When I took on my latest challenge in the boxing ring, I didn’t realize how much the entire experience would emulate my life in recovery. It starts with getting comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s a mantra in recovery, a very true one. Opening up, feeling, and sharing those feelings can be incredibly uncomfortable at first. So can getting in a boxing ring and having someone punch you in the face. Let me give you a little background.
The kickboxing heavyweight champion of the world, Rico Verhooven, happens to be a friend of mine. So when he decided to have a celebrity boxing match as part of his huge night of entertainment and fights event in the Netherlands, he asked me to take part. Why not?! I had six weeks to get in decent shape, get my cardio back, work on some old boxing techniques I learned about five years ago, and fight in front of tens-of-thousands of people. No problem!
The mental and physical challenge of boxing is tremendous. Physically, it’s the most exhausting activity I’ve ever done. It requires a high level of cardio fitness, but also speed, power, technique, and breathing. The breathing is the most difficult element because you must breathe throughout, whether you are hitting or being hit. Just breathe! Too anyone in recovery, does that sound familiar?
“The mental and physical challenge of boxing is tremendous. Physically, it’s the most exhausting activity I’ve ever done. “
Mentally, when you think you can’t go any further, when you think you’re out of gas, you must dig deep and find another source of power and keep going. You must overcome your fear of getting in the ring, getting punched, and having a crowd watch you get knocked down. You MUST get back up! It is critical to block out the noise, listen to only your corner, and remember to move, breathe, and focus on your opponent. It’s just so damn hard. And then, it gets easier.
Eventually, your cardio fitness gets better, the techniques become more natural, and the breathing and moving are part of the routine. And just like that, you’re a fighter. You will get tired, but two very smart guys told me “that’s when the fight starts.” Recovery seems so difficult at first, like an impossible mountain to climb, but slowly, all of the things we need to do become easier and more natural. We fight! We fight for ourselves and for those around us. We’re going to get hit and get knocked down, but we will not quit. The fight continues, we breathe and move, and punch back.
How many people do you know that can say they trained, put on a pair of gloves, hopped in the ring and went toe to toe with someone? Not many. How many people do you know that can say they looked addiction, depression, anxiety, different disorders, and more in the eye, stood face to face with it, and fought back? These are fights we can and must win. Just train, breathe and move. And when you get tired, that’s when the fight starts.