Although I regularly hike through forests and up and down mountains, the better to stay in shape and thereby delay Crossing Over to the last possible moment, I also do other things to delay The Crossing, like boxing.
This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, for, here on the Pacific Rain Coast, there are almost no men for me to box because they would rather play ice-hockey than box. However, they do like to fight, but only with bare hands, often in bars, or while playing ice-hockey. I, on the other hand, like to fight only with boxing gloves, and under the Marquis of Queensberry rules.
So, instead of landing my boxing glove clad fists on other men’s heads, I land them on a heavy punching-bag and a speed-bag, that I’ve hung in my back garden where no other men can see. They mustn’t, else they’d talk, and the police would hear, and would come looking. I just can’t have this.
I also skip rope, lift weights, do pull ups on a tree branch, do squats and stomach crunches, and other things of this ilk. I shadow-box too. But, throwing fists in thin air is no substitute for landing them on men’s heads. To throw a left hook that lands on the point of a man’s jaw – so he drops as limply as an anti-Hitlerite at the end of piano-wire – is to experience an experience like no other.
Why the lure of boxing for me, and for all true men? It’s that we men have always fought each other, right from when we emerged from our caves in Paleolithic times. We’ve always done it. It’s in our blood.
There are, of course, other forms of fighting, but boxing is the most gentlemanly. So I regret that it seems now to be dying. No doubt those effete doctors have convinced you all, that being punched on your head isn’t good for your brain. I know this to be rubbish because there’s nothing wrong with my brain, despite my head being punched regularly throughout the 100 years since I began boxing as a boy.
That my brain still works well, is because my head has been punched so many times. Each time my brain ricocheted against the wall of my skull, it was developing new protective tissue. Hence it’s now about the toughest brain inside the head of any living man.
Had I not decided to enter the army full-time I would have entered the ring full-time. Consequently I may well have become a world champion, and I would today be as much a household name as any of the great boxing champions.
This is no idle boast, for I was always thought very good as a boxer, even though a mere amateur. In 1946, when old even for an amateur (I was 51), I won the middleweight championship of the British Army.
I remember the fight as if yesterday. It was at the Royal Albert Hall in London on a humid July night. My opponent, a 21-year-old corporal, Angus “Slugger” McGee, was as tough a man as you’ll ever meet, and totally unawed that he was to fight a general. He had won by knock-out all his bouts leading to this one. I, on the other hand, had eked out only close decisions, for, because I was relatively so old, my timing wasn’t what it once was. Slugger was therefore favoured by most as the bell clanged for the first round.
I’ll not go into the minutiae of the fight, except to say that I fought it with the objective not to be knocked out, and to win only by decision. I was confident that the judges, being not only army men, but officers, would see it in their interest to award their decision to me as a general, rather than to a corporal, should the fight be close. It was, actually, and the judges did the right thing.
I could see in Slugger’s face that he was angry. However he congratulated me, and bared his teeth that I took as a smile, after the referee raised my hand. I later let it be known to my fellow generals that I hoped Slugger’s magnanimity in defeat would be acknowledged. I heard, but only many years after, that he had been almost immediately promoted to sergeant, and rose to be a regimental sergeant-major.
Slugger, do you still live or have you Crossed Over? If the latter, I do hope I’ll see you there, and we can fight again if you wish.