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“Rocco!, Rocco!, Rocco!”, the 500 strong boxing crowd had found their voice. Seconds remained in round 4 when Rocco had momentarily left himself open. A straight left hand freight trained upwards into his ribcage. The thump of leather on skin was enough to flip stomachs in the watching crowd. Rocco instinctively raised his knee to his chest and leant over. He was punished by a ferocious short to the side of his head. The bell clanged. Rocco’s trainer and three helping seconds frantically started waving him back to his corner.
Rocco slumped into his stool. He felt the cooling relief of an ice pack on the back of his neck. Rocco’s face had become numbed from previous rounds. His right ear had crimsoned and ballooned. It whistled like a steam engine. He imagined a huge iron vice had a hold of his sides. Its metal teeth bit into him. Their grip threatened to snap his ribs. Rocco took in a deep breath. Pain lit up and burnt his insides like an oven ring switched to maximum.
Rocco’s head was gently tilted upwards. His trainer examined a tender looking blackish-blue egg shaped lump that had formed above his right eye. The trainer’s hand held a small eye iron. He placed the cold metal onto the lump and pressed. The lumpy swelling was ironed upwards and out into Rocco’s forehead.
At this point Rocco’s mind decided on a time out. “Come on now Rocco, let’s go someplace better than this”, it told him. Rocco followed.
He was at his 5th birthday party. Rocco sat at a table, specially decorated for his party, at his parents’ home. He was surrounded by all his smiling friends. In front of him was his birthday cake with 5 lit candles. His proud mamma and papa stood behind him and everyone sang Happy Birthday. His goofy best friend sitting next to him outstretched his hand and fingers in front of Rocco’s face. “Five!” he said excitedly. “Yeah!, Five!”, Rocco giggled.
Rocco’s trainer was tapping the side of his face. He lifted his fingers up, “How many Roc?” he asked. “Yeah!, Five!” Rocco replied.
“Roc listen, you gotta keep your elbows tight by your side, you need to protect yourself. You understanding me kid?”
“Roc, your behind on points you have to win this round. Understand?”
“Do not raise your arms kid. Elbows tight in. Keep away from his left.”
The bell signalled the end of sixty seconds. Rocco got to his feet.
“Go get em Rocco”. His trainer’s final words as he pushed him towards the centre of the ring. Rocco’s mind flashed back. “Go get em Rocco”. He heard his mamma saying. Her eyes brimmed with tears as she gently pushed him through school gates on his first day.
Rocco had managed to clear his mind. His thoughts were now clear, bright and sharp; like lit candles on a birthday cake.
His opponent no longer intimidated. The crowd roared. “Rocco!, Rocco!, Rocco!”.
Twitter : @From_Rons_Desk
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