enough to do something else.
Don't get me wrong, there are gentlemen in the sport - guys like Jack Dempsey (when he was older) and Manny Steward come to mind. I know fighters that are the nicest guys in the world, and would give you the shirt off their backs if you asked for it.
But of course, there's been a million champs that are total pieces of shit. Sugar Ray Robinson - greatest fighter of all time. Good guy? Character model? Hardly.
Others, like Jack Johnson, Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson, and Roberto Duran were the furthest thing from "gentlemen" that you could ever find. They were brutal killers, rough-and-tumble guys who grew up in the gutter and came up the hard way and took what they wanted.
For a lot of fighters, if they didn't fight, they'd have ended up in jail. A lot of fighters DO end up in jail. More than their share have legal problems and end up with assault charges, alcohol problems, ten kids, no income, and barely get by.
Now, I agree with Londonboxer in part - as far as guys in the lower ranks go, they're often pretty laid back, and they do have a humility about them that comes from taking beatings. But if they're good - really good - sometimes that can fade with success. So it's not an absolute.
But I do see a lot of respect, a lot of learning, a lot of good stuff being taught to kids that, if not for boxing, would have never learned the value of work, of putting in your hours on the grind to get what you want. But boxing is so brutal that not many people stick with it anymore unless they have to, so I wonder how much of that really sinks in. For those who have stuck with the sport for any length of time, however, I think that it does.
But one thing I will say - if a trainer sees that you love the sport, like really love the sport, more often than not they'll help you out no matter what. I'm getting trained for next to nothing from a former pro just because he loves boxing, and he sees that i love boxing, and that's all that's important.
It's funny, because you'll never hear a boxing trainer start preaching about all that shit about "respect" and "walking the right path" and "tradition" and all that other bullshit that TMA teachers spout... but they're the ones willing to train you for free, and are really living that martial arts ethos, while the TMA teacher is robbing the shit out of you for some fake art by making you pay $20 for a belt test and every little promotion costs money.
But in the end, boxing is no different than anything else. There's some purely great people, and there's more than a fair share of total pieces of shit in this business. But mostly there's a lot of people like me (and many worse) - and I'm no fucking gentlemen.
It's a lot of guys with questionable morals who have done lots of bad shit in the past but found a love of the art that's kind of straightened them out or at least given them some sort of rock to fall back on that's there no matter what.
And, like most people in the lower end of the economic scale, if they friends with you, and if they respect you, they'll never forget you, and they'll do anything for you. They got your back.
If not... watch out.