I have been asked to describe a pugilist.
I had to look up the word in a dictionary because, to be honest, I did not know what the word meant. I had never heard of it before.
Since looking up the word, I have had some time to think about the word both in context and out of context.
The definition of a pugilist is a fighter, a brawler, someone who is somewhat aggressive and picks a fight with another person.
In context, it is a boxer who fights in a traditional way with his bare knuckles and hands without gloves.
He fights rough and tough and probably does not follow any rules of competitive combat.
A street fighter.
A prize fighter.
A self-trained fighter who fights bouts rather than a boxing match.
A dirty fighter. Someone who might punch below the belt.
A pugilist, in the context of fighting combat, is repugnant, vile and uncompromising.
Out of context, the definition of a pugilist has taken on a completely different meaning by referring to someone who uses anger, confrontation and provocation to upset others.
This is particularly evident in the age of social trolling prevalent especially on the internet.
This is where someone uses anonymity most of the time for fear of retribution to start an argument, upset people, post inflammatory remarks or generally behave in a demon-like way towards others which is considered socially unacceptable.
In this modern out of context meaning, a compuer hacker might also be considered of the same breed.
Someone who seeks to disrupt, deceive and cause damage to others.
So it could be that the Dawn of a Pugilist, as represented in an eloquent poem written by English professional boxer Matt Windle, reflects the true sentiments of a pugilist.
The world of pugilism and social trolling met head-on in the case of American boxer Deontay Wilder in 2014 when he met his offender in an arranged confrontation to settle the issue.
The outcome could never be in doubt.
Pugilism is ugly, fierce, vile and a statement of outright aggression.
It breeds racism, abuse, bullying, contempt and harrassment.
There may be a thin line between the human right of self-expression to say what is just and proper and the danger of sowing discord to such an extent that the nature of the action amounts to a lack of civility to the common good.
Metaphorically speaking, it seems in order to throw a few punches in banter but never below the belt.
So what really is a pugilist?