My first fan post/article of the sort and I am making it on Bad Left Hook. Lemme know how it is..
I felt the right hand like against my nose like a spear. I know this feeling all too well, yet the fist is unfamiliar. I am sparring in a gym in the city against an established amateur that I never met. The confidence and demeanor had me from the moment he walked in. His confidence in himself, or rather the lack of confidence in me, was sharper than any jab I've been hit with. He never looked too concerned with me, nor did he talk to me. We stepped in the ring, heard the bell, and he slapped my glove.
Moments earlier I was practicing my craft against a more familiar boxer. Knowing him for sometime, and noticing his lackadaisical attitude always gave me a boost in confidence. As if I was searching the sandy beach for loose change, sparring with him was like finding a quarter shining in the distance. It gave me hope. Though he is weight classes above me, and has more experience, I know I can take him. Every right hand that hits my head jars me for a moment, yet my determination has a chin made of granite. For the first two rounds I jump on the attack out of my southpaw stance. I whip lead lefts and throw "awkward" combinations when I push him to the ropes. I understood what observers meant when they label a boxer "not mentally strong".
I remember when I first began driving. I had to have a clean exterior, for the interior was a disaster. I would hope that a flawless exterior would deter people from digging deeper inside. In the same way, I saw my sparring partner’s interior. Through countless sparring sessions I fought to pierce through the iron curtain that separated reality from perception. I knew something inside his mind wasn’t as strong as his stiff jabs. And though I may lack my own strong jab, my ego would not be denied. That is, until I met Tony.
Tony, an established amateur, decided to get some help from a southpaw like myself. He needed to spar with different styles. From the moment he walked in he brought a different presence. It wasn’t his muscles, nor was it his physique that I noticed. I noticed what was in his eyes. Though I have never seen him fight, I was already discovering his best weapon early.
The bell rang and he slapped my glove. I could feel the confidence resonating. He threw a two punch combination to the head, and though it didn’t land cleanly, it was definitely a clean combination to my confidence. The way he threw his punches with such assertiveness woke me up. My retaliation was hardly something to be proud of. I threw my straight left hand, yet, not like I usually throw. For a split second I hesitated. In that split second felt like a whole round. It was a round where I was battling not Tony, but myself. Though I was quick on my feet, this was a battle I could not dance away from. It was a battle so deep in my being that my own trainer was unaware. It was only my subconscious and I.
In this ring there were no trainers. There was no bell. Though on the outside I could hear my trainer yelling at me for my lack of combination punching, he was giving me the wrong game plan. I needed to hear that I was going to win. I was losing the battle of confidence, for the soil of my mind was being malnourished with the perception of inexperience. It’s a perspective that I have convinced myself of.
I was losing the most important fight of my life. I was losing the fight in my head. What followed then were three more rounds of going through the motions. I threw my left hands, and I moved my head. I was doing everything like I usually do, yet I was doing nothing like it. Even if it was a split second pause, or a bobbing motion, I was just going through motions. Nobody could see my defeat, and nobody knows about it. Yet, it affected every motion I did in the ring. Whether it is random pausing, or a jab with a little less snap than usual, I was still affected. These little things separate good fighters from the elite.
Like a college graduation, or a promotion, a certain ceremony follows. Whether it be dinner with the family, or perhaps a night out in the city. Nobody saw the hard work you put in during classes, or on the job. Yet they are there to see you smile and accept that diploma. They congratulate you when you get that promotion. But these are all products of what went on when nobody was there. What happens in the ring is a product of conditioning, but not just of the body, but of the mind.