In the boxing world, boxers face longer matches as they gain experience. Generally, they’ll begin as amateurs and their first fights are considered novice where they’ll box 1 or 2- 2 minute rounds. Then they’ll go on to 3 x 2 minute rounds or 4 x 2 minute rounds. In every case, there will be an interval of one minute between rounds.
If and when they go pro, the head gear comes off, the size of the audience increases, the television cameras turn on and the rounds increase to a maximum of 12 x 3 minutes.
Although boxers usually know well in advance when their next match is, sometimes they’ll be caught off guard. Sometimes a boxer will back out and an opportunity to box will present itself with only days to prepare. Or they’ll be on the other side, having trained and prepared for months only to find out that for whatever reason – they have no opponent and no match.
My boxing coach and coaching mentor, Cap Kotz, referred to life’s battles as ‘personal matches’ and he trained his coaches to constantly be on the lookout for our own matches and see the parallels between life and the ring.
Life’s matches… We can lose the person we most love. We can go to school for a decade and not have a job waiting for us. We can have family stay with us for a week. We can get a cold. We can get cancer or a bad report card. We can lose – our life’s savings, our Driver’s License – a child. We can be feeling on top of the world when suddenly we’re face down on the mat wondering what the hell happened – and the higher we are, the further we fall. Think of where Charlie Sheen will be in a month.
In many bad situations there is still the possibility of standing up straight (metaphorically and physically) and facing what is in front of us. Full on. We can face the punches and we can get hit. And we can learn to block them. And counter. And slip just out of the way. We can make eye contact with our opponent. We can learn to think and respond even when all we feel like doing is crying, running away or getting into a brawl.
Consider your own life. What are some of your matches? Are they 1 rounders? 6 rounders? 12 rounders? What’s up ahead? Who’s in your corner? How well have you trained? Are you reacting or responding? Boxing isn’t just about getting hit – it’s about learning not to get hit. Remember, the more ambitious you are, the longer your rounds will be and the more punches are gonna come your way. But sometimes you’ll get thrown into a 12 rounder even though you are retired – or you’re a twelve year old kid. Life is funny like that.
What can we do when we meet a particularly hard match? Breathe. Keep moving. Take a minute between rounds to catch your breathe. Talk to your corner people. Drink some water. And if you’re on the mat – get up, shake it off and box.