Memoirs of a Middleweight – Episode 1

My mouth is dry, my feet so very cold, yet beads of sweat run down my sides. From under white gauze and surgical tape, my fingers protrude like icicles. Under my black robe, name blocked across the back, my body glistens in baby oil. I’m standing in my lucky socks and broken shoes, blood stained from past battles. At my feet, there’s a bucket of ice, a water bottle taped white, and hospital dressings stamped with a red cross.

It’s evening in Atlantic City and I’m a professional fighter.

I’m waiting in my dressing room. The fight before mine is scheduled for eight rounds, but they warn me, “stay warm, that kid Rosario can punch.” Outside, I hear the energized crowd…inside, the room is makeshift and filthy…the bell tolls, but not for me. Someone comes in. “Get loose, kid, the fight’s not going the distance.” My manager hops off the table and grabs my gloves, rolled into balls, cinched to keep a tight fist. “C’mon, Mark, it’s time,” he says.

From my trainer…my father…come words of wisdom, how to stay upright during the challenge that awaits. “Stay busy with this guy, don’t get trapped along the ropes…stay focused…don’t lose concentration!”

“Okay,” I mumble.

I hear the crowd scream…must be a knockout! The commission inspector pushes aside the dressing room curtain, clipboard in hand,  and shouts, “Okay, McPherson, glove up—you’re on!”

Jimmy, my manager, unrolls the gloves…holds them open for my icicle fingers. It really is time, and my heart’s sending a message:

There’s so much more to life!

College campuses…Student centers and rathskellers….Noontime delis….Lunch trucks….Watering holes for the working class…Weekends off, paid holidays, a day at the mall…Friends for happy hour…White shirts and ties, and shoes that keep a beat on the concrete…“Did you see the new girl in the office? “Softball games…office pools….Lists of appointments and interviews…

What am I doing here?
To be continued… Read next episode!