Unveiling the Sweet Science

The Final Blow

Webster’s definition of “heart”: “THE CAPACITY FOR COURAGE AND DETERMINATION"


Of course there are a multitude of paradigms where people use this word in everyday chit-chat: -from mocking the "bleeding-heart" liberals -to enraging an angry vein of the Conservatives all the way over to Tom Petty singing "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" when we hear the word "heart", our initial notion is to think of anything but a FIGHTER’S HEART.

One thing is for certain however about HEART, (in the words of David Lee Roth) typically, we "Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love". As cruel-hearted as it may seem, there were times in years gone by where I'd shed a grin or two on a "tough-guy's" sudden and rapid demise upon his heart (or lack thereof) being unveiled in the boxing gym. Truthfully speaking, in my younger days I enjoyed watching this type unveiling much, much more than I do now. Some of the boxing-gym-rats on the other hand simply salivate at the opportunity of witnessing presumed “tough-guy’s” become unveiled. They get a kick from the sudden humility overtaking them. When a killa is suddenly unveiled as a paper-tiger in a boxing gym, most likely, they haven’t a clue as to the infamy left behind in the days after their departure.

I say "unveiled" because this is the name given the boxing ring, "The Great Unveiler". The ultimate truth-potion takes no prisoners whilst carrying no conscience, none at all. If a person lacks heart in the boxing ring, the TRUTH will ultimately be unveiled for all the world to see, regardless of circumstance. And we all know that nothing hurts like the truth. Once in a great while it's even the fighter himself (or herself) surprised at the sudden unveiling.

Perhaps, a hothead gets into a scrap (or two) in the street, landed a punishing haymaker on an unsuspecting foe and carried a demeanor of confidence with them for a bit too long. Or perhaps even, the freshly unveiled bully just didn't think that they could be BEAT for whatever reason. I don't know.

Yet, what I DO know is that the stone-cold "rush" of adrenaline fueling the street-slugger's short-lived tirade will never compare to the mental savagery taking place in a fighter’s thoughts seconds before the bell rings for round one.

Punches hurt, this is true. Chiseling super-human conditioning out of our otherwise mediocre torso is and will forever be draining. Yet, the notion of purposefully subscribing to a self-willed indoctrination of pain will almost-always act as the primary element weeding out ALL pretenders from actual boxing competition.

As these and other various elements together "eat" into the heart of a mere mortal; real fighters, people with the heart of a champion, seem to confront this hungry parasite with God-given composure.

Are they a FIGHTER at heart or a chicken? Are they in the sport to really FIGHT or just to say they fight? Can they focus on the science of the sport while posed against a heavy-handed opponent or are they too petrified at getting hit to keep their eyes open?

Skills and talent do not define a person’s heart in the boxing ring. Heart and confidence are not synonymous. Some new-schooler's say heart can be taught, I say it cannot.

One of the most gratifying scenes to see from a boxing trainers perspective however, is to witness the skinny kid with little or NO confidence, gloving up and shocking the entire gym with his/her HEART to fight. Life-lessons run deep and a person discovers that their "fighter’s heart" is more than they ever believed it to be.


– Ricky Ray Taylor