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05-10-2006, 07:30 PM
Writer turned fighter: Sweet darkness
By Benny Henderson Jr. from Dog House boxing

Benny Henderson Jr.
Three months ago I stepped in the ring as a professional boxer. With no prior knowledge of the business I was pretty much lost in the woods without a guide. In this business you get two things starting off, you get opponents or you are the opponent, a lot of newcomers get cut and thrown out in the middle of the ocean, and I certainly didn’t want to get thrown out to the sharks in my first go around but what would be would be.

I always had this dream of fighting, I wanted to know what it felt like to make the walk out to the ring, to hear my name announced, how I would react to getting punched, could I knock a guy out, what a victory felt like. I wanted it all, maybe the experience would better my writing ability as a writer with the inside look of the ‘sweet science’, and I wanted to take the readers along to share my experiences.

So three months into my journey I have learned a few things about the boxing world as a professional fighter, and it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. So in this article I will give you the inside scoop of my journey, may not be all that goes on in the fight world, but it has been my experiences, enjoy.

5. Training is everything

Throw out the Rocky theme that crap is for dreamers, the reality is preparing for a fight isn’t all in the physical training, mental toughness rules all. If you have the determination, drive and discipline you can go far, but you have to have the time as well. See we all know that working out is important, you have to have gym time, fighters are made in the gym they say, but when you hold down a full time job, with a family, and a handful of other responsibilities the gym time is down to a minimum. So although you tell all that you are prepared for the match, you are winging it, hoping you can catch the guy right off the bat with a hard pop shot that drops his butt to the canvas or at least keeps him off of you out of fear of your ump. So you have to make time, you have to be mentally strong to overpower your body when it is telling you to go to bed, you have to get that extra round in, that extra few minutes on the treadmill. I was told by the Marines that when your mind starts telling you to quit that it is actually the weakness leaving your body. Well, I was never a Marine and I had my reasoning and I am sure the weaknesses are still there, training is everything, and the mental aspect of it all controls all. So mental toughness is a major factor.

4. Keep your hands up at all times

Funny thing, keeping your hands up sounds like an easy job, commonsense will tell you to cover up at all times, you hear it before every fight, “Protect yourself at all times”. When the ball rang all I wanted to do was hit the guy right in his nose, end it like a man, be the warrior I was supposed to be, grunt like war hog! But one thing I forgot, my opponent was thinking the very same thing. When the bell rings your mind, or at least my mind was running crazy, all this fight plan is right there in my noggin ready to unfold as I seen it play out a thousand times before, but the guy won’t do what I want him to do! He hit me! So I say to youngsters wanting in this biz to prepare your self for pain. They say your adrenaline is so high you can’t fell it, dang that! I felt it.

3. Prepare for criticism

Besides working your butt off preparing for a fight, getting hit, or tasting defeat or earning a victory you better prepare yourself for harsh criticism. You travel to somebody’s hometown you are not going to be liked, and they have no shame in letting you know how sorry you are.

With two fights under my belt I have received emails calling me out, calling me a bum, been racked on a forum or two blah blah blah! First off respect is earned not given, I understand that, but come on man, give a brother some love. Ah, actually you have to have thick skin, especially when you are a big old cornbread eating country boy as I am. And fight fans can be pretty colorful with their cut downs, for instance your typical slur goes as such, “You fat bastard go home!” Now, straight from the mouth of a fight fan, “Hey, you fat toad sucking donkey fart aardvark smelling obese Broke Back boxing bastard, go back to Texas and do it with your horse!” That guy asked for two autographs and for one picture with his son after I won. It isn’t personal, so don’t take it personal, the very ones who say you suck probably would never stand in your shoes, so let it roll off your shoulders, keep your head and hands up and stick to your fight plan.

2. Credibility counts

Everybody under the sun has their opinions on what you should or should not do as a fighter, some who have stated their thoughts never seen ring time, never seen a fight or even been in a fight, but they know exactly what you should do. Approach the situation like this: whoever gives advice, make sure he or she knows what they are talking about. They have to have creditably to their claims, so be sure to find the right person to walk you through the moment. If he isn’t a mechanic, don’t let him work on your car, you get my drift.

1. If you can’t trust them, you don’t need them

There are sharks in them wasters, and they smell blood! Before you ever, and I stress ever, sign anything with anybody in this business, make sure they are legit and trustworthy. You can walk into a blissful situation and be in the eye of the storm. Luckily I didn’t sign as I was told I had to do, and now I am out of the situation that cost me money. I don’t care if you are told the fight will be an easy one, if they say it is a for sure win, you get what you are worth! Do not let promoters, managers or whoever run you over, you should be treated fairly, I don’t care who you are or how bad you are in the ring, you are somebody!

My short walk in the business of professional boxing has really opened my eyes to a different world. As a fan of the sport you hear about it, as a writer you see it from time to time, as a fighter, you are in it, what is it? The ‘sweet darkness’, yes, the business side that can really break it off in you, it is probably better to just watch form a distance than getting your hands dirty, walking in the snake pit as I call it. The ‘sweet science’ of the sport is just beautiful; to watch your heroes of the ring duke it out in some unforgettable bout is something we all can appreciate. But some Cracker Jack manager/promoter taking advantage of a gullible wannabe is what sickens me as well as others. They are the ones who give boxing a bad name, the reason the sport is diminishing.

So be sure to take note of this before you make the walk as a professional fighter, be prepared to train hard, keep your hands up and your chin down, prepare for the criticism, find legit people to work around you, and do not do business with anybody you can’t trust. It’s your career, it’s your fight, and it’s your life, live it as you feel.

Writers Note: I wrote this article as well as the other ‘Writer Turned Fighter’ write-ups with the intention to let the readers know a bit of my journey, a different level than some but still boxing. To let them get a glimpse of what I have seen which isn’t much. As of now I am no longer fighting in this sport, 2-0 (2 KO’s) is as far as I have gotten. I was set to fight May 6th in Oklahoma City, a fight that I took on a seventy-two hours notice, and would have won in my opinion but opted to take the fight when all I was getting was the run around as my two other fights. In two fights my income was -$350, I made $0 in my debut after traveling six hours, I wasn’t informed of my pay until I was about to tape up for the fight itself, my pay sheet said $0 and that was what I received. My second fight I was offered another whopping $0, but after haggling I received $200, then I had to take out gas, food and a room from that pay, so add it all up and you can see that I am in the hole.

The good thing is that I was matched well and didn’t taste defeat, so at least I kept that intact, and I am grateful for that much. As a fighter I was just ignorant, I took what I was told to take and didn’t ask questions, when I did ask, well let’s just say it, I was disrespected. All I want is respect as anybody else in the sport. I want to thank everybody and I mean everybody for their advice, the ones who stuck with me, the ones who emailed me and gave me encouragement, heck, even the ones who bash me, you are all part of it. As of now I am retired from the sport so to speak until further notice.

Do I want to continue? Yes, but only with somebody I can trust and won’t ask me to write some dumb article to lift them up in the sport, somebody who can be respectful to their fighters and not try to screw them over. So if I can’t find that person I will remain just a writer.

Thank you everybody for reading, it was one heck of a ride, short, but worth the experience. I did get to live out my dream!

The “Big Dog”
Benny Henderson Jr.

05-10-2006, 08:04 PM
Paul gallico launched his writing career by getting into the ring with dempsey.
In training camp when he was getting ready for firpo . Hype igoe said i here
your fighting dempsey. Paul said were only going to fool around. Hype repiled
son dont you know the man cant take it easy . Three jabs into the 1 st round and dempey knocked him out. Hard way to get a story .