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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
March 22, 2013


I’m getting ready to pick up a friend, then head to the boxing/mma gym where my son trains. After his work-out, we’ll go to his apartment, to watch the ESPN Friday Night Fights. They come on at 10 pm/est, and I’d recommend tonight’s main event to DU sports fans, as it should be an action-packed bout.

In the past, we’ve had trouble getting sparring for my boy. He’s a bit over 6’ tall, and can compete anywhere from 195 to 215 lbs. Not big for today’s heavyweights; but unless it was a 6’ 6”, 250-lb opponent, he can fight in that division. (Amateurs have a “super heavyweight” division, but the professionals do not.) And the cruiserweight division is an option, too.

Since he’s getting sparring, we’re looking for him to debut in the pros in May. We’ll be traveling to next week’s ESPN FNFs, in part to see the undercard for potential victims.

Since January, when he started sparring, 80% of the sparring partners have quit after one round. I’m only having my boy go at about 50% with them, and they are using the 16-ounce gloves and headgear. But this kid punches very, very hard: this spring will mark the 50th anniversary of my first amateur bout, and in all of these years, I’ve never seen a local or regional fighter that has such punching power. (I have seen guys like Joe Frazier and Ernie Shavers live, and so I have seen some top fighters with unbelievable power! I’m not comparing my boy’s to theirs’ ….but there are similarities: an unconscious opponent is unconscious.)

On good nights, we line up four good guys, and have them rotate round by round, so my boy does 12 to 16 straight rounds. The other guys get an extended rest period between the rounds they are in the ring. I’m working on his delivery of punches, because it doesn’t matter how hard you punch, if you are connecting.

He’s pleased to find that the more he improves, the more I can teach him. Young lions tend to be impatient, and want to learn every trick of the trade NOW. But it doesn’t work that way. Still, in the past month, a lot of his rounds of sparring end early. Tough guys find themselves bleeding, flat on their back, or with the wind knocked out of them. And these are bigger, more experienced fighters than him.

I’ll try to remember to get some good photos to post here soon.

March 18, 2013

Fire and Ice

“Fear is the primary motivator of sheep or slaves, or at least those slaves who have never attempted to regain their freedom. If, because of fear, we go against what we feel deep down to be real, right, good, and true, then we go against ourselves.”
-- Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; Eye of the Hurricane; page 6.

Fear saturates our society. I have encountered it in talking to activists, union members, social workers, boxers, and a wide range of other folks that I’ve talked to in recent weeks. I see it on the television and in newspapers. More, fear mutates and becomes hatred, which politicians peddle like snake oil salesmen.

Buddha said, “Do not be afraid.” In the gospel of Matthew -- which contains some 15 Buddha-like sayings -- one reads the prophet Jesus saying, “Do not worry” (6:25) and twice saying, “Do not be afraid” (14:27 & 17 ). In more modern times, prophets including Gandhi, King, and Malcolm X spoke about the damage that fear does to individuals and society.

Yet people, even “great” individuals, feel fear from time to time. Indeed, the human brain evolved in a manner that made fear a function for survival. That same structure that created the general wariness which helped our ancestors survive on the savannahs in Africa still exists; however, the anxiety and fear from former times often limit’s the quality of life for modern mankind. There is a difference between fear of poison snakes in, say, the Amazon jungles, than in Atlanta apartment buildings.

There is also a difference between the poison snakes that crawl on the ground, and those that inhabit Fox News and the Republican Party. But, before going there, I’d like to focus on an issue relating to early childhood development that is important. At least I think it is.

Parents have the opportunity, and obligation, to teach youngsters four building-blocks that will help them deal with those challenges and stumbling blocks that people encounter when they enter the larger society. These are, in order, that the child is: (1) loveable; (2) worthwhile; (3) capable; and (4) responsible. Thus, the parent(s) communicate that: I love you; you are worth my time, and I enjoy spending time with you; you can accomplish what you set your mind to; and I trust you to think for yourself.

Even with a firm foundation made of these four building blocks, the larger society can be difficult to navigate. For our culture has purposely lied to people for many years. It has taught far, far too many people that they are not loveable or worthwhile, for example, because of the color of their skin, their weight, their sexual identity, and many other factors. More, it has defined the female as less capable and responsible than the male. And while it is certainly true that our society has made progress in many of these areas, the fact remains that American culture does not provide a level playing field.

