Manny Wannabe (Alternatively called Wannabe Manny)

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Written on 1:32 PM by isko b. doo

I was in 3rd year high school when my father brought us boys boxing gloves. Eager to break them in, my brothers and I took turns bashing our face with those leathers. Of course, it started with pretend, you know when you only use half of your strength, but in the middle of the bout, somebody always punched harder than intended and the game is on. By the end of each "pretend" fight, we are already sporting a mouse underneath our eyes or our cheekbones.

About an hour or so, our cousins are already joining in the fray. We matched up, regardless of weight, because whatever the rules are and it didn't matter that you're overmatched but you didn't back down from a direct challenge.

Words traveled fast. By nightfall, boys from other areas milled around after hearing about boxing matches. What else was there to do? We had to show them our hospitality, right?

Fights ensued. We matched up and in my first fight I held my own. I was quite skinny but my hands were quick. I overwhelmed my opponent with a barrage of punches. Jab, straight, right and left hook, uppercuts. He had no other choice but to hold his hands pathetically in defense and I dug under his ribcages and he folded. A textbook beating. My father was beaming.

My oldest brother also suckered punch his foe. A phantom left hook that sent his opponent eating dirt (He's got a strong left hook, which I personally tasted during one of our pretend fights. Rattled my damn brain inside my skull).

Those times were fun and I slowly earned a reputation as a thinking boxer. Boys knew of me, look me down over and thought they could take me. I always oblige. Looking back, my strategy was faulty. My fight plan was to come in fast and strong, knowing the first instinct of an novice fighter was to put his hands up to defend the face and with his gloves up his eyes, he was practically blind and I had the edge. That strategy, however, has one flaw: with no training, I could only punch in short bursts before I get tired.

And so it was that a boy who lived on the coastline were pummeling the bejesus of all his opponents. His name was "Dalos" and he was supposed to have had some amateur training from some hotshot boxing trainer. He didn't talk much, letting his father chose the matchups for him. I saw him fight and he had a good defense while maintaining his balance. He utilized his jabs well and he had a mean straight. I thought he had no weakness, until I saw him fold after his brother whacked his ribcage. So that's it.

You might be wondering why I was interested in the way he fights. Well, you see, I knew at some point I would fight him. I was a little taller than him but remember about the fights matched up regardless of weight? well, this guy was ripped! (hardened by poverty no doubt, while I was a spoiled brat).

The inevitable happened. After days of putting off, I had to face this guy. I knew I was overmatched (he played organized boxing for God's sake!) but I had a game plan. I was going to fight him on the outside and concentrate on the body for I knew I could not hurt his granite face.
The referee (his father) gave the go signal. We circled and danced. He was putting his hands in defense, slowly stalking me. I jabbed, testing the distance between us. He flicked my jabs off like he would a bug. He stared at me from between his gloves, I jabbed again and this time, I threw in a left hook to his face and his sides. I heard him grunt and the next grunt I heard was mine when he caught me right in my smacker. Man, that hurt and I was incensed!

I moved in and gave him everything I got. I forgot about my fight plan and just heaved in a torrent of fists in his direction. If it had been a storybook ending, my quickness would have overcome his strength, buckled after a pummeling, and I would have ridden off towards the sunset with my winning gloves around my neck.

But this was no fairytale.

Instead of yielding, he punched back (which was not part of my game plan, you know) and punched some more. It was my turn to put my hands up in pathetic defense. I stepped back but He moved in for the kill. I didn't even see his punches but I felt every single one of them. One punched rocked my head so far back that I felt my eyes slamming at the back of my skull. It was a wonder how I remained standing.

I lost that fight and badly. I knew coming in that I was overmatched but I thought I could win with the right game plan and a dash of charisma. Lesson learned?

Underdogs don't always win because life ain't no Rocky movie.



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1 Comment

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