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PAGE 16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, APRIL 21,2017 1 iI HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Pre s There is No "T" M Team, but there is in Boxing I don't think there is a coach anywhere who hasn't spouted the old line "There is no "I" In team" when trying to get their players to work together. That saying is true for most sports, as teamwork is the key to win- ning. Bo~dng is different, as the fighter is all on his own when that bell rings. You might say runners and swimmers fall into the same category as box- ers when it comes to compet- ing alone, but most of them participate in multiple events that include relays where you have to work with teammates. An athlete who competes sole- ly as a long distance runner is probably the most closely re- lated when it comes to dealing with being on one's own when competing. But in that case, while not working with a team, he or she is still in there with hundreds or even thousands of other runners, while the boxer is facing only one opponent. The psychology of a boxer is quite a bit different than that of those who participate in team sports. There is another old say- ing that I often think of when musing about the fight game. It goes, "You play baseball, you play football, you don't play boxing." The reason that state- ment has so much truth to it is not because athletes playing those sports are not dedicated. It is not because they don't get hurt. It is because boxing is all about getting hurt. Squaring off one on one with another finely Rocky Mariano trained athlete under the lights in front of a crowd yelling for blood is quite a different experi- ence than trying to score a run or get the ball over the goal line. While all athletes are nervous and wound up before a game, the boxer has an extra degree of pressure. Sitting and waiting to be called into the ring can do a number on the psyche. A fighter is not only thinking strategy, he also has to deal with fear. Fear of getting killed, fear of quitting, and fear of embarrassing him- self. When the bell rings and the lights in the arena darken, the spotlight is on the two combat- ants for the entire duration of the bout. There are no timeouts on the bench. If a boxer gets in- jured, there are only two choic- es: quit or fight through it. Even the long distance runner can take a break if he gets a cramp. In boxing, when that first bell rings, there are no breaks other than the one minute between rounds. Since I am bring- ing up old sayings I will throw one more into the mix. It goes "Many hands make easy work." The boxer is limited to just two hands. His work is never easy. Frazier vs. All in Manila. North End Athletic Association ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT IN MEMORY OF CARMEN "TILLY" DE MARTINO TO BENEFIT THE NORTH END ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MONDAY, AUGUST 7, 2017 7:30 a.m. (Shotgun start) ANDOVER COUNTRY CLUB 60 Canterbury Street, Andover, HA Over 144 golfers participate in this sold-old tournament annually. It is important that you reserve your space! GOLF, LUNCH AND RAFFLE PRIZES The money raised from this tournament allows the North End Athletic Association to purchase athletic, social, educational, and civic activities within the community and the City of Boston. For more information, please contact Louis Cavagnaro at 617-523-7410 When Rocky Marciano got an abrasive ointment in his: eyes midway through his first fight with Jersey Joe Walcott, he was not able to take a break from the action while the team trainer came in and fixed the problem. No, Rocky had to fight almost blind for a number of rounds until the problem cleared up. When his nose was spilt almost in two in the second Ezzard Charles fight, there was no way it could be stitched up before he continued. Again, he had to fight on or quit. Rocky never quit and retained his championship. Ali and Frazier in their third meeting in Manila both had gone well beyond their physical abilities before the later rounds of the fight. Both fighters were well past their primes that hot night. Their skills were much diminished, yet they put on a display of what can only be described as a battle of wills. Ali said the experience was the closest thing to death he had ever been through. Frazier, who was already blind in one eye before the fight began, pleaded to be allowed to come out for the fifteenth round even though he could no longer see through his good eye. He was now almost completely blind and yet wanted to continue. His train- er Eddie Futch overruled him and stopped the fight. I have been told that Joe never forgave Eddie for doing that, but Futch made the right call Marciano, Frazier, and Ali are just three examples of fighters who would rather have died than quit. I am sure you are thinking of other great cham- pions who were like that, but there were also many prelimi- nary boxers; guys who would fight for hardly any money, who had that same drive. It is not uncommon in boxing. Why is that? Well, I think it has to do with the "I" in boxing. You see, a fighter doesn't just show up one night at the arena and fight. There is a time much earlier when he first walked into a box- ing gym. Over the years, I have seen that day for many young guys who wanted to take a shot at the fight game. You can't tell who is going to be good at the sport just be taking a look at the person. However, there is one thing that is found out early on. That occurs the first time a young man steps into the ring for an actual sparring session. It is obvious, usually from the first good hard jab landed to the nose, whether or not there is any future in boxing for that young man. That stinging blow to the nose has ended many a career before even a minute has passed. No