No one in boxing phones it in. No athletes work harder or sacrifice more than boxers who reach the highest level of the sport. This is one of many reasons we love it.
Sure, athletes can go pretty far on sheer skills. But eventually, their lack of work ethic catches up to them, and it’s a shame. Adrien Broner. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Andy Ruiz Jr. (although there’s still hope for The Destroyer).
Others who lack the blessing of physical talent will themselves to excellence through sheer work ethic and desire. Micky Ward. Juan Manuel Marquez. Jamel Herring.
Manny Pacquiao and Muhammad Ali were blessed with both. Long after their skills suffered the effects of time, work ethic carried Ali and is still carrying PacMan.
Ali famously described the pain of training in the gym, and what it took to be a champion. “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
Ali also said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”
Every boxer named here lost during their great careers. But they got back up, got back in the gym, trained hard – and won.
America, you’ve been a champion for 244 years since the 13 original colonies declared their independence. We’ve had a few losses, but we’ve had far more wins. Those wins were based on a little skill and a whole lot of hard work.
So once again, we’ve got our butt on the canvas thanks to a tough opponent called the coronavirus pandemic. This guy’s a tough son of a bitch who fights dirty. Hell, we can’t even have a beer on the beach with our friends.
But the United States became a champion through a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice, faith and resilience, and a sheer belief in ourselves. We’ve gotten knocked down, and we’ve always gotten up. We’ve survived pandemics, disasters, and world wars. We’ve been sucker punched by systemic racism, over and over.
Sure, we’re tired. There’s no denying the suffering of those losing loved ones, losing livelihoods, or losing their freedoms.
But what’s the alternative? Giving up? Caving in? No.
America, we’ve been in training camp for 244 years, preparing for this championship fight. Are you really going to give up now? Seriously? Tell me you’re throwing in the towel because you’re afraid of a little discipline, like a piece of cloth on your face or giving up that trip to the river or the bar or Grandma’s house.
Hell no. Because we like the feeling of losing even less.
So for Pete’s sake, knock off the pity party and stop slacking off. Get your asses back in the gym. Get your health right, get your mind right. Hard work, dedication. If you can’t enjoy anything else, enjoy the satisfaction of a day’s honest effort. Above all, remember this, America: the world loves a comeback story.
“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” The GOAT knows.