There was a flash of leather in my face and suddenly I was looking at the ceiling. When I looked back down, the bastard was already moving to my right. And when I turned to follow him, he just stabbed me again with another jab to the face. I felt something burst behind my front teeth and then something warm leaked down my nose and into my mouth. Ten seconds into my first fight at King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland, CA and I was already on the rag.
Served me right.
Two weeks after joining the gym and I was already salty. I wanted some action. But the coach wasn’t letting any newbies spar. Nevertheless I insisted. In my arrogance I figured, “hey I fought for my high school’s karate team and I didn’t do no pussy kata’s either (the display of posture, patterns and movements), I did kumite (competitive fighting)!” But this was not karate where fights lasted in two to five second blitzes; this was boxing, a three-minute, all-out, fast-paced hell with just you, your opponent, and your inadequacies. Needles to say, I wasn’t ready. I lasted two rounds because my opponent (this “white boy” I thought I could bully) bestowed mercy upon me.
Sitting in the corner—heaving and humbled—this little black girl came and began wiping the blood off my face. “You did good,” she consoled me. She was probably one of the gym residents because she obviously knew what she was doing. And she knew what I was—a beginner, an amateur. At the time all I had was ego, not pride. And there’s a difference. Pride is earned, ego is for free. (more…)