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Blood, Sweat, And Broken Noses


Blood, Sweat, and Broken Noses

by Dionysia van Beek

Blood, sweat, and broken noses accompanied with an image of Rocky groaning, 'Adriaaaaan'. That's what boxing is basically about - or so I thought.

Like these people? I had made the mistake of assuming that this sport was dominated by thugs with serious anger-management issues; an assumption I soon realized was far from the truth. After easing into my surroundings and learning the basics from Father Dave I made the unfortunate discovery that one of the rules of Fight Club is that you have to get in the ring on your first night. I was packing it. Sure, for everyone else it was no big deal. For me it was the first time I have put myself in a position of such physical vulnerability.

As with most things in life, the more you learn about boxing the more ignorant you realize you are. Not just about the technique involved, but even more so about yourself. The faults you find easy to skim over in everyday life stare unavoidably at you as your opponent only makes ground through your weakness, only where you let him. If you swing high a thud in the ribs reminds you to watch your midsection. The lesson is fast and painful, but you learn.

In a recent bout I found myself pushed to the limits. After training for an hour or so I had a couple of rounds with Dave. After two rounds I was done for the night. Then Dave gave me a provoking look which I couldn't resist, so I agreed to one more. That last round was intense. At one point Dave gave me three consecutive left hooks. Each time I saw it coming and each time I let it take me. I knew I should have done something different but I didn't. The round ended with a relentless barrage of punches that drove me into the corner. As the bell sounded I pulled my headgear off and broke down. I was so disappointed that I hadn't learnt from the same mistakes.

That is the other thing about boxing that most are unaware of. You find yourself bringing an incredible amount of emotional baggage into the ring, even if you are in denial. I don't understand what it is exactly, but there is a profound connection between our emotions and direct contact with another person.

Maybe it's unfamiliar because in today's society we are plagued by a greed for 'personal space' and a fear of the responsibility that comes with helping a mate with their problems. Whatever the reason, the ring is like Mars. You can't help but face another person and make contact with them. Forced to stand, forced to fight, and forced to defend. With no escape you soon discover that this is the most vulnerable position you will ever find yourself in. There are no pretenses to hide behind. No Versace suit to intimidate, no I-pod to block the sound of your opponent's breath, no Gucci sunglasses to dull their gaze.

There are no 'these people';, just us. I guess that is why I appreciate the ring. It requires my opponent to face me but also eliminates all prejudice, revealing their character. If they fight dirty I can see it. If they are scared I can see it.

Ultimately, if you get hit hard enough it's easy to excuse yourself from getting back in the ring. Frankly, I'd rather be broken in the ring with someone than standing safely on the outside alone.

Dionysia van Beek

Theologian, archaeologist, ring-fighter, and the only member of the FightingFathers Community to be named after a Greek goddess.
Catch up with Dioni via her profile on www.fighting-fathers.com

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