OPINION: What boxing taught me about life

You may not know that Dayton has a rich history of boxing, including bouts by Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey and other boxing greats. Joe Louis knocked out Biff Bennett during an exhibition match at Memorial Hall in 1935. Nowadays, “Knockout Dayton” and “Fight Night” are two of the current local boxing matches. Both support good causes.

Knockout Dayton, hosted by Drakes Downtown Gym and Knockout Events LLC, happened in early April at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.It showcased several local boxers, and helped raise money for Brigid’s Path, a charity that provides inpatient medical care for drug-exposed newborns.

Fight Night, at Memorial Hall in February, featured two teams of men and women boxers against one another. Fighters trained for several weeks with Jeff Brown, founder of Brown Institute of Martial Arts. The event raised money for Dayton History, a non-profit organization associated with Carillon Historical Park that collects, displays and interprets local history. About 1,500 people attended the event in 2017.

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I volunteered at both Knockout Dayton and Fight Night this year.

During the matches, I remembered some of the information we learned in a Sports Psychology class I took a few years ago. Many of these skills apply to boxing, but they could probably help the average man or woman get better results in life.

Many coaches and trainers believe that sports success is often a combination of strength, speed, balance, coordination, accuracy, agility and endurance, along with the necessary sports-related skills. Attitude and sports psychology can also play a large role. Here are a few of the categories we learned in the class:

Determination: Boxers need strong determination, especially if they are matched against a stronger opponent. Determination consists of your motivation or the inner drive that propels you toward a goal, despite any temporary setbacks.

Resilience: The ability to persevere despite mistakes, setbacks or failure is vital for virtually any success. Resilience consists of the ability to recover from a mistake, the ability to fight and stand your ground, and mental toughness to control your emotions and prevail regardless the setback you have suffered.

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Performing in the moment: Develop your skills so that you trust yourself to perform well in the moment. Top athletes trust their skills and they stay focused in the moment, rather than trying to remember the way they are supposed to perform.

Anger: This is when you allow your emotions to turn negative in the face of problems. Top athletes direct their anger at an obstacle or circumstance standing between them and their goal. This is especially relevant in boxing, where an angry fighter often swings wildly and runs out of energy.

Courage: The ability to act despite fear. Your ability to face an obstacle (or a determined opponent) and maintain your strategy can make a big difference in success or failure.

Koroko: This is a martial-arts term for indomitable spirit. It means to simply refuse to accept defeat. It goes beyond simply enduring a situation, to throwing your entire spirit into the effort of defeating the challenge. Make never giving up a habit that you practice daily.

True, most of us won’t ever step into a boxing ring — but by being aware of some of these sports psychology skills, the average person can improve their day-to-day performance in many areas.

Rick Sheridan, one of our regular community contributors, teaches communications at Wilberforce University.

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