The Knock at Death’s Door that wasn’t Answered
Saturday, March 10, 2012 was the day that I claimed I was going to be the 2012 NC Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Champ. There was absolutely nothing you could tell me to make me think otherwise. I was nervous and shaking like a stripper dancing to “Pop That” but I was still focused on the task at hand. After finally seeing who my opponent was my confidence level went to another level. There was no way I was about to let this short chubby out of shape Mexican take my title.
Round 1: I came out blistering a sharp jab. Single jab, double jab, triple jab, and counter right hands…man I couldn’t miss. I hit this kid with flush shot after flush shot. To his credit he was one tough Mexican because the average Joe would’ve been out of there with some of those shots I landed. My coach was his normal calm and relaxed self in the corner giving me instructions and telling me shots to set up. My teammate and sparring partner Spidey was outside the ring yelling and instilling that Dyme Boxing confidence in me with each damaging shot I landed. The crowd was going crazy. I probably had about 50 friends and frat brothers there screaming and cheering. Most of all I could hear my biggest fan, my mama in the back corner of the gym screaming at the top of her lungs for me to knock this sucka out. Round one comes to an end and he waves his fist in frustration as I walk back to my corner.
Round 2: I get off the stool and all of a sudden feel my legs get weak and fatigued…
Before I finish let me start from the beginning. The routine before a fight is to cut the weight, weigh-in, spend the next 4-5 hours hydrating back up and then fight. It’s really that simple. Well on this particular day everything didn’t go as planned. I made my 178 pound weight limit as always and then I went to go eat and hydrate. I went to a restaurant and had a grilled Salmon, some steamed broccoli, and green beans. I left after the meal and I was at the light to turn onto the highway and my guts started rumbling. Lawd have mercy if you could’ve seen the look on my face. Mannnnnnn I didn’t think I was going to make it to the house on time. I’ll save all the disgusting details but I’ll just say I had the runs for about two hours on and off. I’m on the toilet gulping down water and squirting at the same time. I’m feeling terrible but I figure I have another 3 hours or so before my fight so I’ll be ok. Hell I’ve been in the gym before after a night of drinking and sparred long hard rounds so I figured I’d be ok.
Finally after I was able to get up I went to another restaurant and got me some chicken, mac and cheese and some greens. I’m determined to get something to stay on my stomach. I get back home and try to take a quick nap but guess what……. Yep , right back on the toilet. Man I don’t know what’s wrong with me but whatever it was, it wasn’t going to stop me from fighting. I had too much pride to pull out at this time.
Finally I head back to the gym where the fight is about to take place and grab me a Gatorade on the way. While I’m there I eat an apple to go along with my Gatorade and I’m honestly feeling fine. I gear up, get warmed up, and speak to all my fans I see coming to watch me fight. Everything is a go like it normally is…
Round 2 (continued): I’m trying to bounce around to make sure I’m good but something just isn’t feeling right. As hard as we train at Dyme Boxing there isn’t no way I should be feeling fatigued. I’ve done 8 straight rounds with only 30 seconds breaks in between before so three measly little rounds shouldn’t be shit!
At this point everything became a blur. My arms felt heavy and I couldn’t throw anything effective. I don’t remember exactly what happen in the ring from this point besides this short dude was throwing and landing punches on me that I would normally be able to slip, anchor and half a step. The referee had refereed my previous fight were I had stopped the guy in the first round so he knew what type of fighter I was and taking these type of shots wasn’t my MO. He finally stops the fight and I drag myself over to my corner and the first thing my coach says is stand up and look strong. Hell that’s what we do at Dyme so it wasn’t like he was being an asshole to me. Spidey was outside of the ring telling me the same thing. I don’t know what it was but I knew something wasn’t right. I stumble to the middle of the ring to congratulate my opponent and as I’m walking to the ropes to exit the ring I pass out.
From here on I don’t remember much. All of the information that I have from here is what I gathered from different folks who witnessed this incident. My frat brother and Uncle Bernard was holding me in his arms while I laid there motionless. My mother was crying as expected and everyone was worried. I remember waking up once in the ambulance and hearing folks trying to get me to respond and then I was back out. I was up again in the ER but this time I could respond. All I remember was I kept asking for water, they wouldn’t give me any and the Chaplin was wetting a sponge and squeezing it in my math when even though he was told not to. Again….I was out! I was told they lost me in the ambulance and brought me back to life. Sheesh…smh!
