Many humans are motivated by the thought of doing something they or others think they cannot do. They don’t want to do what they already know they can do. They are also motivated, as one commentator on this article wisely mentioned, by success. Succeed and then the motivation will arrive in bucket loads.
When I studied Taekwondo, most of the best students were slim, flexible and young. I was thickset and definitely not flexible! I was also over forty! The instructor asked me with some curiosity why I had decided to do something which did not really suit my physical makeup.
I replied that there was no point in doing something I was already good at or likely to be good at. I wanted a challenge. This answer seemed to make sense to him.
People climb mountains because they are big challenges and when they reach the top they will feel they, too, have grown in stature. Jim Rohn, the great American self-help guru, tells us to make a million pounds not so much for the money but for what making a million will make of us.
In the Contender reality show where sixteen middleweight boxers are pitted against each other, the prize is a final fight at Caesar’s Palace in Nevada. The winner will be given a million dollars and the glory of beating their competitors.
Some of the boxers used strategy to try to win the prize. They wanted to face the weaker boxers so that they would stay in the competition and would suffer fewer injuries. They were regarded as cowards by some of the others who proudly or recklessly chose to face the toughest boxers on their route to the top.
In the week when only 8 boxers were left, Joey Gilbert was thinking about fighting Anthony Bonsante who had an injured hamstring and was therefore vulnerable.
Jesse Brinkley was disgusted with his attitude:
“Do you want everything given to you?”
Jesse even went so far as to accuse Joey of cowardice. But then he had managed to accuse nearly everybody except himself of cowardice! Was this his strategy?
In fact, Jesse had been planning on fighting Bonsante himself. He decided to win the weekly challenge so that he could decide who would be in the next fight.
Jesse won the challenge and decided to make Joey earn his way by fighting Peter Manfredo Junior – one of the best fighters. This would leave the way open for Jesse to fight his preferred opponent – the injured Bonsante!
His corner man told Joey: “Everything you need to win is inside you. You are a winner. Don’t get into ‘He can do this or I can do that.’ When all the chips are against you that’s when you fight the best.”
Peter Manfredo’s dad showed up to be in his corner. Peter commented: “He’ll inspire me.”
Joey accepted his lot and changed his attitude:
“I came here for a challenge and I got it. Jesse’s right It’s better to attempt great things and fall short than it is to conquer something you know that you can already beat and this is one of those times. I know I have a hill to climb. I’m the underdog but I know I can pull it out with my heart if I dig deep.”
Peter gave his thoughts before the fight:
“I’m anxious to get in there especially with my father being here. I’ve never lost in front of him yet and I don’t want to start now. I know I’m one of the best fighters here and I guess I’m just going to go for it.”
Peter won the first round with some heavy punches. Joey told his corner: “My rib is broken”. Peter won the second round. Joey again commented: “My rib is gone.”
In round three, Joey forgot about his rib and put up a real fight. Before the fourth round, his corner man urged him on: “Let’s go baby! Let’s go baby!” Joey won round four and his corner man continued to motivate:
“This is the last round for the rest of your life, son!”
His words were prophetic as Joey was accidentally head butted by Peter in round five. His head would probably need about forty stitches and the fight was stopped so that Joey could go off for treatment.
Peter won by split decision. He was quietly elated:
“Tonight was a great night. My heart goes out to Joey and his family. Joey is an awesome kid. He has a heart of gold. He kept coming. He wanted to win. I give him all the credit in the world. I’ve won two fights – I’ve got one more to go. I won’t celebrate till I go to Caesar’s.
Joey was upset but not too despondent:
“I fought for five rounds with one of the best in the world, Peter Manfredo Junior. I might even have been able to beat him had I finished that fifth round. Part of me always knew that I was capable of competing at this level but part of me doubted it because I had always been told that I was a college boxer and couldn’t compete with pro boxers. But I learned that I can do it.”
Joey continued his extensive reflections on the fight:
“A champion’s heart is made of gold and it means you don’t quit and it means that you fight on and I tried to show the heart of a champion and I never quit and I never gave up because I could look right and see my family and see my father. I didn’t want to let them down. My grand father used to say that your family is the most important thing you have in your life and I can definitely say that’s true for me. The tournament, the Contender, for me was one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever put myself through. It’s done and it’s one of the best times in my life. It’s something I’ll never forget as long as I live.”
Sugar Ray Leonard was impressed by Joey’s performance: “If you look up the word ‘heart’ in the dictionary you’ll probably see Joey Gilbert’s photo!”
Boxing is all about motivation and the readiness to face challenges. It is about having the heart to persist in the face of mind numbing pain. Boxers have much to teach the rest of us.