By Randy De La O
Somewhere out in the world, maybe in one of our 50 states, there is a young boy with a faraway dream of becoming a great champion. Maybe he is alone in that dream with no one to push him or encourage him but he gets up every day and finds a way to keep his dream alive. Or it may be that he has a father, or a grandfather (or a mother) perhaps, that once fought in the ring and he has taken on their dream.
Somewhere in a small unnoticed boxing gym or a maybe in an old garage, a young boy is learning how to hit the heavy bag. He is being taught his craft by someone who cares. First he will learn his stance and balance. He will stick with it until the awkwardness is gone and his movement becomes natural. He will learn to punch, starting with the jab and again, he will stick with it until he cannot remember what it was like to not jab. One by one he will be taught his punches, the right cross, the uppercuts, the left hook and so on.
He will be taught not only how to throw them with authority but how to avoid the same punches by an opponent. He will be taught all the nuances that make up the world of boxing. Just as importantly, he will learn the importance of roadwork and skipping rope, of getting and staying in shape.
A knowing and caring coach will guide him through his early amateur fights. If the coach has the right stuff he will get him through his first loss without a hitch, reminding him that, after all, even the greatest of men, of fighters, will lose from time to time.
If his coach, or father, is worth his salt, he will understand that there are some things that cannot be taught, only learned. Call it what you will; courage, intestinal fortitude or heart, these are the things that reside inside a man, or a young boy. A good and honest coach knows this but he also knows that he can help his young fighter to find these things within himself, “The stuff inside!”
Maybe the young boy is having his first amateur fight today or maybe he will fight his first professional fight next week. He's out there somewhere, running, sweating punching and taking punches. Maybe he's hurting too but he understands deep down inside, instinctively, that the Mantle of Greatness requires sacrifice. There is a price to pay in being the best.
Maybe he will be a welterweight or maybe he will grow into a heavyweight. Whatever weight he grows into he should know this. “We're waiting for you kid!”