Years ago in Brisbane I met a former Gladstonian, Graham Dicker. Graham is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and it came as a bit of a shock to learn that he used to be a boxer of some fame, and a real terror in the ring. From that point on I laughed heartily at all his jokes, no matter how bad they were.
Graham was so quick that he could hit you at least four or five times while you were dropping to the floor, and as someone with all the speed of a very old and heavily sedated wombat, I stood in awe of him.
My own boxing career started and finished one night at a mates’ barbecue. A group of us young bucks were bragging about the various codes of self defence we were involved in at the time, each convinced that our particular brand of martial arts was superior. An old bloke laughed at us, “Ha! You’re all wrong, a good boxer would clean up the lot of you.”
What happened next was completely my fault. To cut a long story short, we ended up beneath the clothesline for a ‘friendly’ sparring session. The old fella wasn’t keen, “Can’t you just take my word for it?” he asked.
“Don’t worry pops,” I said, patting him on the back, “I’ll take it easy on you.”
We squared up, and there was a blur of movement. “Struth!” he cried, “You alright?”
“I’m fine!” I roared, scrambling to my feet.
“You know,” he said, “it’s not a crime to block the odd punch, regardless of how slow I’m throwing them.”
I lunged at him. He helped me back up, “Feel like quitting?” he asked hopefully.
Focussing on his fuzzy outline I growled, “No, I’ve got your measure now.” Feinting right, I swung in hard and hit empty air.
“I’ve hurt my hand,” he said as he helped me to my feet again, “better go hold a cold beer to stop the swelling.”
“Yeah, good idea,” I mumbled through numb lips whilst checking my skull for possible fracture. We agreed to call it a tie and I helped him back inside by draping myself across his shoulders.
That night I learned that that no matter how good you think you are, sooner or later you’ll meet someone faster, stronger, and cleverer than yourself, and I’m very grateful the old fella knocked that message into my head before I met Graham and challenged him to a ‘friendly’ bout.