An excerpt from “Ink,” an essay in Fighters & Writers:
Jaguars have a distinctive style of killing their prey, which can include virtually any other creature, since jaguars eat mammals, reptiles and fish. While other large cats rely on throat holds to strangle other beasts, jaguars can kill with a single bite through the neck – or right through the skull. One theory of the etymology of their name is that it derives from the word used by the Guarani Indians of the AmazonBasinin Brazil: yaguara, meaning an animal that can kill with one leap.
In his memoir Somebody’s Gotta Tell It, Jack Newfield outlines what he calls the “Joe Frazier method” of journalism. For him, the boxer “represented discipline, tenacity, courage, and maximizing whatever talent God gives you.” These qualities can be used as the foundation for an approach to writing: “keep coming forward. Don’t get discouraged. Be relentless. Don’t stop moving your hands. Break the others guy’s will.” Such an approach could also be seen as jaguar-like, since the cats display all the qualities Newfield describes.
After his too-early death, Frazier’s legacy lives on.
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Posted in Essays, tagged Boxers, Brazil, Evander Holyfield, Fighters & Writers, Jaguars, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, Sharon Guynup, Smithsonian on September 26, 2011 |
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Jaguars are awesome creatures. Anyone who has read my book Fighters & Writers knows of my personal interest in them. In the essay “Ink” I liken the cats to boxers, specifically comparing their fierce aggression to heavyweight Joe Frazier’s relentless ringmanship. A fascinating story in the October 2011 Smithsonian also makes the feline/fighter connection. Journalist Sharon Guynup describes a team of researchers in Brazil examining a tranquilized jaguar:
It takes five men to heft the cat onto a scale: He weighs 203 pounds. They measure his length, girth, tail and skull. He bears evidence of fighting, probably battling another male over territory. [Veterinarian Joares] May dabs salve on half-healed cuts covering the cat’s massive head and paws. He’s also missing half an ear. The team nicknames him “Holyfield,” after Evander Holyfield, the boxer who lost a portion of his ear to Mike Tyson’s teeth in 1997; certainly the jaguar’s compact, muscular body radiates the power of a prizefighter.
Regarding the much-needed conservation efforts Guynup chronicles, one of her sources reflects, “the jaguar really has a fighting chance.” Sounds about right.
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