Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dazed & Confused

"I am the greatest!"
I'll give you this bit of info upfront: the moral of this story is to "always ask questions."  Sometimes, you can save yourself from a headache if you just ask "how" or "why?"  On to the story...

I used to think that my fighting skills were on-par with the best. That, of course, is despite the fact that I'd only been in one fight in my life at the time and that was in kindergarten. A kid and I had a dust-up over who would get the last swing on the playground. We were racing to the swing set and he pushed me down. I wasn't happy about him cheating and pushing me down.  So, in the end, I took a swing (at him) to get the swing.

But, that was 14 years prior to this incident. It was 1990 and I was an 18-year old freshman in his second semester. I'd started developing my "college personality" and had made plenty of friends. My school was located in the middle of nowhere, so we were frequently bored. We did whatever we could to entertain ourselves. This time, I wish I'd been studying instead of participating in relieving boredom on this night.

Someone on the 3rd floor had over-sized boxing gloves. Huge gloves filled with plenty of cushion, but still packed a punch like a well-swung pillow. A college guy's dream, right?  What started out as four of us swinging in the hallway for fun resulted in a crowd of 50+ people in front of the dormitory fighting for money.

I'm a huge boxing fan. I watched many matches with my father as a kid and in my mind, I had the technique needed to beat anyone. For a while, I was right. I disposed of my first seven opponents pretty easily. We would basically duke it out until someone gave up or got knocked down. For every dollar my dorm mates would bet, I'd get 50 cents of it if I won. So, I was making pretty good money with roughly 20-30 people betting on me each fight. 

I was some where around $70 when a suggestion was made that I fight James. James was a country, cornbread-fed, no-neck having football player from Clarksdale, MS. We nicknamed him "Donkey Kong" although I think James had more muscles than that barrel-tossing primate. Someone went to his room to get him while I pondered if I should consider an early retirement.

"Tim," I whispered to my roommate and holder of my money,"I don't think I want to fight James, man."

"Yeah, he is pretty big," he replied. "Maybe you should quit."

Since I had Tim's reassurance of me making the right decision, I got ready to take the gloves off until someone said, "$5 on this fight and the winner gets $3 per bet!"

$3 per person if I win? My greed choked out my common sense.  Don't judge!  Do you know how much that is for a college student? That thought quickly left my mind as James exited from the dorm into the parking lot where we were gathered. He was 5'6", 235 lbs. and was probably less than 12% body fat. He was a nice and jolly guy and always had jokes. "What's up, 'Chubb Rock?'" he started. "Someone told me that I can make $50 if I whip you."

"Chubb Rock" was a nickname I picked up in college. It came from a popular, chubby rapper at the time. James laughed as he slid on the boxing gloves. Tim collected the money from the gamblers. A group of ladies stopped by to see what the commotion was all about, so now there's the pressure of female presence making the stakes higher.

Someone said "ding, ding" to simulate a bell and James and I swung at each other like a low budget movie version of "Real Steel." The fight between us would later be described as "two guys throwing dynamite" as we scrapped like our lives depended on it.  I went toe-to-toe with a guy whose chest is so wide that he can't even reach across to scratch his other arm and I beat him. "You made $87!" Tim whispered emphatically.  Before I could respond, I heard a familiar deep voice say, "I'll fight him."

I turned around and saw our residential assistant. He was 6'5" and probably weighed about 240 lb. and his nickname was "Roughhouse." You would think that the origin of his nickname or his height would have concerned me, but I wasn't bothered by either. You see, Roughhouse was an ordained minister. And a minister can't fight. Right?  Besides, I'd just beaten "Donkey Kong."  I was 8-0.  I was invincible.

Roughhouse only agreed to fight if no money was placed on him as he slid on the gloves. Although he was much taller than me, I figured I'd wear out his stomach and once he dropped his guard, take out his head. I had it all planned out.

"Ding, ding." 

Roughhouse hit me so quickly that I wasn't sure if I'd been hit at all. Before I could make a decision on if I'd been hit, I felt two more blows that confirmed that I was definitely under attack. By the time I counted the fifth or sixth blow, I was dazed and confused. I stepped back to get my composure and by the time that I refocused, I didn't see him. I was facing directly towards Tim and he was laughing uncontrollably. "Where did he go?" I asked.

By this time, I'm noticing that I'm facing the crowd and that everyone is laughing. Roughhouse had hit me so hard and so many times, that I'd spun around and faced the other direction without even knowing it. I turned back around to face him, but he was taking his gloves off and laughing.

My undefeated streak was over. Not only did I lose, I didn't even get to throw a single punch. I never saw his punches coming.  I only saw them leaving my cheeks. I congratulated Roughhouse and asked him where he learned to fight like that. "Oh, I'm a blackbelt," he replied.  "You didn't know that's how I got my nickname?"


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