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WILL EAT YOUR SOUL
Recollections of Doomsday
[01/11/2009] [Grendel]

"I'd expect better from a Templar," I said.

I didn't know who this Geryon dude on E-Sam was, but I knew that as a Templar, he probably deserved it. I didn't know who he was bitching at and I didn't know that, seven pages later, I'd be fighting another man I knew nothing about.

Sponge decided that Doom Shadow and I would smash each other's faces at Banner Wars in four months. Sensing the desire for battle in Doom, yet knowing Geryon wouldn't step up, and enjoying seeing me get punched in the face - Sponge had no other choice. Being adventurous chaps, Doom and I agreed to this epic battle of pugilism. Big Brennon McCarthy would referee four scheduled rounds of three minutes each. All the amateur protective gear and 14 oz gloves required.

Right away I knew I'd need more than a couple months of 10-years-old boxing lessons to bring to battle. I imagined myself six months after the boxing match, what regrets might I have? I wrote down on paper all the important stuff. I recorded all my possible regrets related to things within my control. I would regret that I didn't train hard enough, that I wasn't in good condition, that I didn't give it my all, that I gave up. And on this paper I wrote something I could do every day to ensure I lived without regret.

Go to the gym every day and run the elliptical at least half an hour.

Shadow box every day in front of a mirror.

Attend Kung Fu or another martial art at least 5 days a week.

Read and watch online boxing tips and techniques every day.

Learn about my opponent and spar with opponents in his build/height.

I contemplated the messages I wanted to send to Doom. What did I want to tell him through my actions and words? I wrote that "I am an unrelenting, unstoppable killing machine. I'm too much for you to handle. You'll have to kill me because you can't stop me. I am fearless, you were never ready for me." I read these statements and repeated them aloud to myself a couple times each day. I read my regrets and steps to squash regrets every day. And every day I woke up and said to myself "Right now, Doom is training harder than I am", every time I felt tired or wanted to stop, or didn't want to workout I told myself that. I read Muhammad Ali quotes. "I hated every minute of training, but I told myself 'Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"

I called Clalibus to get the dirt on Doom. Apparently Doom was real tall, a little thin, and didn't appear to offer much skill on the Amtgard field. I prepared to fight a taller and likely faster opponent. He said he'd never boxed, but I didn't believe him. I didn't want to weaken my resolve or dedication. I trained for war against an unrelenting unforgiving monster. His propensity for quoting Ali lead me to believe that he would bring a boxers approach, rather than a counter fighter, swarmer, or slugger. So I picked up a book by Joe Frazier (the only guy to beat Ali in his prime) and looked for a boxing gym. My only options were 'cardio boxing classes' at the gym, or various other martial arts.

Not having any bags to work on I decided to take all the free martial arts lessons in town, to improve my own skills as a martial artist, and to perhaps pick up some boxing elements from within other arts.

I had already been attending Kung Fu San Soo since October '07, this helped me with targeting, and on Mondays for about a month I got a couple rounds of body only boxing sparring in. My legs grew very strong from the horse stances I was standing in all the time, but most of the techniques would not help me much in the ring.

Krav Maga gave me two days of hitting pads and conditioning. I couldn't elbow or knee Doom, but I began to feel a little better about explosive power, hitting pads, and pushing myself beyond tired. I started a membership with 24 Hour Fitness and exercised two times a day, 24 Hour Fitness before or after work, and then Kung Fu or the art I was taking free lessons from in the evening.

Kyokushin Karate and Kick Boxing gave me two days of sparring and conditioning. I wouldn't be able to kick Doom in the thigh but I got to spar taller opponents and work some boxing to the body and head. In this time I noticed my cardio really kicking into high gear, I could no longer get my heart rate above 130 on the elliptical. When I began I was at 160 within a couple minutes. My asthma symptoms were gone. I slept, walked, breathed, ran, and ate to fight. At work I read boxing books and surfed boxing sites, looking for videos and tips.

On the public front I made tons of boxing posters and pimped the hell out of the match online. I stopped posting about my training on the E-Sam fighting forum. If he might assume I was just screwing around making boxing posters all day I wasn't going to stop him. I wanted all advantages in my corner. Maximize advantages, minimize disadvantages.

I had no real boxing training so I focused on controlling range and distance, conditioning, feinting, jabbing, keeping my chin down and my hands up. I did what I could on my own, and got on an airplane, butterflies in my stomach already.

