Well into our training, when we were all in peak physical shape, a morning was set aside for boxing. No one, except the Instructors, knew who the opponents would be. The basic rules were pronounced. Names of the upcoming two adversaries would be called out. Protective headgear would be put on. They’d square off, touch gloves and commence boxing. After three minutes, a whistle would be blown. The contestants would rest for a moment and then the match would continue for another round. The match would last three rounds. We were ready! The matches began.
I had never boxed before! … I’d been raised with tenderness. We watched as at least half a dozen opponents entered the ring and fought. At the end of each fight, a winner was pronounced. Up until now, the opponents had been fairly well matched and no real injuries were sustained. Oh No!! … What was that? They just called out my name!
I was paired with “Bradley” … A Cadet who had me by about 20 pounds. He was larger and stronger than I was but my arms were longer. We walked out into the ring and I held my gloves up to touch his, but instead of touching gloves … He knocked the hell out of me! I went down. He’d been telling other Cadets he was going to do that, but the word never got back to me. Even as I was going down to my knees, I forgave him. I figured he just wasn’t paying attention to the rules. That’s when he hit me behind the head and completely flattened me out.
The time for compassion had ended.
“Get him Bryan! Get him!” The crowd hollered.
For the first time in my life … I was really pissed! I came up like a tornado and the destruction began.
I gave Bradley a blow to the nose and ripped one of his nostrils. You could see the blood and one side of his nose flapping in the breeze. We fought and we fought. I was constantly listening and we were well past the three-minute limit, but the whistle never blew. I was getting in the better licks but neither one of us went down. We fought some more. Where was that damn whistle? After awhile, we both began to look like windmills that were slinging wet noodles at one another. Finally, we both just sat down. We were absolutely exhausted, but still … There was no whistle! Were our Instructors trying to kill us?
As we rested, I put my arm around Bradley and apologized to him for busting his nose. From then on, we were like “Mutt and Jeff” … He followed me around everywhere! Wherever I went, Bradley wanted to go. It had to be quite amusing to see … Big ole him, following little ole me. We had all learned a lot. Graduation was drawing closer.