Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Nobody much liked the idea when I mentioned I was going to try to train for a fight.

"I'm going to use your words," Sue told me. "You said you lost the weight and started getting healthy because of your family, because of your kids. How does this fit in with that?"

And she was right. It doesn't --not at all. This is incredibly selfish and more than a little self-destructive. It reeks of a mid-life crisis and maybe something else.

"You were saying you wanted to do this ten years ago," one of my old room-mates told me.

Of course, I didn't do it and would have been killed if I'd tried. The guy who won the thing in Bluefield ten years back just about crippled his opponent, put the guy in the hospital with a wide variety of broken bones, bruises and bad memories. I heard he tried to sue, but you sign a release before you ever put on the gloves. Anything that happens to you inside the ring you get to take home --free of charge.

I tried to explain this wasn't actually about competing. Getting in the ring is a moonshot. It's very unlikely. I'm in better shape than I've been in twenty years. I feel great, but in order for me to pull this off, I have to lose another forty pounds, while at the same time getting a hell of a lot stronger and faster just to stand next to most of these guys. Otherwise, it's not a competition, it's just an invitation to an assisted suicide.

She couldn't understand why I want to do this, why I've always wanted to do this and it's one of those things too difficult to explain easily.

I remember the last fight I was almost in. Twenty years ago, some friends and I walked out of a restaurant at closing. Out in the parking lot, two men were kicking the living shit out of some hapless bastard who managed to piss them off. It wasn't a robbery, just a beat down, but he was on the ground, he was outnumbered and they were in the process of killing him.

Some of my friends stepped off the curb to stop them. I went back to ask the manager to call the cops.

I've rationalized the decision for years. Somebody had to do it. It was the legal, reasonable, responsible thing to do. It was also, just a little bit, cowardly.

My friends never joined the fray. All they did was walk toward the fight and tell them to back off. Once there was an audience, the winners of this particular fight decided it wasn't such a good idea to be seen beating someone to death. It gave the guy on the ground time to get up and get away. The two men fled, got in their car and drove off, just as the guy they were beating on came back with a tire iron.

He managed to take out their back window.

The manager of the restaurant, meanwhile, came out with a stick and told us all to get the hell out. The police were on their way.

So, we all left, went back to school, had a few beers and didn't say much about it.

To me, that fight in the parking lot was a reckoning. I was not as brave as I thought I was. It wasn't the fear of looking bad, getting beaten up or, worse, somehow getting killed. I was afraid of the conflict, of even standing up. I've often wondered about that limit, about how much it's affected my life, maybe even subtly, and wondered what I need to do to change it.

Everything I told Sue and everybody else is true. It is a long shot. There is an enormous amount of work, including that one little thing I don't even know if I know any more: how to throw and take a punch.

But I think I have to be willing to follow through and make my stand.

1 comment:

eclectic guy said...

Let me know when and where baby.