The Dictionary definition of a champion is “A person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition” but in my opinion there are so many other attributes that can make a champion great or stand out from the others.
Everyone has a different opinion on what these attributes are and always makes for a great debate when talking about possible champions that could potentially fight each other.
People who are at the top end of their sport are often admired by those involved in the sport; on a professional basis and as a fan. In all cases these champions are in the public eye in one way or the other, some more so than others. From the big time boxers like Pacquiao and Mayweather to your chess champion Viswanathan Anand. All will be looked up to in their chosen field.
I put a status up a while ago on Facebook saying “Self-praise is for losers. Be a winner. Stand for something. Always have class, and be humble”. For me these are qualities I like to see in a champion. Any role model needs to think what image they are portraying to those who look up to them. The attributes that I admire and try to portray as a champion myself are:-
To achieve any goal in life you will need this. Along the way you will come across hurdles that could put any aspiring champion off. No matter what happens you must remain determined to achieve what you have set out to do.
I have seen some fighters who are behind on the scorecards just give up. If you think your losing or way behind on points, there is no harm in continuing to fight your heart out. You never know you may turn it around.
Going through the book there was a common theme with Tysons opponents, until you came across Evander Holyfield.
He was the only one that had self belief going into the contest. Holyfield was written off by almost everyone. He even used Tyson for inspiration being a small heavyweight himself, this would have meant he would have put him on a pedestal at some point. You can see the confidence grow with every round as Holyfield bullied the bully. This contest was one of the biggest upsets in boxing history with Iron Mike being stopped in the 11th round.
Manny Pacquiao is probably the biggest boxing celebrity ever in the history of sport. You may try to argue this point with the likes of Ali or Joe Louis but they weren’t a national icon to 95 million of their countrymen, or a majority of Asia which is 65% of the world’s population.
With all he has achieved in the ring I am yet to hear him blow his own trumpet and tell the world how great he is. He gives time to all his fans and you never see him act as if he is better than anyone.
Along with his skill, this is a quality I admire greatly. Not many fighters achieve what this eight times world champion has, and still manages to stay humble. With ability comes humility.
No one likes to see arrogance and bad sportsmanship in any sport. The fight game has its fair share of egos, but there is no excuse for you not to conduct yourself in the appropriate manner. Respect should be given in the right circumstances.
You will see this a lot with a majority of Thai fighters, I guess because the respect value is so deeply enriched in their culture. It’s a quality I greatly admire and one that any role model not just fighters should try to portray.
I’m not saying you have to be nice during the contest; it is a fight after all. When I fought Rungravee he actually looked like he wanted to rip my head off. The respect that he gave after the final bell is one that I will remember for sometime. It just shows that you can mean business and be respectful at the same time.
This is fundamental for any good champion to possess. One of the biggest examples I’ve seen is from the epic battles between Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward.
The first fight is the best in my opinion, and should be in the boxing hall of fame for one of the greatest fights in boxing history. What makes this fight special is the fact that both boxers show immense courage. Both shook off punishment that could have easily broken the will of many fighters.
In the 9th round Ward really gives it Gatti and had the referee stopped the fight, I don’t think many would have objected. The courage that Gatti showed to stay on his feet was truly inspirational.
They fought three times in total, each one a war; to even take the rematches show great courage considering the first one was enough to retire any ordinary boxer.
Over the years I can honestly say there have been a number of students walk into the gym that have been more naturally gifted than myself. The attributes listed above are some of the characteristics that have allowed me to achieve more and why I’m still around so long after.
I’m sure this can go for any champion of any era from any gym. It would be interesting to hear what other attributes people try to portray themselves?