There are few rags to riches to rags stories quite like boxing.
In the movies we have the Rocky series which show an off the street underdog who is used to fight against the World Champion to fill seats and to have a good story. He loses in a good fight in the initial movie but this sparked a seven part series where the hero wins the World Title and then ends up at the bottom after losing everything, only to become a mentor to his son, a former opponents son and everyone around him.
The movies mimic life. Most of us can connect with challenges, with feeling helpless, hopeless and on the bottom; then having to fight our way back against odds that seem insurmountable at times.
Is this real life though? Can a kid from the back blocks, off the street, really make it to the top of the World?
Australia had our own Rocky story and it’s one that has slipped into obscurity over the years. We hear a bit about Anthony Mundine and Danny Green, especially over the past decade or so. Of course we all know Jeff Fenech, possibly the best local born and bred product to dominate World boxing. But the real Rocky was a Light Heavyweight by the name of Jeff ‘Hitman’ Harding.
Harding was a rough and tough brawler. He had just 14 fights under his belt when the big American promoters just happened to be looking for a white Australian kid to come and have a fight in the big smoke. See Crocodile Dundee was BIG NEWS and they wanted to cash in on that. They made some calls and eventually got onto the camp of Jeff Harding. They specifically asked for someone tough enough to go a few rounds with the Champion Dennis Andries, “someone who can hang in there and go 3 to 5 rounds would be great”.
Opportunity came knocking on Jeff Harding’s door and he took it. But his mindset wasn’t just to go 3 or 5 rounds. He decided this was his one shot and he was going to go over there and give it a red hot crack. Out of his depth? Yes. Inexperienced on the World stage? Yes. A lamb to slaughter? Absolutely.
The first few rounds went exactly as the promoters had planned. Our Hitman was outclassed, outboxed and battered from one side of the ring to the other by a bigger, faster and more experienced Champion. It seemed as though Jeff didn’t know how to get out of the way of a punch, in fact a lot of them.
The middle rounds then came and went. Harding was still copping a battering but he was not wilting. He never waivered in his intensity and kept pushing to try and find a way to win. He wasn’t reading the script of the promoters.
Going into the final round Jeff ‘Hitman’ Harding had lost almost every round if not every round. He had to pull something out that just wasn’t there in most people’s minds. He needed a knockout.
In the final round he waged war with a ferocious intent that even the experienced World Champion had never seen. He was cut and bloodied. He had never fought past the 10th round before and yet here he was. He knocked Andries down three times and forced the referee to jump in and stop the bout with the Champion unable to defence himself. Australia had a new World Champion.
There’s a message here for all of us. Often we find ourselves in over our heads. We’re in the ring with bigger, faster, stronger and more skilled opponents. We feel like there’s no way to win, we feel as though we should give up.
Don’t do that.
If it was worth the fight to this point, it’s worth fighting until the end. It’s worth everything you’ve got because you can win. History documents so many people that have done so many things against seemingly impossible odds. Why? Because they never gave up. They fought through the tough times.
Sadly Jeff Harding like so many before him lost everything. It wasn’t that he couldn’t handle the money or the fame, he was never much of a ‘fame’ kind of guy. Jeff suffered at the hands of alcohol. He let the demon take it all from him.
Getting something is often easier than keeping it. Once you have it, others want it. Surround yourself with the best people and constantly reinvent yourself.
Jeff is now coming back. The biggest growth often comes after we have lost everything, after we hit rock bottom. So even if you have been as low as any time in your life, please don’t believe that this is all there is. You can get up. You can make the next day better and the one after that.
If you can look up, you can get up.
In the coming weeks I will be releasing information for a Personal Power Course where I will mentor you in a high powered, high energy, all in focus group to achieve results in any area of your life.
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