Why do I box? I struggled to figure this out for years. Mainly because I wanted to put it to myself in a way that would sound cool to everyone else. I wanted a bullshit marketing spin that I could buy into and sell to the entire world. I ran from the truth because I wanted to believe that boxing was for everyone, that everyone could benefit from this beast of an activity. It took me a long time to get real with myself, and the truth hit me one day when I read something out of the Autobiography of Malcolm X. My favourite book of all time, btw.
In that book, Malcolm X takes a visit to Mecca, during that visit he meets a man who spits some logic on him that blows his mind, it goes like this, “You have never truly believed [in something], until you want it for your brother as much as you want it for yourself.” Bamn! there it is… let it sink in.
Honestly, I don’t want boxing for everybody, I don’t want it for my mother, my friends, the kid who plays piano 3 hours a day, and I certainly don’t want it for the MBA student who does everything his parents ever told him to. In fact, I don’t care who boxes and who doesn’t, and that’s because there are deeper issues at stake. Namely, fear and self-worth, this is what’s at stake, this is what I care about and so should you.
What is boxing? It is a medium for expressing yourself, it’s a tool and a set of techniques for relating to another human being, and that’s some classic Bruce Lee philosophy. It’s one medium among many to overcome fear, to gain confidence, to prove what you are capable of, and to establish your self-worth. Boxing is a sport, it’s also a form of combat, and in it lies the basic components of conflict that anyone trying to excel at something faces: 1) mastery over yourself, 2) mastery over your environment, 3) mastery over others.
This is what the CEO is doing, it’s what the b-boy is doing, it’s what the gold-digger is doing, it’s what the painter is doing, and it’s what you are doing every time you step in the ring. In boxing there are no liars, the truth finds you quickly, it’s a high risk and high reward program for discovering what kind of man you really are. High reward because once you have put in the work, put in the time, gained the skills and conditioned your body to the best it can be, you know that you can walk down the street everyday for a week and not pass anybody who can do what you do. Boxing is also high risk, you face your fear when you fight, and at the same time there is still a lot of fear, it’s not fear of pain, but fear of losing what you’ve gained, fear of losing your confidence and your status. Fear of being the nobody you were before you boxed. That’s why you better learn to love yourself somewhere along the way, because this boxing shit ain’t gonna last forever.
The boxer always has a tough dilemma, we are always one punch away from being knocked down, and I mean way down, if you don’t believe me just go ask Ricky Hatton. The boxer who takes calculated risks deserves props because we all have our time when that punch turns our fate. Props to Ricky Hatton, no matter what anyone has to say. Mike Tyson took his fate turning punches from Douglas, Holyfield and Lewis. Roy Jones took his from Tarver. Roberto Duran took his from Hearns, and Hearns took his from Barkley and Hagler. As fighters, active or not, we deserve recognition from ourselves for the risks taken to face our fears, to prove our self-worth, and to gain mastery.
So why do I box? Because the pain and discontent inside me wouldn’t have had it any other way.