Tony Luis Column: Career journey, sacrifices and January 29 return
I’m pleased to say I’m fighting on Canadian soil for the WBC Latino 140 lbs title against Eduardo Montoya of Mexico. His record is 17-4 (13 kos) and the fight is taking place in Ottawa, Ontario.
I guess I have to start by saying the game of boxing is a journey. It is a journey that does not produce results right away. It is an investment. You keep contributing and contributing, wisely and consistently, with the hopes that one day it will blossom into something magical. However, like a stock share or investment, sometimes it doesn’t. That is part of the magic for me. The mystery, knowing I have a say in my destiny and a fighting chance. But like anything else in life, nothing is guaranteed and that’s the challenge. Well I love challenges.
I am a fighter. I can’t explain it. I can’t sum it up in one sentence why I love this sport. If I had to, that sentence would be “I just do”. The moment I stepped inside a boxing gym, a feeling took over me. I just knew. I picked up the mechanics of boxing quickly and the fire I have for this sport burns bright. I strongly believe it was God’s will. It is my way of showing the world that anything is possible through faith, self-belief, and hard work. This is the tool God gave me to be a role model for others and I practice my trade every day to ensure the gifts God gave me does not go to waste.
The journey has not been without struggle. The purest thing about boxing is boxing itself. Everything else surrounding it is enough to break one’s will and move on to something else. I’m not one of those people. I wasn’t raised to be a quitter. When things get tough, I was taught to rise to the occasion, in and out of the ring.
Training for a fight is where the fight is truly won. There’s an old saying in boxing that goes, “The more you sweat in training, the less you’ll bleed in war.” No truer words have ever been spoken. I played every sport growing up, but no sport challenged my character the way boxing did. It forces you to dig deep inside of yourself, peeling back the layers of facade you show to the world and expose yourself in your barest form. You find out who you truly are. When your lungs are on fire for those early morning runs, do you slow down and pace yourself? Do you run harder and run over that wall of pain, self-doubt? When your coach is putting you through strenuous heavy bag drills and your arms are heavy but he’s still shouting to pump those arms ever faster and harder. What do you do? Do you go faster but take some power off to make it look like your working harder then you are? Or do you do everything in your power to punch holes through that bag? When you’re near the end of a heated sparring session and you’re already imagining the feeling of relief of taking those sweat-logged gloves off and spitting out that mouthpiece, so you can breathe with no restrictions. But the coach asks if you want to do one more round, what’s your answer? These are all situations a fighter finds him/herself in when preparing for combat. How you answer those questions dictate how you will respond to adversity under those bright lights when it counts. What pushes me through those mental and physical battles is my unexplained love for the sport and a burning desire to prove people wrong, or maybe I’m trying to prove it to myself. That I can push through, that I can overcome. A fighter has to make the decision to push themselves through excruciating amounts of pain in the gym, so the fight becomes easy.
Once an opponent has been chosen, the work not only begins in the gym but at home as well. The hunt for sparring partners who can mimic your opponent’s style, the constant reviewing of your opponent’s tape, picking apart his style and visualizing in your mind what you will do when he does this or that, how you’ll react if he does land his best punch. Then transferring all those thoughts to action in the gym. There’s days where it all made sense in your head then when u applied it in the gym physically, it didn’t go as planned. So you go back to the drawing board and question yourself again. That’s why a fighter needs so much time to prepare because the time it takes to formulate the gameplan is one that doesn’t happen overnight, its trial and error over and over and over until you get it right.
There are equally challenges outside the ring as there are inside it, when preparing for a fight. Saying no to that date with a special someone, saying no to that party invite, enduring the guilt trips, saying no to that beer being pushed in your face, saying no to dessert. NO to being normal but YES to victory! You’re living like a Spartan those last few, dying weeks and it feels like a lifetime.
Did I say no to dessert? As the holidays approach us I will have to make some important decisions that will have a great effect on the outcome of my upcoming fight, January 29. Out of town friends will be down, with the urge to celebrate the holidays in a way I cannot. Family dinners, where most of us indulge and I will have to treat it as another day at the office. This isn’t my first rodeo. January 29 is a chance for another belt, a higher ranking, another opportunity against a dangerous opponent to showcase my talents and get one step closer to my dream. And the best part? I get to do it close to home at the EY Center in Ottawa, Ontario.
There’s no magic pill in boxing. You’re either ready to sweat, or you will unquestionably bleed, and get a good look at those bright lights that hover over you.