Finding Strength in Difficult Times: The Story of the Hero and the Coward

Arash Hashemi
Photo Credit: Arash Hashemi via Wikimedia Commons

We all experience difficult times throughout our lifetime. Some are more trying and problematic than others but through them all, we can learn from those experiences, either in a negative or a positive manner. Legendary NFL football coach, Bill Parcells, once told the following story (paraphrased a little) that illustrated the power of perseverance and determination of an athlete that experienced a grueling and challenging situation and emerged a winner because of it.

More than 30 years ago, there was a well-known, hard hitting boxer named Eugene “the Cyclone” Hart. Hart was heavily favored to win his next bout against a supposedly ungifted puncher, Vita Antuofermo. It was said that the only thing that Antuofermo could do was that “he bled well.” But, here’s the important thing, he had good attributes that you couldn’t see.”

During the fight, Hart dominated Antuofermo, knocking him all over the ring, giving him punishing blows and vicious punches. Antuofermo absorbed the punishment that was dealt to him by his naturally superior opponent, and he did it so well, that Hart became discouraged. In the fifth round, Hart began to tire, not physically but mentally. Taking advantage of the situation, Antuofermo attacked and delivered a series of quick punches that knocked Hart down and out, thus ending the fight.

“When the fighters went back to their makeshift locker rooms, only a thin curtain was between them. Hart’s room was quiet, but on the other side he could hear Antuofermo’s cornerman talking about who would take the fighter to the hospital. Finally he heard Antuofermo say, “every time he hit me with that left hook to the body, I was sure I was going to quit. After the second round, I thought if he hit me there again, I’d quit. I thought the same thing after the fourth round. Then he didn’t hit me no more.”

“At that moment, Hart began to weep. It was really soft at first. Then harder. He was crying because for the first time he understood that Antuofermo had felt the same way he had and worse. The only thing that separated the guy talking from the guy crying was what they had done. The coward and the hero had the same emotions. They’re both humans.”

The important question to ask yourself here is this: how did each man respond to the tough situation that they were experiencing? Maybe you are in an arduous position right now or, if not, one might be coming. How will you react? Like a hero or a coward?

The Real Heart of A Lion

Billy_Miske_portrait
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Many of us struggle with a times of trouble or hardship during their lifetime. There are two directions that a person can go when they are experiencing a tough situation: they can either learn from it and become stronger because of what they have learned…or they can become negative, bitter and dwell on the quagmire of pessimism.

The people that make up their minds to overcome a bad situation by working hard and remaining focused on the task-at-hand, usually find themselves becoming a better, happier person despite of their unfortunate circumstance.

Thus is the story that I found recently on totalprosports.com that tells the tale of a successful boxer who competed almost 90 years ago. His story is a great reminder to us the importance of enjoying the things that you do and when unpleasant times come your way…you can overcome ANYTHING…if you put your mind to it!!


 

Billy Miske (1894-1924) was by all accounts one of the most under-appreciated boxers of his era. He had a record of 48-2-2, which included wins against some of the biggest names in boxing and losses to two champions. But it’s not Miske’s boxing prowess that makes his story inspirational. It’s his willingness and determination to make the ultimate sacrifice for his family.

You see, Miske was diagnosed with a terminal kidney disease by his doctor, given 5 years to live, and told to retire. However, because he knew his family was depending on him financially, he kept jumping the ring and told no one—not even his wife—about his illness. Eventually, after a one-round knockout loss to the great Jack Dempsey, he finally decided to call it quits. But just 11 months later, with his family struggling to get by, Miske somehow conned promotors into giving him a huge fight.

By this time, he could barely walk and thus could not train for the fight. Nevertheless, he entered the ring and knocked out his younger opponent in the 4th round. He took the $2,400 he earned to buy back furniture he hap pawned several years ago, as well as some toys for his kids and a piano for his wife. Then he died just a week later at the age of 29.

Think about that next time you complain about your job.

The Day Jim Brown Fought Muhammad Ali

Sportsgrid
Photo Credit: Sportsgrid.com

Here’s an interesting account of the day Hall of Fame footballer, Jim Brown fought boxing legend, Muhammad Ali.

I think we have all wondered at some time in our lives what it would be like if two super heroes got together and fought it out. Superman vs. Iron Man. The Rock vs. The Incredible Hulk. Batman vs. Captain America. But what about famous sports stars or Hall of Famers?

This is an amazing story, written by Ryan Wilson, that I found a while ago, about two of the greatest athletes of all time and the one time that they faced off against each other. This is a short but fascinating account of this meeting.

During his nine-year playing career, Hall of Famer and former Browns running back Jim Brown was known for his unmatched athleticism and legendary toughness. Not only was he the best player of his era, he was one of the best players ever. In addition to what he accomplished on the football field, in college at Syracuse, Brown was a second-team All-American in basketball and a first-team All-American in lacrosse.

Given that he excelled at just about anything he tried, it’s not surprising that Brown briefly considered boxing after he retired from the NFL in 1965 at the age of 29. Specifically: Brown wanted to get in the ring with then-heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. And not just for a sparring match but for a full-on fight.

Brown had introduced promoter Bob Arum to Ali, so Arum felt that he owed Brown the courtesy of at least checking with the heavyweight champ to gauge his interest. This was 1966, Brown was a year removed from football and pursuing his acting career, and Ali was 24 and in his prime.

So Arum took Brown’s message to the champ. The details, via this fantastic profile of Arum (who turns 81 Saturday) by Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix.

“So I went to talk to Ali,” Arum told Mannix. “He says, ‘Jim wants to do what? Bring him here.’ So I took him to Hyde Park in London, where Ali used to run. Ali said, ‘Jimmy, here’s what we’re going to do: You hit me as hard as you can.’ So Brown starts swinging and swinging, and he can’t hit him. He’s swinging wildly and not even coming close. This goes on for, like, 30 seconds. Then Ali hits him with this quick one-two to his face. Jimmy just stops and says, ‘OK, I get the point.'”

Think about that for a second. Jim Brown — who routinely trucked some the biggest, strongest and fastest athletes on the planet — couldn’t even touch Ali…that is mind-blowing!

 

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Read more stories on my publications site at http://www.broowaha.com/articles/16465/the-day-jim-brown-fought-muhammad-ali#EVlu8v6MHMLYFI2b.99

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