Mayweather V. McGregor: How One Hoser's Love Of Boxing Was Built
I don't remember my age at the time, early teens, but I got completely smoked in the face and buckled.
Junior hockey was a right of passage. It's typically the first time you're away from home to grow your skills as a hockey player in order to make it to the next level. Back in the early 2k's is when I suited up and loved every minute.
Sometime in early September, our team bus was crossing the border from Montana into Alberta, where we were going to play against the Canadian boys to see how we faired. It was my first time playing against competition that had the capability (and some did) of receiving D1 scholarships and playing in the pros. We had a good team. Young, but solid hockey players.
We pulled into Wainwright, AB and found our lodging. We were staying on an Air Force base. In this tournament, there were teams from all over, with the majority from Alberta, and Saskatchewan. We all stayed in the barracks and ate with the soldiers. It was a great experience for a bunch of teenage boys. They held us accountable. Great overall experience.
We knew nothing about the other teams, except for stories from a couple of the older guys of these teams being big and dirty. 'Okay', I thought, 'They're just trying to scare the younger guys'. Well, they weren't...these 'kids' were man children. Built like grown ass men. And all of them could skate and play hockey....they also lived up to their reputation. While we thought they were dirty at the time, they just played hard nosed hockey, and I got a taste of it first hand...or should I say first fist.
The game was coming along good and we were winning. Being the first time we ever played in a real game with one another, each guy was trying to show our teammates and coaches the type of player we were. I was never a skilled guy but was gritty. I was a grinder. So, when a clapper came in from the point and their goalie smothered it, I thought I'd try to jar is loose. Nope.
Now, prior to Wainwright, my hockey fighting consisted of locker boxing where guys put on helmets and gloves and swing at each other in the locker room. I've never been in a legit hockey fight where guys dropped the gloves and tried to make the other bleed. I guess it was my time to learn.
I still wore a birdcage because of my age, but this big ol' boy from Lloydminster ripped off my helmet with ease and before I could even blink, he cracked me square in the eye socket. It sounded like a carton of eggs cracking and I immediately fell to the ice. It hurt.
After playing that year, I got back east and told my parents I needed to learn how to fight. My dad was a skilled guy and was against it, but by all accounts, I sucked and needed to make my way in the game I love. With hesitation, I was enrolled in a boxing gym.
I remember my first session. I puked everywhere. Hockey is a tough sport on your body, so we often think we're in good shape, but nothing matches up to boxing. I made it through that first session though, where I only hit a bag with other exercises. I was hooked though. I remained a staple at the gym for years later until I moved. It helped me throughout my hockey career, but also taught me more about self-discipline and reading people more than anything.
Boxing is a calculated sport and I...we...are excited to see this bout between Mayweather and McGregor. Not sure who will win, but both dudes are specimens that have trained their asses off to get here. Whoever wins tonight, maybe they can have a rematch on skates to please us hockey folks. ;)