Fueled By Fear
Recently, Ed Latimore and I covered the topic of fear on an episode of Awesome Talks. I spoke openly regarding a few of my fears.
I’m often asked if I’m ever afraid when entering the ring. I’ve conditioned myself not to be. Composure is one of my greatest assets in the squared circle.
I consciously developed this habit after witnessing the patterns of most new boxers. When a boxer has their first fight, they all do the same thing.
The night before a bout, they don’t sleep at all because they are considering every possibility of what might happen in the ring. They visualize every scenario and conceptualize every possible action they might need to take. This is all in vain, because nothing ever goes as planned.
They get out of bed mentally exhausted, but adrenaline keeps them bouncing all the way to weigh-ins. They spend the next 10-12 hours shadow boxing. Nervous energy consumes their body.
After just shy of 24 hours of shear stress on their mind, they enter the ring. This is where the height of fear and nervousness peaks.
As the bell rings, two things happen: all of the fear and nervousness immediately diminishes, and their last ounce of adrenaline kicks in. They go ball-to-the-wall for as long as they have gas in their tank. This usually lasts about 45 seconds. Most of a fighter’s earlier bouts are determined by which fighter is in better shape.
You can usually catch me before a fight laughing and hanging out in the crowd as if I’m a spectator.
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” -Muhammad Ali.
I have the security of knowing that I’ve put in all of the work in my training camp. I have done everything in my power to win this fight. Very little of what wins a fight happens on the day of the fight.
My coach, John Brown, is one of the few coaches who knows this to be true. Coaches have very little relevance on fight day, other than offering comfort in the corner.
Bad habits and poor fundamentals formed in training cannot be resolved in the 60 seconds between each round. One can argue that the cut-man is the most important person of the fighter’s team come fight day.
Once I understood this, I was able to let go of fear. But for me to say I experience zero fear before a bout would be a lie.
Fear wakes me up in the morning. Fear is why I run. Fear is why I do an extra round. Fear is why I take an extra lap; why I do one more set of sprints, hit an extra rep, why I jump rope after my workout is over.
Fear fuels me.
I walk confidently because excess humility allows room for failure. My fear isn’t solely attached to my opponent, his speed, or his power. My fear is attached to my ego, my pride, my reputation.
I know my potential. I know in my heart it is attached to my accomplishments. When I say accomplishments I don’t mean trophies, medals, or Facebook ‘likes’, I mean the feeling of euphoria I receive during the numerous triumphant exchanges won in the ring.
If I were to fear physical pain, I would never enter the ring. If I feared physical pain, I’d never put my body through what I believe is 10 times the amount of pain experienced in preparing my body for the ring.
Physical pain has little effect on me. The pain I fear, is the fear of being exposed due to a lack of preparation. I experienced my greatest fear December 9th of last year during my bout with ***.
I put a higher priority on my fear of not being prepared for the stage, than my fear of not being prepared for a fight.
I was so consumed with booking speaking engagements, developing speaking content, reading, and all that is involved with growing my speaking business, and during that time I lost my drive for boxing.
Before I realized it, I had a week before the national championships. I cut 13-15 pounds every morning before each match. My ego and pride allowed me to make those major cuts. My composure allowed me to make it to the finals.
This would be the only tournament that I’ve experienced fear. I knew I was experiencing this feeling due to my lack of preparation.
In the first round of my finals match, my body shut down. My eyes saw opportunities my body wouldn’t capitalize on. I didn’t hit the canvas, but I was exposed and even received a standing 8-count.
I take nothing away form my opponent. He too, could have started a speaking business, traveled around the country, and attempted to simultaneously train for nationals; but he didn’t. He dedicated himself to training and beat me every round of our fight. He expressed sportsmanship and was a hell of a fighter.
Fear is on hell of a motivator. Fear of physical danger, the fear of being exposed, and even irrational fears; they all serve a purpose. I have recalibrated my fear meter and when I step into the ring again, I will be sure to have banked at least a month of fear.
-Cam F Awesome