The cheering crowds are gone, the rigor of training is a faint memory, and the thrill of competition has vanished.  What now?  What runs through the mind of an old ex-fighter?

I’m an old ex-fighter.  And because I only fought amateur, (34-1), I feel a bit pretentious lumping myself in the same category as Joe Frazier, Roberto Duran, Jake Lamotta, and all of the other great ex-fighters.  But I will.  If you have a problem with that—punch me.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you’ve ever had a Q-tip shoved up your nose.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you haven’t been in the ring for years but you still think about your upcoming comeback.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you link time periods with fighters.  The 1920s is Dempsey; The 30s is Primo Carnera; The 1940s is Joe Louis; The 1950s is Marciano.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you link geographical areas with fighters. Panama is Roberto Duran; Nigeria is Dick Tiger; Louisville, Kentucky is Muhammad Ali; Brockton, Massachusetts is Rocky Marciano.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…your old boxing gear is in the basement, stuffed neatly in your old duffle bag, probably next to a cardboard box filled with old Ring magazines.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…Ultimate Fighting makes you puke.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you vow to go back to the boxing gym…as soon as you lose a few more pounds.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you still hear the voice of your old trainer screaming in your head.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you know certain un-athletic people pick verbal fights with you because it makes them feel more athletic.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you almost always want to give your boss a knuckle sandwich.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you think headgear for amateurs is the death of boxing as you knew it.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…when you watch a fight you can spot a converted southpaw in seconds.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you snore.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you vow to visit the Boxing Hall of Fame…as soon as you lose a few more pounds.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you make stupid connections such as: I once punched the nose of someone who punched the nose of someone who punched the nose of some important fighter.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…in certain social circles, you tell people that you were once a fighter, you see their awkward expression, then feel your I.Q. plunge 20 points.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…there’s one fight that still bothers you.  Through out the years you’ve fought this fight over and over again in your mind, but you still lose it.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…your fights appeared in agate print.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you habitually seek out the agate print in papers.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you know what agate is.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you know someone who pissed blood—perhaps it was you.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you look at a telephone pole and think sprints.  If you see a Q-tip you remember bloody noses.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…when someone asks you, “How many fights did you have?” you add 1 or 2 wins to your ring record.  You feel guilty doing this, but you still do it.  Every time.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you recognize the smell of witch-hazel.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you have ever heard of Monsole’s solution.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you know how to throw a bolo punch.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you know what a “shoe-shine” is.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you can still hear Johnny Addie’s voice in the arena.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you think Velcro gloves are a beautiful invention.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you secretly see yourself walking back into the ring.  You even know the entrance song you want them to play as you step through the ropes…but you have no desire to hit anyone.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you still distinguish right from left by remembering what side your opponent’s right hand came from.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…the way a fighter throws a left hook is a very important issue to you.  Does he throw it with his palm facing toward him; or with his palm facing down?  (The correct answer:  Facing him.)

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you smile when you hear or read boxing analogies: “Put up your dukes!”  “No hitting below the belt!”  “Come out swinging at the bell!” “He took it on the chin!” “He’s down for the count!” “They threw in the towel.”   “He’s the real McCoy!”  “I’ll be in your corner.”

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…when you watch KO highlights, instead of applauding, you wince.

You Know You’re an Ex-Fighter if
…you have ever held a sweet, little baby in your arms and that baby popped you on the nose.  Your eyes welled up with tears and you were reminded once more: “Hey, that hurts!”

(Peter Wood’s two books, Confessions of a Fighter—Battling Through the Golden Gloves and A Clenched Fist—The Making of a Golden Gloves Champion, are published by Ringside Books.  Wood was a 1971 New York City Golden Gloves finalist in the middleweight division)