Are You A Fighter?

July 17, 2014

Are You A Fighter?

This is not a fitness article. I am not about to rant on about how many calories you can burn in a one-hour kickboxing class (about 1000 by the way). This is a story of how boxing turned my life around. A few years ago, I moved to the mid-west to support my husband’s career in agriculture. I was very bored with my social life and quite overwhelmed with my professional life, as I was in the midst of running my own tech consulting company where I worked with very small local businesses that had over inflated goals for their online social presence. I had no friends and my only outlet for a night out, was with my husband and his cowboy friends. My husband was too busy for me and our marriage was stagnant.

Then one day, someone at my gym asked me a life-changing question: “Are you a fighter?”

What? I thought. What would possibly make anyone say that?

I quickly responded “No, I just workout regularly.”

“Oh okay, because you look really strong. I think you would do great at my boxing gym.”

At this point, I was a little freaked out, to be perfectly honest. I was sure the man was hitting on me, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, I had taken a few “boxing” fitness classes, so I figured the invite to a week of free classes at his gym might be a fun change of pace.

Enter Coach Johnny Pappin. Perhaps, one of the shrewdest roughest old boxing coaches you could dream about for a role in the newest story of the come-back kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Coach didn’t even look at me when I showed up for class. He just walked right by me and sneered, “Git yo’ gluves on and git ta werk.”

After running a few basic drills, we were ordered to get up around the ring. Coach barked at everyone in the class if they hung onto his ropes, and hastily tossed two, often unevenly matched fighters into the ring. I couldn’t believe it. He just expected anyone that showed up to class to be ready to jump right into a sparring session, body only, of course, “No f@#$%!& headshots!” he yelled. I was nervous and hastily sizing up the girls around the ring. Who would he match me with?

Coach glared at me from across the ring, and I instantly thought he hated me. “Yo got somthin for me?” he asked in a chiding tone. I knew he thought I would wimp out, and I desperately wanted to prove that he was wrong about me.

“I’ll kick anyone’s ass.” I replied.

That set him off. Coach Johnny loved arrogance in the worst kind of way. He put me in the ring for my first spar against the most seasoned female fighter on the team.

She showed me no mercy.

I was officially addicted to boxing. I had held my own in the ring, and for the first time in months, since I moved to the mid-west, I was able to clear my head and forget all the regrets I had about moving somewhere so boring and unfulfilling.

Boxing became my life, Coach became my father, and the ring became my sanctuary. In less than 6 months, coach was matching me against men and women of all shapes and weight classes. I broke a nose and had mine broken, I dropped 10 pounds in a week to make weight, and I have beat women in sparring matches that were twice my size. I felt completely empowered.

Last St. Patrick’s day, my husband and I were assaulted on the street by three large men. Both my husband and I handled it like champs. I slammed the guy to the ground and ultimately the police couldn’t put the men in jail because they looked more abused than we did. We didn’t suffer a scratch.

This article could easily be a story of physical fitness, as I have never felt stronger in my entire life, but honestly, it is beyond that. Fighting gave me a new sense of being and it made the strength I always knew I had tangible. Try it out one day, if you dare.




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