The whole story began that very evening when Gary Fryder’s father came home from work a few minutes earlier than usual. How many great things, how many discoveries had happened just in those earlier-than-usual minutes. It was autumn, fog had descended on the street and the faintly visible light of the streetlights resembled a traffic jam of cars standing still. The wind played with the red and yellow foliage, whipping it up sharply then dragging it faintly, as if grudgingly, across the pavement. John Fryder worked at the steel mill, and to keep his family afloat he’d take on extra work, pushing his plan too far, and staying late even when he didn’t have to. There were days when he worked 16 hours a day and immediately fell asleep when he got home. His only joy after work was a can of beer, he kept them in the freezer to somehow cool off his evening after a pile of hot metal. Pssh…
Ah, that sound is so sweet. — John said as he opened a can of beer.
And I would sit down in my old chair, worn out on all sides, but big and red like the emperor’s throne. He would take a swig of sweet beer, turn on the television, and immediately fall asleep. His passion for TV was boundless, but it was only the sounds he could hear in his sleep, as he always fell asleep while watching it. He never changed the channel more than one and he always forbade me to touch the remote control. I remember this lady from Interesting and Bold very well, because I would always sit down next to him and watch, watch, watch to be with Daddy for once, even though he was asleep.
— He told me, «Gary, don’t look at me, take matters into your own hands, I once made the mistake of dropping out, but I won’t let you do that.»
My brain, as a 6-year-old boy at the time, didn’t understand what kind of studying Dad was talking about and what not to do, but I knew he only wished the best for me. I sat next to him that night, the smell of beer in the room, the dim TV screen and the old carpet. I wondered if I could pick up the remote, switch it up, there was something interesting on. My childish mind would not let me rest, and my hand reached for the remote. And on this remarkable evening I dared to change the channel, taking my father’s remote control. I looked at it as if at the treasure, but my father continued sleeping, drowning out the sound of TV set with his snoring. Suddenly father moved and I, having managed to press once more, quickly put the remote control on the table and as if nothing had happened, continued watching TV. At that moment, I hit the sports channel. I had never seen a more spectacular sport. The crowd that the cameras were showing on all sides, the energy and the vibe of it. Clap, clap, clap… You could hear every clap, it was like one. The music that came out of their mouths, penetrating to the heart in every word she said.
Even though I saw it on TV, it was as if I could feel the whole stadium vibe. The fireworks, the tinsel, the thousands of spotlights and the same pile of camera lenses. And it all lit up inside me, I was ready to take off in a rocket right now just to be there. And suddenly everything fell silent, the lights went out and only a whisper could be heard through the darkness. Peace, this is what I felt at that moment when I was just a boy. Thinking about growing up, I would choose to be a child all my life. The state of security, care and permissiveness was the best. Pah… There was a fire. Pah… and over and over again, it was a man letting out tongues of flame from his mouth. The fire amused me, as if challenging me to fight with myself. I always enjoyed watching him, I saw passion in him, eagerness, boundless power. The smell… and the fire again. The music played, and the light of all the spotlights went to one point. What was going to happen there, I thought. Maybe a lion, reasoning from my last trip to the circus. No, it was him. A man with a capital letter, he appeared from the darkness in a red and blue robe and a hood. At that moment I didn’t yet understand why this grown man came out in a house robe, but I was so curious that I didn’t pay any attention to it. He took a confident step forward, and then another and another, and was already climbing up the stairs to some kind of catwalk, climbing over the thick ropes wrapped around the catwalk. What it could be-I didn’t know. Again, the lights went out abruptly, and silence lingered in the stadium. The silence was so deep I thought the TV had turned off, and I reached for the remote, when suddenly the lights went the other way. Phew, I thought, good thing I didn’t turn it off. It was a man of short stature, wearing a red robe and he had a hood on his head, too. Why do they go around in house robes. What kind of struggle are they having, maybe they’re competing to see who can wash this runway the fastest, and where are the buckets. But then they can’t beat my mom at cleaning, she’d show them how to call the shots.
