WHEN IT'S TIME TO HANG UP THE GLOVES
I remember when I first started sparring. At first it’s a shock to the system experiencing the give and take of the sport. Once you get a few sparring sessions under your belt, you feel unstoppable. You become an eager fighter ready to take on King Kong. It really did not matter the size, shape, or experience level the boxers you sparred had. Gym wars were almost common place. And you really did not care. Unfortunately, neither did your more experienced sparring partner. He proceeded to pound your face in without mercy. But it did not matter. You were young, full of energy, and wanted be a bad ass. You would go round after round against the best boxer and come back for more. That’s until…you get older.
Once you start taking those shots to the head and body, your mind starts to play tricks on you. All of a sudden, you begin to realize you are not Superman. You get hit in the face at an odd angle and you feel excruciating pain right below your eye. You get hit in the body and notice a huge bruise around your rib cage. You get bashed in the head and receive a concussion with a headache that lasts for days. You get a really bad stinger due to your head snapping back. Or you get hit at just the right place and end up seeing double for a few weeks. You start thinking about the long term effects...
Not only do you suffer from the blows to the head and body from boxing, your body suddenly does not feel the same when you first started. Injuries take longer to heal. The soreness sticks around a little bit longer than normal. Recurring injuries seem to pop up more often. Your face starts to get cut easier and the scar tissue is a little more prominent than it used to look. You see the punches coming but for some reason, you don’t move out of the way in time.
While continuing to be an active boxer, life starts to happen. Major events begin to unravel. You start your career and start making some good money. You get married and have kids. You eventually promote and start taking on more responsibility at work. All the while, you continue to box. You continue to take shots. You continue to receive the unforgiving consequences from the hard blows. Your kids look at you and begin to wonder why Daddy has a black eye. You then look in the mirror and say to yourself, "Is this worth it? Is this worth my career? Is this worth it for my family? Is this worth my health and safety to continue this?"
When thoughts like this start to creep into your mind, you know it is almost time. Some deny the inevitable and carry on, suffering the consequences. You could extend your boxing life by not having the gym wars, wearing the proper safety gear, limiting the sparring rounds you go, and choosing your sparring partners wisely. Getting enough sleep, staying on a proper diet, and being in consistent shape can help as well. Sadly for a lot a boxers, a devastating loss or knockout convinces them that retirement may be something worth looking in to. Sooner or later, father time catches up to you. You won’t be able to deny that your are finally done.
At the end of the day, no one is going to convince a fighter that it is time to hang up the gloves. The fighter is only going to have to decide that for himself. Hopefully by then, he will be able to enjoy riding off into the sunset, and not forget the wonderful experience he had with the sweet science.
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