Posted: July 12, 2010 in The Duffy Dombrowski Fight Club
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In my mystery “Out Cold” my protagonist, Duffy, gets knocked out sparring in the first chapter. He’s told to take some time off to be safe but he doesn’t. He even sneaks off to another gym where his coach won’t catch him to get some sparring in.

He gets knocked out again.

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People who are into the combative arts know about this. They fight when it would make sore sense to take a day off. They fight when they’re injured. They fight when they’re overtrained.

In the world of professional boxing they keep fighting when they should retire–even when they have enough money.

Yet, these same guys will describe the feelings right before fighting as not entirely pleasant. It’s exciting but it can also be filled with dread and anxiety.

Is the compulsion to fight about feeling the rush of acting against fear? Can that rush then turn into a compulsion–a compulsion that can cause harm to a person?

Is it a dynamic exclusive to combative sports or do people compulsively do things for the rush of fighting their fears?

  1. Jen Forbus says:

    I have a very hard time believing that this compulsion has anything to do acting against fear, quite honestly. After all, the goal isn’t just to compete, the goal is to win, to dominate, to control.

    And no, this isn’t something that’s unique to combative sports. Look at all the people who get sick before they compete, perform, etc. – athletes, musicians, actors. It’s the competitive nature that is essential to be at the top of most any game or talent.

    • tjs9261 says:

      I completely reject the notion that the goal is only to win, dominate or control and would argue it’s not even the primary one (unless you’re in a competitive event.) If it’s practice fighting (sparring) I reject it completely.

      • Jen Forbus says:

        Nope, sorry, not convinced. The purpose of practice is to improve…improve at what? The technique, the moves…to do what? If it were strictly for health reasons or for physical fitness you wouldn’t need to compete against someone else, practice or otherwise. There’s a world of options out there to provide equal health and physical fitness options. But, regardless, your post is asking about professional boxing…that’s competitive. By definition, a competition is a “rivalry for supremacy.”

      • tjs9261 says:


      • D. B. Dean says:

        okay – i tried to reply to this yesterday and my interent kept crashing..

        I agree with Tom. Not that I am a pro boxer or anything but really…when I spar with someone (kick boxing)…its for sparring sake alone. Its possible that I enjoy getting hit almost as much as getting IN a good hit…When someone breaks through the defensive blocks and I take one to the jaw…well It pushes me to another level…a fighters high perhaps…I am not ever fighting to win…because I am just sparring in a gym because it feels good.

        Its the dance, the contact, the exercise, the movement of my body…the slick sweaty contact between bodies. The ache of ribs from to many hits and legs to weak to walk from the kicks. There is no winner or loser…just fighters.

  2. Maria Conto says:

    I tend to think it’s more about identity and about feeling alive.

  3. BD says:

    In the physical realm I sit out for a week if I get a hangnail so I don’t know what goes through an athlete’s head who keeps going long after he “should.”
    Pain is a whole nuther thang so the motivation could be nothing like mine for continuing past my sell-by date.

    I kept doing music. If I was ever pretty, I no longer was. In a world of MTV-ready 19yr olds in the latest Versace, I was of the headbangus spandexus extinctus epoch.
    I can only speak for me but I think it was a desperate clinging to youth. An ego trip.
    It was neat being recognized and stuff & playing with some of my old heroes all over the place. Autographing boobs may have been a factor, too.

    It’s all about “what would people think about me if I stopped” (preserving a (supposed) projected, external image) and “what the hell would I do & who the hell would this me be if I stopped” (protecting a self image).

    Macho, clinging, ego, scared, immature, human stuff.

    Boy, I have never thought all that through. I feel like I owe someone for a 50 minute hour over here.

    • tjs9261 says:

      That’s some pretty cool stuff…

      BTW…as an author you only get to sign books or the occasional beer koozie…

  4. Graham says:

    All I know is that great athletes in pretty much every field keep going until they have to be carried off on their shield. Michael Jordan’s tenure with the Washington Wizards is a prime example, but Jerry Rice and Wayne Gretzky also bounced around for a few years when they were just shadows of their former greatness.

  5. ginny says:

    All I know is I like to WIN, WIN, WIN! OK- I will play with you first/too, but I am talking about non-combative games – word games, etc. See I know I could probably kick Schreck’s ass in one of those, altho it would take him nano-seconds to kick mine in boxing. But would he>?

    Now Jen Forbus, on the other hand, routinely kicks my ass in word games as a cat plays with a mouse does she play with me before she anihilates me in word games!

    What was the question? Oh yeah – the compulsion to fight against the rush of acting against fear – well I guess I am more afraid of Jen than Tom – at least I know Tom would never hit me!

  6. Becca says:

    I think it’s like The Wrestler – they don’t know anything else.

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