Life Lessons

By Douglass Ward Ringside, Inc.

In August of 1999, we went down to Georgia to photograph four-time World Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield, for the cover of that year's Spring Ringside catalog. During our conversation / photo session, he recounted what motivated and drove him to succeed at such a high level. He said, "The coach told me that I was too little to play football and was too short to play basketball, but I decided I was not going to sit on anyone's bench. So I told him I was going to be a boxer and become heavyweight champion of the world."

Even at a young age, Evander decided what he wanted. He made the decision one time and has captured or recaptured the world title four times. Sure, it was because he immeasurable resolve and determination, but it was also because boxing has no "bench." A coach doesn't put
on a boxing team and not let you box. You can't be too small. If you work, put in a respectable amount of effort and train hard, you'll box. You will get a match and it will be against someone your size, your age and your weight. How much more fair could competition be?

The "bench" in athletics is used to relegate second tier athletes or unpopular students to second-best status. The become the individuals who aren't quite "good enough." Second place in the boxing ring is
called losing, but at least that means you're competing. You are getting a chance. That is really what academic athletics should focus on. The only "sitting out" you do in boxing is between rounds and each time the bell rings, you get a fresh start. You get a new chance to prove that you are "first string."

As long as you train hard, apply yourself and have the desire to compete, in boxing you are the one who dictates your final destiny. You direct your own life from right there in the gym and in the ring, not from the sidelines.