Punchy Pete, your favorite up and coming boxer, is going to take a dive today. When his face hits that canvas in the second, even though you've barely ever spoken to him for more than a few seconds after a fight, you're gonna feel like your best friend just stabbed you in the back.
"Why'd you do it, Punchy Pete?" you'll ask. "You could'a clobbered Slappy Joe. Why'd you take the dive, Punchy Pete?"
His head will still be on the canvas, even though his eyes will betray his coherence. It will be as if he's hiding down there. Amidst the ringing bells and the sham champion dancing around with his arms in the air and all the spectators tossing their garbage at the ring in disgust, Punchy Pete will spit his mouthpiece out and he'll murmur to you, "It's complicated kid."
Don't let him get away with that one. "There's nothing complicated about boxing!" tell him. "You just gotta fight until you can't fight no more. And you had it in you to fight all the way to the end. You could'a gone pro Punchy Pete. You could'a won it all!"
"You ever loved a lady?" Punchy Pete will ask you.
Shake your head no because you haven't. You can be honest with Punchy Pete.
"Well, I have," Punchy Pete will say, his right cheek still pasted to the canvas. "I loved, and I still love, and when I kissed this canvas just moment ago, that was me kissing her goodbye."
Say, "I don't follow, Punchy Pete."
The din enveloping the ring will start to die down, reduced to just a few spectators in suits shouting at officials. Punchy Pete will stay down. And in a softer voice he'll say, "Let me tell you about Maya."
By the end of Punchy Pete's story, you'll be surprised to learn that boxing can be far more complicated than you knew. You'll learn that the very thing that propels a boxer to the top, that elusive quality summed up all too simply with the term "Heart," is the very thing that can be a good boxer's undoing. It affords him the drive and the understanding to go all the way, but it also leaves him vulnerable to so much that a harder, dumber fighter might never have to worry about.
"When you got heart," Punchy Pete will tell you. "All you ever wanna do is give it away." Punchy Pete gave his heart to Maya, a beautiful young girl who works at a dollhouse factory. It wasn't long after he met her before Punchy Pete asked Maya's father to give them his blessing. Maya's father bragged that he would throw the two of them a wedding the whole town would never forget, and he�d buy his daughter the biggest house he could build.
"I'm all she's got since her mother died," Maya's father told Punchy Pete. "And I intend to give her everything she deserves."
Everything seemed right as rain. Maya sat ringside at Punchy Pete's fights, watching his talent express itself in new and surprising ways with every bout. Maya believed in her fianc� the way she'd always believed in her Daddy: with every ounce of her being. She loved her men and her love drove them to prove their worth to her a little more with every passing day.
The pressure proved too much for Maya's father, however. His need to throw his daughter an extravagant wedding and build her a beautiful house forced him to borrow money from some less than legitimate people. He borrowed more than he could pay back and soon, the note came due.
"I need you to help me," Maya's father told Punchy Pete yesterday. "You're the favorite to win tomorrow night by a longshot. You drop in the second and I'll clean up. I need that money or I'm ruined."
Punchy Pete insisted that he could never take a dive. But Maya's father talked about all those years he spent raising Maya alone after her mother died, how he was the rock she depended on all those years. "If I don't get that money, they'll hurt me. They'll take my business. I can't let my daughter see her father in that situation. It will destroy her. You know it will."
"I knew she'd leave me if I went through with it," Punchy Pete will tell you. "But her Dad was right. I could let her down and she'd bounce back. But if her Daddy broke her heart, she never would have recovered. So I fell, knowing full well she'd walk away."
Through the ropes you'll spot a beautiful girl in a black dress with tears pouring down her cheeks. She'll take a step towards the ring, then she'll think twice and run for the exit. Punchy Pete's back will have been to her.
"She gone?" Punchy Pete will ask.
"She just took off," you'll say. "So you threw it all away just to let a girl keep on believing in her Daddy?"
Punchy Pete will finally lift his head off the mat and he'll say, "I know you think I betrayed you kid, and I'm sorry about that. But the truth is, I couldn't care a good goddamn about you. Not about you, not about this ring, these fists. My heart is with her. I had no choice."
"Well thanks for talking that out with me Punchy Pete," you'll say. "And you can bet that from now on, I'm not going to expect too much from my favorite athletes. I'll just follow their achievements from a healthy distance."
"That's right kid, give 'em some breathing room," Punchy Pete will say. "You want someone to believe in, go check in with Jesus Christ. He's your guy."
You'll thank Punchy Pete again, then you'll run home and Google "Jesus Christ."
Happy Tough Day For Punchy Pete Day!