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Losing to Win

December 4
by
Bruce Mitchell
in
Overcoming Challenges
with
.

I was a boxer in the United States Army who fought welterweight. I’ve never been a quitter, but one fight made me prove myself more than any other. I had won my first three fights in the sub-novice division. I graduated to the open class. That’s when my troubles began. No one told me I was going to fight the man who had just been named all army champ.


We fought three, three minutes rounds. The gloves and the trunks sported the company logo, Everlast. We fought with 8 oz. gloves with no tape on our knuckles, only over our wrists – a far cry from today’s fighters. They wear headgear that looks like space helmets and they fight with bigger gloves.

From round one his ruby-red gloves pounded out a merciless beat against my head. I wasn’t marching to a different drummer – I was the drum. A cut opened over my left eye.

A Rorschach test pattern of rich, red blood splattered on my silver and black trunks. The bell rang. End of round one.

I went back to my corner. My trainer poured water over my head and put a Q-Tip with some coagulant on it and held it against my cut. I still wear the scar to this very day. Then he smeared Vaseline over my cut and face. I was told to stay away and jab.

The bell rang for round two. It was more of the same. I guess the ref could have stopped the fight, but it was only round two. He asked me if I had had enough. I shook my head no. I had some will left. The bell rang to end round two. I slowly walked back to my corner bleeding from the nose. My eye cut was reopened.

“Son, you gotta throw more punches,” my trainer said. “I think I want this fight more than you do. Want me to throw in the towel?”
“No way,” I said. The ref came to the corner.
“Want to continue?”
“Yes,” I said. “I got to last out the three rounds. It’s a matter of pride.”

The bell rings for round three, the final round. We walk to the center of the ring and touch gloves.

He continues his assault on my face and body. It would be so easy to quit, to take a knee, and make this nightmare end.

But then I think to myself, this isn’t just a fight between two men. This is a fight for who I am and what I stand for. To quit, I’d be quitting on myself. This was my self-esteem on the line. I had to last for three more minutes.

I duck my head and charge into my tormentor like a raging bull. He throws an uppercut that hits my chest so hard it makes it feel like my heart stopped. Head still down, trying to salvage some desperate glory, I see an elastic band on his pristine trucks.

In a small rectangle I read the black logo letters of the company name, Everlast. I will last. The bell mercifully rings. Of course he wins by a decision. But he couldn’t get me off of my feet – a moral victory and a win for me.

I faced a superior force and remained standing. Ironically, it was my opponent that showed me the sign, a shibboleth that gave me the courage to never quit.

Perhaps knowledge can sometimes be born from pain. Today that all seems like a lifetime ago, but even now when things are looking rough and the world’s beating up on me I ask myself: “How can I ever last?” I think, for only a split second, how easy it would be to take a knee, lie down, and quit.

Then I recall another dark and testing moment from my past. And I thank my adversary for the valuable lesson losing taught me – how to win. Slowly I say the word to myself, Everlast. Now aloud I sing out my battle cry, EVERLAST.


Suddenly, anything and everything standing in front of me, while yet formidable, somehow seems a little more manageable. And I charge once again, like a raging bull, straight ahead into my tormentor, knowing I’ll never quit.

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