It’s very easy in today’s culture to throw stones.  Many blogs and websites grant users the ability to post anonymously.  This veil of secrecy provides the perfect medium for cyber bullying at its highest level.  At what point did it become okay for people to send out a barrage of negativity that could bring most humans to their knees?  There is no prerequisite for those commenting, no “real-life” experience that would give them credibility.  Usually it’s just verbal vomit.  And it comes from those who have never set foot in the ring, have no skin in the game.

Chuck Horton was paramount in launching the careers of Al Sands and Zach Walters

Chuck Horton was paramount in launching the careers of Al Sands and Zach Walters

Cowards hide behind excuses for why they never made it.  A true champion knows that he must find a way to fight, to keep pushing on, even though the odds are against him.  It doesn’t matter if the hand they’ve been dealt is a losing one; true champions have a story of uphill battles and perseverance.  They come to love the hard work and pain required to succeed.

Duluth, Minnesota boxing promoter Chuck Horton knows cowardly critics firsthand.  Coming from a tough neighborhood on the West side of Duluth, he had to learn early how to define success for himself.  It would have been easy, and no one would have been surprised, if he had just drifted along with no thoughts of bettering himself.  But instead he saw what was possible, what he could have if he just pushed himself.

Horton knows that it is up to the individual to dig deep and find fortitude within oneself in tough times.

Horton knows that it is up to the individual to dig deep and find fortitude within oneself in tough times.

It wasn’t as if things were easy for Horton.  When he opened his gym and started training boxers he had more than his fair share of issues with critics and boxing professionals.  Instead of cooperating with him and helping him to bring boxing back to the Duluth, MN/Superior, WI area, people at local and state levels did their best to make his path a rocky one.  Horton was forced to confront them and try to figure things out for himself.

Figure things out is exactly what he did, launching boxers like Zach Walters and Al Sands up to state and nationally ranked titles.  

In the boxing world every athlete has to make his own list of what is important.  Whether that is winning a world title or just getting up the guts to step into the ring, the goal is determined by the boxer.   Trainers like Horton will help him reach it, but the competitor alone must define it.

When records turn sour or careers begin to go awry, it is up to each individual to dig deep and find the fortitude to continue.  It is that perseverance that makes one great.  Take for example the famous poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years 

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

Henley was stricken with a terrible disease that cost him a foot.  Rather than focusing on what went wrong, he wrote about the strength that can be found within the human spirit, and the necessity of controlling one’s own fate.  At a time when his affliction was not very common, he determined he would not complain about his circumstances.  Instead he took charge and didn’t let others determine what success should mean for him.

Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, don’t let others get in your head.  Cowards will squawk; you don’t need to listen.  Setbacks will happen, but records are secondary.  Being great is up to you.  The sacrifices you make, the perseverance you show, the power to stay in the game, those are the things that lead to greatness.  Just ask Horton, he’s been surrounded by it for years.