Let's be real. Not everyone is capable of being a fighter. It may be in everyone's DNA, but without that everyday exposure to their survival instincts they lose touch and that natural mind/body connection gets lost. What it takes, physically and mentally to fight, becomes foreign and feels awkward. They may try, practice and want to fight, but just don't have what it takes. Everyone was born with an inherent ability to fight for survival, but not everyone was born to be a competitive boxer.
Sure, most anyone can learn to "box" to varying degrees of success and aspire to call themselves boxers, but in the ring and in the gym you have to prove yourself worthy of being able to call yourself a real fighter.
So here it is....completely subjective, without judgment or malice….just keeping it real. Ask yourself if these sound like you. Answer honestly and objectively and the self-analysis could be worthwhile and could even change how you approach the sport.
The Top Ten Signs that Say "I am a Real Fighter."
1. I show up. Whether it's in the gym or to a match, I don't let excuses get in the way. I don’t back out. I don’t back down. I don't leave my coach, my teammates or a promoter hanging. I also show up mentally. I come to fight and not fold or find a reason to blame it on an off day. Every fighter has them, but you fight through them. That's what fighting is about and it applies always…not just when you’re feeling it.
2. I make weight. I don't come to the weigh-ins fat, out of shape or intentionally overweight to gain a competitive advantage. That's unprofessional and disrespectful to everyone involved. If you have to lose a pound or two after weigh-ins, that’s forgivable. Several pounds above agreed-upon weight limit=lazy.
3. I conduct myself like a professional in and out of the ring. I'm not a loudmouth, a bully or a con artist. If I say I am a fighter, then I act that way at all times. That means living a lifestyle as a professional athlete, taking care of my mind and my body and being responsible about what I put into it. I know that if I want to perform at my best, I have to live it day in and day out.
4. I honor the gym and the people in it. When I'm in the gym to train, I train. I don't jack around and socialize and play slap-and-tickle. I realize that as easily as I can be distracted by someone else, I can also be a distraction. I respect the gym and pay attention to what I'm there to do. I work hard and play later.
5. I keep my word. I say what I'm going to do and I do it. I show up at the gym when I say I’ll be there. I’m honest about my weight, my eating habits, how much sleep I’m getting, if I showed up at work and am trustworthy. Regardless of how others in the boxing industry act and behave, I rise above that and fight with honesty and integrity.
6. I have heart. Before even lacing-up the gloves, I determine to give it all I've got, no matter what. Boxing can be a brutal sport so I also understand that “having heart” sometimes requires sensitivity. I don't mercilessly beat down on sparring partners who are in over their heads. I demonstrate compassion to those who deserve it and administer a beating to those who do. They are usually not the same people.
7. I have a vision for my career. I do not waste other people's time pretending to do something or be something that I'm not wholeheartedly committed to. I am not aimlessly wandering into the gym just so I can say “I am a fighter”. I don't use my pursuits for bragging rights or an as unearned badge of honor. The title of BOXER is not something I diminish and disrespect by flaunting it around. Real fighters don’t have to say they are. They just are.
8. I have my priorities straight. And that doesn't necessarily mean that boxing comes first. It means that I make mature and responsible choices. I choose practice over partying, skipping rope over skipping a workout and striving for proper balance in my life. I know what needs to be done and I'm willing to sacrifice childish or meaningless pursuits to focus on what's most important.
9. I don’t have a sense of entitlement. I am emotionally invested in myself and willing to put forth the effort first, knowing the rewards will come later. I'm not always sitting back and asking what's in it for me or questioning who owes me before having put in the real amount of time and work that success requires. I also don’t blame others when things don’t work out right. I understand that it’s not always the judge’s fault, my coach’s fault or someone else’s problem. I accept responsibility and know that my ultimate success is up to me.
10. I don’t quit easily. I will not abandon my goal, my dream or let all of the hard work I’ve put in for nothing. A real fighter finishes what he starts. He doesn’t quit halfway through a workout, in the middle of a fight or on himself. Regardless of the odds, the negative criticism, the realists or even the circumstances, a real fighter fights on.
Granted, there are real fighters who don't exhibit all of these character traits. Their careers, however, are typically short-lived and, at some point, they get exposed. Boxing careers of substance and longevity take place when boxers, champions conduct themselves like real fighters. These traits of a real fighter require character. If you can build that in life through boxing you will take away so much more than most people could ever grasp, because you will have honed the discipline of a doer and the will of a winner...for life.