Some may know, but for those of you that don’t, my curriculum vitae reads: Founder and Chairman of XEN-DO Martial Arts; World, European and British Kickboxing Champion; and WAKO British Kickboxing Coach.
As a result, I have a vast experience of what it is like to compete inside the ring at the highest level. I have felt what it is like to carry the immense external pressure of public expectation weighing heavy on your shoulders as well as the internal struggle for personal glory. I comprehend the immovable focus and desire needed to win and the fear and anguish that comes with knowing that you are about to step into a war-zone.
The only thing that upped the ante even further was when I hung up my gloves, became a father and turned coach for my son, Anthony. Watching him step inside the ring at a competition and seeing him take just one hit hurt more than all the punches and kicks I had received in my career put together. It is for this reason why the actions of Chris Eubank Senior resonated with me so strongly.
On 26 March 2016, Chris Eubank Jnr beat Chris Blackwell to win the British Middleweight Title. That is what the score card reads at least. In reality, it was a blood bath. Reports since have stated that Blackwell suffered bleeding on the brain and he has had to be placed into a medically induced coma to reduce the risk of brain damage and hopefully avoid surgery. I have already written to the British Boxing Board of Control to voice my concerns that there is not more protection for our fighters and it still astounds and quite frankly disgusts me that in 2016 fights can still be allowed to reach such obviously dangerous levels.
To illustrate my previous point, at the end of the eighth round, Chris Eubank Snr stepped into the ring to speak to his son as he had done at the end of all the previous rounds. This time, however, it wasn’t to talk tactics. It was to potentially save the life of the young man in the opposite corner, whose aim was to beat his own son to the canvass. With all the fears and pressures I have mentioned above in his mind and the eyes of the world watching, he could probably have been forgiven for uttering the words “finish him”. Instead, he said:
‘The next time you throw a flurry like that, if the referee doesn’t stop it then I don’t know what to tell you,’
‘I will tell you this, if he doesn’t stop it and we keep on beating him like this he’s getting hurt.
‘Why hasn’t the referee stopped the fight? I don’t get why.’
‘Maybe you shouldn’t leave it to the referee. But you’re not going to take him out to the face, you’re going to take him out to the body.’
He actively told his son to avoid punching Blackwell to the head, not only possibly risking the outcome of the British title fight, but also placing his own son’s health in jeopardy. It may have been that he knew the fight was won, it may have been the memory of Michael Watson weighing heavily in his mind all these years later. I cannot know the exact reason behind Eubank Snr’s words but I do believe that he saw the severity of the situation and thus his actions were borne out of kindness, empathy, and compassion for his fellow human being. To punctuate how wrong the officials got it, Eubanks Snr was asked to leave the ring at this point so the beating could continue.
In 2014, Eubank Snr gave an interview speaking about the methods he was using to train his son to be a great boxer. He explained that part of that was preparing him mentally as well as physically and so he had asked his son to learn the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling. A line of this poem reads:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
…you’ll be a Man, my son!
On 26 March 2016, Chris Eubank Snr backed his words up with actions and potentially prevented a life-changing injury or worse. He certainly kept his head while all those were losing theirs.
Chris Eubank Snr has won my admiration. What a great coach, dad, and human being! My absolute respect goes to him and a knighthood would not be too great an accolade for this act of compassion.
This article is based on opinion:
– the author is not a qualified doctor or anyone who can dispense medical advice.
– any opinions stated are just that and people should consult a doctor before making any dietary changes or changes of any nature prompted by the articles published by or on behalf of Xen-Do.
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