one has to tell him boxing is not the sport for him. He realizes it and never returns to the gym. It is boxing's first test, and the student grades himself. But what of the aspiring champ who feels that sting and is not dissuaded from continu- ing on? He showed the first and probably most important qual- ity a fighter needs: the ability to push forward in spite of the pain. He knows he can't look to the bench for help. He knows Why there is an "I" in boxing. D is never a good grade in the academic world, but at least when one or two are received during the term there is always room and hope for future im- provement before the semester draws to a close. And as the respective playoffs for our %vinter" sports teams got under way, those were the assessments that could realisti- cally be assigned to each team in the early going. D--as in disappointment--m a very large way. First off, what other descrip- tion fits the Celtics' devoid-of- inspiring 0-2 start against the normally just-about-average Chicago Bulls in their first round series at the Garden. As the teams left town to re- sume the series in Chicago, it was the Bulls, a team that beat out Miami for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth on tiebreakers, who were in total command of the series. The re- sult forced the Celtics and their fans to consider the previously unthinkable--how to win four of the remaining five games just to be able to move on to the second round. Everyone can feel for Isaiah Thomas, who played in the first two games with the recent tragic passing of his sister on his mind. But even though he scored 53 points in those two contests, there didn't seem like there was anyone else to help out. The Celtics--as a team-- played below average, uninspir- ing basketball. It was still almost good enough for a Game One escape, but fell four points shy as the Bulls captured the opener 106-102. But Game Two really blew away the false front of the opener in a big way with a 111-97 setback that forced everyone to confront a new reality. Media reports from those seated courtside indicated that former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo could be heard telling his Chicago teammates the Celtics "just gave up." And, you know, seated high above it all, it did look as if there were those that hung their heads, those that had thrown in an invisible towel, those that wanted to call it a night. Just like when you win and you do so with justifiable pride, it is all there on display for everyone to see. But when the opposite occurs and you are defeated--and you at least partially participated in that setback by engaging in self- defeating behavior-- it is also all there for everyone to see. There's no place to hide. And let's not dismiss the possibility that another factor may also be at work--Rajon Rondo's revenge. As one of only two Celtics from the 2008 NBA Championship team still play- hag in the league (the other is Paul Pierce, who is in his final year), Rondo has some scores to settle with management--such as the 2014 trade that sent him out of the Hub and to the Dallas Mavericks. In the months leading up to his departure, the only question that was debated was when Rondo would be jettisoned from the Celtics, not if. Most thought it would be near the trade deadline in March 2015. But things were finalized in De- cember 2014. It was the start of a journey that saw Rondo play for Dallas, Sacramento, and now Chicago. So yes, Rondo has something he wants to show the Celtics. In the two games at the Garden, he was clearly the team leader, calling the plays and running the offense in a manner similar to when he was on the floor with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen during the last cham- pionship season on Causeway Street. Rondo's revenge is clearly at work in this series, an attitude more often seen in hockey when a player that was traded away returns with his new team and scores a goal or two--a state- ment to let management know that his being traded away was a mistake. And as for hockey, well, the Bruins have displayed their own brand of disappointment, losing two of the first three games in overtime. But there is a different quality to the disappointment surrounding the Bs. Remember, the Bruins just managed to make the playoffs this year. If they had lost one more regular season game in regulation, the Bruins would not be participating in the NHL's Second Season. Thus, the disappointment for the Bruins is that success has just eluded them by the small- est of margins. They've played well enough to win, but have just fallen just short. In Game Three against Ot- tawa at the Garden, the Brulns actually fell behind 3-0 before they came roaring back to tie the score at 3-3. When they were down 3-0, they didn't hang their heads, they didn't give up. They simply forged ahead and got the job done. Take away a controversial penalty call in overtime that set up a power play for Ottawa and the Bs might have come away with victory. So the Bs did fall short in overtime for the second game in a row, but they didn't fall short in effort or attitude. In short, they didn't give up. They forged ahead and contested every move by the opponent. They lost the game but they didn't lose their positive outlook and attitude. The Bruins have been beset with numerous injuries but are still moving forward to meet the challenge, while the Celtics had no injuries to report through Game Two, but are battling less-than-positive influences. Even with less than a complete roster, the Bruins make for a formidable opponent. Yet even with a full roster, the Celtics can't seem to get it done against the Bulls. Two teams with very different reasons for disappointment. There's one commonality: mak- ing it successfully through Round One will now be a chal- lenge for both.