It feels a little strange to talk about my illustrious wrestling career, since I'm not fighting anymore. I have retired. My excuse is that I turned 35, which is a good excuse as you are not legally allowed to fight in NSW once you turn 35. I could complain about the 'age discrimination' involved in this, but to tell you that the truth I am glad enough. It's not just about escaping the ordeal of having to get up every morning at dawn to go for a run.

I never actually got it back at dawn. If it were up and running at 7am, it would be quite unusual. Tyson prided himself on running around 3am or so, after which he would go back to bed. His reason: 'While I train, my opponent sleeps.' This doesn't make a lot of sense to me, as Tyson probably fell asleep after that, probably during his opponents' training session!

Anyway, it's not just the training discipline, or the constant monitoring of your diet (I gained 5 kilos in a month after I stopped training). It is having to live with that fear that takes hold of you before a fight. It's not the fear of getting hurt, but the fear of looking like an idiot. I know you can get that fear anywhere (eg preaching), but there is something particularly humiliating about looking like an idiot in the ring, having thousands of spectators staring at you as you fall in a heap on the ground while your opponent dances laughing at you. you.

I am quite glad I passed it, but I am also very glad I did. Fighting for me was always more than a sport. My first fight especially was a very spiritual experience. For me as a man, stepping into the ring for the first time was a strange experience. Your brothers take you inside the ring, the women are all at a distance, and there is only you and another man standing in their underwear facing each other. Your brothers back off and leave you there alone under the spotlight, asking you to survive for three rounds, while the other guy tries to tear you apart.

There is something very similar about this process to traditional initiation ceremonies in other cultures. Some American Indian tribes have a ritual where, when a child reaches the age of majority, they take him to the forest, then they withdraw and leave him there, and he has to survive for only a week. When he returns to town alive, he is a man.

I remember when I came out of the ring after my first fight, I felt more at peace with myself as a man. In fact, I suspect if we had some ritual like this for all of our teenagers, where at a certain age we take them to a boxing ring and then leave them there to survive the rounds, and then we are going to celebrate their coming of age. . I suspect that we would have far fewer problems with our youth and men than we do today.

You can learn from the ring, hence the title of this talk. And without going any further down that specific path of how boxing can work for male adolescents, let me offer three more general truths that have been etched into my consciousness throughout my brief time in the ring.

1. Learn to take a hit

There is a myth circulating in martial arts movies that you can fight without getting hit. Is not true.

Bruce Lee, more than anyone, I think, is responsible for spreading this myth. If you've ever seen 'Enter the Dragon' or any of his movies, you know that he has this tendency to fight a circle of maybe a hundred raiders at a time. They attack him with fists, feet, clubs, and knives, and he destroys them all without taking a hit. This only happens in movies.

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There is a myth circulating in martial arts movies that you can fight without getting hit. Is not true.