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Reality, that is, the way things are, is something we tend to avoid, manipulate, or fear.
I woke up with a stinging headache with my eyes unable to focus, my stomach queazy and as if I was about erupt from both ends (I’ll stop painting that picture here). I stood up, the alarm still ringing, and collapsed back on my bed.
It was 4:30 am. I had to weigh-in for a fight that would be later in the evening, and I was as sick as I’d ever been.
This was my first time cutting weight for a fight, and my first fight at 152 pounds (welterweight in the amateurs). I’d cut 9 pounds in 2 days, which isn’t all that much, but with the addition of this incredibly effective sickness, I was useless. I couldn’t muster up the strength to hold my toothbrush, let alone fight later that evening.
Alas, I wiped the sleep from my eyes, brushed my teeth, got dressed, grabbed my bag, and walked out to my car, starting the trek to the gym where the fight was to take place. The bastards who were putting on the fight scheduled it early in the day for a couple reasons:
- They knew I’d have to cut weight before the fight, and they placed weigh-in as early as possible in the morning of the fight for that fact.
- The fight was way out in the boonies. I’d have to drive two hours to get there. So an 8am weigh-in meant a 4:30 am wake-up on my part. And a 7:30 wake-up for my opponent.
As I took the two hour drive to the gym, I determined that I was not going to call the fight off. I was sick. I was weak. I was pissed off, grumpy, and dizzy, but I was not a quitter.
My trainer was waiting for me at the front door of the facility as I arrived. You could see he was pissed off even more than I was. He knew what they were doing. He realized why they set the schedule this way and I can’t remember a word that came out of his mouth that wasn’t four letters, starting with an F or an S.
But that was his job. He was in charge of protecting his fighters, and in this situation, there was little he could do but join me in my efforts to make the best of my reality.
We walked into the facility, I stripped down to my boxers, and hopped on the scale. As the judge – or ref – toggled the scale, my weight eventually settled on 151.8 pounds (which is actually the limit of the 69 kg weight class). If I’d been over, I would have had to throw on the sweat suit, start skipping, and try to eek out whatever water I had in me (I hadn’t had a sip in over 24 hours).
As I sat down, put on my socks, and pants, and shirt, I watched as the hometown boy jumped on the scale. The ref played with it as it settled on 154 pounds, but before the weight was read aloud, he nodded to my opponent, telling him that he could get away with 154 pounds, a gesture identifying that he’d turn a blind eye.
I could have protested, but I didn’t really care. In the grand scheme it’s two pounds, and I knew I was going to knock that son of a bitch out anyways, so who cared…
Now, it was time to rehydrate, kind of.
This wasn’t a one-off fight, but a tournament. I’d have to weigh in at the same time tomorrow, and fight again that night. So while I could drink some water and eat a bit of food, I couldn’t go overboard.
Needless to say, to my fault, I left my cutting too close to my fight. I should have cut down a lot earlier and walked into that fight with 152 as my natural, walking-around weight. But I didn’t. And I made my bed so I shall sleep in it – or fight in it.
Come fight time, I wish I could say I felt better.
The warm up for a fight is usually extensive. You want to sweat. You want to get working, even a tad tired, so you walk into the ring completely ready to go to war. You don’t want to have to take a few rounds to warm up, because getting your ass kicked in those first rounds could mean being knocked out if you didn’t take enough time to warm up (a lot of fighters chew gum before a fight to warm up their jaws because of that fact).
However, I was spent, and my trainer saw that. So we hit pads lightly before he called it off, told me to sit down and rest, and wait for the fight in front of me to be finished.
With the fight before me reaching its end, I stepped up into the ring after my long walk from the locker room, carrying with me the dizziness, the fatigue, the headache, and the shakes, but also a purpose and a focus. I wasn’t going to go to war. I wasn’t going to come out and attack. I was going to weather the storm then look for my opportunity to attack.
And that’s exactly how the first round went.
I threw one, maybe two punches. Between rounds the ref came to my corner, threatening to call the fight if I didn’t start throwing some punches.
What he didn’t know was that through the entire first round, I was looking for patterns. Watch a Floyd Mayweather fight and you’ll see how he breaks his opponent down as the battle goes on. In his last fight against Saul Alvares, you could see Floyd catching Canelo’s patter as he came forward throwing a jab-cross-body hook-cross-left hook combo. Floyd eventually began catching the jab, rolling the right and landing a flush cross of his own before Canelo threw the body hook, leaning back, barely escaping damage before Canelo could land the hook to the head.
