For Whom the Bells Toll

My life has been filled with things I’ve tried that I wasn’t any good at. As a teen, I tried football (made it to third-string as a defensive back) and hockey (didn’t make any string because I couldn’t stop or turn well on skates). I also tried basketball (didn’t make the cut because I was way too short) and skiing (once again, couldn’t stop or turn well).

The point is, I always tried at least once to do many things and face whatever fear I might’ve had. Even though I didn’t erase the fears, I felt good that I at least tried. I don’t think I was ever called a chicken or coward…maybe I was called stupid once or twice, but I never had a chicken clucking sound directed at me. Gotta feel good about that, right?

One of the more stupider things I tried as a young adult was boxing. I weighed about 145 pounds and qualified as a welterweight. The speed of my punches was incredibly fast but lacked the power needed to really hurt anybody. If anything, I made a pretty good sparring partner for real boxers who needed to learn a little defense. If they could avoid my speed, they would do well in the ring with other boxers who may have been powerful, but lacked quickness. I was happy to contribute…kind of.

I only tried boxing for a few months, but I definitely was rattled in the few bouts I had…except one. I fought a total of five matches. I was proud to have not been knocked out in any of them. Granted, they were short, maybe three or five rounds, but I lasted. My speed wasn’t just good for landing powerless punches, but also allowed me to block or dodge plenty of opposing punches. That was the only thing that saved me from a knockout or injury.

Mainly, I was worried about my nose. It had been broken in the past and never healed quite right. When I was in the ring, I especially tried to protect my nose. I already knew that if it was hit, it would bleed like a gushing geyser. That would end the fight for sure. Also, there just wasn’t a workout routine to strengthen my nose.

ME: Are you sure these nose push-ups will help?

TRAINER: Just shut up and give me five more!

My first fight was nerve-wracking for me. Supposedly, the other guy and I weighed roughly the same…but I swear he looked like a big wad of muscle. I can’t remember if he had a neck or not, but I do know his punches hurt. I managed to last all three rounds, but he slaughtered me on points. My speedy punches seem to affect him like little mosquito bites. Midway through the first round, he gave up defense altogether. What was the point if my punches weren’t hurting him?

So, I lost the first fight…and the second…and the third…and finally the fourth. I lost all four the same way, by points. These guys were better than I would ever be. I made a decision to give it up after one more fight, my fifth. I was determined to give it my all for this one so I could at least have one good memory of my attempt at boxing.

The night of my fifth fight, we had a terrible snowstorm. I made it to the gym, but my opponent didn’t. Instead of rescheduling the fight, they gave a forfeit. I finally won a fight. This wasn’t exactly how I wanted to finish the sport, but it was what it was. I ended my “boxing career” at 1 win and 4 losses.

As the years went by, I found my lack of power with boxing mitts didn’t translate to bare-fisted punching. My fists could hurt somebody…and myself.

For those of you who have never punched somebody in the jaw, let me tell you that it hurts your hand…a lot. Granted, it also hurts their jaw, but it’s kind of difficult to continue your hitting when you probably broke something in your hand, unless, of course, the adrenaline is fully in play. Their sore jaw doesn’t stop them from punching you back, however.

Best advice? Don’t fight. It hurts.


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