Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Get it together - think before you kick box

Health problems. Yup, we all have them from time to time.

And yes, they’re annoying every single time and every single one of them.  Health problems can stop you doing what you want to do, stop you having fun and usually we ignore them or set ourselves up to have them.  Oh yes.  True story.

Let’s take me for instance.  For you noters and haters out there – yes, I use myself as an example quite often. Why?  Because my mama bought me up to respect people and therefore I only use examples about me because I know me, I can’t presume to know you or anyone else.  My examples are not because I’m some egotistical swell-head.  If you think otherwise, you’re a tool.

So, like I said, down through the years, I've been a great example of what not to do and what can happen as a result.  Thankfully those days are long behind me, I’m waaaaay smarter now.
Yup, I’m so smart these days.
S.M.R.T. like a fox.

Now this post is not some “woe is me” or “check me out I do martial arts” or some ego driven rant to impress, no, the story you’re about to read about me is disappointing.  It’s not a cool story about my past at all.  It’s dumb and embarrassing. 

I’m hoping that by me sharing this, you’ll get up off your a$$ and go to the doctor if you need to or you’ll change something you’re currently doing that’s not good for you long (or even short) term.

So here we go;

Back some 25 something years ago, I used to fight professionally.  Yep, fighting.  Punching, kicking, kneeing, elbowing, the works.  No, I was not in some underground fight club or in a circle of cars with their headlights on.  This was actual international kick boxing – back then it was all very new here in New Zealand but just what I needed to get fight trained rather than just learning how to fight. 
There was a big advertised fight – my last professional fight as it turned out, doctors’ orders.  I was in the headline title bout, the main event.  The promoters were serious about getting in the big crowds and were going nuts on advertising.  A prize purse to the winner, smaller peanuts to the looser.  Either way I was going to be able to buy a nice car since all I had was my Mum’s calf poo coloured Mazda 323.

My opponent (who I’m not going to name – you’ll see why further down) and I were the heavy weight contenders.  We were both interviewed on Radio BOP, 89.8 Kiwi FM and some hip hop station in Auckland who’d signed on as a sponsor. 

I remember the fight night, spectators were something around 3,000 and I was nervous.  I was geared up though, 6 months’ worth of prep under my belt and leaning in at around 6% body fat.  I was confident, had a good record in the ring with a few knock-outs, no losses and plenty of training behind me.  I was ready to rock n roll…so I thought. 

My opponent had a better record in the ring since I didn’t have too many fights (I didn’t like the attention) and he had a longer reach – he was 6.4ft to my 6.2ft.  Odds going in were with him, although I hadn’t been classified as a long shot by any means.  It was to be a legitimate fight for a new title – BOP Heavyweight Champion. 

Round one and my opponent show boated immediately – crowd favourite - and he did his best to make me look bad, fairly successfully as it turned out.  End of round one I was ahead on points, he was up in popularity.

Round two.  He was moving around like Mohammad Ali, openly mocking me and laughing at any technique I missed, and there were a few.  The crowd were eating it up and I remembering feeling like I should’ve never signed up for this, he was beating me up mentally and I knew it.  It’s weird being perceived as the bad guy when you’re not a bad guy. 
Round two finished up with him ahead on points and on popularity.

Now we’ll just stop here for a second.  You might be wondering what all this has to do with health problems.  Keep reading, trust me.

Round three and that’s when things went sour.
“Lemon mixed with sour lollies mixed with more sour lemons” sour.
It went bad.
Early in the third.  He raised his arms above his head and wanted me to kick him in the side. 
I complied.  It went red immediately but he took it.  He also (unfortunately) stayed standing and laughed it off.  I knew I’d hurt him but less than I hoped.  He was still playing up for the crowd, made fun of my kicks power.

Middle of the third started with a hiss and a roar after I knocked him down (nothing fancy).  He got back up and got me to kick him in the side again.  The crowd went nuts.  I remember the noise from the crowd being deafening.