Canelo would throw 5 punches, land none, and Floyd would throw 1 powerful, flush cross, getting the points he needed for a victory.
Now I’m no Floyd, not even near that realm, but what other choice did I have than to bide my time, pay attention, and look for opportunities?
As the bell rung signifying the start to the second round, my opponent smugly reached out to touch gloves, as if this round was going to be my last, or at least another cake walk on his part.
The pattern that I noticed during the first round started up again. Jab-right cross-left hook-double jab. I blocked all of his punches in his first, second, and third flurries, but then I saw my time to act.
He threw the jab, which I caught. Then the right, which I rolled. But before he could throw the hook I countered with a right cross aimed dead on that tiny little chin of his, punching threw my target as if I was aiming for something 6 inches behind his head. I used all of the energy I had – which wasn’t much – to knock him completely out, sending him to the canvas, the ref to his aid, and the crowd to a stunned stance, followed by a confused applause.
No one saw this coming.
My trainer yelled in enthusiastic expletives, gave me an affectionate slap on the shoulder, and said Let’s get your arm raised and get the hell out of here.
Accept Your Reality, Always
There are plenty of times in my life – actually, far too many – where I haven’t accepted my reality. Where I’ve wished I were somewhere else, and wished my circumstances were different. There have been too many moments in my life where I refused to accept things as they were, deluding the truth, and not realizing the facts and what had to be done in order to elevate my situation.
However, of those moments, I remember none.
I don’t remember them because they were brief, and they were filled with no joy, no purpose, only depression, self-loathing, and self-pity. They have been stripped from my memory except for the purpose of warning me in the future, so to never neglect to accept how things really are, and do whatever’s necessary to make the absolute best of whatever my reality may be.
Few people, as I’ve come to know, can truly be real with themselves, or their lives.
Most people avoid truth because they don’t like it. They’d rather live in a quasi-reality/dream. They’d rather ignore their responsibilities, avoid the discipline that needs to occur, and live in denial of the hard work that needs to exist in their lives if their dreams are to truly become their realities.
People – myself, too often in this group – have a distorted perception of themselves.
As kids or teens or in college, they thought they’d be a hero, a millionaire, or a billionaire by now, but they aren’t. They are, on some level, depressed with what they’ve accomplished and who they’ve become, whether they’ll admit it or not. They don’t see all they’ve accomplished, the good things that they’ve done, and only dwell on what they wish they had done.
Others refuse to see themselves as they truly are in a different light. They refuse to accept their weaknesses or identify their strengths.
Don’t be of either group.
If there’s one thing you can do in this world that will lead you to both happiness and success, it is to accept your reality, and to make the best of it.
Don’t spend what you don’t have because you refuse to accept your financial situation.
Stand strong. Stand firm. Stand in the world as it is, in your world as it is, and make the best of it with what you have. And without exception, we all have the ability to work hard. We all have the capacity to focus. We can all be disciplined. We can all make sacrifices.
The story above is one I’m proud of, and will always be able to go back to. Where I could have looked for an out, I instead stood and fought. I can’t re-iterate the fact enough, that I haven’t always done this. But if I – and if you – can do it once, we can do it always.
Make The Best of Every Situation
Be real with yourself, right now.
Take out a pen and paper. Write down your life as it is. Don’t embellish your successes, nor your failures, just be real. Write down your current truth. Follow that up by identifying your ideal. Keep your ideal in mind from time to time, because this is what you’re working towards, but always be objective about where you are.
Now, identify what it’s going to take to get from where you are, to where you want to be.
Do this for every facet of your life. Do it for your physical development, your emotional and spiritual and mental growth. Do it for your career, your business, your grand goals.
Accepting your reality will do a few things:
- It will make you appreciate where you are, rather than wishing you were elsewhere.
- It will give you a clear idea of the work that needs to be done to elevate your situation.
- It will give you power. If you know where you are, who you are, and what you need to work on to succeed, then the power is entirely in your hands.
Your reality is. Whether you accept it or not is entirely up to you. But your growth, happiness, and eventual success depends on your ability to assess yourself, your life, your business, and your body, as they are, rather than as you’d wish them to be. Man up. Have the courage to accept things as they are, and make the very best of every situation you find yourself in.