I would love to embellish the story of what boxing did for me. Every boxer I’ve met has some version of the following story:
“I was fighting in the streets and beating everyone up. I was so good at street fighting that *insert authority figure* said I should join the boxing gym. So I did.”
My story differs slightly. I was a non-aggressive, under confident, overweight 11th grader. To this day I’ve never been involved in a (with the exception of the girl that beat me up in 9th grade) street fight. I was never much of a fighter. I picked boxing because it was the only free gym in walking distance from my house.
I thought if I went to the gym I would get muscles and muscles would in turn get me a girlfriend. Not similar to the common stories of other boxers, right? I just didn’t want to go to prom alone or even worse-with a friend.
Spoiler Alert: I still ended up going to prom with a friend. (I still have a good time Patrice) lol
Before boxing, I wasn’t in danger of getting caught up in the streets. Actually, I rarely was in the streets because I had more interest in Mario World than the gang world. Boxing didn’t save my life, boxing gave me a better life.
The three greatest things that boxing gave me is confidence, the definition of ACTUAL hard work, and life experience. If I didn’t box, I would probably be working at a grocery store, not having many friends, and being awkward.
Boxing didn’t make me any less awkward but it gave me confidence to love myself enough to not be ashamed of my awkwardness. Confidence allowed me to love myself.
It’s difficult for others to love you if you don’t love yourself. When I was in high school I didn’t love myself. I was overweight and I wanted to be better but didn’t know how to achieve better. Probably because I didn’t understand the value in hard work.
I didn’t know what hard work was until not working hard enough resulted in me being punched in the face. Once boxing showed me what hard work was, I began to have accomplishments outside of the ring.
Boxing also requires personal accountability. My coach wouldn’t always be there to make sure I ran but if I became fatigued in a fight it would be apparent that I was slacking. I took this personal accountability outside of the ring and into my life.
I know the importance of working even when no one is looking. I don’t need to be babysat to make sure I follow my diet. Constant personal accountability will result in self discipline. I’ve used self discipline to pursue a speaking business.
I own my business. I am a boss but I’m my only employee. I don’t have to answer to anyone if I don’t feel like sending emails, reaching out for speaking engagements or creating content for my site. It’s the discipline and personal accountability from boxing that allows me to put in work when I don’t want to.
The physical, emotional and mental exhaustion from boxing has me prepared tackle any task with resiliency. I’ve trained in high altitudes while being both tired and sad. I’ve learned that competition will not care if you’ve gotten a good night of sleep or if your heart has recently been broken. Boxing taught me that weakness is a weakness and I must rid myself of weaknesses.
If fatigue is sensed in the ring, you’re opponent will feed off of that like blood in the water to a shark. I’ve learned to display posture and a poker face in the ring at all times even when I’m dog tired. When I’m tired or cranky before a comedy show, I’ve learned I must get over it and display proper posture and a poker face.
Boxing has also given me life experience. A friend recently told me about an app that allows you to see how many states/countries you’ve visited. It’s called “Visited.” I have visited 75 percent of the states in America and 22 countries. I had never traveled until I started boxing.
Boxing has shown me the world.
When I visit countries for boxing, I don’t visit Sandals Resorts Americanized tourist areas. I go to the heart of cities and experience the actual country. I’ve learned to appreciate how great America is. I’ve come to realize that most people complaining about America has never actually left it.
*If you visited a place that has T-shirts and mugs with the name of the city you’re in on it, you haven’t actually left America.
I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have in America. I’ve learned things about other cultural that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. I learned that in some countries, giving a service worker a tip is a form of disrespect. I’ve been enlightened to the right way to take a shot in Finland.
I’ve made friends in far away lands. I’ve developed friendships and with boxers in America that I would have never otherwise met.
I’ve lived a week of luxury in Moscow with Don King as one of his fighter’s sparring partners. I had a stadium of Ukrainians chanting USA after defeating their hometown fighter the night before.
I drank champagne in a limo on the Vegas strip. I've eaten soup out of a stranger’s van in an alley in Poland. I’ve sang Jay-Z songs on a stage in front of hundreds of people in a park in Kiev.
I’ve swam (doggie paddled) in the Mediterranean Sea. Drank aged wine in the south of France. I’ve played dominos in Panama with strangers that didn’t speak English. I’ve played darts in a pub in London. I’ve played soccer in Kazakhstan. I’ve walked on the Formula 1 track in Azerbaijan.
I’ve visited the Vatican, the Statue of David, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and even got to see the Pope.
I’ve learned how to win. I’ve learned how to lose. I’ve learned to overcome fears. I’ve learned what it takes to be a champion. I’ve learned more than I could have ever learned staying my entire life in Uniondale, Long Island.
I would have probably never left Uniondale if it weren’t for boxing. So no, boxing didn’t save my life. I wasn’t in danger of dying. Boxing didn’t give me the ability to defend myself from getting beat up in the hood. Boxing didn’t even get me a prom date.
Boxing taught me to be a man. Boxing has taught me about compassion, culture, acceptance, the value of friendship, hard work, loyalty, patriotism, confidence and above all, life experience that most couldn’t fathom.
Boxing didn’t save me from dying, but it gave me a life to die for.
This article first appeared on CelebritySportsSpeaker.com.