Andre Ward and the Art of Cool

By Johnathan Lee Iverson on October 1, 2014
Andre Ward and the Art of Cool
“It’s not how strong you look,” Andre Ward told me, “but how strong you actually are.”

Cool needn’t proselytize to all within earshot as to the value of its worth. Pseudo spectacles, brash exhortations, and cerebral tricks are unnecessary…

Cool is quiet power. Cool is unfettered self-assurance, a hyper awareness of who and what you are. Cool needn’t proselytize to all within earshot as to the value of its worth. Pseudo spectacles, brash exhortations, and cerebral tricks are unnecessary. For Cool just is and the brilliance it belies is always displayed in its perfect time.

Such was the ascendance of super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward. As he entered the Super Six Tournament to essentially determine “Da Man” at super middleweight along with such notables as Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Allan Green, and Mikkel Kessler. Few if any believed Andre Ward would be a factor in the tournament. The castigations and doubts about America’s last male boxer to win gold at the Olympics (Athens Games 2004) began about as soon as he transitioned to the professional ranks. “He’s soft,” they said. “He’s protected,” they said. Yet, as the supposed underdog of the Super Six tournament stepped through the ropes and dispatched foe after foe after foe after foe, as if not a single one were remotely in his league, it became clear to naysayers, talking-heads, scribes, and fans alike, that Andre Ward is the truth.

He embarrassed Mikkel Kessler, who was the runaway favorite, banished Allan Green, waded the whirlpool that is Sakio Bika, turned Arthur Abraham into stone, as he seemed to be a statue the entire fight unable to gage the precision of Ward’s jab, and had the audacity to enter the final match versus Carl Froch with a broken right hand and shut him down and out from the opening bell.

Therein lays the art of cool, knowing what the doubters don’t and schooling them one after another.

“You’re a lot taller than I thought,” were the first words out of my mouth upon recently meeting the champ. Nothing about Ward disappointed. He’s a real class act and graciously accommodated myself and other fellow star-struck fight fans with a few photos. Like other fighters I’ve been privileged to meet and talk with, nothing about his manner would lead you to believe he makes his living beating people up.

“Perhaps that’s how he does it,” I thought.

He purports himself with the charm of a choirboy ala Sugar Ray Leonard or Oscar De La Hoya. Must be something about those gold medals. You could just as easily mistake Ward for a news anchor or banker. There’s nothing remotely threatening about him and I can only imagine there has never been an opponent he’s faced who’s not been traumatized by the pugilistic genius that emerges from that cool demeanor. Even-tempered and measured in his words, we chatted a bit about the state of the game and of course, the question on every fight fan’s mind, “When are you returning to the ring?!”

I can say unequivocally he looks ready to go and he confirmed as much. “I’m still in the gym,” he said, “getting some good work in. I feel great.” If you check out his Instagram posts, @andresogward, you’re likely to see, among other things, Andre Ward taking Pilates, a practice he’s adhered to since his amateur days. “It’s not how strong you look, but how strong you actually are.” One of his Coolisms I’ll be certain to remind myself of the next time I attempt to work out, which will likely be never so I’m happy to pass it along to any of you would-be gym rats.

Boxing is prize fighting first and foremost, so naturally the conversation about the sport and his present state veered toward his contentious rift with the recently departed Dan Goossen (Goossen hadn’t passed when I met Ward). Though visually disappointed about the situation, Ward uttered not a single disparaging word regarding the matter or Dan Goossen. I was actually more worked up than him. But, I suppose that’s Andre Ward. Even in the midst of an ordeal that has halted his activity in the ring, in his prime nonetheless, at a time when there is a demand to see him, he maintains his Cool, certain all things will work for his good. Who can blame him? After all, it always has.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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Andre Ward vs. Sakio Bika

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  1. isaac 07:02am, 10/13/2014

    i agree with one or two on here, Ward is good but certainly not great. i have watched all his fights and cannot for the life of me, see where he is a great fighter. Ward has fought a bunch of fighters, who are nowhere near to world class fighters. yet because he is undefeated he is the next Ray Robinson. Ward as i said earlier, is good, but not great.

  2. The Barker 02:29pm, 10/04/2014

    @nilbog44 do you have evidence to corroborate your claim that Ward is essentially a fake?

  3. Pete The Sneak 04:43am, 10/03/2014

    @nilbog…I guess it all comes to down to perception and how you’re viewed by the public. I’m not sure if you perhaps know Andre personally, which if that’s the case then I certainly can’t debate the issue. However, if that’s just your opinion that what he does is a shtick, then I respect that too. Nevertheless, when you look at how Andre portrays himself publicly, a God fearing, family oriented, non-trash talking almost gentlemanly individual and boxer, then in this day and age of the Floyd Mayweather’s beating his wife and the Adrien Broner’s flushing $100.00 bills down the toilet, I would say it’s rather refreshing. If anything, his non-boorish public behavior may even cost him some endorsement money, as perhaps he’s too ‘boring’ to be considered hip and street wise for today’s marketers, who look to make the ‘Bad Boys’ of sports the key acquisitions for selling their products. Bad is Good (for business)...And lastly, if he privately is a fake, then that’s all good as well. I mean it didn’t hurt George Foreman one bit. So, more power to Ward, shtick, or not…Peace.

  4. nilbog44 09:17am, 10/02/2014

    I can’t believe that so many people fall for the Andre Ward is a “class act” shtick. I hope none of you become homicide detectives because you are all easily fooled.

  5. Koolz 06:21am, 10/02/2014

    Ward showed no ring rust in his last fight.

  6. Magoon 01:08pm, 10/01/2014

    An actual interview with Ward would be something. Maybe Caryn A. Tate could help us out here - she’s good at that kind of thing. I’d like to know how (or if) Goossen’s death affects Ward’s contractual obligations. More to the point, does he really want to start up his boxing career again? I’m not convinced, but I’m open to being persuaded.

  7. Pete The Sneak 12:16pm, 10/01/2014

    Nice write up Johnathan..Ward is definitely a keeper, class and personality wise, I guess he can almost be considered the Anti-Floyd. Class VS Crass (at least publicly, anyway)...However, with that being said, looking good, staying in shape, sparring and taking Pilates is not the same as being in the ring fighting live (with ‘live’ opponents). While I understand the business reasons for his inactivity in the ring, it’s still inactivity. His not fighting for the better part of 2 years may perhaps be a blessing (stays fresher/less punishment), or could come back and haunt him (serious Ring rust and perhaps look awful in his next fight, or dare I say it maybe even catch an ‘L’)...Either way, Ward needs to start making himself relevant again as a fighter, (that is, if he wants to keep fighting) not as an announcer. To boxing fans, that’s the only thing that would be pretty ‘Cool.’...Peace.

  8. Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli 10:14am, 10/01/2014


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