Recognition doesn’t come from sitting around and looking pretty, well sometimes it does, but most of the time to achieve recognition and success you need to work hard, overcome mountainous obstacles and have an unwavering work ethic. If you add a little bit of talent to that hard work, then you have the trappings of an individual that will join the select pantheon of people that not only excelled in their respective fields, but redefined them. People such as Muhammad Ali left a legacy so profound that it will inspire people for generations to come. As with any person with such significant careers there are lessons to be learned and words to inspire, these are a few of those career lessons taught from the most honourable representatives of boxing.
Muhammad Ali – Sticking to your guns (adhering to your morals)
Considered one of the most recognizable athletes of the century and awarded the title “Sportsman of the Century,” Muhammad Ali’s technique inside the ring has become a point of reference for generations of aspiring boxers. Beginning boxing at a the young age of 12, Cassius Clay Jr. (Ali’s paternal name) went on to accrue 100 wins with only 5 losses as an amateur boxer. Three years after his foray into the world of professional boxing, his victory against reigning heavyweight champion Sonny Liston was considered the biggest upset in the sport up to that point. His pageantry and pre-bout taunts made him even more famous, and once he adamantly refused to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam war, he was stripped of his credentials that allowed him to fight in the U.S. and had his passport revoked so he couldn’t travel abroad to fight. He refused to buckle under popular opinion for this decision and still managed to not only hold the heavyweight title, but defended multiple times throughout.
George Foreman – Persistence (it’s never too late)
George Foreman squared up to Muhammad Ali several times and actually beat him in their first bouts. He is not only a former heavyweight champion (being the oldest person to hold the title), he is also a gold medal Olympian. Even though he had a tough childhood, dropping out of school at 15 he took up boxing which led him to a fruitful career. After losing to Muhammad Ali and not able to get another title shot he retired in 1977. Foreman then surprisingly returned in 1994 at the advanced (for athletes of all discipline) age of 45. Not only did he return, but he also managed to regain his Heavyweight Champion title after defeating Michael Moorer who at 27 was already 18 years his junior. He retired again three years later at the age of 48 with an astounding record of 76 wins, 68 of which were knockouts, to 5 losses.
Joe Frazer – Defined by experience (make your own way, not the one dictated by your past)
Frazer was an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion and Olympic gold medallist with only two losses during his professional career, both of which attributed to the best boxers (Ali and Foreman) at the time. His beginnings were humble though, being born in a rural community close to Beaufort, South Carolina to a family of 12 children. His father and mother were sharecroppers that made a meagre living and soon after adolescence (at age 12) Frazer started working. In a farming accident Frazer fell on a brick that resulted in a deep gash, but due to the families financial situation he wasn’t able to visit a doctor. As a result, his arm healed on its own and Frazer couldn’t straighten it fully for the rest of his life. At age 15 and after a verbal altercation with his (white) employer, Frazer left for New York in fear of retaliation. He won his Olympic Gold Medal with a broken thumb, even though he was a back-up boxer for the U.S. Olympic team.
Sugar Ray Leonard – Fear the introvert (speak with actions not words/ adapt)
He was one of the first boxers to be awarded over 100 million dollars. Not only this, but he also won world titles in five separate weight divisions, was an Olympic Gold Medalist and is a Boxing Hall of Fame inductee. Unlike the boisterous and tumulus childhoods the previous boxers had, Sugar Ray Leonard was quite an introverted child, mainly spending his time reading comic books and spending time in his room. His mother had described him as not talking much, but never having problems with him. Later on though, life happened for Ray. While he was competing in the Olympics, his girlfriend and mother of his child applied for welfare naming Ray as the father, the state then filed a civil suit against him, which he was completely unaware of. Upon returning he had to scrap his plans to go to college to support his wife and child and after both his mother and father became ill and unable to work, Sugar Ray decided to become a professional boxer at which not only he excelled at, he also became one of the most famous boxers in history.
Mike Tyson – Through tragedy can come success
It is widely known that Mike Tyson had a rough life; he had always lived in high crime areas and was known to the authorities at a very young age, in fact he had been arrested 38 times by the time he was 13 years old. His rough life though would become worse before it became better. Mike Tyson’s mother passed away when Mike was 16 years old. Cus D’ Amato was declared Tyson’s legal guardian as he had become very close with Mike during his three previous years of training the youth. Two years after his mother’s death, Tyson would make his professional debut with a first round knockout against Hector Mercedes. Mike has been quoted as saying that his biggest regret was that his mother only saw him as a troubled youth, but not as someone that accomplished anything.
See also: Professional Lessons by Jeremy Clarkson
Are there any other inspiring career lessons that can be taught from professional boxers? Let me know in the comment section below.