Running into Sparhawk and having him corner me was one of the best tools I could ever have. I thought about what Spar told me, practiced some things he showed me, and then tried not to think about the fight for the next couple hours. I hung out with Rogues and former Rogues and tried to keep myself from stressing on the fight. I stretched every day and fought only a short amount of ditches on Thursday. I ate a little bite of BBQ, and a little bite of potato salad at feast. Then I took a turkey pan full of BBQ over to Doom and tried to dump it all on his plate while he wasn't looking. Eat up bro!

My body was getting ready and sent me quickly to the port-o-let. I got out and washed my hands with sanitizer. Wrapped my hands, put on my gear and robe. My bro Arthur helped Tar'get corner me. We rode onto the ditch field on the back of Megiddo's truck, Wu Tang blaring. Toby ran out of encouraging words after the fifth time he told me "You're gonna fuck him up man!"

We arrive and I jump off the bed of the truck, Kerb tells me to pretend Doom took my french fries. I remember thinking that Kerb is pretty quick to tease me for being an ex fat guy himself. I let this wash away. Sparhawk prepares me. "He is not your friend; that is not your buddy over there. If you were my fighter I'd slap the hell out of you right now." I tell him do it and he slaps me in the head a bunch. I'm mean, I'm green, let's do this.

The last thing I heard that wasn't Sparhawk was Toby saying something to the crowd about remembering how school yard fights went and to circle up around us. The first round I threw everything I had worked on out of the ring. I dropped the ball hard.

I held my breath, I wanted to finish the fight in one punch, I didn't throw in combinations. I discovered that I had not worked on one of the most important aspects - footwork - I threw a hook shot as I stepped, throwing myself off balance to the ground right near the start. I rolled and got up. No, this was not going to go down like this, I was not going down like this. Fuck. That. Shit.

The rest of the first round was a little blurry, I punched and held my breath and shambled about.

Somewhere in there I knocked Doom's headgear off, this may have been second round. They gave him a big break to get his shit together, Spar grabbed me and said "He gets a break, you get a break!" and coached me on keeping on the balls of my feet and breathing.

Round two: I'm calmer now, I'm breathing, I'm throwing combinations like Spar said, left, right. The old “one-two”. I threw a jab to the face, straight right to the body. I faked jabs to the head and worked the body. Hit the body and the head will come to you. Somewhere in there a right hand I aimed at his spleen took Doom to his knee for an 8 or 9 count. Potato the Cyborg told me later that when I hit Doom's ribs he heard it and thought his hearing had miraculously returned. I watched Doom during the count praying he'd get up, wanting to yell at him to get up. I didn't want it to end. He rose and I felt like Christmas on my birthday. I was here to discover something about myself and without Doom I wasn't going to learn much.

I'm controlling the ring, moving at my pace, throwing combinations, and eventually I work Doom to “the ropes” and it looks like one of his hands is dragging on the ground as he's bent over at the waist. I see the back of his head as I start to tee off and change my shot to hit him in the face instead. I miss a couple times and land a few times. Next thing I know Brennon is between us. I go to my corner to come back out and now people are cheering. The fight is over?!? I have been robbed? Brennon stopped it short. I was just beginning to get my groove!

I learned later Doom told Brennon to call it when he pulled me back. I had learned much about myself, and what I needed to work on from here. I got to know Doom in a way that maybe few others do, in combat. In sparring and martial arts we learn to protect ourselves and our training partners, we develop a trust and brotherhood. I felt this with Doom Shadow, especially when he talked to my wife on the phone and told her "He fucked me up". That trust and concern for each other is missing from many ditch fields.

We did what few people do by stepping into that ring. I have nothing but respect for the guy, and I'm honored to have had the chance to do this. No one really understood that we were going to box each other and neither of us hated each other. Nobody had fucked the other dude's girl, or talked shit. Nobody had messed with the other guy or his friends. A friendly fight? In Texas? It was beyond lots of people. The joke became a life altering experience. I understood that Fight Club quote because I felt it:

"After a night at fight club, everything in the real world gets the volume turned down."

I was reborn, I was connected, I was confident. Plenty of people had advice and how they would have done things better, or what I did wrong. It didn't matter, I was in there, they were not. I can't wait to get back in the ring, thankfully a boxing school just started up and I'm headed out for my second week there.

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