Thursday, March 11, 2010

Never Give Up, Part I - Leonard and Hearns "Showdown" in 1981

I’m a sports fan. I love the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Thanks to television, I’ve witnessed some of the greatest moments in the history of sports. As I think back, the most exciting moments happened because athletes who were about to lose in major competition simply refused to give up.

My first memory of such an athlete was Sugar Ray Leonard, who fought Thomas Hearns for the “unified” Welterweight Championship in “The Showdown” at Caesar’s Palace in 1981. Leonard was a fast, stylish boxer (30-1, 22 by knockout) and Hearns was a powerful, aggressive puncher (32-0, 30 by knockout). Hearns pounded Leonard during the first five rounds. I remember one blow brought Leonard to his knees. The image shocked me. One of his eyes was nearly swollen shut and I could see the pain on his face. He was hurt and behind in points, but he got up and kept fighting. He fought with new energy in the next three rounds, but Hearns regrouped to dominate Leonard and take a commanding lead in the 12th round. Legendary trainer Angelo Dundee shouted at Leonard, “You’re blowing it!”

Leonard fought furiously in the 13th round, knocking Hearns down twice. The fight was stopped in the 14th round, giving Sugar Ray Leonard the victory. Today, when I hear the words persistence or perseverance, I remember that image of Sugar Ray Leonard getting up from the mat, refusing to give up.

Life can deliver heavy blows. When it brings you to your knees, you can either quit or get up and keep on fighting. If you refuse to give up, you still have a chance to win.
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .


Unknown said...


Your blog this morning reminded me of a mathematical formula I heard or read years ago for calculating whether we are winners or losers in life. I may not recall the boxing metaphor exactly right, and I don't recall the source, but here it goes.

"At the end of your life, look back and count the number of times you've been knocked down. Then count the number of times you've picked yourself up. Subtract the knock-downs from the pick-ups. If the resulting number is +1, you're a winner."

Denny Coates said...

Ron, that's a cool story, and so true. Thanks for your comment.