‘Mom you’re barbaric’. Well not said exactly like that, but
close. It was said by our then youngest an eighteen-year-old senior in high
school after the January 2nd Monday Night NFL game was postponed due
to Damar Hamlin’s cardiac episode during the game. Both our oldest, who was then
home from college for winter break, and our youngest agreed at the dinner table
the following evening on that subject.
They felt fighting and contact sports such as contact football
like played in the NFL were too dangerous to exist. I was only slightly taken
aback by their thoughts on such sporting events. I reminded them that fighting
sometimes saves people from doing something illegal. I explained how it may
help ‘air-out’ one’s frustrations. I explained how it was my own form of art. They
weren’t buying it.
Yes, I still have it in me to fight, to throw leather, to
wrestle, to choke people out and so forth. I know what my excuses have been for
training and fighting legally. Those feelings are all still in the tank. They
are in the never-ending basement of my body. Yet they are also bubbling close
to the surface.
I know when to refrain and I know when to flip the switch.
But I don’t know how many people feel and keep feeling the same way I have and
do throughout their lives. I had an old-time boxing trainer tell me about six
years ago, when I asked him what happens to old fighters who’ve stopped
training. He replied, “They either drink themselves to death or overeat and
pack on the weight.”
I decided then, I would do neither. I would keep training on
some level. Even when I felt it no longer safe to spar or couldn’t roll because
of situations out of my control yet to consider our now family of three, as my
husband had passed. I’d made up for it slightly by making certain I do enough
to exhaust me, keeping myself fit and on my toes. I make believe I have a fight
in six weeks nearly all the time. That is what I do. I do the same with my
After the conversation that night with our daughters, during
that week I called an old fight friend. Who is about fifteen years my junior.
He’d been an amateur MMA and pro Muay Thai Fighter before an infection in his
elbow almost made him lose his entire arm. A scary thing to witness. I pained
for him when that happened. As well, I worried for him because I got the vibe
that he loved to fight as much as I did. As we may understand that our fight
days might be numbered, we also know that we can still train most of it, just
not take the hits anymore to salvage the important aspects for our health and
perhaps our loved ones.
So, as I got him on the phone, I explained our daughter’s
disdain for fighting and the NFL. Two things I love. Two things I’ve watched
since 1966 and one thing I’d been involved with and doing since 2009, then near
end of 2019 had a three year plus hiatus from wrestling or boxing training with
others due to my husband’s illness and eventual death. Afterwards, I worked on situating
our daughter’s college plans and lives, whilst handling closing my therapy
business, and my going back to school. Too, I’d taken on additional chores
which had been hubby’s.
That night, my fight friend agreed that the world needs a
small percentage of people who think like us. Perhaps violent thinking at times
but what I consider a necessary evil. Someone needs to be that individual. We
expressed to one another the reasons why. And that a small percentage of that
currently is necessary. I won’t expect our daughters to understand. I almost
don’t want them to. Where my mind goes I would not want other’s minds to enter.
It’s too intense. It’s too tragic and as much as I don’t want to admit this, it’s
dark. However, fighting is the light in the darkness. I have a strong belief,
it keeps people safe.--- Jody-Lynn Reicher