A Dream Takes Flight
A Dream Takes Flight8 mins 24.6K 8 mins 24.6K
It was 1:00 am. Daniel Johnson was still awake. Normally, he would be immersed in deep slumber at this time of the night. But tonight was an aberration. No matter how hard he tried to doze off, the thought of the finals kept him awake. He was about to take a huge stride towards his goal. A dream that took shape when he was merely 8 years old. That was the first time he had seen his idol fight. And man was he impressed! It was a matter of a few seconds before the opponent was sent flying to the canvas and his idol, swayed by euphoria raised his hands to acknowledge the crowd.
Daniel looked at the poster of his hero. There he was with that menacing look, a look so fierce that many of his opponents lost the bout even before it started. And right at the bottom of the poster was an iconic quote. A quote that had inspired many like Daniel to take up boxing.
“Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see”
Daniel smiled in awe. Every time he laid eyes on that poster of Muhammad Ali, he was filled with excitement and motivation. And tomorrow was one of the biggest days of his life. He was in the finals of the National Inter College Boxing Championship and was up against another promising boxer whose name was Elijah Simpson. Simpson was known for his aggression in the boxing ring and he possessed a right hook that had put many of his opponents to sleep. But Daniel was not perturbed. He was ready for the face-off. He took up boxing when he was just 8 years old. And he had trained assiduously ever since, day in day out to fulfill his dream.
The bedroom door opened and it came to his mother. “Daniel, you should sleep for a few hours. I could sense that you were awake. Truth be told, I could not fall asleep myself. But you must. Tomorrow is a big day. And you should be rested. Go on, lie down and try to catch some sleep” his mother said assertively. Mrs. Johnson was a loving mother and she had worked very hard to raise her son. Her husband had died when Daniel was a toddler. And ever since, she had dedicated her life to bring her son up in the best possible manner.
The alarm went off. Daniel woke up and looked at the clock. It was at 7 am. The final was scheduled at 12 pm in the afternoon. His coach would come to pick him up at 9 am and they would travel together 10 miles to reach The Millennium Hall, the venue of the tournament. His mother and a couple of his friends were also slated to reach the hall to see him in action.
Soon it was time to depart. His coach arrived at 8:55 am. Daniel hugged his mother and set off for his destination. His coach Mr. Williams was beaming at him. “Today is a big day Daniel. I am positive that at the end of this day, we will be celebrating with family and friends.” Daniel was feeling nervous. He smiled at his coach and got on the car. The journey to the venue was smooth and uneventful. They reached there at 9:20 am. Mr. Williams took him to his changing room and went out to meet the referee and the judges. Daniel changed into his trainers and started warming up. His coach returned shortly and monitored Daniel’s warm-up session with utmost care. Soon it was 10:30 am and the warm-up session was wrapped up. Mr. Williams led his fighter to the hall to complete the pre-match formalities.
Daniel reached the hall to complete the formalities. He had to sign a few papers and was briefed by the referee who laid down the rules and stipulations before him. After that, the official weigh-in was done and Daniel weighed in at 165 pounds. Thereafter, he was dismissed and as he was returning to his locker room, he caught a glimpse of his opponent. Elijah Simpson was walking towards the judges to complete the formalities of the fight. He looked fit and ready. Their eyes met and Elijah smirked wryly at Daniel. Getting under your opponent’s skin was normal before fights and Daniel just ignored the act. His coach was waiting for him in the locker room. The bout would start in 20 minutes. Mr. Williams put an arm around his pupil and said in a solemn but comforting tone: “I believe in you boy. You have trained well and are in good shape. Just go out and enjoy the outing, keep your feet moving and wear him out. Then use that right jab to set him up for the left hook. Remember you are a southpaw. Make him dance to your tune and send him to sleep with a telling blow. No mercy.”
The crowd was building up. It was time for the bout. The audience was waiting with bated breath for the boxers. It was Elijah Simpson who appeared first. He was walking to the ring with no emotions on his face. It was evident from his countenance that he meant business. He entered the ring and the majority of the audience cheered for him. Millennium Hall was in his hometown and he had expected such support. Soon Daniel emerged out from the locker room. He made his way to the ring and was met with a series of disparaging boos by the partisan crowd. Only his mother and friends cheered for him. But such a hostile reception was expected.
The referee called both boxers towards him. “Gentleman, I expect a clean fight. Obey my instructions at all times. Touch gloves and return to your respective corners”. The boxers obliged and returned to their corners. The referee asked the fighters if they were ready. As the fighters nodded the referee shouted out loud: “Let the Bout begin”. The bell rang. The first round had started. Both boxers started cautiously, attempting to size up each other. Daniel was moving about the ring seamlessly, his conditioning was supreme. He was trying to wear his opponent out. Elijah followed him around and threw a few jabs at Daniel which were expertly blocked. Daniel tried to land a few punches of his own. But his opponent’s defense was solid. It was like a game of chess between the boxers. Each tried to outsmart the other. The coaches were shouting instructions to their respective pupils, trying to gauge an opening that could be exploited. But the boxers were still being cautious and there was no effort of an all-out attack. Soon the bell rang and the round was over. Both fighters went to their corners.
“Good start. The first round went as per our plan. You were successful in wearing him out. Now he will come to all guns blazing in the second round. Block his initial punches and catch him with a left hook when he is out of breath. Knock him out. You can do it, son, you can do it.” Daniel’s coach was optimistic about a favorable result. Soon the bell sounded again proclaiming the start of the second round.
Mr. Williams had predicted correctly. Elijah’s approach was aggressive. He was trying to land more punches than before. He caught Daniel with two good punches which drew blood from Daniel’s upper lip. Sensing his leverage, Elijah let his guard down and went after his opponent, attempting to land more punches. He swung left and right landing one more punch. But Daniel had noticed the loophole in his opponent’s defense. He swung his left arm with conviction and caught Elijah on the chin. The southpaw changed his stance and landed another jab on Elijah’s temple. The combination of punches had the desired effect. Elijah staggered and fell to the canvas with a loud thud. The referee started his count till ten and had reached seven when Elijah gingerly made it to his feet. The referee took Elijah’s gloves and checked whether he was steady enough to continue. He was. The fight resumed again. Mr. William’s voice was replete with excitement. “Finish him,” he shouted. Daniel moved forward, feigned a right jab, and aimed a left hook at his opponent. The punch landed on Elijah’s nose and he lost consciousness. He dropped on the floor, never to rise again. The referee started his count. Daniel’s mother and friends were anxious. They could sense his victory. The referee’s voice was clear, “6, 7, 8,9,10! It’s a Knockout!” he declared. Mr. Williams was ecstatic. His pupil had won the Championship. His efforts had bore fruit. Daniel was overjoyed. He raised his hands towards his supporters with a wide grin on his face and tears in his eyes. He was now the youngest National Inter College Boxing Champion ever. His triumph was of profound significance in professional boxing as most champions of this tournament had gone on to become professionally successful boxers.
Daniel breathed a sigh of relief. His career had taken off. And his dream was taking shape!