FOR any fighter, knowing when the time is right to hang up the gloves is the hardest of all questions.
For me it has been no less difficult. If I’m completely honest I chose not to listen to my inner voice over twelve months ago.
As I walked by the water, sun beginning to rise the morning after my last fight, I had tears rolling down my cheeks.
My rib cage bruised and battered and not knowing why or how I could feel so low after searching for what would normally end in such a high, but there in lied the problem, the highs were gone.
For my last three fights I’ve had nothing but resentment towards the sport that had given me so much over the years. Now I have reached a stage where all it does is take from me.
Only a few months ago in preparation for a fight with Renold Quinlan, I was holding my own against world champion, Sadaam Ali who I’d watched for years coming up in the amateurs on YouTube.
I sat having conversations with the legendary Hector Rocha, trainer of nineteen world champions.
He told me I have all the skills and attributes needed to go all the way, I mean if that doesn’t help push you forward and motivate you, even after the fight with Quinlan would ultimately fall through, then not much else was going too.
As I prepared for a tune-up in Japan due to take place July 9th before hopefully getting a shot at the full OPBF titleholder and some decent cash, I found something lacking in my effort and was almost blasé in my approach.
I have lost all drive and desire to my own efforts in the sport and in discovering this decided now is the time to accept what I had refused to come to terms with months ago.
Boxing and the journey of self-discovery it takes you on during different stages of your career helps to mould who you become as a person, what sort of life you will live, the lessons that you will learn and ultimately build your character.
You hear the cliché story all too often of troubled kids who find guidance and success through boxing, rags to riches type of shit.
It’s a shame that most of us never see any riches. In fact, the only fight I ever came out on top financially was in my professional debut and thanks to sponsorship my third fight.
However, I do owe most of my development as a person to boxing, or at least because of the family I gained through the sport.
My chance of meeting with my coach Nudge was boxing’s biggest blessing and my most valuable lessons came from coach being able to decipher boxing’s bullshit in order to create cryptic life lessons that the majority of time I was unaware I was even learning.
Of course the highs of winning, the thrill of becoming the best in your country, travelling the world as part of the national team, experiencing one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
It showed me fucking unbelievable highs that are short-lived. Forever more valuable is the experience that I gained and lessons I was taught on the journey to these milestones.
To be successful in the ring it is important to have a little hint of talent or natural ability but much more important is the ability to withstand punishment without losing belief.
I’m not talking about the ability to eat a series of Mike Tyson-like uppercuts and hooks either. More important than that is the ability to withstand the mental and emotional punishment of having countless decisions pulled away from you due to questionable judging.
The type of toughness and self-belief that holds strong after nine straight defeats.
The ability to train through broken bones before some of the most important tournaments of your life and the type of thick skin that you build through years of people doubting, criticising and giving their opinions of your ability, performances and future in the sport.
If you can withstand all of this along with the physical side of making weight. Punishing your body in training and having people punch the shit out of you through countless years of development.
At some point you will be ready to become a champion and reap the rewards for years of hard work and dedication. Then again, maybe you won’t.
The business of boxing is much like ‘the upside down’ from the TV show Stranger Things.
It’s dark, it’s dirty and it sucks. You cannot do anything in this sport without decent financial backing, making the “right” connections, forgetting any morality you live your life by and being connected. It’s all about the dollars.
It’s common to see promoters trying to switch sides within the few short minutes it takes for their charge to get back to the dressing room after a defeat.
For sanctioning bodies to stick to their promises about as frequently as a car salesman tells the truth. And don’t get me started on agreed upon amounts for ticket sales and purse amounts getting negotiated or changed.
Boxing as a business fucking sucks. It has killed my passion to compete and I guess in the end, I’m not one of the ones who could withstand all of the bullshit.
Boxing has again come out on top. It addicted me to its high, rewarded me just enough to keep me in its clutches then beat me up, wore me down, ripped me off and spat me out leaving me depressed and deflated.
It smothered the flame of desire and passion that once roared inside driving me on no matter in order to achieve my dream of becoming a champion.
Now as I learn to let the bitter taste left in my mouth from boxing wash away, helped along by a few beers and several burgers.
I am trying to quickly come to terms with the fact that my life no longer involves a constant chase, pushing from moment to moment awaiting fulfilment at the final destination.
With more energy and time to reflect I can finally find some contentment in living in the now and enjoying life day to day playing with my little girl, enjoying the smaller moments being happy.
Relaxing with my wife and putting more time and effort into others areas that have for so long being neglected.
I can find peace in that I have left the sport ultimately on my own terms.
It’s nice to be able to find the quiet as my mind can now relax and as I do this I realise I have a lot to be thankful for.
Boxing has made me who I am today. It provided me the opportunity to see over thirty countries, the discipline and work ethic. This will transition into whatever I try my hand at next as it taught me how through hard work you can achieve almost anything you set out to.
Boxing is beautiful brutality in its purist form and I will always love the sport and be thankful for what it has given me.
For me, my journey as a fighter now ends and I open a new chapter, one where I will be fulfilled from what actually matters, giving back to my girls, helping other kids to chase and fulfil their dreams and giving them a chance at a better tomorrow.
Ultimately boxing has both given and taken a lot. It was one hell of a ride, I’m just at a stage where I no longer need to be a competitor in this sport, the chase for me is over.
I know who I am and ‘2Sharp’ is no longer a part of that.
Words: Mark Lucas
Photo: Warren Suen