‘I didn’t lose a fight until I was eleven, but it devastated me when I did, to a kid named Cecil Collins. I came home and informed Mama that I was leaving the sport. That was a huge oversight.
‘You get back in there and beat that boy!’ She stated. This from a woman who didn’t want me boxing in the first place. ‘You don’t quit until you finish what you started!’ So I returned and fought Cecil once more. And yet again, I failed. ‘Go back and fight him!’ Mama exclaimed.
I did, and this time I won. It felt like I’d just climbed Mt. Everest or hit the game-winning home run in the World Series. ‘There you have it!’ Mama exclaimed, beaming. ‘You can now quit!’
I didn’t give up – there were some things even my wise Mama didn’t get – but you get the idea. If I hadn’t gone back in there and tried again and again, I would have probably spent the rest of my life regretting it. Mama, on the other hand, knew how I’d feel once I won, all proud and happy. ‘See? I was right,’ she thought. ‘Don’t you feel good about finishing what you started?’
That feeling, not the fact that I’d done what Mama asked, shaped my later approach to life, which is why the lesson was so valuable. It was entirely my idea; Mama simply pushed me to get there.’