Years ago, 1993 to be exact, my son and I were on the way to his fight at the Brooklyn Ave Gym in Boyle Heights. I was going over a few things with him. We went over a lot of things and I wasn't too worried because he was in good shape, confident and he had a natural ability to think on his feet.
“Son, when the ref brings you guys together stay sharp, sometimes a young fighter will get so excited they’ll throw a punch while the ref is giving you instructions!”
Oh, don't worry dad, I know the guy. He's a nice guy. He wouldn't do that!
“I know son, he's a nice guy but it happens!”
One other thing I went over with him was what to do when you get caught in the corner. You see, sometimes fighters, even the best of them, can get caught. Your hands are up, you may or may not be really hurt but the punches keep coming and you cannot put your thoughts together. The mind and body stays paralyzed for short time. It becomes disconnected.
I'm a firm believer that you can train your mind to do almost anything. What I had told my son many times and reminded him while we going over his fight that if he did get caught against the ropes or in the corner, don't just stand there. Don't worry about a plan. Don't worry about how you look, don't give anything a thought, just punch! The punches will create an opening and then you go from there.
At the fight, sure enough, as the ref was talking, and my son had his hands down to his sides, his opponent threw a right hand. He put everything he had in it and it landed flush on Andrew's face. My son was knocked back a bit but he shook it off and toed the line again. He looked back at me with a sheepish grin and I know he was thinking “How did you know?” Well, I didn't but I knew the possibility existed and this is what I trained him for.
My son was doing well during the fight, and because he took the sucker punch without complaining, the crowd was behind him (it was a small crowd). I believe it was in the second round when this kid had my son against the ropes, in the corner. He was throwing, and landed a barrage of punches and for a brief moment, I saw that lost look on my son's face, the disconnect, I yelled once and loud “Just punch!” That's what he did, it wasn’t pretty but he just kept throwing and eventually he was back in the center of the ring and back in control of the fight. He won that fight too by the way!
Why am I telling you this story? Because I believe that boxing is a microcosm of life. This is where we get so many of life's sayings such as “You can't keep a good man down” or “Down but not out” and against the ropes”, and so many more.
This is where I have found myself over the last year, “Against the ropes”. A lot of things came together almost simultaneously and I felt overwhelmed by the punches from life that just kept coming. I allowed myself to become paralyzed and I did nothing.
But life, if it is to be lived correctly, is about choices “I can or I cannot” “I will or I will not”, “I can stand or I can lie down. I can accept defeat or I can refuse to be defeated, and on and on. Choices!
The sucker punch for me was when my doctor told me, with my wife at my side, Randy, it's not going to end well for you” He was referring to amputation. I'm diabetic, and I have let it get out of control. Nobody to blame but myself. The doc knows my family history. Diabetes took my sister's legs and her life. Several family member have diabetes. We had talked about all of this before.
I thought about those things I told my son, and all the things I have taught all my children over the years. My strongest words for them were “We never quit!” With that in mind I began throwing punches, the punches I threw were choices, hard, life changing choices. Feelings were hurt, relationships were damaged. I cast off burdens that I had dealt with for years that did not belong to me. I held others accountable. I upset the Status Quo! My choices created openings for a better, healthier life.
I saw my doctor this past Monday. I was determined to make him eat his words. All my numbers were down, I've lost about 13 pounds. After he checked everything I looked at him and said,
“The last time I was here you told me it was not going to end well with me”. I was holding him accountable for his words
“Well, no, I, uh well I meant, you know, if you didn't make changes!” That's what I wanted to hear.
Then I said “Doc, I'm going to to defeat diabetes.”
“Well, you know Randy, diabetes can never really be defeated, just controlled.
“Doc, I'm going to defeat it!
I leave you with these two thoughts Life is about choices and the family motto still remains “We never quit!