The Belief Syndrome

27.04.09 - By Ziggy Shah: Over the years countless notions have been gathered by boxing experts about the ingredients required to become a world champion.

Speed, accuracy, technicality and stamina are vital; some will mention heart and courage aided by an iron chin, while others swear by power mixed with raw aggression..

But the most important component of all is an invisible force that is the least talked about, belief.

Ask any inspiring youngster in boxing clubs up and down the country why they took up the sport, and most will tell you they believe one day they will become champions.
This belief is installed into boxers naturally at an early age and is the driving force behind all the long morning runs and countless hours in the gym.

The principles of this belief have existed since the days of John L. Sullivan when he would stand on a saloon bar stool and proclaim, “I’ll lick any son of a bitch in the house.”

For some boxers the belief factor ensures that they fulfil their dreams and become champions, however, for others it becomes a focal point of their lives, overshadowing their judgement and reason, hence becoming a syndrome.

This belief syndrome has accumulated many more illustrious victims in the past such as James J. Jefferies, Joe Louis and Mohammad Ali.

An old, fading Jefferies may have been forced out of retirement to dismantle the first black heavyweight but he was battered to defeat by a younger, fresher Jack Johnson, a tired, worn out Louis was stopped by the powerful Rocky Marciano and the shadow of Ali was embarrassed by an average Trevor Berbick.

Ali at 39 was already taking medication for what turned out to be Parkinson’s disease when the belief syndrome took over his focus and distorted his judgement.

In recent years, we saw a 46 year-old Evander Holyfield challenge for the WBA Title when he boxed ‘The Russian Giant’ Nikolay Valuev. Holyfield did indeed come close and lost by decision, but he risked his life when he entered the ring at his age.

Of course these boxers continue for financial gain as money is indeed a factor, but the main reason that these warriors agree to fight is because they believe they can once again become kings of the world.

It is that same belief which inspired them the first time they entered a gym and put on the sacred gloves, their bodies and physical attributes may diminish but sadly their belief to succeed does not.

It is frightening to think that the same belief which inspires youngsters to become great, if not controlled, can physically or mentally damage them for life.

Article posted on 27.04.2009

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