Some Knockout Wisdom

“Do not listen with the intent to reply, but listen with the intent to understand.”


Age thirteen.

After reading a book about Heavyweight Boxing Champion Floyd Patterson, I ask for a punching bag for Christmas, the kind that looks like a peanut – sometimes called a speed bag. When it was delivered to the house, my father attached it to the basement ceiling for me. I opened the instruction book and there was a picture of Rocky Marciano, the only Heavyweight Boxing Champion to retire undefeated. In his career he won all of his forty nine fights with forty three coming by way of knockout. And now The champ was going to teach me how to hit my new punching bag.

It was set at eye level, just the way Rocky instructed. “Punch the bag straight on with your fist, then after it rebounds roll your wrist and hit the bag with the back of your hand,” the champ said. “Now keep it going alternating left and right hands,” Rocky, known as The Brockton Blockbuster, continued. I studied everything he had to say. In due time I was making music on my punching bag, incorporating moves with my hands, elbows, and even my head.

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Age seventy.

You’re invited to follow me to the YMCA, I’m still making music on the punching bag. Enjoy the show!

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A speed bag has an important role in a boxer’s training – sharpening their hand-eye coordination.

After a short and sometimes painful amateur career as a boxer, I soon decided that in the long run I would do better as a fan. You might think that men who hammer on each others heads would not have much common sense to share with the rest of us. After listening to some champions, I discovered that notion was false. They do indeed have some knockout wisdom for all of us.

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“I never went to bed in my life and I never ate a meal in my life without saying a prayer.

I know my prayers have been answered thousands of times,

 and I know that I never said a prayer in my life without something good coming of it.”

Jack Dempsey, Heavyweight Boxing Champion 1919-1926

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“We all have the same God, we just serve him differently.

Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, oceans all have different names, but they all contain water.

So do religions have different names,

and they all contain truth expressed in different ways, forms, and times.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew.

When you believe in God, you should believe that all people are part of one family.

If you love God, you can’t love only some of his children.”

Muhammad Ali, The Greatest

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“It’s easy to do anything in victory.

It’s in defeat that a man reveals himself.”

Floyd Patterson, first boxer to regain the Heavyweight Championship after being knocked out