Thanks to boxer/scholar Ethan Munoz for this excellent essay, which won him scholarship money for college.
“And your winner by split decision is…..coming out of the blue corner!”
I stood in the ring, in front of an audience of around 75 people, my red tank top drenched in sweat, my head bowed in disappointment, and my body slouched from exhaustion. The words pierced through me like a sword. I had lost. But how? I’d been running, sparring, and spending countless hours in the gym. I threw a million punches, and in the last round I dished out a right hand so hard that the referee gave my opponent a standing eight count. But somehow, I lost. After receiving a mediocre bronze medal, I made my way to the locker room where my twin brother rushed in after me and stared at me for a few seconds. We both balled up in tears. Despite the fact that I was the one who actually fought, the pain was mutual. It was my first fight, and I lost.
The pain from losing wore off right away. After all, it's all just a learning experience, right? Plus it was only my first fight, in which I actually did exceptionally well, considering it was my opponent’s twelfth bout. In fact, several spectators from the audience told me that they believed that I should have won. My father told me not to worry because you can’t win all the time. Losing that fight gave me a surge of motivation that caused me to work even harder.
I lived in the gym after that fight. Every single day I spent at least two hours working hard, sweating to the point that I could barely keep my eyes open because the blinding sweat would trickle into my eyes. I ran like a horse in the park at least three miles every other day. I hated running in the winter, because the thin air made me feel like an elephant was sitting down on my chest every time I breathed. However, I had to keep my speed up or I would freeze. I sparred several rounds a week, and sometimes I would leave the ring with a bloody nose, a bruised limb or a scratched-up back. My body was crying. I had heard about stabbings and rapes that occurred in the park I ran in, and my family members warned me to be careful because strange people roam the park at night. However, I still continued to run in the park daily with nothing but one thing on my mind: victory. After about two weeks, I walked into the gym and my trainer shocked me with a last minute offer, “Hey Ethan, do you want to fight this Friday!?”
My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach. Was I ready to fight again... Already? On such short notice?
“Yes!” I excitedly agreed.
Before I knew it, it was Friday night and I was in the ring once again. The bell rang, and the war began. This time I threw what felt like a billion punches, and I rushed my opponent like a football player. I can’t remember what my opponent did, but it was clearly ineffective. The adrenaline was speeding through my veins like cars on a highway. After the fight was finally over, I hugged my opponent out of respect and bowed my head while standing in the middle of the ring. Than I heard it:
“Your winner is…coming out of the red corner from Atlas Cops and Kids Boxing Gym!”
The referee raised my hand as I leaped for joy. I had failed in my first fight because I wasn’t working hard enough. Through this, I realized that victory comes only through diligence.