I ignored the crowd for a bit until they starting turning, they got really rowdy and booing started – booing me.  Then the abuse came, particularly nasty too.  All this negativity aimed at me, by lots and lots of people, all people getting really angry because I was refusing to put my arms up.  Even my opponent’s corner staff was mocking me.

Now like most of you know already, I’m not one for bending to peer pressure, even from crowds. 
But on this night, I did.  All because I’d been getting annoyed. 

And that was my bad decision.

We traded about 5 solid kicks each before I started to feel “off”, like something was wrong.  He had still been going strong, loving it just like the crowd were and I was getting hurt. 

I remember thinking I was going to lose and prove all of them right. I was going to be the bad guy who got a hiding from the good guy.  I knew I wasn't the bad guy. 

I put everything I had into the next three kicks and I hit him with everything I had left.  After the first kick I saw his face change, the second I really hurt him, and finally when he really started fading, I finished him off quickly as I could, much to everyone’s surprise.  Third round TKO.

After the fight I found out he’d put together this game plan that involved us trading off kicks until I dropped – he’d wanted to make me look like a fool, a loser.  This went well beyond normal pre-fight media stuff.  He was subsequently fined $2k for bad sportsmanship which was lucky for him since he’d taken a bribe ($2k) if he could do it.  As a side note, the promoter is no longer a promoter anymore either. 

Now I don’t look back on this as something cool or something awesome.  It was a horrible night and I paid dearly for that bad decision in the ring. 

But why should any of this make any difference now to you, 25 something odd years later?

Well, I may have won that fight…but I lost a kidney. 

I also couldn't work for about 18 months as doctors did angiograms, angioplasty’s and opened me up to stent the damage trying to save it.  Eventually they called time and sucked it out. 

That single bad decision to lift my arms up affected me three weeks after that fight (and scaring my new doctor half to death with a blood pressure reading he’d never seen before) and forever more.
I’ve been on blood pressure medication to keep my BP under control since that day, taking two pills every day which I will have to do for the rest of my life.  
Even just last week doctors changed my medication and neglected to tell me there’d be side effects of dizziness and nausea as my system adjusts.  This had me off work sick for several days. 

All this from a decision I made in a fight I had over 25 years ago.

So what can you take out of this stupidity of mine and hopefully avoid anything like this yourself?
My suggestions are easy.
  •      Simple one first - don’t professionally kick box for a living. Money is good but the body punishment is not.
  •      Like the old proverb goes:  “if you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow”.  Same goes for listening to stupid people, avoid them. Trust your instincts and follow them instead.
  •      Pay attention to the world around you but never give in to peer pressure unless it feels safe and right for you – it’s your decision, not your peers. People abusing you should not be enough to make you do what they want in any circumstance.

And the two most important ones of all…
  •      Take care of yourself – if you “think” something might be wrong with you, don’t wait for it to get worse.  Act.  Right at that moment.  Go get something done about it
  •      Be pro-active with your health – especially you men reading this. We’re all shocking at going to the doctors, time to change that. Go get a check-up.

Health is all about the choices we make, big, small and otherwise.  
You've read the articles on sugar, the benefits of this and of that and now here is an example about how one moment/one decision can change things for a life time.  Now sure, my example is a little on the extreme side, but how many choices do you make every day that could affect you for a life time?
  •      Do you drink a couple of bottles/cans of energy drinks every day?  How good do you think that is for you?
  •         How many coffees do you need now to get through your day compared to a year ago?
  •         With smokes so expensive now (and proven to be deadly) what are you doing about it?
  •      How much alcohol do you drink?  Do you think that much is okay?
  •        Do you have to make excuses because you can’t do something because your body won’t let you? 
  •      What about that pain you've got that keeps coming back every now and again, are you going to do anything about it?

Please take responsibility for your health people.  

Everyone else and I reckons you’re worth having around.

Bro' fist bump. Bring it in.