Nobody likes losing. But the nature of these sports dictate that there will be either a winner, a loser or worse, a draw. Of course, winning is always very shiok, and nice, but everyone loses. My trainer, Jack (@soonkueh) always tells me, "Some day, some how, a fighter has to lose".
Onyx doesn't like losing. But we've had our fair share of losing as well. Sometimes, we lose on points, sometimes, by referee stoppage/KOs. We don't like losing, so we train hard, and we work the fighters hard for their time in the ring as well. But let's be fair here, there will be someone out there who wants it more; who's hungrier, who's younger, who's put in more time and effort in the gym.
I don't like losing, and I certainly don't like to see my team mates lose. I get to see the fighter family put in their time during training, and how they "suffer" similar fate as I do during training. It hurts me sometimes that even though they've done their time, sweat rivers, fought their heart out, and still lose. But it hurts me even more, in a different scenario, that I know that my team mates hadn't gone out there and show to the audience what they can actually do.
Why do we lose?
Obviously, when in the ring with a far superior technical opponent who's techniques and quality outshine mine, sure, I'd take the loss and reconcile my thoughts to emerge a better fighter. For myself personally, in such fights, I can tell myself that I left it out there, in the ring, 100% and I have no regrets. But not all fights are like that.
I spoke to Jack, and he mentioned that one of the contributory factors for losing, especially for new fighters, is the element of stage fright when they step into the ring. He told me how some fighters, especially after the usual preparatory rituals, start zoning out, and stop listening. I've also witness some fights like that. I'd always casually ask Jack during events, "eh, why the fighter like that uh, like round one only but never do anything?" Jack sometimes tells me that they're most likely zoning out from stage fright.
Another sure-fire way to lose a fight, is to be over confident and under prepared. I've seen many "fighters" or fighters wannabe having this simplistic mentality that coming for classes 3 times a week is sufficient training commitment for a fight. This over confident mentality is amplified when they start "owning" the ordinary members within the gym. But the world is big, and there are many worthy opponents out there. I think a good self-check is to first see, if you're the best around the gym, amongst the recreational folks at least. Next, are you matching up nice and comfortably to the fighters? If it is yes to both, the last checkbox on the list would be the trainers; which they may or may not see sufficient quality in you.
I've seen fighter hopefuls approach Phan (@phansoonseng), and ask Phan whether they can train and fight under Onyx. Most of the time, Phan gives a standard answer of "train first". This is not without reason. The truth is, the initial stages of fighter training would weed out most hopefuls. In a less than attractive way, I've also witness how Phan sometimes delibrately give singular instructions that entails long and tedious activities (running, skipping, bags, drills etc) without giving the fighter any attention just to test their mettle and discipline. I haven't trained under Phan much but I know first hand, that sometimes as fighters while we yearn for attention from our trainers, and think that our trainers "don't care about me"; the Onyx trainers (not just 1, but alot) always has eyes on every fighter, and every fighter candidates.
Which brings me to the next point, that sometimes, we lose because of trust.
There is a reason why the trainers behave the way they do, and spend a long stretch of time in the preparatory phase even though, sometimes, you might have been doing your discipline for numerous years already. It is not just to prepare your stamina, your skills, but to also gain trust. For them to trust you, and for us, fighters, to trust the trainers. I've also seen how a whole suite of skill sets and game plan get thrown out of the ring just because the fighter didn't have enough trust in the trainers. Even though day-in-day-out, those game plan tactics were practiced countlessly. Needless to say, that fight was lost.
When the referee raises the other hand, and the emcee calls out your opponent's name, the emotions of losing starts gushing out slowly, but surely, like a choked toilet bowl that's full of shit.
To me, winning or losing a fight is more than just a representation of myself, but also carrying the name of Onyx. Plenty at times, I've seen fighters step out the ring after losing, and start apologising to the trainers for "losing the fight".
It sucks even more knowing that the trainers have spent a huge amount of time planning and discussing each and every move, each and every tactic, and every single game plan before we step into the ring. These days, when I step into the ring, I know damn sure that my team has prepped me more than adequately.
But when we lose, we feel like we've let them down.
Often with tears rolling down the face, the team never fails to say the most comforting words. After a loss, all we want to hear, is the voice of our trainers. But the least we want to see, is also their faces.
After the loss, in the first few hours, or perhaps a day, all is silent. We don't talk about the fight, we try to have a meal together, and try to tell each other that it's done. But after that, in Team Onyx, it is countless hours of reviews, and reworking. These reviews are brutal, it exposes all weakness, but it is meant to do well. A loss is not just the fighter's responsibility, it is a team responsibility. When a fighter loses, we all lose together.
One of the things after losing is the avalanche of folks that come tell you (out of kindness) that you did a great job and you should have won, etc etc. Jack never says that to me, unless of course it is horribly judged. In his words, "if you didn't manage to finish the fight, or show absolute dominance, then you have something to work on." The rest of the trainers are also similar in thinking, you either finish the fight, dominate the fight, or roll the dice with the judges. They key point here is simple, a loss is a loss, move on, otherwise, you'd be the only one left behind; thinking that "I SHOULD HAVE WON LOR. NOT FAIR."
There is not a lot of time to be wasted on dwelling on the loss, or in self pitance. Get up, show up, and get better.
It's okay to lose (occasionally) but it's not okay to give up.