Boxer hits on importance of hard work, resilience

Friday, March 29, 2019
Boxing champion Cam Awesome speaks to Berryville Middle School students Wednesday in Bobcat Gym about the importance of hard work and resilience.
Photo by David Bell/Carroll County News

By Kelby Newcomb

Berryville Middle School students stepped into the ring with a special guest speaker Wednesday.

Cam Awesome, an American amateur boxer who has won the U.S. title four times, visited Bobcat Gym to discuss the importance of hard work and resilience.

“It’s important to chase your dreams,” he said, “as long as you’re willing to deal with the consequences of not achieving them.”

In a perfect world, he said the students would be born, get straight As throughout school, receive a full-ride scholarship to an Ivy League university, graduate and get a job the first day out of school.

“Unfortunately, it won’t go like that,” Awesome said. “Nothing in life works the way you plan it. When things don’t work the way you plan, a lot of people look at it as failures.”

He said it is important to look at obstacles as “speed bumps instead of roadblocks.”

“What I mean by that is if it slows you down that’s OK,” he said, “but don’t let something stop you.”

He said there are three big lessons he has learned pursuing his dream of boxing: hard work, small details and resilience.

“I didn’t know what hard work was until I got punched in the face for not working hard enough,” Awesome said.

He said his daily work as a boxer is to wake up, get dressed, work out, don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t party, don’t eat junk food, be on weight and be prepared for a boxing match.

“Your job as students is wake up, get dressed, have breakfast, come to school,” he said, “do your homework, hand in assignments, study, pass tests and get good grades.”

Awesome continued, “Let’s say I was up all night playing Fortnite. Because I’m up all night, I couldn’t wake up to work out, so eventually I start skipping workouts. What happens? I lose.”

He said the consequences of his choice would be to lose a match.

“Let’s say you were doing the same thing and stayed up playing video games when you should be studying for a test,” he said. “What’s the consequence? You fail the test. You failing is me being knocked out.”

Awesome said it is also important to remember the small details.

“This lesson I’ve learned plenty of times. The first major time was in seventh grade,” he said. “I was taking Spanish, but the problem was I wasn’t very interested in learning Spanish and I wasn’t trying. I was failing the whole year.”

He continued, “In a roundabout way, the teacher said I was stupid in front of everyone. So the way my brain works, I said ‘I’m going to get 100 on the next test, so she can know I’m not stupid. I’m just not interested in her stupid class.’ ”

Awesome said he shut off the television and any other distractions and silently studied, realizing he had never done so before.

“I was thinking ‘People do this every day. That’s crazy!’ ” he said. “What’s also crazy is it makes taking the test a lot easier. I got to school, and to prove a point I was the first one to hand my test in with all the questions answered.”

He said he got every question right but received a 99 because he had forgotten to put the date on the paper.

“It did teach me the importance of small details,” he said.

Resilience is also key to success, he said.

“If you fail without being discouraged, success becomes inevitable,” Awesome said.

He used the flying fish as an example. He said the fish isn’t good at flying, but it is the best flying fish by default.

“The flying fish starts swimming underwater and reaches a speed of 37 mph,” he said, “which is extremely fast for a fish so small. Ninety-nine percent of the work the flying fish does to fly is underwater. No one sees it.”

Awesome continued, “I relate to that because my highlight reel just shows me punching people and dancing. I can promise you that’s not all boxing is. I only put the cool things in the video.”

He said the same is true for social media because people only post the cool things about their lives.

“No matter what job you want to do and no matter how cool the job is,” he said, “there will be parts of it that are boring, repetitive and mundane.”

Awesome continued, “You can be anything you want to be, but that’s only the first half of the statement. You can be anything you want to be as long as you’re willing to work harder than everyone else who want to be it as well.”

When flying fish reach 37 mph, he said they extend their fins, break through the water and take off, only to fall back in a few moments later.

“When it hits the water, it doesn’t stop,” Awesome said. “The flying fish doesn’t see it as a failure, just a speed bump. That’s why it’s the best flying fish there is.”

He told the students the three things they need to be successful in any career are confidence, focus and resilience.

“Hard work equals value,” Awesome said, “so how hard you work will determine how confident you will be.”

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