“The right hook hit my shoulder like a hammer, knocking me back on my heels. I gasped for breath. Ali, my opponent, used his fancy footwork to turn into a moving target. His long-range punches kept me at bay. A straight right to the head came at me again, but I managed to dodge this time, dancing to the right with the fast movement that had made me a winner in the Nairobi Inter-Social Halls Golden Gloves circuit.
“Frustrated with my defense, Ali closed in with a flurry of right and left jabs to my body. I blocked and parried to deflect most of his punches and countered with switch-attack combinations. I threw an explosive left hook. It missed Ali, who ducked by bending his knees. As I pulled my arm back, he sprang up. I winced in pain. Something was horribly wrong with my left shoulder, but the adrenaline kept me going. I had no choice.
“Ali had the reputation of a lightweight with a heavyweight’s power. He was six feet tall and weighed one hundred fifteen pounds, with the longest reach I had ever seen. One slip from me and he could knock me down and out. He came at me again with glancing blows to my right and left. I could not land a punch, but my footwork kept me alive. I could not last much longer. Finally, the bell sounded, signaling the end of the round. As I tramped to my corner, I cradled my left arm. The enthusiastic assistants sat me down on the stool as Kinuthia, my trainer, took a close look. “David,” he told me tersely, “your left shoulder is seriously injured. You can’t go on with the fight. Hear me?””
This was one of my early fights about 33 years ago. I remember it with so much vividness, as if it happened only yesterday. I was badly injured. My coach decided it was time to throw in the towel. I had closed my eyes momentarily as I sat on the stool, breathing heavily. I listened to the coach, and from the deep recesses of my psyche. A medley of thoughts and emotions flooded me. My mind was in agreement with the coach. It made sense to stop. I nonetheless felt differently. I was on an emotional high. I would push beyond my threshold of pain and fight on. I had a dream, and a carefully constructed vision.
When the bell rang to signal for the third and final round, I answered to my vision. I was determined to fight on for it.
A clear vision guides. It reminds. It inspires. It empowers. It provides purpose. It gives hope.