The Fellowship of the Ring

As part of the great adventure which is my post-cancer mid-life transformation, I grabbed an opportunity that popped up on my Facebook feed one day to join an intensive ten-week boxing training programme, culminating in a big match, to raise funds for Breast Cancer Care.  I expected a pretty gruelling physical challenge – and it lived up to that expectation.  But what I didn’t expect was the incredible camaraderie, support and bond that develops between boxers and coaches as we urged each other on to push past the point at which we want to give up, to achieve and perform way beyond what we could do alone.  Early in my training, they switched me into a more advanced class, where I trained with women who were a lot younger, a lot fitter and stronger, and a lot more proficient and skilled at boxing than me.  If there was a moment when I feared I wouldn’t cope, it didn’t last long.  My fellow boxers welcomed me in and gave me their full support and encouragement.  Ultimately, I may have got into the ring and faced my opponent alone, but I had a whole team of people in my corner.  I learned that boxing is a team sport.  And it was my ‘team’ that enabled me to do something which was way, way outside my normal comfort zone – something brave and bold and just a bit crazy!  I didn’t (quite) win my fight, but I am so proud of myself for having the courage to get in the ring at all, and for putting up a pretty good fight and making it a close one.  As the only boxer who has actually had breast cancer, they awarded me the ‘fighter of the night’ trophy!  It was a very memorable night, and weeks later I am still coming down from the ‘high’. But it was the life-changing experience of the strong bond that forms between a team of people all supporting each other to do something brave and challenging that made my boxing experience one of the highlights of my life.  What I learned from my boxing journey is that not only can we do way more than we think we can when we are part of a team, but the ‘fellowship’ of people going through something with us, side by side, keeping us going when the going gets tough, and sharing in our achievements and our victories, is immensely powerful, life-enriching and rewarding.  Pushing myself outside my comfort zone added more value to my life than merely the physical challenge of boxing.  My fellow boxers and our coaches were, and are, a source of inspiration.  Life is so much more worthwhile when we work together to achieve more than we could achieve alone.