We’ve all used the term “Bum” or “Tomato Can” used in boxing, most of the time not thinking about what we’re really saying. We use this term in this sport we so love to refer to the bottom tier of opponents that the “up and coming” fighters usually face to build their record. Are we really being fair to that guy that just laced up his gloves knowing that there’s no way he’s going to win on this night? What must he be thinking on the walk to the ring? Is it a walk of fear? Does he hesitate before entering the arena?
If you’ve ever been in a fight you know a certain amount of fear. There’s always a slight amount of doubt that we mask with anger when faced with the thought of physical confrontation. There’s a reaction that our brains give called the “fight or flight” mechanism. If you run, that’s your mind’s way of telling you, you can’t win. What if you had a date for a boxing fight in a parking lot that you knew you couldn’t win? For two weeks all you could think about was this fight you couldn’t win.
What if you knew there was a very good chance you could get seriously hurt? Would you show up? I hear boxing fighters getting disrespected because of their level of ability all the time. I hear them called “Tomato Cans,” “Victims,” “Stepping Stones,” and “preparation” for what’s next for that young talented fighting prospect. Most people that use these phrases to describe these fighters never give much thought to what they had to do just to be called “Tomato Can.” Whens the last time you spent eight hours in the gym to lose? Now do that for two weeks to get into a fight you can’t possibly win.
The night of the fight every sense of self preservation you have is telling you not to lace up those gloves, not to walk out to that boxing ring, forget the money, it’s just not worth getting beat up over (it’s usually not that much anyway). Then something takes over inside of you, face your fears in the ring, get out there and fight until you can’t anymore. Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
I define courage as fighting a battle you know you can’t win, but fighting as though you could. Courage is defined in these guys that have no chance, but fight anyway. So I propose to you, my fellow boxing aficionados, next time you see that fighter of lesser talent have a little more respect for the courage he displays every time he steps into the ring to fight you’re favorite “up and coming” fighter. Cheer for that guy, he’s doing something that you yourself wouldn’t do.