The next thing I remember is waking up and the ICU and all I saw was friends, family, and frat brothers. Everybody was clapping and my mama was over there just a crying. Man I had no idea what was going on but I knew whatever it was that it prevented me from winning that fight. My childhood friend, Brooks told me the first thing I said was “that Mexican didn’t beat me.”
The first three days in the hospital I spent sleeping the majority of the time. I was hooked up to a catheter and man that was a terrible feeling! I couldn’t walk for three days and I had to depend on my mother, friends, and nurses to do everything for me. Anybody who knows me knows how much I hate having to ask for help but I was helpless.
I suffered from an extreme case of server dehydration which caused my kidneys to fail and I had a muscle break down. Long story short, I’m suppose to be dead. My blood pressure was through the roof! Even now my blood pressure is around 140. My doctor claims I was lucky but my parents, friends, family, and others who pray say I was blessed. Obviously God still has plans for me. Maybe it’s the non profit organization The Open Book Foundation that I’m the vice president of. Maybe what God wants for me just haven’t come yet? I don’t know either way I’m thankful.
The doctor told me that I’d never fight again and even if I wanted to workout it would probably be another year before I could do anything. He also said that I barely escaped having to be on dialysis for the rest of my life. I was in pretty bad shape. After a week in the hospital they finally sent me home. My main physician was upset because he felt I wasn’t stable enough to be home but I believe the insurance company kicked me out. Either way my big homie, my brother Big Kev came and scooped me up. Of course my mom’s wouldn’t let me go back home for at least two weeks and wouldn’t let me drive either. After about three weeks she finally let me go home.
I visited the gym a couple of times. Everybody got good laughs at me for blowing up to 200 pounds while in the hospital. That’s what 21 I.V. Bags will do to you. I was absolutely determined to get back in that gym and fight again despite what the doctor and my mom’s said. I’d go every now and then just to watch because I wanted to be in the gym. I finally asked coach about working out again and he said I wouldn’t be able to work out like I use to again for at least 3-6 months. I took it as I can’t do anything in the gym for at least 3-6 months. I wasn’t upset but I was more disappointed than anything because I put myself in that position. It’s impossible for me to explain my passion for boxing. It’s been like a rite of passage for me. Growing up without a father figure will leave you with a lot of questions that no one but a father can answer and explain in a way that it’s clearly understood. For that Coach James Pressley I say thank you for all of those discussions we’ve had on those long road trips to and from fights because you probably have no idea what you’ve done for me.
About a month or so has passed and I haven’t been back in the gym because if I couldn’t workout I didn’t want to be in there, it was like torture to me. One day I get a text from coach it says, “your presence in the gym hasn’t gone unnoticed.” Anybody that knows coach knows he’s a man of few words and the words he do say are rarely direct and simple. The next day I show up to the gym in sweats and he allows me to shadow box for three rounds and that’s it. Again I get frustrated because he isn’t allowing me to do much in the gym at all. I’ve always trusted coach so whatever he says I roll with it. Slowly but surely coach works me back to where I was before I my accident. About three and a half months pass, I walk in the gym and coach tells me to gear up. Gearing up means to get ready to spar. Man I was happier than a faggot with a bag of dingalings. By this time my endurance had come back to about 80% but my skill level had risen because the last three months all coach had me working on was my endurance and my skills. Little did I know there was a method to the madness. I literally came back as a better boxer because I had to focus more on the basics while I couldn’t receive any contact. As always coach knew what he was doing.
July comes around and I’m back sparring with the pros. I’m feeling good about myself and keeping my health up. I’ve improved at all of my doctor’s appointments and the kidney specialist that I had been going to see every month finally released me. At the beginning of August I come in the gym and coach tells me there is a fight card on August 18th. I’m like “yea…ok…?” He asks do I want to fight and my eyes light up!
About two months after being released from the hospital I see this tribute video on youtube about fighters being down in fights and coming back to be victorious. The soundtrack on the video was Adele – Hometown Glory. Watching this video gave me the extra inspiration I needed to prove everybody wrong. Nobody but me and the folks in the gym believed I’d fight again. Everybody else thought I was crazy but they just didn’t understand my drive and motivation.
