How to Safely Get Punched in the Face!

“Don’t cry boy! Don’t you f-ing cry!”

~Mike Sartori (my boxing coach when I was 10 after the first round of my first fight)

When I’m at the workplace I try to ensure my safety and the safety of others by approaching each task with the lowest risk tolerance possible. But I know I’m committing a primordial safety sin by not fully subscribing to the 24/7 safety mantra here, but sometimes we have to risk a little in life in order to grow. I waded into the personal risk waters big time during my foray into the boxing ring in my youth.

|I grew up in the testosterone-fueled era of the 80s watching Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone films where I was expected to project masculinity at all times. And despite the protestations my Mother and I launched, my father wasted no time in enrolling me in boxing at the ready-to-be-punched-in-the-face age of 8 to toughen me up.

Bend, but don’t break!

I vividly remember my first fight at just 10 years old in front of 700 people. My out-of-control nerves rendered all my training seemingly useless as I got pummeled in the first round. As the bell rang for the second round, something shifted within me. I was already warmed up. The nerves had subsided and I had already received my opponent’s hardest punch. Even though I lost the fight via split-decision, this taught me a powerful lesson about confronting my vulnerabilities. From then on I adopted a bend but don’t break attitude!

My journey in the boxing ring was fraught with setbacks. I faced formidable opponents and grueling challenges. But each defeat taught me resilience and made that eventual victory all the more gratifying. Even when my youth boxing career came to an abrupt end, I found myself drawn back to the sport years later as an adult when I moved to Harlesden in London, England.

My time at the Harlesden gym, sparring with seasoned professionals like then English Champion 1996 Olympic boxer Francis Barrett, challenged me in ways I never thought possible. Everything else in life seemed easy compared to the exhaustion, pain and occasional humiliation endured in the ring. While I may not have emerged victorious in every fight, the lessons I learned about resilience, humility, and the importance of pushing past our comfort zones have endured.

Take risks whilst being as physically safe as possible

In life, as in boxing, risk is unavoidable. We are constantly faced with challenges that test our mettle and push us beyond our comfort zones. Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,!” Those words could not have rung truer for my own journey in the boxing ring and in life. The resilience I built in the boxing ring has allowed me to better deal with life’s curve balls. Now I’m not saying that you must face physical safety risks in order to grow. But I feel that risking a bit of failure, embarrassment, a bit of discomfort is the only way to move forward. Through examining and challenging these vulnerabilities we get to truly know ourselves, grow, and most importantly mentor others.

In life, as in boxing, the greatest rewards often come from being thankful for our vulnerabilities. They can be converted into the super-fuel needed to propel us forward to achieve things we never thought possible. So I suppose we should take risks whilst being as physically safe as possible. For PPE I wore head gear and a mouthguard. And for administrative controls I tried to duck from punches if that makes it any better for my safety readers? What are your thoughts? What risks have you taken that led to huge growth opportunities?

© 2024, Allan James Moore. All Rights Reserved.