Monday, August 13, 2012

"I wanna box. For real."

On August 5th, 2012, I called up my coach and told him that I wanted to box. For real.

Rewind to nearly 14 years ago... my mom dragged me to the theaters in Japan to watch a documentary. Back then my dad was always on leave in the Navy and was hardly home, so I ended up spending a lot of time with my mom. I don't remember what the doc' was about exactly... honestly I don't even remember any other part until Muhammad Ali came on screen for a total of 20 minutes or so. I was in awe and this boxer captured the attention of this 7 year old girl. Who was this man? How did he move like that? Damn, he's passionate.

Fast forward a few years later. I'm standing in my school's gymnasium with my fellow fourth grade classmates. We were instructed to give an oral report and dress up as famous people throughout history. I'm sure you can imagine who I chose. I remember my mom sewed me a purple with orange trim satin boxing robe with matching shorts. I slipped on some gloves my parents bought me and stood next to our school's heavy bag and told the story of Ali with a sense of pride and enthusiasm. I can't express how unbelievably stoked I was to be telling the story of one of my heroes.

This book changed everything.
In middle school I picked up a book that would change my life forever: Smokin' Joe - The Autobiography. With the new found knowledge I gained from this book, I fell in love with the sport even more. Because of this book, I discovered a man who would ultimately become one of my all time favorite boxers, Roy Jones Jr. I credit this book and Joe Frazier for introducing me to the greatest sport in the world all the time. Ali was just the tip of the iceberg. Frazier was full-on submersion.

You're probably wondering...what is she trying to get at here? The point (I think) I'm trying to make is that boxing has had a huge influence on me and has been a part of my life since I was young. Perhaps it didn't have that much of a profound effect on me when I was younger as it has in recent years, but it was still there. And I've grown to love it even more with each passing day.

The passion, commitment, dedication, pride, love, heart and so much more that these fighters have... not only can you see it but you can almost feel it. I think it's one of the reasons why boxing has some of the most hardcore fans in sports today.

Which leads me to present day. Yep, you read correctly in the beginning there... I want to compete in (amateur) boxing. What made me decide this, you ask? Well putting my love for boxing aside, I would have to say it all began when I saw a group of women training kickboxing at a pavilion in a random park on Oahu. Three walls, a roof and concrete floor was all they needed. These women came from all different backgrounds (mothers, wives, girlfriends, coaches, athletes, students) but all of them looked incredible. It never dawned on me that fighting was something that I could do... Until I actually saw women doing it in person.

"I wish I was a lil bit taller. I wish I was a baller."
Let me tell you though, I was never an athletic person. NEVER. I played little league soccer as a kid but the only sport where I actually committed to was figure skating. And that lasted only a year or so because my family couldn't afford the lessons. I had this weird period in junior high school where I hung around all the basketball players, watching and even playing pick up games (good god I sucked ass though), but was more of a Skee-Lo or Spike Lee than a baller. I grew up to be a shy, scrawny, awkward looking girl.

Even with all of this in my mind, I didn't hesitate a second on joining the kickboxing classes. But when I actually started doing it, I started to feel something new--confidence, respect, pride. I started to put on more weight and muscle. I started to stand a little taller. *Que dramatic music* I finally discovered a place where I could be myself without being judged on things that hardly mattered (the outer being). The only thing that mattered while training was your heart and dedication (the inner being). Nothing else. I left the training grounds with a new sense of myself every single time.

So why box? Simply put, it's love. I know I'm not the biggest person or the most athletic (I'm the most unflexible person you'll ever meet... bend me and I'll snap like a twig), but one thing I know for sure is that I have heart. You might kick my ass today, but I'll be back tomorrow. I'm a glutton for punishment. I won't quit. I don't back down. I might shed a tear or two in the process. But it don't mean a damn thing, except how committed I am to everything I'm passionate about.

People define greatness in several different ways... but I'm determined to find the greatness within. I NEVER let what I can't do dictate what I can do anymore. Something in me knows that I can do this. Put in the hard work, time, dedication, sweat and work on it every single day until my weakness becomes my strength. I draw heavy inspiration from MJ on this. I remember reading that he was actually kicked off of his high school basketball team and was told that he wasn't good enough to play. Many people would've given up at this stage, but Michael continued on, finding the aspiration and desire to show his coach that he was wrong.
"Heart is what separates the good from the great. I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life… and that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan
So again, why box? For love, yes. But also to discover the true meaning of strength. To discover that everything I already need is within. To prove that hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.

Some people talk about it, I want to be about it.

Light flyweight, here I come...
Boxer has to be smart. Boxer has to be strong. But main is will. Main is will.
Mary Kom, on being asked what makes a world champion.

PS. Shout out to the Olympic Women Boxers: Mary Kom, Claressa Shields and Marlen Esparza for major inspiration. Also to Lucia Rijker, Hozumi Hasegawa, Joe Frazier and (the fictional, but still inspiring Japanese kids everywhere) Makunouchi Ippo... their passion fuels my desire.