70 Ways to Know if You’re an Ex-Fighter

By Peter Wood on December 14, 2012
70 Ways to Know if You’re an Ex-Fighter
You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you smile when people call you Champ. (Robert Ecksel)

What runs through the mind of an old ex-fighter? The cheering crowds are gone, the rigor of training is a faint memory, and the thrill of competition has vanished…

What runs through the mind of an old ex-fighter? The cheering crowds are gone, the rigor of training is a faint memory, and the thrill of competition has vanished.

Now what?

1. You know you’re an ex-fighter if… you’ve ever had a Q-tip shoved up your nose.

2. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you miss the cheering crowds and still harbor a secret desire to make a comeback.

3. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you still hear your trainer’s voice screaming at you in your head.

4. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you find yourself frequently shadowboxing in your bathroom mirror at home.

5. You know you’re an ex-fighter if… you still distinguish your right from your left by remembering what side your opponent’s right hand came from.

6. You know you’re an ex-fighter if… you watch The Champ, Rocky or Million Dollar Baby and tear up.

7. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…when you watch a fight you can spot a converted southpaw in seconds.

8. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…when you forget simple words like door or telephone, or forget where the car is parked, you suspect brain damage.

9. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you know what a broken nose sounds like and will never forget what swollen jaw muscles feel like.

10. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you vow to go back to the boxing gym…as soon as you lose a few more pounds.

11. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you secretly wish that the obnoxious guy standing next to you would try something real stupid so you could, in self-defense, punch his face in.

12. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you sometimes experience random surges of anger.

13. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you fantasize about setting up a rematch with the guy who once beat you.

14.  You know you’re an ex-fighter if…when you’re driving a car, you’re proud of your quick reflexes when you instinctively move your head left or right when debris hits your windshield.

15. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you can’t pass a store window without glancing at your reflection and throwing a few soft punches.

16. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you watch some of today’s fighters and smirk.

17. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you still have a trophy, a belt, photos, or a necklace prominently displayed in your home.

18. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you still have boxing dreams at night. Your dream is one of the following:
a) You’re standing in the dressing room and you’ve forgotten to pack your new boxing trunks.
b) Your trainer didn’t show up—you’re standing all alone in the dressing room.
c) As you step into the ring, you know you haven’t trained properly.
d) You step into the ring and box beautifully. The adoring crowd cheers you.

19. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you smile when people call you Champ.

20. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you are a noisy nose breather.

21. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…family members and friends sometimes tease you by calling you “Canvasback” or “Punchy”, or they squish their noses down with their thumbs and talk funny to you. (You smile good-naturedly, but you don’t like it.)

22. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you continually make boxing analogies, like “I’ll throw my hat into the ring”, “She’s a knockout”, “I went the distance” or “Keep punching!”

23. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you think headgear for amateurs is a big mistake.

24. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you suspect the size of your boxing talent was the size of your inferiority.

25. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you think (and you’ll never admit this) the real reason you became a fighter was because you were fearful…fearful of fighting mentally, or verbally.

26. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you secretly hate boxing. You suspect boxing is just plain stupid, and that it’s a brainless sport created for unhappy people—like yourself. But since you’ve invested so much time in boxing, since boxing has become a pillar of your very existence, you can’t turn your back on it. So you hear yourself defending it by saying sentences like: Boxing is art, or Boxing is a physical chess match or Boxing is a sport to which all other sports aspire.

27. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you wish you could talk as well as you could punch.

28. You know you’re an ex-fighter if… you sometimes think un-athletic people pick verbal fights with you because it makes them feel more athletic.

29. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you’re secretly proud of your broken nose, scarred eye, or missing front tooth (even your broken pinkie knuckle.)

30. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you are proud of the lasting friendships you’ve forged with all races, colors and creeds.

31. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you look into the mirror at your soft paunch and sigh—then do 50 sit-ups.

32. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you look at the pumped-up bodybuilders in the fitness gym, or karate guys jumping around in their white pajamas, and wonder if they could take a shot to the jaw.

33. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…in your wallet you carry a picture or personal identification establishing yourself as a former fighter.

34. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…when you watch a boxing match on TV, you find yourself looking at the old trainers and white-haired corner men as much as the fighters.

35. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…your address book has the names of at least two deceased boxing trainers, or corner men.

36. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you understand the similarity between a fight manager and his stable of fighters, and a pimp and his stable of whores.

37. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…there’s at least one painting in your house hiding the hole in the wall where you punched.

38. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…this morning your wife, or girlfriend, told you for the umpteenth time, Stop shadowboxing in the damn mirror!

39. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…when you see a guy with a long neck you immediately think “Easy KO victim.”

40. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…Ultimate Fighting makes you puke.

41. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you haven’t been in the ring for years but you still think about your upcoming comeback.

42. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you link time periods with fighters. The 1920s is Dempsey; the ‘30s is Primo Carnera; the 1940s is Joe Louis; the 1950s is Marciano, and the ‘60s is Patterson-Liston-Clay.

43. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you link geographical areas with fighters. Panama is Roberto Duran; Nigeria is Dick Tiger; Louisville, Kentucky is Muhammad Ali; Brockton, Massachusetts is Rocky Marciano.

44. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…your old Ring magazines are neatly stored in a cardboard box down in the basement.

45. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you snore.

46. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you vow to visit the Boxing Hall of Fame…as soon as you lose a few more pounds.

47. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you make stupid connections such as: I once punched the nose of someone who punched the nose of someone who punched the nose of some important fighter.

48. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…in certain social circles, when you tell people that you were once a fighter, you notice their awkward expressions, and then you feel your I.Q. plunge 20 points.

49. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…there’s one fight that still bothers you. Through the years you’ve fought this fight over and over again in your mind, but you still lose.

50. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…the newspapers reported the results of your fights in agate print.

51. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you habitually seek out the agate print in newspapers.

52. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you even know what agate print is.

53. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you know someone who pissed blood—perhaps that someone was you.

54. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you look at a telephone pole and think sprints; you see a Q-tip and remember bloody noses; you hear “Night Train” and think Sonny Liston.

55. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…when someone asks you, “How many fights did you have?” you add 1 or 2 wins to your ring record. (You feel guilty doing this, but you still do it. Every time.)

56. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you recognize the smell of witch-hazel.

57. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you have ever heard of Monsole’s solution.

58. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you know how to throw a bolo punch.

59. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you know what a “shoe-shine” is.

60. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you can still hear Johnny Addie’s voice in the arena.

61. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you think boxing gloves with Velcro is a beautiful invention.

62. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you think a water-filled heavybag is another beautiful invention.

63. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…it upsets you walking by a newsstand knowing they don’t carry Ring magazine anymore.

64. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you secretly visualize yourself stepping back into the ring.  You even fanaticize about the perfect entrance song that will accompany you as you step through the ropes…but you have absolutely no desire to hit anyone anymore.

65. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you frequently want to give your boss a knuckle sandwich.

66. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…the way a fighter throws a left hook is a very important issue to you. Does he throw it with his palm facing toward him; or with his palm facing down?  (The correct answer:  Facing him.)

67. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you smile when you hear effete political analysts use boxing analogies: “Put up your dukes!” “No hitting below the belt!” “Come out swinging at the bell!” “He took it on the chin!” “He’s down for the count!” “They threw in the towel.” “He’s the real McCoy!” “I’ll be in your corner.” 

68. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…when you watch a fight on TV, you still bob and weave.

69. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…when you watch KO highlights on TV, instead of applauding, you wince.

70. You know you’re an ex-fighter if…you have ever held a little baby in your arms and when that little baby popped you on the nose, your eyes welled up with tears and you were reminded once more: “Hey, that hurts!”

(Peter Wood’s two books, Confessions of a Fighter—Battling Through the Golden Gloves and A Clenched Fist—The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion, are published by Ringside Books. Wood was a 1971 New York City Golden Gloves Finalist in the middleweight division and First Alternate in the 1976 Maccabean Games held in Tel Aviv, Israel.)

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  1. Michael Chiariello 09:52am, 01/14/2013

    Congratulations Pete!  Thank you for being a great inspiration for me!!!  You are a great teacher, writer, artist, athlete, and friend!  I loved reading your books….Your writing inspires me as a former athlete!  You write with wonderful clarity, believability, organization, and emotional inspiration!  It is an honor to have you for a colleague, fellow artist and friend!!!

  2. Andrew 09:01am, 12/20/2012

    Peter Wood has an uncanny ability to capture the voice of a fighter.  He makes me, the non-pugilist,  both regret the fact and thank God for the fact that I have never stepped into the ring.  Great article!  For those who haven’t yet read them, Peter’s books are even better.

  3. Marcel Galligani 05:26am, 12/19/2012

    Great job Pete! Loved your books, and loved this piece as well. It’s a honor working with you and an it gives me immeasurable pleasure knowing that our students are fortunate enough to cross your path and sit in your classroom. They are better people for it. Wasn’t a boxer b/c i didn’t have the “cojones” to get in that ring. Ur the man!

