Palooka Politicos: The 2020 Presidential Candidates If They Were Fighters

Sometimes, the forming of a more perfect union requires the separation of a rib or three. At least that’s what our politicians would have us believe. Bureaucrats, wonks, and snake-oil salesmen love nothing more than co-opting the language of boxing (“I’ll fight for you!”), but believe it or not, some pols have actually gone so far as making that great leap from the public square into the squared circle.

Teddy Roosevelt boxed at Harvard, held sparring sessions in the White House and was rendered nearly blind in his left eye by a punch. John McCain was a fighter at the Naval Academy, then survived an extended stay at a goddamn Hanoi Hilton to sponsor the Ali Act — a landmark piece of boxing legislation. Hell, even Mitt Romney, despite possessing a profoundly punchable face, stepped into the (exhibition) ring with Evander Holyfield.

And the pipeline works both ways. Jersey Joe Walcott was elected Sheriff of New Jersey’s Camden County in the 1970s. More recently, Manny Pacquiao, Vitali Klitschko, and Nikolai Valuev have served in public office in their respective homelands. One can only assume that the Hefner estate has delayed the announcement of the Playboy Mansion’s new mayor until the official retirement of Chris Algieri.

Meanwhile, we the people — an electorate with so many memes to make and so little time — are left to somehow parse out our options for the rapidly approaching 2020 U.S. presidential elections. So let’s take a page from the pols’ playbook, sizing up the field in scouting reports that we can easily understand.



Michael Bennet: Highly competent professional with the ability to rip a contender a new asshole. Solid performer who, by all accounts, is a legitimately good guy. Had ravenous pundits creaming their Wranglers when he came roaring back from cancer; alas, people are sort of over it. 

Fighter comp: Daniel Jacobs


Joe Biden: Older than dirt and creepier than your actual Uncle Joe. Most effective working at distance, but he’s a stalker, frequently closing the gap and getting himself into trouble in close quarters. Flashes dangerous power, but mostly living off legacy at this point. Possibly even a little lazy. Stamina and sharpness are increasingly in question. Thinks #MeToo is a petting zoo with humans. 

Fighter comp: Sergey Kovalev


Cory Booker: Technically sound, if a tad mechanical. A master at building a narrative — knows how to draw a crowd. Has benefited from favorable matchmaking and timing. When tested, must work on stifling his “What the fuck am I doing here?” face. Critics swear he’s a smoke-and-mirrors fabrication, and his connections to weirdo power brokers turn off potential fans, er, voters. 

Fighter comp: Anthony Joshua


Steven Bullock: Who? 

Fighter comp: Tom Schwarz


Pete Buttigieg: Cute, TV-friendly boy wonder. Has created a buzz as a charismatic crossover star, but is he more focused on his following than the fights? Sometimes gets overlooked that he has yet to accomplish a goddamn thing on the big stage. 

Fighter comp: Ryan Garcia


Julian Castro: Has valuable practical experience at the top levels to go with decent all-around skills, but doesn’t stand out. Continues to struggle with energizing his natural base — or, really, anyone at all. He’s just kinda … there. Also: Bullshit has been called on his Spanish

Fighter comp: Danny Garcia


John Delaney: Starting from a position of vast personal wealth that, in theory, gives him a leg up on the competition. But the public barely knows who he is, and pundits don’t consider him a serious threat. 

Fighter comp: Mike Lee


Tulsi Gabbard: A serious presence, with some substantive tools, but she’s all over the place. Hits hard, but too often winds up compromising herself. Sloppy. No telling what she’ll do next. (Mostly because she doesn’t seem to know either.) 

Fighter comp: Jaime Munguia


Kamala Harris: Fast and canny. Despite flaws — including a tendency to avoid the big fights — always manages to stay relevant among the marquee names. Skates by on a sketchy resume. Intimidates the powerless in stump speeches to drum up interest, equating big talk with actually throwing fucking hands

Fighter comp: Gary Russell Jr.


Amy Klobuchar: Has a rosy disposition that belies her balls. Stronger track record than you might realize, but hadn’t had much of a chance to make an impression at the highest level — until recently. Made her bones swatting down a privileged douche in front of a world audience. Doubts remain about her sticking power. 

Fighter comp: Andy Ruiz Jr.


Wayne Messam: Former college football player whose athletic dreams led him down a different path. Not ready to roll with the biggest punches. 

Fighter comp: Dominic Breazeale


Beto O’Rourke: Does massive numbers everywhere he goes (especially in Texas). An absolute unit of a cash cow — but is he all hat and no cattle? Almost certainly pissing hot. Seems constantly high on his own supply. Hard to know if even he buys his own bullshit. Name gets a lot of scrutiny.

Fighter comp: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.


Tim Ryan: Has a face too big for his head. Won’t hang around this thing much longer.

Fighter comp: Yuriorkis Gamboa


Bernie Sanders: Defensive to a curmudgeonly fault. Far from screen-friendly, but has a super-wonky game and knows how to stink out an opponent. Knowledge of the finer points seems endless, but the casuals can’t seem to get over his crushing unlikability. Worth noting: He’s quite possibly loyal to a socialist regime. 

Fighter comp: Guillermo Rigondeaux


Joe Sestak: Looks like an off-brand Treat Williams. Should hang ‘em up before he gets hurt. 

Fighter comp: Martin Murray


Tom Steyer: Made his fortune elsewhere. Is this a calling for him, a passion, or a celebrity circle-jerk? In any case, a flash in the pan. 

Fighter comp: Logan Paul


Elizabeth Warren: Titanically effective, if a touch awkward. One of the best talkers in the game. Will undoubtedly invite you to drink a beer with her. Has shown resiliency to bounce back from her share of knockdowns, and always has a plan. Fearless in the face of a little cultural appropriation. Runs weird

Fighter comp: Tyson Fury


Marianne Williamson: Already done plenty of good. Brings a refreshing, rarely seen energy to the arena. Very spiritual. Crazier than a shithouse rat. 

Fighter comp: Keith Thurman


Andrew Yang: Disposition seems an odd fit for this zoo, but self-awareness is a strength. Despite some dicey ideas, seems to know his limitations. Follicly tragic, but out here living his best life. Twitter game is on point.

Fighter comp: Gary O’Sullivan



Donald Trump: Handsy, sputtering, front-running clown who thinks gold is a personality. Punches down — always. Picks beatable opponents in order to build the legend in his own mind. Team requires a designated rug-brusher. Oblivious to making weight.

Fighter comp: Adrien Broner


Happy voting, and may democracy continue to reign as the world’s WBC Eternal Champion!


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