San Jose, CA
July 20, 2006
is no better metaphor for life than boxing. It comes at your raw, and unedited
whether you are ready or not. It can arrive like a gentle breeze, bring sweet
scents of perfumed women, or as ugly as first round knockout. Although there are
many schools of thought, all would agree that after physical training, the
psychological state of a fighter is most important. If this difficult to
identify detail is missing, tragedy will follow. The question is how do you
prepare your psychology? And most importantly “Are you willing to die”?
Those who have
not known the fury inside the ring, think of boxing as a sport that can be
analyzed, discussed, and understood via a formula of moves and strategy. Wanna
be, non-combatants like Larry Merchant and Bryant Gumbel, amuse themselves by
asking questions, and believe they are on the edge, but its just self-absorbed
bullshit. Bryant is a rich white boy, whose greatest accomplishment is thinking
he’s black. Larry is a delusional, blow hard, who thinks he knows boxing. A
fighter knows boxing is a war. Like war, its kill or die. Like war, its combat
in which death plays a part. Death looms over the ring, like vultures over a
battlefield. Yes, there are officials, but that's just to keep it legal. It’s
the boxer’s job to kill his opponent. If a man goes to war, or enters the ring
without this attitude, he’s gonna get hurt or die. If you are not willing to
die to win, then you should get out. This scares most people away, and it
should. There is no shame in acknowledging its not for you. Its not for
everyone, and anyone who’s been to war knows, courage takes work.
nicey, nice people turn up their noses. They call boxing brutal and uncivilized.
They hire other nicey, nice people to monitor it. They don’t want their
children to be fighters who risk their lives. These “normal”, people forget
that without fighters protecting them, they would not be around. The nicey, nice
people run for safety, call a cop, or drop to their knees and ask God to protect
them. They willingly walk into death chambers or bow their heads, going
willingly into the night. In truth, they’re just sheep. The average person
depends on men like those I train, and write about to protect them. Without
these men the predators of the world would eat them. There would be no nicey,
nice people. There would be no intellectuals to argue over the merits of its
benefits for society.
face another man in battle takes real courage. In the real world thugs don’t
back down. Victory belongs to those willing to die for it. Intellectuals can
theorize all they want, but in the real world power flows form men willing to
lay it all on the line. It is a brutal, demanding reality in which your
objective is to kill your opponent. The referee's job to protect an injured
boxer. The fighter’s job is to make sure the injuries are serious. In here
lies the crux; you can no more simulate real war, anymore than you can simulate
a real rocket attack. You cannot more practice killing someone than you can
practice taking a bullet. It’s a dilemma generals, and coaches have pondered
for years. Having experienced both, I can think of nothing that comes close to
this fray walks Marvin “Major Mendoza”, Whitlock, former college basketball
player and third generation boxer. Built like a mountain and strong as a bull.
His stature has protected him from the indignities men of lesser size must
endure. But it never prepared him for the brutal, raw fury inside the ring.
I’ve stated that a trainer must assume responsibility for his part of a
fighter’s performance. He must step up and own it. It is the only way to
improve. As Marvin’s coach, I admit I failed to convey the seriousness of war.
I did not make him believe. I could not transfer its severity. I could not
infuse him with the necessary fury. Marvin “Major Mendoza”, Whitlock, was
TKO’d in one minute and forty nine seconds of the first round of his
professional debut. In hindsight, it is clear that despite what he said, he
failed to grasp the meaning of war.
a former fighter, and solider, I hate to loose, especially because of something
so fundamental. I’ve told many wanna be boxers that a fighter must be a little
nuts. He must wanna win so badly he’d hurt somebody deliberately, and without
provocation. It takes a rare individual. The average person can’t do it. A
real fighter, like a solider, can and will hurt anyone who stands in his way.
The reality of such a man is frightening. War and boxing gives fighting men, a
sociably acceptable manner to release their fury. War gives a man a license to
kill. If average society could see the calculated violence inside them, it would
be frightened. If you doubt me, look into the eyes of a wild animal, and then if
you dare, look into the eyes of a serious fighter. It will be educational.
a man must wear a mask in order to function in society. No matter how well
behaved or how successful, everyone knows this man is a dangerous. That’s why
you don’t find rich white boys at the top levels of boxing. Rich boys go to
war for the adventures; poor men’s sons go to war for survival. There are
exceptions, but usually, its those who have been battered, abused, and stomped
on, that excel in the ring. You gotta have fury, but it must be controlled rage.
Those rare individuals who’ve known it, know its power, know its difficult to
describe, for them combat brings excitement. The fight and the adrenaline rush
are the reward. The next time you speak to a fighter, know that while they smile
politely, they could be plotting to take you out. You won’t find such man bad
mouthing others, they know words are cheap, and combat deadly.
tip my hat to Hector Martinez who demonstrated a clear understanding of what it
means to go to war. He can look forward, while the other must look into himself
and ask the same question I posed earlier. “Are you willing to die”. I make
no apology, nor ask for anyone’s endorsement. I believe these things to be
true, which is why I love boxing. Age prevents me, but I would rather be in the
mix, than anywhere else. If I could choose my way of dying, I would prefer to do
it fighting, without remorse, regrets, filled with the joy of battle and
reaching for victory. I give thanks to the almighty for allowing me to be a part
of it. I pray that in my next lifetime, I once again return as a fighter.
why I gotta say, Thank God For Boxing, See You Ringside!!