Apparently all Scotsmen wear kilts, have ginger hair, eat nothing but deep fried Mars Bars and they like a good fight!
Stereotyping is frequently used to wind people up and can on occasion be used in an irrational or insulting manner. However, I believe one of those attributes is accurate. I was once ‘volunteered’ for boxing because my home town was Dundee! Read on…
Dundee was put on the boxing map in the late fifties and in the early sixties due to the legendary Dick McTaggart who won a Gold and Bronze medal in two separate Olympic Games (for Great Britain). Many new boxing clubs sprang up in Dundee over this period and you can see the evidence of his legacy today. It’s also timely for this blog that Dundee erected a statue of him just a few months ago.
I left school aged 16 joining the Army as a Junior entrant and trained at Junior Tradesmen’s Regiment near Troon in Ayrshire Scotland, spookily where Dick McTaggart now lives! Once basic training was done and dusted, everybody had to be assigned a hobby. I didn’t really have something I was very good at, so my choice was made for me. According to my Sergeant, I was ‘allocated’ to the boxing squad because my home town was Dundee and therefore I must be a good fighter! As this was announced in public, my feathers bristled with the increased ‘street cred’ 🙂
Winning my first fight was probably a mistake – although as it was an ‘Inter-Company’ competition the celebrity factor was good 🙂 There were 3 x 1 minute rounds where me and my opponent (who had a much longer reach!) just swung our arms non stop hoping for contact and I won on points. The second and third fights were a blur and I lost both on points. I remember being knocked out in training and had to spend the night in the Medical Centre under observation. Interestingly, the knockout blow came from the fist of the guy who I beat in my first fight! The fourth fight was against a seasoned civilian and I lasted into the second round when the referee stopped the fight on the basis my opponent was ‘too strong’. As I had some memory issues after that fight, my sergeant decided to allocate me to the much safer hobby of ‘Rock Climbing’ 🙂
So the stereotyping backfired. The closest I’d been to fighting in Dundee was chucking a dustbin at someone up an alley down town and then beating a hasty retreat to a safe spot with other ‘friendlies’. That said, I did put 150% into the boxing training and became extremely fit. I never personally conceded any of my 4 fights – I won one, lost two on points and the fourth and final one was stopped by the referee – not my decision!
I’m fairly certain that my 18 month junior soldier experience increased my confidence and I started to realise I was not one to give up easily. That trait has remained with me throughout my life with words such as determined, tenacious, stubborn, strong-willed, forceful and direct having been used over the years to describe it. I took this trait into my second career as an ‘ex military’ person working with ‘civilians’. I remember numerous occasions when I had not been well but still turned up for work much to the annoyance of others. Once when it was suggested that I should go home and rest up, I replied that the only way I would be leaving the office against my wishes was on a stretcher. They laughed but I was deadly serious.
I suspect I’ve mellowed over the years as most people tend to do when they get older. However, this trait of mine has been quite handy in the past 4 years for fighting Neuroendocrine Cancer. I’m winning on points so far 🙂
Stay positive all!
p.s. I don’t own a kilt, I don’t have ginger hair and I’ve never eaten a deep fried Mars Bar 🙂
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