I did a lot of my growing up in southern Arkansas. We were not hillbillies, but we were not far off. We lived out in the country where the nearest neighbors may have very well been pediphiles. Not that I know for sure mind you, but they did have the creepy factor going on. It might have been that they used an outhouse, it might have been that the oldest son stole a check book from my father or it might have been that the youngest daughter was super hot. I’m not really sure which, but they were creepy.
Being that we were in the sticks I didn’t have many playmates around. I had not developed into the big city superdad that I was soon to become so I hung around with my older brother almost constantly. Yes, I was a toadie. I am proud to have been a former toadie.. It has taught me many things in life, such as how take orders, avoid confrontation and never ever look someone in the eye when they are aggressive. It was a survival instinct and I make no apologies for it. You don’t know man, you don’t know.
My father did not make it easy at times for the life of a toadie, but he did try. One year for Christmas, my brother and I received a set of boxing gloves. I didn’t know how to take this. Did my brother ask for them because his knuckles were getting sore on my head? I have an extremely hard noggin so it serves the bastard right. Or was my father trying to give me a cushion between each blow? I suppose it didn’t matter because my brother couldn’t wait to try them out. I will say that I never ran and threw back a few elbows of my own, once almost breaking his jaw. Hands down the best punch I ever landed. Flush, square, completely clean shot. It even had the sound effects. I count it as one of my major accomplishments. Contrary to what you believe, my brother and I are extremely close. There was no one else to play with and he beat up more bullies for me than I can remember. It was like calling in an air strike, make the call, give coordinates and just stand back.
As the boxing gloves were new and contained some wonder, my brother needed the right scene for his future demolition of his little brother. Not some pasty living room with no crowd. He wanted to charge admission, hear the roar of the crowd and have live TV broadcasts with Cossell. To accomplish this, my brother came up with one of his truly great ideas—we should build a boxing ring.
To my amazement, I completely got on board with this idea. It would be the stage for the underdog, a sight to my great comeback and right of passage into manhood. Hell yes we would build a boxing ring. I would do my best work ever, time to saddle up bubba.
He being 7 and me being 5 didn’t daunt us away from building. My dad was a carpenter so we always had plenty of hammers and boards laying around. We scavenged the wood pile, yes we had one, and come up with a number of 2 x12’s and got to work. It took all day and my brother had extensive plans. We laid them out on 2x4’s and then put the floor in. It was perfect, a great Coliseum. However we had no idea how to put in ropes and posts. My brother decided that we didn’t need this and the work was complete, time to strap on the gloves.
The first bout lasted all of one punch.
Yup, I hit the deck hard. I realized that this would not be the stage of my comeback, but the platform on my gateway to hell. I had built my own coffin, damn my optimism. I went in all full of fire, straight at him. There was no ducking, no dodging or weaving, no turning to the side. I came around with a big haymaker only to catch one right in the nose. Bam, down I went.
Ok, round two. This time around I managed to last at least for a full minute. I had learned from my first mistake. I had learned that I would need to do this boxing technique called “blocking”, thus allowing me not to get hit. It truly is amazing. I went in the second time with gloves up. That is when he changed strategies on me and went to my gut. On good kidney punch and I was gasping the Mother Mary for forgiveness on my knees.
But I was the David to his Golaiath. I would not give up. I had one thing that he did not count on. I fought dirty.
Round three, it’s go time. My brother started in with a barrage. That was fine, just had to last one more second. Have to get in close, feel his breath on me, hear his grunts, just a little closer.
That’s when I landed it. The beauty punch straight to the balls. Yes, it was intentional. Like a sack of potatoes, down he went. Victory was mine.
Then I did what any little brother would do when he landed a great punch. I called it quits and ran like hell. The boxing gloves went flying off my hands as I ran straight for my father. Hide behind a leg where he couldn’t get me, that was the way to go. He was Mickey to my Rocky and my brother couldn’t touch me.
It turns out that I didn’t have to run, my brother couldn’t get up that quick. My dad would take no pity on him for leaving himself open like that and I had the feeling that pops would be somewhat proud of me for holding my own. Of course, retribution came later that night, but it was worth it. We used the boxing ring only a couple more times, but my brother didn’t get as close to me as he had before.