Fight day comes and I’m nervous as usual but excited all at the same time. Leading up to the fight I was drinking over a gallon of water a day. Even though food poison was the reason I dehydrated I still wanted to be sure so I kept chugging that water. We did the normal routine of cutting weight, weighing in and rehydrating after the weigh ins. I see my opponent, he’s bigger than me, just as fast as me, and I seen him dismantle and completely embarrass a dude the last time I seen him fight. Talking about shaking in my boots!!!
I’ve geared up, warmed up and I’m ready to go. All of my frat bruhz were there and a ton of my friends again. Not one single person from my family showed up to the fight. My mother wasn’t there because after the hospital she absolutely hated the sport that she felt almost took her son’s life. Even though I explained to her my situation had nothing to do with boxing, she didn’t care. I told other family members and for various reasons they couldn’t make or just didn’t want to come. Either way it goes they weren’t there. It concerned and bothered me but I couldn’t go in the ring thinking about that. My teammate knew how I felt about it and right before the fight he said, “Do work, and your Dyme family is here for you.”
We’re walking to the ring and I’m shaking. I wanted to back out but my pride wouldn’t let me, I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my fans, and most of all my coach wasn’t having that shit! It wasn’t losing that concerned me; it was the chance that the same freak accident or “perfect storm” as my doctor put it could happen again.
The bell rings and all nerves go out the window, it’s time to do work. The first round was slow, more of a feeling out round. When I come back to my stool, coach says he felt I won that round but gave me instructions and told me to turn up my activity a bit more. I stand up from the stool feeling more confident. I pick up the action and land a few more shots than the previous round. The round is coming to an end, my opponent makes a crucial mistake and I capitalize on it with an overhand right from hell. Make’em miss make’em pay is what coach always says.
During those months when all I could do was work on skill I learned a move called a half a step and counter. This is the same exact move I caught my opponent with and I rocked him bad. He was saved by the bell. The next round I come out and absolutely dominate him. I won the decision and I could’ve cried…but I didn’t. I thanked my coach about a hundred times and he looks at me and simply says, “That’s what you were suppose to do” and walks off.
Golden Gloves comes back around this year and I redeem myself. I won that sucka and impressively. My mom’s still haven’t been back to a fight but it’s ok. She understands why I still do it and that’s all that matters to me.
I can’t thank my friends enough. You couldn’t tell Cheryl she wasn’t my mother/girlfriend while I was in the hospital. She was there EVERYDAY and stayed every night until I was released. She would get up in the middle of the night and check on me, force me to drink water, and dealt with my attitude the whole time. I’d wake up, call for my moms, Cheryl would get up and ask what I needed while my mom’s would peek over her shoulder and act like she was sleep. Cheryl, Thank You!
Tonya, during the day when everybody was either gone or busy doing something you was right there with me. You had every reason not to be there but your heart had you there anyway. You know I ain’t shit but you still stuck around to help a bruh out. Thank You!
Big Kev, you my brother from another mother. I just met you in 2008 but it seems like I’ve been knowing you since 1988. You always come through in the clutch for me. You and your brother made sure me and all of my family stayed fed while I was in the hospital and you helped my mom with everything she needed while in there with me. Big Dog I got nothing but love for you.
Uncle Bernard aka Pit Bull, you was there to catch me when I fell out, woke up, and made it out. I don’t come around as often as I should but you don’t let it affect our relationship. I can’t say thank you enough.
Brent, TJ, Chris, Mike, all the bruhz from Pi Phi and Que Psi Phi was big with the support and inspiration. Seeing you guys everyday kept me going and laughing. I swear I needed it. Ain’t a thing in this world I wouldn’t do for y’all. Chris and Mike, y’all still cat for bailing on me and Brent on his birthday but all that matters is how you see yourselves. LOL
Coach James, I don’t even know what to say. There isn’t anything good enough I can say to express my appreciation for everything you’ve done these last three years in my life. I knew you were upset because you thought I was drunk the week before the fight but I’m glad you listened to me and let me explain to you that I wasn’t. Thanks again, coach. As well you know there isn’t a thing in this world I wouldn’t do for you.
If I missed anybody I swear I didn’t do it on purpose. I just didn’t want to make this thing any longer than it had to be but thank all of you guys that were there for me when I was down and almost out. I appreciate my coworkers, family, friends, and everybody else who uplifted me.