“Anger provides the number one difference between a fist-fight and a boxing bout.
Anger is an unwelcome guest in any department of boxing. From the first time a chap draws on gloves as a beginner, he is taught to ‘keep his temper’ — never to ‘lose his head.’ When a boxer gives way to anger, he becomes a ‘natural’ fighter who tosses science into the bucket. When that occurs in the amateur or professional ring, the lost-head fighter leaves himself open and becomes an easy target for a sharpshooting opponent. Because an angry fighter usually is a helpless fighter in the ring, many prominent professionals — like Abe Attell and the late Kid McCoy — tried to taunt fiery opponents into losing their heads and ‘opening up.’ Anger rarely flares in a boxing match.
Different, indeed, is the mental condition governing a fist-fight. In that brand of combat, anger invariably is the fuel propelling one or both contestants. And when an angry, berserk chap is whaling away in a fist-fight, he usually forgets all about rules — if he ever knew any…
Let me suggest that any time you are about to be drawn into a fight, keep your head and make a split-second survey of your surroundings… In 99 out of 100 cases you can force the other guy to move to an open spot by challenging his courage to do so. Don’t let the action start in a crowded subway car, in a theater aisle, in a restaurant, office, saloon or the like. Keep your head and arrange the shift, so that you’ll be able to knock his head off when you get him where you can fight without footing handicaps…
In connection with that danger, never forget: The longer the fight lasts, the longer you are exposed to danger… When you square off, you hope to beat your opponent into submission in a hurry… it is imperative that you end the brawl as quickly as possible; and the best way to do that is by a knockout.”
Some advice for boxing, and life, pulled from Jack Dempsey’s 1950 book Championship Fighting.
As my trainer tells me, be more composed than your opponent; “if you can make him miss, you can make him pay.”