No one whose interest in boxing began as mine did in childhood – as an offshoot of my father’s interest – is likely to think of boxing as a symbol for something beyond itself, as if its uniqueness were merely an abbreviation, or iconographic; though I can entertain the idea that life is a metaphor for boxing – for one of those bouts that go on and on, round following round, jabs, missed punches, clinches, nothing determined, again the bell and again and you and your opponent is you: and why this struggle on an elevated platform enclosed by ropes as a pen beneath hot crude pitiless lights in the presence of an impatient crowd? – that sort of hellish-writerly metaphor. Life is like boxing in many unsettling respects. But boxing is only like boxing.
this is from Joyce Carol Oates’ masterful book On Boxing, which I often recommend to detractors of Oates’ vast work.