As I write this post, I am in the final moments of the twelfth round. The final bell is not too far away; it will sound any minute now to signal the end of twelve rounds of heavyweight boxing. This one was a real barn-burner, but I survived. I made it out of twelve grueling rounds. For a while I was on the ropes; taking countless body shots. I can tell myself now that I was just doing the ‘Rope-A-Dope’, but for a moment it looked hopeless. Somehow I survived. I survived by bobbing & weaving. Ducking and dodging. Whether I won or lost doesn’t matter (The real purse is in the rematch). The final bell sounds, the match referee, ushers me to my corner. I look around to see if the same people are in my corner that was there in the first round. No.
I like to think that life is a lot like boxing. Our friends and families are our corners. The whole world is the boxing ring. The challenges we face in life are our opponents. The days, weeks, months and years are the rounds. The people we interact with along this journey of life and how we get along with them are the referees. God, karma and your peace of mind are the judges. Life, like boxing, is all about preparation, timing, knowing when to take your shot & always getting up when you are knocked down (being resilient).
I took a beating in 2014. Yea, I did! I can admit that now. In the first round, I started good enough. I came out with my head held high, chest out & arms raised ready to wreak havoc. I was so sure of myself; I had no clue what my opponents had in store for me. In the second round, I was still in control. I started enjoying the match. I was gaining confidence; I started planning in my head which round I would go for the knockout. I was throwing some impressive combos. Bam! Dodge! Bam! Bam! In all honesty, I was doing better than I thought. But something was wasn’t right. No encouraging words were coming from my corner. Either it was silence, or they would point out what I was doing wrong. I didn’t understand it. I am winning you should be cheering for me I thought. I could hear a few encouraging cheers coming from the crowd, but they were few and far between.
By the end of the third round, it was clear that I was set up to fail. Even if I won, I would lose. The referees were on the take. What could I do? I had to keep on fighting. This revelation had me distracted. I wasn’t paying attention & I had underestimated my opponent; A very costly mistake in life & boxing. It happened in the fourth round. In truth, it started from the final moments of the third. My opponent was setting me up for the knockout, but I didn’t see it.
I wasn’t even halfway in the fourth round. I got caught with my hands down; not guarding my chin. I took a straight-right & then an uppercut. The impact of the punches sent me flying backward onto the canvas; I would feel the effects of those punches for the rest of the match. I was dazed. At first, I didn’t know where I was; there were total silence and darkness. As I gradually came to, I looked around but couldn’t recognize any of the faces. I could hear the referee counting. It felt like I was out for an eternity but it was just a few seconds. The referee was at seven…I tried my best to pull myself off the canvas. I don’t know how but I made it to my feet before the 10-count. The referee looked me over and then decided that I was fit enough to continue
The next two rounds were uneventful. It was all about surviving. I decided to use this time to regain my composure and footing in the match. In my mind, I knew I was behind on the scorecards. I also knew that there was nothing I could do about it now. After sparring for two rounds, I got my second wind in the seventh round.
I started the seventh round by throwing some impressive combos. My opponent walked right into them. I was gaining the upper hand, and for the first time since the first round, I was feeling confident again. We continued to trade punches deep into the seventh round, and it seemed like the momentum was going to swing permanently in my favor. It wasn’t to be, though, in the eight round I went for the knockout with an impressive one-two combo. Unfortunately, I missed and was caught with a right hook. I was acquainted with the canvas for the second time in the match. For a second I thought about giving up, accepting that I was outmatched, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with such a decision.
I made it to my feet before the referee’s 10-count for the second time in the match. By the time I gathered myself, the bell had sounded for the end of the eight round. As I slowly walked back to my corner, wondering how much longer I could postpone the inevitable, I heard some encouraging cheers. The cheers caught me by surprise just like the right-hook I took to the side of the head moments earlier. I could also see some signs: “You can do it” and “We believe in you.” As I sat in my corner it hit me; sometimes it takes others to see what we have inside of us and to believe in us, for us to believe in ourselves. In life, we will never know how close we are to turn the corner, and that is why we should never give up.
For the rest of the match, we traded blows. The ninth, tenth, and eleventh rounds came and went without any incidents. By the 12th round I was noticeable on top in the match. I want to say that I knocked out my opponent and won the match, but that wasn’t what happened. I can confidently say that I wasn’t knocked out again though. The final bell sounded, the match was over. Twelve grueling rounds of boxing had come to an end. It was time for the judges at ringside to announce the winner.