FRANKIE FEAR...EVERY FIGHTER'S BEST FRIEND
It is an interesting question I often hear people ask me. “What do you think about before a match?” I often ask myself the same question about other fighters. I see a variety of ways fighters mentally prepare themselves before a fight. But I often wonder the same thing, “What are THEY thinking about?"
I have seen "the introvert." You know, the guy sitting by himself with head phones on, looking focused not wanting to talk to anyone. Or how about "the comedian." The guy laughing and cracking jokes with everyone around him. Maybe you have seen "the spaz." That is the one pacing all over the place. He is loosing up his neck, arms, hands, and feet, even though his fight is hours away (that’s me by the way). Last but not least, "the hulk.” That is the fighter with a look of anger and rage on his face. He is pacing, jumping up and down, seemingly ready to tear his opponent’s arms off.
A lot of things race through my mind prior to combat. “I hope I don’t get tired” or “Stick to your game plan” or “I can’t wait to blast this guy to the body.” Thoughts run through my head of not upsetting or embarrassing my trainers or sparring partners. They have been the ones helping me prepare for weeks. I also think about not wanting to embarrass my family and friends. After all, they are there to cheer me on and support me. The last thing I want to do is let them down.
But there is ALWAYS one feeling that consistently nags me prior to walking into the ring. Fear. Yup. I’m pretty scared. I’m scared I’m going to get caught with a punch I don’t see coming. I’m scared that I didn’t train hard enough. I'm scared the judges are going to give the fight to the other guy even though I have punished him enough to take the fight. I’m afraid to fail. But I have come to realize, if I’m not scared there’s something truly wrong with me.
Like Rocky Balboa told Tommy Gunn, “Fighting is like 90% in the skull and 10% in the body…Your best friend is a guy named Frankie Fear. You see fear is a fighter’s best friend. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. See fear keeps you sharp. It keeps you awake, you know, it makes you want to survive, you know what I mean? But the thing is you gotta know how to control it, alright. Because fear is like this fire. And it’s burning deep inside. You control it Tommy, it’s going to make you hot. You see, if this thing here controls you, it’s going to burn you and everything around you up.”
When I’m finally face to face in the ring, different thoughts take over my head. “You’re in shape” or “This guy is in some serious trouble” or “I’m about to bust this dude up, he has no idea what’s coming.”
Like Cassius Clay said, "The fight is won or lost far away from witness-behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” That is when I know I HAVE put in the work. I have put in the miles and miles of running, and the rounds and rounds of sparring. That’s when the light switch turns on and overwhelming thoughts of victory fill my head. So as soon as that bell rings all I could think of is one thing. Just like Jimmy Lennon Jr. says, “IT’S SHOWTIME!!"
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