The suspense rushed through my body like oncoming traffic on the highway. My palms were sweating under my boxing gloves and my knees buckled once or twice. Two lions slowly approaching each other preparing to fight for the last piece of prey. We touched gloves without losing eye contact for a second. Then all of a second the bell rung and the crowd went roaring.
Growing up as the youngest child of eight I was labeled the “problem child” and was the most disciplined by my parents. My mom probably received a phone call home about my bad behavior at least once a week. I was involved in several fights and always got caught doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I used to get so angry over the smallest things and just lashing out at people. My mom put me in anger management to see if there was a solution to my anger. After going several times a week I learned the solution wasn’t getting rid of my anger, it was controlling it.
My anger management counselor gave me several tips on how to control my anger in various situations. It seems like whenever I would get into those situations the tips never helped me in the moment. I remember I got into a heated argument with one of my classmates and it got to the point of insulting each other. My counselor told me to step back and count to ten. I tried to do that but he pushed me and I knocked him out. I mean seriously knocked him out cold with one punch. My fist crashed into his face faster than the speed of light. All my classmates praised me for doing so, but my teachers and parents were disappointed. I was suspended for ten days. My mom made me go back to the counselor for more advice.
The second time I went back to my counselor she told me to just walk away whenever I feel like I’m about to explode. I was sure this would work. One day at my high school and upperclassman confronted me about something I said about him to his friend. He towered over me like the Willis Tower with his fiery red hair and his huge eyes filled with hate. I wanted to punch him in his guts so bad but I decided to just walk away. While walking away he called me out of my name. When I turned around there was a huge crowd surrounding me. I felt like I was in a big arena and I was as small as a cell. I was so angry and I could no longer keep my composure and control. I ran up to him, leaped up a little bit and punched him right in the eye. He was knocked out cold as ice. The arena went quiet and everybody stared at me in amazement. I couldn’t believe I knocked him out either. Then the crowd went wild with excitement. Once again everybody praised me for what I had done. This time the punishment was worse. I was expelled from my school and had to transfer to another school. My mom didn’t know hat to do. So my dad decided to put me in boxing.
The first day I walked into my boxing class it felt as though my trainer already knew who I was personally. He told me he heard I was one of the best, and instructed me to put on gloves and meet him in the boxing ring. The bell rung and every punch I threw he dodged. He didn’t even try to punch me back. He asked me if I was tired and I said no and I told him to fight me back. He didn’t hesitate to hit me and every time he hit me I stumbled down a little bit. I began to get angry, and he could tell. He hit me one more time and I got dizzy. I knew I couldn’t fight anymore. I started to cry because for the first time in my life I felt defeated. He told me that I had great potential but before he could teach me fighting skills, he would teach me control and discipline. He told me I should never get angry in the ring. We trained together for 6 months and I learned control, discipline, and finally some proper fighting skills. He said I was one of his best students and he was ready to let me compete.
The day of my first fight I was confident that I had all the skills mastered to beat my opponent. The bell rung and the crowd went roaring. This was no easy fight, we went round for round and he seemed to meet my every punch. I began to get mad because I started to feel defeated. I started to fight with anger and began to lose control of my focus and skill. He was beating my badly. Then I remembered all the things my trainer taught me. I got focused again and the moment he left his right guard down, I stuck him with all my power. He stumbled and fell and was so dizzy he couldn’t get up. I won the fight, victory was mine again.
I learned so much from boxing. It taught me how to control my anger, discipline, and respect. I learned how to take my gift and use it in a positive setting instead of one that gets me in trouble. I don’t know where I would be without boxing in my life.
Shareef Dillard was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He is now a sophomore in college at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His major is business marketing with a minor in international business.