A French proverb declares: “What is hard to endure is sweet to recall.” I seldom agree with the French, but, as a former professional boxer, I know this to be true.
In 2003 I was fighting Cuban heavyweight Roberto Valdez before thousands at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion. Valdez was big, strong and mean. I was told that, a few years earlier, he had traversed shark-infested waters, alone, on a rickety makeshift raft to enjoy freedom in the land of the free.
This, of course, is the very land Barack Obama seeks to “fundamentally transform.” The American vision he shares with many Democrats – to include Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill – is something not dissimilar to the land from whence Valdez came. McCaskill, of course, is defending her title against embattled Republican Rep. Todd Akin; but more on that later.
At length, and evidently having confused boxing with baseball, Valdez found himself enjoying the freedom to attempt knocking my head into the nickel stands. In the second round he connected with a big left hook, sending me – for the first and only time in my boxing career – to the canvas.
I found myself with a decision to make. As I grasped for the ropes, my head full of cobwebs, and made it to one knee, I seriously considered, for an instant, waiting out the ten-count.
For an instant.
Lucid visions of 4:30 a.m. jogs through miles of Chicago snow came rushing back. Memories of grueling sparring wars with former No. 1 contender Andrew Golota began clearing away the cobwebs.
There was no way I was quitting. There was too much at stake. At the count of seven I was up and – to the roar of the crowd – 30 seconds later, Valdez was down. He, too, rose to the occasion.
Ultimately, I won a unanimous decision. Still, Roberto and I both walked away knowing a little more about one another. More importantly, we learned a great deal more about ourselves. To be sure, “what is hard to endure is sweet to recall,” and my recollection of that trying day is sweet indeed.
In recent months, Todd Akin has endured much. He made an inelegant statement, rooted in outdated science, which the left has gleefully taken out of context and cynically used to paint him as both anti-woman and insensitive to the unimaginable plight of rape victims.
This characterization of Todd Akin the man – as anyone who has known him will attest – could not be further from the truth.
Nevertheless, mine is not to rehash the debate over his words but, rather, to explore Akin’s true character and fitness to lead.