While I’ve given hundreds of dead-legs, lummies, kwammies, egg-flaps, head-slaps, chinese-bangles, cripple-nipples, donkey-bites and that thing you do with your hands when you play mercy – I’m not really one for violence.
I’ve only ever hit four people in the face.
And now I’ll go into detail, because the only thing better than punching someone in the face, is talking about the violence afterwards.
The first guy I ever hit was Devyn Mattheys. Devyn was walking in from a surf when he spotted me drying myself off with MY blue towel, and shouted at me to put his towel down. So I did what anyone in my situation would’ve done – I blew my nose into it. Devyn didn’t even wait for an explanation and before I knew it a circle had formed around us and we were wind milling. Now this was around ’94 when dentists were putting braces on kids who came in for a filling, and so even though pre-pubescent arms powered our punches, the damage was brutal. I picked up my snotty towel and spat blood into it all the way to the other side of the boardwalk before I started crying, which was something of a victory.
The second fight happened while I was cramming for a std. 7 maths exam. KJ Friend was playing cricket in the quad while my friend Garth was trying to teach me how to factorize. KJ knocked a shot into Garth who did what anyone in that situation would’ve done – he threw KJ’s cricket ball into the next quad. KJ didn’t even ask Garth to fetch it, instead he just struck Garth in the spine with the cricket bat. So I jumped up and threw some punches and KJ got some in, too. Then the prefects broke us up and I failed Std. 7 maths. Fuck you KJ.
The third fight wasn’t really a fight, just one punch. Gary Chapman has a face like Graeme Smith’s and his nickname is Chop, and one matric day Chop slapped me in the gonads with the back of his hand as I was walking down the stairs. Now this is just part and parcel of going to an all boy’s school, but for some reason I acted out of character and did what nobody ever did in that situation – I ran up behind Chop, tapped him on the shoulder and then punched him in the mouth as he turned around. Then I ran away. (Sorry Chop).
Unfortunately I didn’t get the name of the last person I punched in the face. All I know is that he couldn’t have been older than sixteen… I had just moved to Cape Town and had that second-generation iPod, and would’ve been about 20-something… Anyway, while walking home at night a group of yoofs from the Bokaap stopped in front of me. I took one of the white earbuds out of my ear to listen to what the tallest had to say, which was just one word: “Give.” So I gave it to him, right in the face. When I’d stopped running I realized that I’d broken my thumb, which is still skew today. The iPod is, unfortunately, no more.
So what’s the point of all this? I’m certainly not bragging (if I wanted to boast I’d blog about all the women I’ve slept with, which is at least two more than this list!). No, the point is to analyse what went wrong.
Every single time I’ve grown angry enough to punch someone in the face, it’s been while hyperventilating and drunk with dizziness, my vision blurred and heart trying to jump out of my chest. Not ideal.
Now a lot of boxing training is repetition – double jab, straight, one two, jab, hook, jab, ad nauseam… – and the point is to make these movements second nature. You condition yourself so that you’re at the stage where when you see an opening you think to yourself, “Hmm, that spot would look lovely with a – WABA!” And the sparring gets you used to being punched, so that you’re au fait with the process instead of allowing your mind to run away with what might happen.
Hell, I don’t know what’s going to happen in my next fight, but I’m pretty sure all this training means that I won’t break my thumb or run away. Then again, I’ve only ever hit children…