Just recently I saw a friend of mine who had just come off the back of losing a boxing match. He’d told me that the fight had been a mismatch with his opponent coming in a good 3 or 4 kilograms heavier than his own weight of 60. From looking at the short video I could see the difference between the two fighters was apparent.
He gave it his all and was unlucky enough to get caught with a hard shot that ended the fight. It’s one of those things and in any combat sport can happen. Listening to him talk about what happened in the ring, going over the situation I could hear the frustration in his voice. I’ve been there myself and it’s not the best place to be. In fact sometimes it can be a very tough place to be, and it can stay with you for a lot longer than you’d like.
Losing my first few fights was pretty tough. In fact it was really tough. I had hoped at first that the sting of defeat would lessen after losing my first couple and when I finally landed a hat trick for all the wrong reasons, I unsurprisingly felt a little deflated. In fact, I felt small and the runt of the litter in a gym that had a reputation for producing tough fighters with good technique. I didn’t know if this was how most people felt about defeat but I knew that I didn’t like the feeling. In fact, I hated it.
Why fighting was taking so long to come together for me and others just seemed to have that certain ‘it’ was beyond me. ‘It’s a learning curve’ were words that often repeated like a broken record in my mind as I replayed the fights over again. Some days, a fifteen minute walk back to my flat would last a life time.
I found the hardest part of training from fight number three onwards was pushing myself to get back to the gym after another defeat. If Id’ known then that I would have to lose seven fights in a row before I won my first I’m not sure if I would of stayed in it, but as it stood what I was developing more and more was an understanding of competing and myself in the ring, I was also gaining some good experience and even though I’d only been fighting at an amateur level I’d had some tough fights.
In fact, I’d often heard it mentioned that fighting at an amateur level could be a lot more grueling than anticipated as fighters were often wanting to make their mark and move onto bigger and better things. I didn’t really think like that. I just wanted to win and it was a case of proving to myself that I had what some thought I was lacking, and besides despite the crushing nerves, the unrelenting training sessions and the weeks of low self esteem following a loss I loved the fight. It brought out the best in me and was something I never ever thought I would do.
When you’ve been at the bottom for what feels like forever, getting to the top of your game, of any game can seem like an almost unachievable goal at points. At least it did for me anyway. I’ve always found the will to succeed has been a driving factor in anything I set my mind to and fighting has been no different. It’s tough at the top (not that I’ve ever really been right at the top) but it’s even tougher at the bottom.
In fact, picking yourself up from any kind of defeat in or outside of the ring requires a lot of self belief, determination and focus. It also requires being around the right people, and luckily for me I’ve always been able to draw inspiration from those standing next to me on a bag rather than just from those fighters with their names up in lights.
I guess when you want something so much its all your focusing on, you can make it happen. I can remember becoming so accustomed to losing that winning almost seemed something that other people did. “It’ll tip mate.” One of my trainers told me one day. “It always does for people that train all the time.” The words gave me some solace but didn’t make the work that lay ahead any easier. It was a long road to be on and only seemed to be getting longer.
When it finally tipped for me I was caught off guard and completely elated. As always it had been a close fight. I was fighting virtually last on the show, it was close to eleven at night and I had been waiting for felt like forever. Right from the word go I was tired but right from the word go I hadn’t given up. Something had happened half way through the fight, It had suddenly shifted from the familiar feeling of impending loss to a small voice I had never heard before telling me I was winning. It must of been that that made me push harder than I had before.
It wasn’t the tidiest of fights but the result was something to write home about. It inspired me to keep competing and from there I won again. I did good, but then again I put in the work. I can remember training twice a day at one point for my area title fight I wanted it that much. I’d always been told to stay hungry and I made that a rule of thumb.
On reflection, I’ve wondered if losing has given me more drive to succeed than winning has at points. It’s certainly made me push myself more than I thought I could and the hard time I give myself can often bring out the best in me. There’s a lot more to fighting than wins and losses but then again there’s a lot more to me than what I do in a boxing ring or gym.
I’ve learnt more about myself over the past 5 years or so of competing than I thought I would. I may of slowed down a little of late but the drive to spend more and more time at the gym is creeping back, and this week I’m pleased to say I’ve been there more than the week before. I don’t think the passion for the sport /art is ever going to diminish and I’m hoping I get back in the ring this year. It’s a tough little world and it doesn’t come easy to some. When I say some I mean that it doesn’t come easy to me. But then again, the best things never do. In the meantime have a good week, train hard and always keep your head up. No matter how “hard” it gets. I’ll see you on that road.