Picture the scene, 3 nights ago, I’m sat in the ‘Blue Corner’ dressing room, an hour before my Charity White Collar Boxing fight, focussing on my tactics, quietly listening to loud music, trying to pretend that I’m not so nervous I could vomit…..when in walks Elvis. No really, Elvis walked in, carrying a set of boxing pads and a water bottle. He quietly announces, “I’m in your corner tonight”.
Eight weeks of crazy training (see here) had brought me to this; a quiet room at Mere Golf & Country Club above a noisy room of 500 people, ready to watch eight fights, the brutality of which I don’t think anyone expected.
As the 30 minute warning was made, Elvis walked over to me and told me it was time to start getting ready. “Get in your shorts son, don’t forget your groin protector”. Not quite Blue Suede Shoes, but sound advice all the same.
No sooner had I got dressed in my boxing shorts, (with groin protector – an oversized black rubber nappy) then strapped and taped my hands up, Elvis handed me my gloves with the instruction, “Let’s get you warm”. The next 5 minutes were fairly surreal, I tried to punch Elvis.
Combinations, straight jabs, hooks, footwork. Then rest. Then repeat. Each time giving little pearls of wisdom. “Focus on the first round, keep your jabs going, don’t waste energy; I’ll tell you what to do in the second”. And that was it. Elvis had left the building – or at least, headed to get his coat for the walk to the ring.
I entered the event room, bright lights, loud music, 500 people looking at my entrance and walk to the ring. I was the first fighter for the first bout. No pressure then. Slow walk down to the ring, lots of cheers and alcohol fuelled expectation. Those at ringside could smell my nerves. Stood in my corner, waiting for my opponent to enter.
I was told he was 61kg to my 63kg. He wasn’t. As the announcer announced, Paul ‘Silky’ Smith’s stats, 69kg and he looked like a bulldog. 6kg is a lot. But Elvis remained cool, “You’ve got this one, just listen to me”.
Round one. The strategy was to block, take punches and let him tire out. I took punches but halfway through he was still dishing them out. I was getting a beating. By the end of that first round I was just glad to sit down. I’d spotted ‘Silky’s’ open mouth gasping for breath, a sign that he was tiring already, I was in a rough way, nose & mouth bleeding and eye already swelling, but with the sign of a tiring opponent, I threw a body hook at his ribs and winded him.
“Ok, this is your round” Elvis calmly told me. “You’ve not done as bad as you think, you’ve already hurt him”. Then the Memphis promise. “Listen to me, trust me. You can win this. Listen to me”. Thoughts flashed from my wife sat inches away at ringside, to my daughter (hopefully) fast asleep at grandparents. Elvis interrupted, “Unleash your right hand. Big punch. Straightaway, then body hooks”. As if an echo, my trainer the amazing Glenn said the same thing. The 10 second call. I closed my eyes, and visualised what I had to do. Fitness was always going to be my winning strength. Weeks of training my heart-rate to get from 170bpm to under 100bpm in a minute meant I was starting the round fresh. If a little bruised/swollen/battered/bleeding.
Round two. I don’t remember getting off the chair, I just remember throwing a dummy left then the requested big right. It worked. “Keep going, keep moving forward” the instructions came from both Elvis and Glenn. I did. “Go for the body”. I did. “Keep on him”. I did. Round two was mine.
“Now just do that again. Use your rights; use your hooks” was all Elvis said as I sat down. I did. 40 seconds in, ‘Silky’ was on the canvas. Standing count. 10 seconds later he was down again, 2 ribs broken. 10 seconds later it was all over. (Video of Round 3 below)
Elvis just stood there smiling. He punched my glove with a grin. “Told you, you had this one”.
So many things to learn from those 5 minutes and 7 seconds. Boxing is a LOT tougher than you realise. My current status of two VERY black eyes and a nose that makes Mike Tindall’s look like Tinkerbell’s tells you that.
But moreso believing, and listening to people that know what they are talking about. 8 weeks of twice daily training made a huge difference, 150+ training hours conditioned my body, but the few minutes of conditioning that my mind had, was what made the biggest difference: “The wonder of you”.
For the second time in a year, I was able to bounceback from seeming defeat. The scenarios were very different, but the drive was the same. Belief. As Henry Ford famously stated, and every NLP luminary since has preached, “Whether you believe you will succeed or believe you will fail, you are right”. As Elvis said, “Only fools rush in”.
The win is great. Everyone loves receiving the plaudits of victory, but to have come back from the back foot makes the victory sweeter. Take your lead from those who know. In life, in business, most certainly in recruitment. Find your voice….., Listen, Understand, then Act.
Have Elvis in your corner.
The final round….Gary ‘IronMan‘ Chaplin (Black Shorts) Vs Paul ‘Silky‘ Smith (Blue Shorts)
More photos from the fight HERE
Still chance to support the fundraising for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital HERE
Thanks also to Laura Wolfe, Anthony Turner, Jennie Johnson, Paul Kilroe, Paul McKoen and most of all, the beleaguerd Mrs Chaplin for sitting ringside to cheer me on (and in Laura’s case scream motivational tips…yes that is her you can hear on the video)