One Hot Night In Texas

Twenty-five years in and around boxing rings brought many wonderful things into my life: I saw the world the way few others ever will; I made a modest living doing what I loved; it provided me with confidence and physical fitness; and it gave me the single greatest night of my life.

It was a hot, sticky August night in Lubbock, Texas on one of the few fight cards in which I was in the main event. I went to war that night with Ricky “The Rock” Rios, a pudgy Mexican with a nasty jab and an evil right uppercut that I somehow never saw coming.

He knocked me down four times that night, all in the first five rounds. The ref was ready to step in to put an end to the beating when I caught Ricky with a right to the chin and he went down in a heap in the seventh. He got back up but I put him back on the canvas almost immediately with a left to the temple. He managed to beat the ten count one last time but seconds later another right had him out cold on his feet and he tumbled through the ring ropes and down to the floor.

The crowd went ballistic; the promoter was running around the ring screaming and jumping and carrying on like a madman. He even climbed through the ropes and raised my hand himself.

“That was the most magnificent knockout I have ever seen!” he yelled into my ear. I was still a bit wobbly so I just nodded, smiled and waved at the crowd. All of a sudden he took the leather jacket off his back and put it around my shoulders. “A gift for you Nate: hand crafted by my father in Italy, it will be the last jacket you ever own!”

He was right too. I take better care of that chocolate brown beauty than I do myself some days. But that gift was nothing compared to the one that would arrive nine months later.

You see, my performance in the ring didn’t just impress the promoter and the crowd. It had quite the effect on the ring girl as well.

Jenny came into my dressing room that night, still wearing her tight black shorts and barely there shirt, with a bottle of wine and a head full of intentions. I was already riding high from the win and a few glasses of that red took care of the rest.

I was visiting my cousin Mikey in Tucson about a month later when I got the call that she was pregnant. After the shock wore off I did what I thought was the right thing: the next day I drove east for ten hours, bought a ring and got down on bended knee.

She did what she thought was best for her: she told me to ask again after the baby was born, gave birth to Cara eight months later, and took the first Greyhound out of town the next day.

I stuck around Lubbock for almost a year before I finally accepted she wasn’t going to change her mind. I moved us into a place on Vancouver’s North Shore that got too small in a big hurry and then relocated us to that apartment in downtown Vancouver where Cara and I grew up together. We were still there when Doc suggested I find a real job.

I don’t hold any ill feelings toward Cara’s mother – we were both in our early twenties and were not ready for the responsibility that raising a child represented. Who knows, maybe I would have been the one to run off if she had stayed. But once she left I knew I could not abandon my baby girl to be raised by strangers.

There were a few ladies since then but none stayed for more than a handful of months. I suppose a boxer with a young child was not an ideal package for very many women. At the time of my impending career change it had been just the two of us for three or four years and we were happy that way.

Besides, as far as Cara was concerned, no woman could ever be good enough for Daddy.

The End

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