My mind is not tired …
Breath heaving, arms aching, knees buckling after three rounds of sparring with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore, I looked at him standing quite nonchalantly a few feet away from me with admiration and a tint of envy and said, “you’re in some shape.”
Len just smiled as the bell intoned for our fourth round and said, “My mind is not tired.”
“What?” I thought.
“My mind is not tired,” he said, as a mantra, our eyes locked, our bodies circling each other in the ring.
And suddenly getting it I said, “my mind is not tired.”
A eureka moment, my punches flowed as crisp staccato accents on a drum kit.
“My mind is not tired,” I screamed to myself, remembering to slip Len’s right hand, and pulling back as he was went to my body, I let loose with my own overhand right that hit the mark.
Len nodded and said, “nice one,” but that didn’t last for long as we held each other’s gaze feinting, flicking punches, slipping, moving; his punches still tagging me from the right one, two, three times, but decidedly less that the week before.
Coming into the fifth round–we continued. The words “my mind is not tired” a true tonic for my body which really was feeling out of gas, but was moving with focus.
I practiced the shoulder roll, not quite getting it, but at least pulling away enough for the punch to graze me before letting loose with my straight right to the body. I remember to stand low too, something I had kept forgetting. I stayed low, feinted, slipped right, slipped left, feinted again, surprised Len with a lead right, pulled back, danced to the side, danced back again, took punches, pushed punches away.
We ended the round with Len on one side of the ring and me on the other. My breath really was hard, but I felt triumphant, I made my way over, slowly. Len took my helmet off and offered me water. He was smiling.
“Good work,” he said.
I felt proud of that and made my over to the uppercut bag to work on slipping punches again. Flagging for a moment, I said, “my mind is not tired,” and kept going having learned something.
Boxing really is all about the mind. The mind and the will to persevere, to take old damned bones and make them slip when everything in the body screams “pull back and get the heck out of the way.”