In This Corner…

Ephesians 6:12

GeorgeForeman

Football was my dad’s favorite sport.  His second favorite was boxing.  He regularly kept up with the status of champions and challengers alike. Jersey Joe Walcott, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, and Sonny Liston were boxers of his era. I watched with him as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier rocked the world on three separate occasions.

Fisticuffs is certainly a manly endeavor; it is simply part of how we are built, and many, if not most, brothers regularly engage in pecking-order disputes. My brother, David, and I were certainly no exception.  We didn’t need much of a reason to duke-it-out. Being brothers was reason enough. One or the other of us was prone to agitate our sibling until the bout was on. The main problem was that Mom had a firm rule, no fighting in the house. Even as young grade-schoolers, we had the ability to reduce coffee tables, chairs, and lamps back to their basic elements as a result of a scuffle, kerfuffle, or row.

Often, our fights were the result of some dispute. Sometimes, however, they were mutually agreed upon multi-round engagements.  We would empty the sock drawer, put four or five socks on each fist, then have at it. (Remember, we were poor.) That would soon be remedied, however.  We carried this practice with us to Uncle Glen’s house and included Eddie and Darrell in our tournaments.  Or maybe they came up with the sock idea first, and we stole it from them. I don’t quite remember.

My dad showed up one day with not one, but two brand-new sets of boxing gloves. I think Mom had been complaining about all our socks being misplaced, stretched out, and having excessive holes.  We would go into the back yard in nothing but our skivvies. put on those gloves, and have a full 15 round competition.  Little did we know, Daddy had ulterior motives.  The next time we got into a for-real fight – no gloves, no kidding, no mercy – he pulled us apart then pulled out the boxing gloves.  “Go get in the back yard…now!” He pulled a chair outside and sat right between us. Then, he pulled his belt off and laid it in his lap.  “If you boys want to fight, you’re going to do it right.  Put on those gloves. When I say, ‘go’ you’re going to fight.  The first one to quit, gets a whippin’. Now…go!” For a moment, we just stood there looking at each other, all glassy eyed.  He popped his belt once, and we simultaneously started swinging.

I really don’t remember how long that fight lasted, but I’m sure it felt longer than it actually was.  No matter the actual time, we both swung, ducked, jabbed, and hooked until we were absolutely exhausted.  Our arms would barely move and we were fighting for breath.  Finally, we decided on a strategy.  We worked it out between gasps for air and pathetically inept punches. Surely, if we both stopped at the same time, he would not whip us both.  It was worth a try. “One, two, three, now!” As I dropped my arms to my side, I didn’t factor in that my little brother was in mid-swing. A half-second later, he landed a pretty good one to my jaw before he too dropped his arms.  I gave him a nasty stare, but opted not to return the favor. I was too tired.  As we glanced over at Daddy to discern whether our plan would work as intended, we saw he was doubled over in a futile attempt to hide his laughter. For that day, at least, Daddy was the clear winner.  We slept well that night.

A few years later, I hit a bit of a growth spurt, but David didn’t.  He was small but still an expert antagonizer.  His go-to incendiary act was turning his back to me, jutting out his rear, slapping it with his hand, and with a Cheshire-cat-grin on his face, yelling out, “Kiss it!  Kiss it!” If it had been only me he did this too, life could have been close to normal.  No. He would pick the biggest high school football defensive tackle and, without pause, employ this David-and-the-giant posterior pose. Many times, I had to make a spur-of-the-moment choice between mustering some feeble attempt to rescue my brother or watching with glee as he got beat to a pulp.  Most times, before I could intervene, he was quick enough to escape, saving us both from certain doom.  Perhaps, it was actually his adversary who got saved. Another practice David had was to quickly find an equalizer. Biblical David used a sling. My brother used whatever was in arm’s reach.  I have had scissors, hammers, wrenches, and dishes all narrowly miss my cranium.

As brothers grow into men, they often realize the folly of these ways.  My brother is now one of the meekest men I know.  I’m sure if he were pushed, that quick-moving, hammer-throwing, spit-slinging little fellow might reappear, but it would take a lot.  Now, we just have couch conversations about challenges our wives and children face and how cute our grand-kids are. As it turns out, our enemy was never each other at all. There is a real enemy, but we engage him on a different battle-field with different weapons, and I fight side-by-side with my brother.

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Published in: on October 25, 2017 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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