I’m a boxing trainer. I get people ready for a fight. To do that properly, one must understand the essentials. Will, discipline, technique, conditioning, skill-sets, mental toughness, an understanding of your opponent and most of all an identity that is yours. Knowing who and what you are when you step into the ring.
With a lifetime spent in this business, I view most everything as a fight, the only variable being the importance of each battle.
The biggest difference between the boxing ring and the venues for all the other fights with true consequences is that inside the squared circle, accountability is immediate, meted out with each punch thrown and taken. In all fighting arenas, the honor of having his hand raised in victory usually goes to the man who knows and believes in what and who he is.
I believe our country is in a fight now. In the way that too many cooks can spoil a broth, too many trainers can tamper with a fighter’s style, I’m afraid our identity as a nation is being stripped away.
When Ali, Louis, Robinson, Marciano and our other great champions stood ready to show their worth under the lights, each knew who he was and why he believed in himself. Each was chiseled by the desire to acquire better things for his family and himself. He sought the praise that comes from recognition of accomplishment and was nourished with his ability to take his success and use it to strengthen others.
The promise of such powers and privileges allowed these men to accept the terms of sacrifice required.
Champions can be southpaws or orthodox, but when they step between the ropes they must never wonder about who they are. This country was born a brawler in the middle of a round, and yes its style had to be refined over the years so that it could defeat opponents such as slavery and intolerance.
But there was no need for tinkering when we rose as one, a great family protecting its own, to win two World Wars. And the reason we are still standing is the same reason we put up our dukes 240 years ago—to choose human preservation over self existence. Living over surviving.
To defend this title we understood there had to be rigorous training. Rules and standards had to be formed and met.
I, as many in this country, believe you should always look to move forward, but in turn you should never forget how you got to where you are.
We have made it okay to push the jab instead of snapping it. We now do our roadwork later in the day because it is easier then getting up at 5 am. It is easier, but in the end it will be harder as we have to live with the results that come with less effort.
A fighter’s greatest foe has always been the one that comes in the form of excuses. When reasons why we can, should, and must do something get replaced with reasons we can’t or don’t have to, then we are no longer fighters. We are then opponents, just looking and settling for whatever small pay day is available.
The fighter has always defined what this country is. The ability and desire to find a way, to overcome whatever is threatening to hold you back—even if it is yourself.
If I have acquired any knowledge through the years, it is that I have found it harder to quit than to fight. That may sound contradictory because there is no effort required in quitting. But there is a great effect in living with the consequences of quitting. When you decide to fight, it is done, win or lose, in a moment. And a base has been formed that will serve you going on. When you give up, you have no such base to stand but only a seat in eternity to watch others live and compete.
I don’t want to see that famous scene play out from “On The Waterfront,” when they tell the fighter Marlon Brando was playing that tonight was not going to be his night. I never want to see our great country told that we have to take a dive. Not for any reason.
There is no opponent but ourselves to overcome. This is the greatest champion of all time we are talking about. This is the United States of America!