The first time that I pulled on the rank communal headgear and stepped into the ring to fight I was shaking like a leaf.
Sure Mark had about two decades on me, but then he was also a hundred kilograms of ballie and had been boxing since he was ten. A man of experience, Mark once had a diamond concession in Sierra Leone and is of the type of temperament where he would happily hop on his Yamaha XT 500 and take Rhodesia back if the mood took him.
But Mark is a gentleman, and not only did he pull his punches, he also gave me space, time to recover and some vital tips. Likewise Devon and Zane and Chad. Fine men all of them…
Then I sparred with that male model I wrote about here , and although he didn’t take me under his wing like the others did, I still managed to walk out relatively unscathed.
In my next sparring session I wasn’t so lucky. A Jersey Shore looking meathead told me to go easy because he wasn’t wearing a gum guard, then sent me to the canvas with a hook. You can watch the reenactment here .
The last guys I sparred with – a kid wearing his school tracksuit and an old man twenty kilograms lighter than me – gave me such bad nosebleeds that my wife wouldn’t let me put my training kit in the wash basket when I got home.
And there you have it, after just six weeks of training, 12 hours of coaching and a handful of sparring sessions, tonight is my big night. Bright lights. A fighting name. Silky shorts. 3 rounds. 6 minutes. The full nine yards.
I wish I’d done more training. I wish I wasn’t still dropping my guard. I wish I didn’t always look down whenever attacked. I wish I could punch faster. I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller…
The thing is, even though I’m still making all of these mistakes, that I’m not nearly as good as I would like to be, and I’m nervous as hell – I’m still having fun.
I mean, a lot of people who run the Comrades don’t enter with the intention of winning it – merely competing is enough.
Hopefully these butterflies in my stomach decide to fly in formation tonight.
If not, well, Rocky didn’t win in his first movie either…