This would certainly explain a lot of his abhorrent behavior - like, for instance, why it was that he once bit one of his opponent’s ears half off! It might also explain his conviction for rape and the resultant prison sentence, among lots of other things.
Now, to be sure, my own career in the ring was no where near as long nor as controversial as his. By comparison, I only had a total of two bouts. The first occurred in the fourth grade before a sold out homeroom crowd. Sadly, my opponent, Richard, bested me.
Albeit, it is arguable that he cheated in order to do so. I seem to remember that he got me in a headlock from which I could not extricate myself. Obviously, from my perspective, this was a major violation of the rules in the WGSFF (World Grade School Fighting Federation). In fact, I am quite positive that I should have carried the day.
The second and final match saw me pitted against the terror of the eighth grade: a bully named Curt. As it was his nature to pick on people, he was enjoying repeatedly bumping into the back of my head while in the lunchroom assembly prior to home room. Little did he know, however, that he was playing with fire on that particular day! You see, I was facing an algebra test in first period for which I was clearly not prepared. Suffice it to say that my agitation level was already somewhat elevated.
As a result, when he repeatedly failed to comply with my polite requests that he cease and desist his annoyance, I decided to take my own stand against bullying. In short, I basically transferred my mathematical frustrations right on to his face! It was all over in a flash. As Opie told Andy, “I lit into him like a windmill in a tornado!” In the end, we both got a paddling from Mr. White; but Curt got a black eye to boot, while I got feted by my fellow classmates as 1973's version of “Jack the Giant-killer”!
In truth, I have never had too many fights. The reason for this is that I really have tried to follow the admonition of God’s Word in the Apostle Paul's New Testament Letter to the Romans (chapter 12: verse18, KJV), which says: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
And yet, of course, no one can live a conflict-free life. Hence, my own two bouts referenced above. But even those fights, if indeed they may properly be called that, were, in reality, spats. They were merely petty disagreements resulting in squabbles over matters of very little consequence.
While on a recent trip to India, I witnessed something altogether different. I saw two young men fighting for an entirely different reason. They were fighting because, in point of fact, they were utterly desperate. They were fighting to survive. And neither could afford to lose. It happened this way…
We were at the train station in Bhopal early in the evening preparing to leave for Delhi. Two young adolescent boys got into a tussle over a shirt. One of them had on a pair of pants and a ragged shirt. The other had on only a pair of pants. Both of them were barefooted. That was pretty much the extent of their respective wardrobes. I would add, however, that neither appeared to have had either a meal or a bath in quite some time (if ever).
Apparently, one of them - I do not know which - had come upon a shirt. Equally apparent, the other felt as though the shirt should go to him. In short order, the argument grew until it erupted into violence. For our part (both me and those with me in my group), we stood, more or less stupefied, as the whole affair unfolded in rapid succession right before our eyes.
Despite that fact that the train platform was teeming with people, no one else seemed even to notice. And those who did obviously did not care, not in the least bit.
In fact, the only person who did seem to care was the station master. After a very brief moment, wherein the two young boys had beaten each other reasonably senseless, he came rushing out of the office and proceeded to punch and to kick them both soundly, as he sent them scurrying from the platform.
Now it appeared for all the world that that the only concern he had in the entire matter was that they take their issues elsewhere. The obvious facts that they were poor, homeless, naked, hungry, and utterly desperate never once seemed to enter into the equation.
I have thought about this episode many a time since it all unfolded. I have thought about the fact that these two young boys were utterly destitute. As the Psalmist once said (142:4) in the Old Testament, no one cared for their soul. For that matter, neither did anyone care for their body, or their mind, or any other part of them.
After all, in a third world country of 1.3 billion people, in a city of 15 million people, in a train station packed with thousands upon thousands of people, most all of whom live in absolute squalor, who could be bothered with two miserable and pathetic little street urchins?
And then, I have invariably been reminded of the words of Jesus in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46). More than reminded, I have been haunted by these words...
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
If I had it all to do over, I would have rushed in and offered to mediate that fight. True, it all happened so fast that we were caught off guard. True, I did not speak their language (as I spoke only English and they obviously spoke only Hindi). True, I may not have known all the extenuating circumstances.
But I could have easily stepped forward and parted with enough rupees to ensure that they each had a new shirt, and a meal, and a bath, not to mention a brief respite from their “dog eat dog” existence.
But alas, regrettably, I did not. Because it all unfolded so quickly, I simply did not react soon enough. And I cannot do anything now to go back and change that experience. In effect, I lost that round to the Evil One.
But while I cannot change what happened in the past, I can change what happens in the future. And I, for one, do not intend to lose another round to the Devil. It may be quite a while before I return to India, but I venture into similarly mean streets every single day, right here in America.
And I hope that, as God gives me opportunity, I will be faithful to minister in His name. You see, I may have lost to Richard the first time out; but I rebounded with a definitive win over Curt the second time around.
In a similar manner, I may have lost the first round to the Devil on an obscure train platform in Bhopal, India; but I intend to rebound the second time around, and knock him flat on his face right here in my own backyard!
For, my suspicion is, the only record that will really matter when I get to Heaven is not who all I did and did not defeat; but who all I did and not minister to in the name of Jesus Christ, as I was given opportunity.
In light of this, may God give me many more chances in the future to contend on His behalf. And may I have the opportunity in the process to compile quite a winning record in His name. And may that storied career include many a knockout against the Evil One along the way!