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.