I’m not exactly sure when I became a fan of boxing. If I had to pinpoint one boxing contest that cemented my love for the sport it would have to be the “Iron” Mike Tyson vs. James “Buster” Douglas fight in Tokyo, Japan circa 1990. I am almost certain February 11th, 1:00 AM EST, in the 10th round, may have been one of the quietest moments in history as millions watched in shock as Tyson laid on the canvas unable to find his mouth piece, his legs, or his will to continue. I had just witnessed the fall of a giant. The unbeatable had just tasted defeat. Say what you may about Mike Tyson and his life outside of the ring, his lisps, and “extensive” vocabulary, but no one expected him to lose that fight, or any fight. He was well on his way to becoming the most “unforgettable undefeated” fighter ever.
Equally as memorable as the knockout was his post fight interview when he asserted, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.” The events of that night and Tyson’s post fight statement underscores the unpredictability of the sport that makes it so intriguing, and why every match, no matter the opponent, is an upset waiting to happen. No matter how good or bad the opponent is, a boxer is only one punch away from being knocked out or one point away from losing a decision. One punch or one point could dramatically change the course of a boxer’s life.
Let’s play a little game. I want you to review the list of names below and count how many you know from each column.
Muhammed Ali Rocky Marciano
Oscar De La Hoya Joe Calzaghe
Roberto Duran Sven Ottke
Julio Ceaser Chavez Ike Ibeabuchi
Sugar Ray Leonard Harry Simon
George Foreman Edwin Valero
Joe Frazier Terry Marsh
Joe Louis Ji-Won Kim
Mike Tyson Michael Loewe
I am going to assume that you recognized more names from the left compared to those on the right. You many not have even known that the names on the right are boxers as well. What they all have in common is that they are all in the World Boxing Federation Hall of Fame. What makes them different is the fact the boxers on the left have all lost multiple fights (ranging from 3-16) and the boxers on the right are undefeated. For most of the fighters on the left, they returned stronger after each defeat. They actually became better boxers after each loss because their weaknesses were exposed and they learned from them.
Boxing is very similar to life and there is a lot we can learn from the sport.
- Having an undefeated record can be a burden. Once you have lost a fight, the pressure to be perfect is somewhat diminished. Those who have lost always seem to bring a little something extra to their next fight.
- Don’t be afraid to get in the ring even when you think you are outclassed. Take on challenging assignments. If you are reluctant or afraid, ask yourself “what is the worst that could happen?” You may be wildly successful or you may get knocked out, but …see #3
- No one individual loss is the end of your career. We have become so obsessed with perfection that we overlook the opportunity in defeat.
- A good offense is often your best defense, however, you must remember to protect yourself at all times. One should be aggressive in pursuing their professional and personal goals, but we aware of the blind spots that can be developed in doing so. Examples of protecting yourself from those blinds spots may include developing relationships in other areas of the company, seeking out feedback, acquiring additional skill sets that will make you more attractive across diverse areas of the company, and building external relationship.
I don’t want to take away anything from those fighters that have gone undefeated, but the reason many of them became “forgettable” is because retaining the ’0′ became more important than giving memorable performances, and in the end, being undefeated didn’t result it the fame they though it would deliver.
So do you want to be undefeated or unforgettable?
*Numbers in parentheses reflect losses: Joe Louis (3), Muhammed Ali (5), George Foreman (5), Joe Frazier (4), Roberto Duran (16), Sugar Ray Leonard (3), Oscar De La Hoya (6), Julio Ceaser Chavez (6), and Mike Tyson (6)