White Collar Brawlers; Fight Club Comes To Reality TV

Do you remember the first time you got punched in the face?

I was nine years old. I got into an argument with a kid named Antonio who was making fun of my friend at recess. He punched me in the arm, I punched him in the arm, then he knocked me down, jumped on top of me and popped a knot right on my forehead.

It didn’t hurt, but the shock of it made me burst into tears. The recess monitor dragged us to the office where Antonio lied about what happened and said I started it. The monitor, Mr. Sheridan, believed him instead of me which just made me cry more.

It was a thoroughly humiliating experience.

But the best revenge is a life well lived, and Antonio is now in prison for drugs, so there’s that.

I took away a valuable lesson from the experience; it didn’t really hurt. I wasn’t prepared for it, so I reacted poorly, but there wasn’t a lot of physical pain involved. I learned a second lesson as well; it only hurts until it quits and then it’s gone.

I didn’t have a lot of these experiences growing up. I ended my elementary fight career with a respectable 2-1 record and was never involved in another altercation after 6th grade. But I did develop a huge attraction to boxing and mixed martial arts.

For my 18th birthday, my father bought me two sets of boxing gloves and we used them on each other. I remember standing in the front yard thinking, “I can’t punch my dad” …until he punched me in the face. Then it was game on.

We had a lot of fun. We only sparred twice though. He said it hurt more than he remembered from when he was 18. I get that now.

I took the gloves with me to college and had a good time pulling them out to spar with my dorm-mates on occasion. The gloves are a bit worn now, but one pair is still sitting in my closet 18 years later.

Ok, enough about me. Le’ts talk about White Collar Brawlers.

Esquire Magazine now has a television station (channel 235 on Directv, check your local listings). It claims to be a station dedicated to men’s interests, but it’s mostly a syndication spot for reruns of shows put out by its parent company, NBC. It is interesting to note that the channel is specifically airing programming aimed at “a metrosexual audience about…non-sports related male content.” Huh.

The tag line of the show is pretty simple; two young, white collar co-workers with some variety of grudge or professional rivalry square off in a sanctioned boxing match to settle their differences. The two men train in a professional boxing gym with legitimate coaches for six weeks in preparation of a three round bout. The show documents their transformation through the six week process.

The participants are about what you would expect. They are in their late 20’s to early 30’s, most of them are athletic and brag about how much time they spend in the gym working out. In short, they are modern twenty somethings. They look nice, they smell nice, they are making their mark on society.

But they all have one thing in common.

They have never been hit in the face.

Ok, I'll admit. This doesn't look like much fun.

Ok, I’ll admit. This doesn’t look like much fun.

I don’t know if women realize the psychological significance of this, but I assume most guys do. There are hundreds of ways to test your manhood. You can run endurance races, go on extreme wilderness outings, climb mountains, etc. There are countless ways to compete and strive for success.

But at the end of the day, we all want to know what we would do if an aggressor initiated a fight. Would you hit back? Would you swing first? Would you run away, or cower in fear and take a beating?

The fear of being a coward is a powerful thing for men. Check out this man’s story about how it has haunted him his entire life.

I had an small experience where I learned how significant this really is. We were having a men’s get together with our Sunday School class several years ago. Everyone there was late 20’s to early 30’s. Someone asked me to bring my boxing gloves so I did.

Several of the men had never worn boxing gloves before. They had never been in a fight, or even thrown a serious punch at another human being. I walked them through some of the basics and we sparred on the back porch until we got tired.

There was a look of embarrassment on some of their faces due to their lack of ability to throw, or block, a punch. We kept it all very light hearted; no name calling or taunting and no hard punches, but you could see that it affected them deeply to feel so incapable of defending themselves, even in a safe environment.

Sorry, I got sidetracked. Back to the show.

The highlight of the show is watching the transformation that occurs when these men realize that they can actually withstand a punch. Even in a very controlled environment, they have no idea how to react at first.

Once they realize that they aren’t dead, their demeanor changes immediately and this new found truth about themselves is always one of the take-aways at the end of the show.

They find other benefits as well. Most of the men show an increased enthusiasm and discipline at work as they go through the boxing training. They get more attention from their co-workers as the six weeks of heavy physical training begins to transform their bodies. How long will the improvements last? Who knows. They don’t really follow up with the fighters. But the lesson about getting punched in the face will last a life time.

It’s also interesting to note the reactions of their wives and girlfriends. There is an almost universal skepticism when they begin, but that all changes on fight night. You see the women cringing when the first punch is thrown, but by the middle of the first round, they are screaming “Rip his head off!!!!” The immediate response for nearly all of them is increased attraction to their man, whether he won or lost.

No matter how old you are, if you have never been punched in the face, go find a gym. Go to a boxing gym or a martial arts gym and find out what you’re made of. It only hurts until it stops and you’ll be in a very controlled environment, so the risk of real injury is minimal.

Also, chicks dig scars and bruises.


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