I grew up playing and watching just about any sport, but strangely enough, the sport I enjoyed watching the most was one that I never participated in. I’m referring to “the sweet science” also known as boxing. I marveled at the skill of Muhammad Ali, the speed of Sugar Ray Leonard, and the raw power of Mike Tyson, to mention a few.
To me, there’s nothing like watching a good fight. Boxing can appear barbaric to some, but if you watch closely, you’ll see that this sport represents a deeper metaphor for business and life. One such lesson speaks to what happens late in a championship fight.
I mention “championship fight” because different fights last different lengths of time. Early in a boxer’s career, it’s not unusual for fighters to fight six round matches. As boxer’s progress, their fights can be scheduled to last eight rounds, and once fighters become seasoned professionals, a fight is typically ten rounds. Try throwing punches at a heavy bag or speed bag for three minutes at a time to simulate a round, and then do that for ten rounds. You’ll understand how physically demanding that can be… and that’s with no one fighting back!
Championship fights last twelve rounds. Most fighters aren’t used to fighting that long, and for even those that are used to it, those final rounds never come easily. Often in pain, frequently bleeding, and exhausted, the great fighters fight on. As a matter of fact, rounds eleven and twelve, the final two rounds, are referred to as the “championship rounds.” This is because these two final rounds are never fought unless it’s a championship fight. It also happens to be that those final two rounds leave the biggest impression with the judges and often determine the outcome of the fight.
I believe there’s a third reason why the term “championship rounds” are saved for those final two rounds. I think it’s because it takes the heart of a champion to compete in those final two rounds. That’s when you have to push through the pain, push the fatigue aside, dig down even deeper, and fight harder then you’ve ever fought in your life.
Doesn’t that sound like a metaphor in life? Think about the last time you had to suck it up, and fight your way to the finish line. Maybe it was a project, or a sale, a presentation, or a proposal that you were battling, and you had to go that extra mile. I’m sure there was a voice in your head whispering, “Come on, you’ve done enough; this is the best you can do.” Don’t listen. Instead, remind yourself that these are your championship rounds.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler, an amazing fighter in the 80’s and the middleweight champion for seven years, once said, “When I wake up, I train as hard as I can. But when I wake up weary, unmotivated, and I don’t feel like training, I work twice as hard. That’s what separates me from my competition.”
Not every fight is a championship fight, and not every round is a championship round, but the next time you find yourself seriously challenged, feeling a lack of energy, and wanting to quit, remind yourself, “These are my championship rounds.” Work twice as hard because it’s those rounds that truly make a champion.