The Boxing Rabbi has studied Torah for well over 30 years, and boxing for about 20. But it is true that I have learned some important life lessons from the ring as well as from the book-and occasionally I would like to share some-
1. Everyone starts somewhere. One of the things I love about boxers is that in general, they are quite humble. Every good fighter remembers walking into the gym for the first time and not knowing how to throw a punch or hit the speed bag. In my 20 years in gyms, I have never, ever, seen a skilled fighter taunt, tease, or bully a novice fighter. The movie scenes of clumsy fighters being beaten or bullied by more experienced fighters are Hollywood fictions. Just the opposite. I have seen skilled fighters and coaches stop their workouts to gently show a novice how to stand, punch, or move correctly.
2. Respect your teachers. Most boxing coaches are not wealthy people. They are often former fighters, or have been in the fight game a long time, and have little to show for it in terms of financial success. Yet I have never seen a good fighter disrespect a coach. Never. When it happens, the other fighters show him the door. Over twenty years I have seen more respect given by street kids to a ragged looking coach than wealthy kids often give to their Hebrew school teachers.
3. The unexpected happens. I have been injured three times in the ring. Each time, I never saw the punch that hurt me. Two of those times, it was a flagrant foul. In life, the toughest challenges are the ones we never anticipated.
4. Even if you are not the best, you can still have heart. Face it. Life is not fair. I am short, stocky, and heavy for my height. An ideal fighter is tall, lanky, and light for his height. I am not naturally gifted in the ring. But I will keep coming at you, even when hit. As one coach said to me-“Its not how often you get knocked down, its how often you get up”.