He was dressed in a USA Boxing tracksuit with the word “President” stitched on the chest when he met me for a breakfast of eggs and coffee. He has never had a problem with women boxing, he said. His criteria for inclusion have nothing to do with gender. “When kids call me up, I say, ‘Let me ask you an honest question: have your parents ever hit you?’ If they say no, I say, ‘I don’t think you belong in boxing.’ ”
Adonis himself was qualified to box because “my father invented child abuse,” he said, with an incongruous smile. “I learned how to play chess when I was six years old. My father would have a strap and smack me across the face if I made the wrong move. So when I got onto the streets and got into boxing, I was so used to getting hit it was like, Hey, this is nothing!” When he trained kids, he said, “before a fight I’d start smacking them real hard in the face. Because you feel, in boxing, the first couple punches. After that, the endorphins kick in and it’s like someone gave you Novocain.” But ignoring too much pain in the ring can lead to serious injury, or even death. Passive defense—the Rocky-like effort of an outmatched boxer to stay in a fight by absorbing punches after he can no longer defend himself—is a foul in amateur boxing.
Still, many people share Adonis’s belief that a childhood scorched by abuse is advantageous to a boxer. “It definitely takes a different kind of life experience,” Carrie Barry, a two-time national champion, told me. She was battered by her mother until she was twelve, and then thrown out of the house. “You have to have some kind of fight in you. You have to have something to overcome.”
Halbert told me that boxers “have learned to emphasize the hard-luck part of their stories—people think those are the stories the media wants to hear.” Certainly, the boxers—and their minders—were forthcoming about what they’d suffered. Queen Underwood’s childhood molestation by her father was luridly detailed in the Times just days before the trials started. Tyrieshia Douglas volunteered for the press pack that she’d been raped and beaten in foster care. At breakfast, Adonis pointed to a boxer at the next table talking on her cell phone. “Let me tell you a story about her: she was raped by a member of her family when she was a little girl!” he said. “Half of our girls have been molested; half of our girls are gay.””
this is possibly the most fucked up unbelievable bullshit—except that it’s not unbelievable at all. when i was at university contemplating going on to my masters/phd? i was told that if i was willing to share my “story of hardship” i was almost a shoo in to higher programs. NOT because of quotas or affirmative action, which is *category* based, i.e. which box you check for your race, if you went to a rural school, if you’re a woman, etc—but because of *my story*—the “hardship i’ve had to overcome.” because then they’d have “proof” that i could make it in a rigorous program. never mind my 4.0, never mind my reputation with the profs in the program, never mind any of that.
i didn’t have what the “resource rich” kids had, which was academically rigorous programs and tutors and training to show that i could make it.
so i had to use my story. i had to make my story *profitable* and figure out how to tell it in a way that impressed people without embarassing them. if i had said “i was molested and i’m queer”—that would’ve embarassed them. you see what i mean? that would’ve been sharing too much.
instead you have to draw on existing “inspiring” narratives out there about poor people…just give me this one chance and i’ll make you so proud of me. i’m so grateful for the opportunity that this great
country university is giving me. eminem provides an excellent groundwork for an “inspiring” story. when ur at a liberal university you use eminem. when your at a conservative university, you use richard rodriguez.
i mean, do you see why, especially in this age of the online world—*F*eminist demands to ‘share your story’ is not a radical or transformative solution to injustice? that, indeed, in many cases, refusing to share your story is the bigger intervention?