The very concept that a clown like George W. Bush could be considered for president, much less be installed by the US Supreme Court despite losing the 2000 election, would be considered a joke in a healthy society. Yet, not only was he installed into that office, but he used fear and hatred to shred the Constitution, and promote never-ending warfare abroad. And while I hesitate to say anything that could be mistaken as giving George W. Bush credit for anything, it is accurate to say that the forces he fronted for not only saturated American society with toxic fears and hatreds, they promoted the growth of destructive social inequalities and injustices that require each of us to overcome our fears and hatreds in order to prevent the utter destruction of this country.

There is no “leader” that can do this for us. There is no man or women who can do for us what we need to do for ourselves. No politician could do it, even if they wanted to. No Gandhi, King, or Malcolm to lead us to some promised land. For better or for worse, it’s up to us. You and me.

I’ve spoken a great deal about the sport of boxing on DU over the years. As a boxer, then a trainer/manager of amateur and professional fighters, I learned about fear. The great wizard of boxing, Cus D’Amato, used to say that everyone who gets into that ring knows fear. That’s true: you begin to experience it in the weeks and days before a bout, and you sure as heck feel it the day of a bout. It builds as you arrive at the arena, and grows while you prepare to enter the ring. And everyone from the amateur ranks to the sport’s greatest champions has to deal with that fear.

Cus compared fear to fuel. He often said that the coward is consumed by that fuel, while the hero transforms it into the fire required to win. In that sense, I can say -- only slightly tongue in cheek -- that all of human life imitates the Great Sport.

Obviously, there are differences. In boxing, one uses that fuel in order to not only exploit the weaknesses in the opponent’s style, but also to be able to turn their strengths against them. For that is the brutal reality of boxing: one seeks to inflict organ damage with body punches, and to render the opponent either unconscious, or otherwise unable to continue, with punches to his head. However, tempting as it may be at times, we should not take this approach in socio-political activism.

In order to institute meaningful change, we need to engage in individual and group campaigns of nonviolence, in the manner of Gandhi and King. This is the most effective way of creating avenues towards progress. It is also the most difficult, and requires the greatest strength.

When we read about Gandhi and King’s campaigns for social justice, we see that these exercises in nonviolence were transformational. On the surface, it is apparent that both Gandhi and King focused their nonviolence on the opposition, as well as the undecided people in the larger society. Equally important, but too frequently overlooked, it allowed for both men to have the patience needed to deal with the internal conflicts that so often threatened the movements they helped to lead.

Many of those who worked with Gandhi and King were often engaged in heated internal struggles. These were conflicts over tactics, and other issues. Under the stresses that social movements always face, even petty jealousies surface. These are known as “power struggles.” It was largely due to their commitment to nonviolence -- specifically the ability to have an open mind, admit to errors, and accept that others will have different views and even unattractive personal shortcomings -- that Gandhi and King are recognized as being the most powerful, influential member of their movements.

Such an approach is definitely needed in society today. Heck, I even think it might make this forum a more meaningful place to discuss social and political issues …..even the more emotionally volatile ones.

H2O Man

March 6, 2013

Two Questions

{1} Who do you think was a more honorable leader: Dick Cheney or Hugo Chavez?

{2} Why?

March 2, 2013

Fracking on Ice


AP: “NY Fracking Held, as Cuomo, RFK, Jr. Talk Health

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came as close as he ever has to approving fracking last month, laying out a limited drilling plan for as many as 40 gas wells before changing course to await the findings of a new study after discussions with environmentalist and former brother-in-law Robert F. Kennedy Jr., several people familiar with his thinking told The Associated Press.

The turning point, which could delay a decision for up to a year or longer, came in a series of phone calls with Kennedy. The two discussed a new health study on the hydraulic fracturing drilling method that could be thorough enough to trump all others in a debate that has split New York for five years.

"I think the issue suddenly got simple for him," Kennedy told the AP, then went on to paraphrase Cuomo in their discussions: "'If it's causing health problems, I really don't want it in New York state. And if it's not causing health problems, we should figure out a way we can do it.'"

Kennedy and two other people close to Cuomo, who spoke to the AP only on condition of anonymity because Cuomo is carefully guarding his discussions on the issue, confirmed the outlines of the plan the governor was considering to allow 10 to 40 test wells in economically depressed southern New York towns that want drilling and the jobs it promises. The plan would allow the wells to operate under intense monitoring by the state to see if fracking should continue or expand. ……

See more at:

(Note: The Good Fight continues! I should have more “news” related to this soon. -- Patrick)

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