‘You love training don’t you?’
No. No I do not. I can not speak for other fighters or athletes but for myself personally I have no ‘love’ for the hard work and the physical and mental exertions that I must put myself through leading up to each fight. This perception that we ‘love’ it because we do it is an extremely simple outsiders view. Perhaps if training was for recreation, as a hobby or under the guise of that ever elusive goal of fitness then sure it would no doubt be ‘fun’. But to put your mind and body through such torment so often, return home sore and fatigued to the point that sleep eludes you, I can assure you that we do not love any of that.
It is part of the process however. It is part of what it is that we do, who we are. If you calculated just how many gym hours you spent torturing yourself alone not to mention other factors involved in the fight including, skill set, risk to the actual fight and weighed it up against the purse that many of us paid you would see why fighting is not a profession that many stick to and those that do so have to moon light in other areas in order to make ends meet.
Then why put yourself through all of this ? Some may ask. Well not all of us take pride in the same things. Not all of us walk the same path of generic contentment. Not all of us have pretty coloured feathers or collect lovely shiny things to decorate the nest with. Some of us are drab and without glitter and glamour, we take a pride in not how we look so much as how we perform, we take pride not in the objects we collect but in the battles with have been through. And part of this pride is found in how hard we train. So while I may not dress in trendy clothes, no longer drive a flashy care or perhaps I may live in a cluttered mess my pride comes from how I conduct myself around others and with others. I do not seek approval from strangers and I am not a social chameleon. But most of all my pride and dignity is shown in my body of work and what I do. And should I fall, my pride will help me get up and move on forwards.
The preparation leading up to a fight varies from bout to bout, some times you have less than ideal time to ready yourself or perhaps do not have the man power available to put together an ideal camp. What ever the case you make do with what you have. Fighting has and always shall be about going into that Arena with what you have and not what you wish you had. It is in our training that we ready our body and our mind for the ordeal that we may encounter on game day. And for me leading up to this home town debut I have been sure to train harder than I have ever had for any previous engagement. What ever methods work best for us or we have borrowed from our peers and those we look up to, we shall employ so as to best ready ourselves.
For me personally as some one who has not yet found success in many other areas of his life, where failure seems to be a constant beat of the drum to the melody of life, it is inside that cage that I for the brief moment am able to be who I am. If I run and hide I show that I am a coward or if I stand and fight, then I am able to show that I am a man. No other platform truly exists in our culture so as to allow a person this. At least not morally. And because I am fortunate to have this platform, this Arena I am grateful and shall never take it for granted. And it is with this in mind that I train myself and ready myself with honest conviction, with a work ethic that many who are paid so much more seem to lack and with a pride that burns deep inside of me that shall never be under stood by contemporaries who push their energies and perceptions into other areas.
So while I shall not bore you with the details of what training I have been utilising for my show down with Mr Daniel Kelly, I can assure you that I have used my time well, as no doubt he too has. I can also promise you that you shall see a version of myself that has yet to have been seen on any combative stage. I am not taking my opponent lightly, nor am I taking the occasion for granted. Instead I have been training and preparing for this fight as though I am the sole vanguard of the craft in this State and as selfish as a mandate as this may be in consideration to my brothers and sisters it has with this in mind allowed me to sustain a hard work ethic through out this training camp.
We push ourselves hard because we know that before familiars and strangers a like that another person is trying their best to physically destroy us. They wish to separate us from our senses, break our bones, control us, decimate us and embarrass us. That is how they win and so shall it be how we win. No other set of sports has such a fundamental objective as this. This preparation demands that we be tough, that we push hard and smart. Toughness is not an act here it is a way of life it is a substance that fortifies us. Our attitude is about what we do and how we do it and not how we play pretend by putting on some music, flipping our hat to the side, getting some ink and crossing our arms as we sway over one hip. Do not mistake terracotta for steel, flesh and bone. Toughness and Attitude are about substance and conduct and not illusion and delusion. They are both forged in the training and from the experiences found their and inside that Arena of combat. Unfortunately in our culture few appreciate the difference.
So next time you come across an athlete who is in hard training, and by athlete I mean some one whose principle occupation is the sport, please do not do them the naive disregard by throwing at them the assumption that because they train often and with such intensity that they ‘love’ doing it or that they are ‘addicted’ to it. They do so because beyond all of that pain, exertion, doubt, fears, sweat and in some case tears lies a prize that is worth more than all the riches and spoils that some athletes are fortunate enough to be paid and that is glory. A long and forgotten word in our modern culture. But to a few it still means a lot.
And in the theme of all of this above ramblings I shall leave with you these two quotes.
‘I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ –Muhammad Ali
‘To build mental toughness, you have to inconvenience yourself. Those cold early morning runs, if you hate early morning. The late night run if you hate the late night. The snowy cold conditions that you can get and push yourself through training in that climate. The worse conditions you can get. Make it really inconvenient and and you start to get a genuine expectation of winning for the price that you have had to pay.’ –Chael Sonnen