Mind Of A Fighter - By Sorel Benitez
I smiled at the sound a familiar voice calling my name. I looked up and a goofy smile welcomed me. “Sup,” I said. I walked over towards him and gave him a side hug, since I’m a very awkward teen.
This was Kru Steve. He was one of the trainers at my Muay Thai gym. When I first started training, he was one of the trainers that would help me try to get my technique down, but ultimately I wasn’t very good. One day, I wore a very striped and colorful jacket and he decided to call me “Looney Tunes.” How he got that conclusion? I don’t know, but the name stuck for months until it evolved to simply, “Looney.” I think he just found whatever excuse he could to call me something, since he was terrible at names and must have forgotten my name. When I decided to do Muay Thai competitively, he was the main person who trained me. As time went by, he wasn’t just my trainer anymore. He was my friend… a part of my family in fact.
“I got you a fight on the 12th of November,” he said, interrupting my thoughts. “Really?” I said, as my eyes lit up with joy. “Yes, it’s in Sacramento.” I left towards the locker room with a grin from ear to ear.
“Turn,” said Kru Steve. My mind was brought back to the present. He was rapping my hands carefully with gauze and tape and was indicating for me to turn my hand over.
I was anxiously waiting at the door. I felt as if I could run a mile and still be ready to go in the ring. I was walking around throwing punches at my invisible opponent, to keep my blood pumping. I heard the winner of the last bout announced and the crowd cheering in joy. I looked back at the ring and saw the winner carrying his shiny award with a huge smile splattered across his face. Then, I heard it… “Ladies and gentlemen, that brings us to our next bout of the evening. Fighting out of the blue corner, she weighed in at a total of 94 lbs. Fighting out of Chaiyo Muay Thai… Please welcome to the ring Soooorel Beeeenitez!” And with that, I straightened my posture and placed my chin in the air. My face turned to stone and with that, my personality changed. I was no longer the quiet nice girl you knew, I was the girl who was going into the ring and was going to show what Muay Thai was, simultaneously showing extreme respect for her culture and for her opponent.
I entered the ring and went to the center of the ring and bowed to all the sides of the ring, showing respect for the crowd. I then, proceeded to go back to my corner and bow to it, having extreme respect for it. After, I repeated to all four corners of the ring. In doing so, I was sealing the ring out of all the bad spirits. I returned to my corner and the referee asked me if was ready. I answered in a slow nod. He did the same with my opponent. And with a swift movement of his hand, the bell went “diiiiing” and so the fight began…
I came down from the ring, a smile on my face. Fighters had to check in with the doctor after a fight, so I did just that. My opponent and I were just fine. After, I went back to the fighter rooms and Kru Alex was there. He stretched his arms out, waiting to give me hug. As I was hugging him, tears began escaping my eyes and making their way down my cheeks. I was confused. I didn't know why I was crying. I knew I had done the best I could, and that this was just another opportunity to do what I love and showcase it to a crowd of people.
However, deep down, I knew I had done terrible. I knew that my performance in that ring was not what it should be. I failed to represent my gym well. I failed the people who came to see me put on a show. I failed my family. And most of all, I failed my teacher. I blamed myself, and myself only for my performance.
When I saw the footage of the fight, I was even more convinced that I had done terrible, despite everyone telling me that I had actually done very well.
Time went by, and I started to realize that my performance was not as bad as I thought it was. I stopped seeing that bout as a bad fight, but as a chance to better myself, to fix all the areas that need improvement, to push harder in training. I knew that there would always be someone more skilled than me and knowing that, it motivated me. Today, I am training hard and take every lesson as an opportunity to grow upon.