The date was June 20, 1980. I was 14 years old and heavy into sports. I remember the buzz at the time was the Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran fight. My dad was a big fan of boxing and that fight was heavily promoted everywhere.
Roberto Duran grew up in Panama without the finer things in life, and resented this good clean cut all American Golden Child from the U.S. Leonard wasn’t considered built but he was lightning fast. Roberto was a fierce boxer that nobody could go toe to toe with. He was focused on one thing, and that was to humiliate Leonard in the ring and Roberto let Leonard know it. People would say that when you looked into Roberto Duran’s eyes, it was like looking into the eyes of the devil.
The human mind is the greatest computer on the planet. We program that computer every day with belief or doubt. As we find motivation, we develop what Vince Poscente (Author of “The Ant and the Elephant”) calls “finding the elephant buzz”. We fill ourselves with belief and it gives us the fuel to win. On the other hand if we focus on our fears it fills us with doubt and we lose. We should make fears our friend and not our master as Vince Poscente states, but that doesn’t always work the way we hope.
That fight rocked Leonard to the core. He let Duran get into his head and fear became his master. Duran’s intimidation and focus was effective and Leonard was off his game. Sugar Ray Leonard was known to be a dancer in the ring. He would duck, weave, and play with his apponants, but not this time. He went toe to toe with Duran that day and it was a a slug match. It was like watching a fast paced ping pong game, and by decision Duran had won. The Golden Child of the U.S. was devastated, Leonard went into depression and considered retiring. On the other hand Duran became the most popular guy in Panama. Security couldn’t stop the mob from crowding his plane when he landed at the airport in Panama. He had beaten the best, just as he said he would do, and now the world knew.
It didn’t take long before everyone was shouting for a rematch. Everyone but Sugar Ray Leonard. He had lost his confidence and contemplated retirement. The more he thought about it the more he knew he didn’t want to go out like that. He noticed, in photos, Duran was getting fat and comfortable as a celebrity in Panama and Leonard was starting to get his “elephant buzz” back. The rematch was on! This time Leonard stayed focused on his game and his confidence grew. Duran had lost his “elephant buzz” and was starting to get nervous. The two fighters would fight their rematch at the Superdome in New Orleans that November 25th but this time the roles looked like they were reversed.
The day of the fight the two boxers climbed into the ring and it was written on their faces. One had his “elephant buzz” back and the other one was going though the motions. This time Leonard would dance all over that ring and every time Duran tried to get him in a corner, Leonard wouldn’t stay there. He would hit and roll out. It didn’t take Leonard long before he was back to his intimidation techniques and was teasing Duran. Duran was feeling beat up and humiliated and his fear became his master. He was physically and emotionally drained and wanted the pain to stop, and before the end of the eighth round Roberto Duran said those famous words that would rock the boxing world forever, “NO MAS”. It means NO MORE. Everyone thought “did I hear that correctly?” He didn’t win, he didn’t lose, and he didn’t even take a dive, HE JUST QUIT! Some wondered if they should give Leonard credit for a win, but there was no question that Leonard beat him physically and mentally.
Duran had to go into hiding for a while and it took the Panamanian people about three years to forgive him. Duran had embarrassed the people of Panama after they had built him up as the best in the world.
You have trained hard, you have your “elephant buzz”, you are on your game. You have people in your corner rooting for you. Your dream is worth the fight. Even if your knees get weak, your nose gets bloody, keep your hands up and fight one more round. Because the guy who fights one more round is never whipped.