  4. Peter DePasquale 09:06pm, 12/18/2012

    You know you’re an ex-fighter if ... you conceive and write wonderful pieces like this. Great job, Pete.

  5. Mike Silver 09:51pm, 12/16/2012

    How about a number 71 Pete?: “You know you’re an ex-boxer if you have very little interest in the current scene, rarely watch a bout on TV or attend live fights anymore”.

  6. FLspirit1 05:10pm, 12/16/2012

    I got quite a chuckle reading this article… and was horrified to find out how much this senior female thinks like a boxer!  Case in point:  “I’ll get back to the gym… as soon as I lose a few pounds.”  I cry when I watch Rocky, The Champ and Million Dollar Baby (that last one slays me every damned time.)  I can still hear my trainer screaming at me. (He was a muscle-head with serious steroidal rage problems ... and every woman knows exactly what HE was over-compensating for.)  I look at my soft paunch and I THINK about doing 50 situps, but then I come to my senses and put another battery in my medic alert.  I am a noisy nose breather AND I snore ... deviated septum from a gym accident.  I do have my trophies prominently displayed at home, in the office, in my car ... my trophies are my jewelry and I took the blows for every damned piece.  And I often have dreamed that I have arrived somewhere where I am the center of attention, my brightly colored satin attire is no where to be found and I’m standing in a spotlight starkers.  Guess the chasm between the sexes isn’t as huge as I had once believed.  Thank you for validating my belief that there’s a fighter in every woman!

  7. Mike Silver 08:46pm, 12/15/2012

    Pete, very entertaining and insightful. Laugh out loud funny but so true.

  8. Mike Schmidt 08:35am, 12/15/2012

    Superb

  9. NYIrish 08:20am, 12/15/2012

    Hooray for the dinasaurs, Mike. There are too many to mention. Braverman brings to mind a yellowed newspaper clipping that hung in the 14th Street Gym when Al Gavin and Bobby Jackson had it. It was short questions asked of winners of the NY Golden Gloves,the year Chuck Wepner won the Heavy Sub Novice. Under Chuck’s picture was the question, Will you turn pro?
    “No. I’d get killed.” was his humble answer.

  10. Mike Schmidt 07:44am, 12/15/2012

    Hey Irish can we add Al Braverman to the list- the other night while Gesta was sleep walking thru his title bout loss I told Varela the cornerman should pull a Braverman and smack Gesta a crisp one across the face to wake them up… the other guys watching the fight thought I was some dinosaur from the Ice of Ages- Braverman had some great quotes thru the years- adios and enjoy all the scraps this weekend Sir.

  11. NYIrish 06:38am, 12/15/2012

    Great creative piece that got the time travel going on my first cup of coffee. The bend in my nose is the only outward sign of the treasure of memories of a kid growing up boxing in a great era in NY.
    You’re an old NY pug if you knew Vic Zimet, Al Gavin, Bobby Jackson, Freddie Brown, Johnny Reid, Vern DePaul, Tony Canzi and Paddy Flood.
    Those guys had a way of communicating that got right to the heart of the matter, with a little humor thrown in.
    I’ll have to get your books. 

  12. Bob 05:03am, 12/15/2012

    What a unique and interesting take on being a boxer. To use another boxing analogy, as in Number 67, on Mr. Wood’s list, the author scores another knockout wiith this article.  Always great to see his work, just wish it was more often. Very original and analytical.

  13. Mike Schmidt 01:19pm, 12/14/2012

    Peter the ONLY book on boxing my wife, the lovely Suzanna, has ever read was your Confessions of a Fighter—I came home one night and she was laughing and I asked her what she was reading and she said she had pickep up one of my boxing books and was reading it the author was fabulous—sooooo in salute to you (and Suzanna)—YOU KNOW YOU ARE AN EX FIGHTER IF YOU STILL PUT ON THE SAME EVERLAST LOGO SWEATSHIRT TO WORKOUT EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOW ONE SIZE TOO SMALL ANNNNND YOU KNOW YOU ARE AN EX-FIGHTER IF YOUR WIFE WASHES THAT SAME EVERLAST SWEATSHIRT EVEN THOUGH IT HAS NOT BEEN WASHED FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT ANYBODY TOUCHING YOUR GEAR AND YOU GET PISSED BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN WASHED!!!!!

  14. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 10:54am, 12/14/2012

    Wow! You don’t get this on the other boxing sites….Thanx!

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