I have taken up boxing two months ago. Even though I’m not the embodiment of physical toughness, I realized boxing is really about taking emotional risks among other things. It’s all happening in my head: the lack of strength and technique makes me vulnerable, while also exposing me as unworthy. My trainer told me I have a proneness to dropping my right hand when I focus too much. “That leaves you open, and you don’t want to be open”, he told me. Open meant being vulnerable until now.
I had spent my life avoiding conflict. I quit bad jobs, left people who had a bad influence on me, or kept my silence towards all kind of abuses at work. Taking up boxing now means that perhaps I need to find an inner strength to be anything I could be and express it accordingly: sad and happy, angry and satisfied with what I have or don’t have.
Hitting a heavy bag is just like expressing your disgruntlement towards something. You just have it in front of you, that big pile of problems that you ignored for so long. Hitting it, even without the proneness to dropping my right hand, leaves me open, but not vulnerable. I’m not used to being or even seeming vulnerable, just as I’m not used to losing.
For my first fight, one that my trainer arranged with a guy who started taking up boxing at the same time I did, I felt fearless. It’s gonna be fun, I thought; and it was. The idea of a victory lasted five minutes in my mind. As I was trying to jab my way inside, he whipped his right hand to my temple. Thirty seconds after, I whipped my right hand to his temple as well, but his second and third punch left me bleeding. The first round ended badly for me, and so did the second. I wasn’t trying to win anymore. I was just trying to finish and still stand — which happened. I lost, but I was the loser who left the ring on his own legs, still standing and worthy perhaps of a future victory. That’s the emotional risk, folks.
Boxing made me lose so far. But I know that I’m doing my best hitting that heavy bag during training. And when the final bell rings, I will be happy because I’m still standing after what I consider to be the best exercise for me.