Why Boxers Can’t Lie

It’s just as easy to talk a big game as it is to wear baggy clothes to disguise an extra 10 pounds or cheat off somone else’s paper in high school. In the business world, execs know how to assign work to underlings and take all the credit if their efforts bring success. But boxers can’t lie.

Boxers might use shady methods to enhance muscle mass but they are still going to be in a weight category with others the same size. They are still going to have to sweat to throw the high punch counts, focus despite dead-on jabs to the face, rib-crushing body blows, or a well-connected uppercut.

Muhommad Ali’s delightfully arrogant I-am-the-greatest patter was the gospel truth. He had a phenomenal ability in the ring; he was the greatest. Lots of boxers go on about their domination of the ring, but when the bell sounds, it doesn’t matter what a boxer thinks or says. They have to show their mental and physical power, and what you see is what you get; all the talk is stripped away and the reality is right there for all to see and judge.

Boxing is a relentlessly, sometimes crushingly, honest sport. Anyone who works their way up to ringtime experiences this, and they either relish or despise it; there’s very little middle ground. You are willing to be stripped bare of pretense in front of other people or you aren’t going to get in the ring again.

For me, this is terrifying and invigorating at the same time. I think it’s partly a proscriptive against the daily bull I see people taking part in. Does anyone really care about rockstar perks at work, big paychecks and positions, and the top brand of shoes to sport and names to drop? I would rather know: am I real? Can I deliver under pressure? Do I know how to be the best person possible? Am I contributing to someone else’s growth and continuing to push my own as well? Can I turn aside from the endless distractions and focus on the most important issues at hand?

If I wanted to hide, I would quit boxing. And I don’t just want to exist, either; I want to thrive and contribute and grow. Those are all hard things to accomplish, but well worth the effort.

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6 Responses to Why Boxers Can’t Lie

  1. K April 1, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    YES, by gawd, YES, YES!

  2. Tracy Needham April 1, 2009 at 10:37 am #

    Great post! Now I’m getting why you like boxing so much–even after the broken ribs!


  3. Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 1, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    Thanks, chicas; maybe I’m finally getting better at explaining this insanity!

  4. Sine Botchen April 1, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    >> but when the bell sounds…

    So true. After my first mountain bike race (in the early 90’s – I’m “retired” from that now) I realized that all the guys on the front line (the ones with the tatoos & talking smack about who better not get in their way) were the first ones to puke on the side of the race course.

    I kinda wanna take up boxing, but still have to work out that whole “freak out and wrestle my opponent to ground and bite an ear off” survival mechanism that kicks in when someone start poking things in my face. True story, btw. It happened in first grade, but the kid’s ear only needed stitches. He didn’t mess with me anymore after that though.

  5. Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    You have a little bit of Mike Tyson in you, huh? I didn’t have that problem at all — my impulse more resembles Monty Python (“Run away, run away!”). I’ll totally be watching for your first boxing post!

  6. schooldad April 2, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    I think it’s similar for musicians and other performers. When you go on stage, the audience is gonna see (or hear) what you got, and they’re gonna decide “Hey, this guy’s pretty good” or “Whoa, this guy needs a little more practice time.” Of course, musicians can often get a lot of help from a good sound person or other electronic enhancements, but basically you have to bring what you got and put it out there. If you’re not willing to have other people see it and judge it for what it really is, you need to stay home.

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