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 He made an inelegant statement, rooted in outdated science, which the left has gleefully taken out of context and cynically used to paint him as both anti-woman and insensitive to the unimaginable plight of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.
Indeed, his own words knocked him to the canvas, but, unlike the boxing ring, it seems a scant few have failed to kick him while he was down. The “progressive” juggernaut pounced like Elizabeth Warren on a half-priced headdress, while a bevy of weak-kneed Republicans (who needs enemies …) began pressuring him to stay down.
And stay down he did.
For about seven seconds.
Whether his ongoing trials will be “sweet to recall” remains to be seen, but this much is true: When he had to decide whether to get off the canvas and fight, or wait-out the ten-count, Todd Akin chose to fight.
I admire a fighter. I think most do. I admire someone who’s told he can’t do something and then, rather than giving up, takes it as a direct challenge to prove that he can. I admire Todd Akin. He’s a fighter.
But he’s also, as liberals love to say, a champion “for the little guy.”
I’m reminded of an incident several years ago. There was some poor sap who worked for a major company in the Midwest. On his own time, on his home computer, he wrote an article for a conservative website that defended the sanctity of natural marriage.
When the company got wind of the article, it fired him.
Somehow, word of the incident made its way to Washington, D.C., through the halls of Congress and into the offices of one U.S. congressman from Missouri. Todd Akin, with no apparent prompting, then wrote a letter to the CEO of that company defending the fired employee’s free-speech rights. The letter was signed by a total of eight U.S. representatives and mailed.
Ultimately, the company ended up settling out of court with the former employee. There can be little doubt that Todd Akin’s unsolicited intervention led to that settlement.
This is one of the primary reasons I have such high regard for Todd Akin. You see, in case you’ve yet to figure it out, I’m the aforementioned “poor sap.”
Who was I?
Yet a powerful U.S. congressman representing the greatest nation on earth took the time to come to the aid of one of the little guys, someone he’d never even met, someone who didn’t even hail from his home state.
It didn’t matter. He saw a wrong that need righting, and so he righted it. He stepped up.
Isn’t it time we begin placing people of character, true leaders and true statesmen in a U.S. Congress full of politicians?
Todd Akin is a man of character, a true leader and true a statesman.
They call Missouri the “Show-Me State.” Rep. Akin’s support during a tough time for me and my young family, his unblemished conservative record and his fearless determination to do what God has called him to do despite tremendous pressure to stay down, has shown me everything I ever needed to know about him.
I hope it has shown you something, too.
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).