Suddenly the man ran sharply up to the podium and as if he had flown up those thick ropes. A middle-aged man, strictly dressed in a black suit, with a microphone in his hands, came out into the middle, and loudly, expressively and almost clearly, he began to utter something very quickly. I could not understand him, but I distinctly heard the last phrase; it was the name Klaus MacPhil. Until two in the morning, I watched the two men move, to some it might seem like a mere beating, but I saw the art in it. The movements describing crisp lines, each dive, the incline, reminiscent of a martial dance of two masters. That speed, like a hummingbird flapping its wings. The movements like a butterfly fluttering on a catwalk. A moment that will forever be inside me. And bang...collapsed on the decking, some man dressed in a white shirt all the while circling around them, never engaging, abruptly ran up and started pointing his fingers one by one while mouthing something. It was a counting, but why should such a grown-up uncle count on his fingers, as if in his years he still did not know how to count. Then he crossed his arms and a huge number of people, cameras, microphones and everyone wanted something from this seemingly calm but very confident man. He was asked what you thought of tonight and he said: «Tonight was a contest of character and ingenuity in which I showed who really had more will, determination, desire and intelligence to win. I came out the winner» Reflecting on what happened, sitting in front of the TV, I realized that this is what I want to dedicate my life to. And night gave way to day, and already that stormy wind, which drove a pile of leaves over the pavement, retreated to the side. Letting the sun’s rays to please the people in such a hurry to work on this beautiful autumn morning.
My day usually started at 8 a.m., when my mom came home from work to feed me and send my dad to work. But today I got up at 7 a.m. I wasn’t going to work out, run, or repeat what I’d seen on TV. I lay there dreaming of one day being in a huge stadium packed with people. There are a lot of lights around, and just as I walk out I am greeted with a standing ovation.
Fryder, Fryder, Fryder…
The crowd is calling out to me louder and louder. What a wonderful feeling it is. Then my mother came into the room and kissed me on the forehead and said.
— Honey, let’s go eat, breakfast is ready.
The best, and most understanding, mom. I quickly ran down the stairs, and sat down at the table. The kitchen reeked of fresh orange, my favorite freshly squeezed juice. And the smell of sweet porridge cooked with milk reminded me of my grandmother’s summer in the country.
— What do you want to be? — my mother asked.
She used to ask this question every morning, and each time I said something new and different. President, astronaut, dentist, surgeon… Just today I said.
— Mom, I want to be a boxer.
— Where did such ambition come from, my dear friend? But you will succeed.
— Honestly mom, I want to box! — I said.
That’s when my life-long story began. There were people around, children were running around, playing, and I was riding in the car. And go where? My mom took me to the section to sign me up. My head was full of thoughts: «How do I get in? What’s waiting for me there? «What if I don’t get in? «Boxing is the sport of the fittest.» Those were the first words I saw stepping out of my mom’s old car. It took my breath away. I was willing to do anything but get taken. Walking into the gym, I said to my mom.
— Do you feel it?
— Mom laughed and said: «I can feel it.»
Then she felt only the sweat of those who trained there. And I could feel the atmosphere of the soul, the speed, the energy, and the overwhelming desire to win. Wait here,» she said. I sat down on the bench and watched intently as some guy pounded the last of the sand out of the pear. Drops of sweat were flying in different directions. But he didn’t seem to get tired at all, he was thrusting at every stroke. Unbeknownst to me, my future coach, George Stemworth, and my mother approached. I didn’t notice the noises, because I was so engrossed in taking apart every punch this boy threw.
— So, baby, let’s get acquainted, my name’s George.
— Gary,‖ I said, holding out my hand to him.
— Tight grip Gary. How old are you?
— Seven- I answered in a shaky voice, just to keep my luck up and practice.
— Training is on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6pm. Your mother said that you are a very bright boy and that you learn everything fast, so I am waiting for you on Wednesday, where we will check you out.
After these words, time flowed like a huge waterfall-quickly, violently, with tremendous energy. I didn’t notice how Wednesday came before I knew it. I had already prepared all the sports clothes from the evening, put them in my bag and went to bed with them, so as not to miss my chance for even a second. A child gets the most intimate and joyful miracle, only he can appreciate the opportunities that life brings him. A child will never give up on his goal, he will never give up until he gets to the point he understands. And only a child knows what sincere joy is in even small achievements.
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