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Apollonius, the Defeated Boxer

A fiction piece by Alex Fosnaugh, freshman English and Communication Major

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You've trained with a punching bag nearly everyday since you were a young boy creeping onto becoming a man. A man who didn't know what was to come. Your fists confidently come into contact with sand filled bags over and over and over again until your body becomes proof of your dedication. Your muscles and physique are effortlessly you, to take those away would be devastating. You were an ideal man in an ideal society. Young and Perfectly sculpted, as if Hephaestus painstakingly crafted you himself. Your age gave you strength, speed, and stamina. You were the forefront of innovation and grandeur. Artists and poets modeled their sculptures and heroes after you. Your physique and your hard work became the muse for many. When you walked into the ring, your opponents knew you were blessed by the gods. They didn’t need my gift of prophecy to know the match was already decided before it even began.


Match after match was easily won by a younger version of you. A version that has since been lost to time, but not forgotten. As the scars on your body grew and your ears became more disfigured, you struggled. Younger, faster, and stronger opponents began to easily outmatch you. These younger men were now being given the same gifts as you were all those years ago. Your hard work did not necessarily mean you could keep up with the new young men who were now favored by the gods. I’m here to tell you, the sun no longer shines brightly on you. The times where you barely flinched after a blow to the face have passed. Now you stumble and falter, needing a second to reorient yourself. Giving your opponents the opportunity to wear you down even more. Be careful, life has a funny way of moving on before we're ready.


Now you're sitting here, alone. Anyone could see how much effort you've put into being the best. And you were the best, even if it was only for a short time. Match after match was won and a beautiful bloody grin accompanied that win. So many hours were spent perfecting your craft and your bumpy, scarred ears prove it. You knew battered ears only garnered more respect from your fellow battered eared folk. You were experienced. You were respected. At this point boxing has become an extension of your soul and it’s very easy to see. To some it might seem like you are motivated by the glory, the fame, the prestige. But deep down you and I know that is not why you do this. It was all you were meant to do and all you wanted to do. Because even when you started to grow old, you learned how not to be outperformed. A strong offense was perfectly countered by a well crafted defense. Instead of pushing through every blow to the face or kick to the ribs you learned the importance of dodging and blocking. When they swished and swung, you blocked and ducked. Tiny hops on the balls of their feet meant they were about to kick, a twist of the hips meant they were about to punch with their back hand. When once you would have taken the blow with stride you now predict and avoid their attacks. It was quite impressive to see you learn to twist and turn with all the skill of a fox. But you must remember that time catches up to all of us. Don't cling on to something you're not anymore.


The leather wraps around your hands are worn and torn. Frayed edges found along your knuckles remind you it’s been a while since you’ve had them repaired. They were made for you years ago by the finest craftsmen who have now passed their craft down to their sons. They are covered in both old and new blood. The tiny amount of padding on your opponents’ knuckles does nothing to protect your face. As you sit here on this old cold stone, hands resting on your knees, the new wounds on your face swell. Blood mixes with sweat and drips down your face all the way to your jaw, hesitating before it falls to the floor. Your nose swells up and the deep cut across your bridge burns. This wound you gained from this match is likely to become a permanent mark on your face. Once you would’ve seen it as a testament to the work you put in to win. Now it has become a marker of shame, another match lost. You stare down at the floor and look into the drops of blood. The deep red abysses remind you of your very first match. Much like you are now, you sat on a cold stone. Face swollen, beaten, and bloody. Back then you never would have imagined the success you would find. A younger, less experienced you stared into the almost microscopic red puddles on the ground and vowed you would never lose that badly again. Back then you were unaware of how much this would define your existence. Now, you touch the fresh wound above your brow and it stings. Even after your hand has moved on to run along old scars, that burning feeling reminds you that even the strongest flames flicker out.


Please, old friend, take your time to rest and breathe. Only taking in shallow breaths means your lungs will struggle to get enough air. You are simply not what you used to be, you can’t expect to bounce back as fast. Exhale deeply because years of wear and tear mean your body will hurt long after you step out of the ring. Now, let your shoulders sag and rest without shame because maybe it’s time. Maybe the fates cut this thread long ago and only now is it becoming clearer to see. I want you to raise your hand high into the air and proclaim, with pride, that your time has come to an end. The gifts you were given and the time you spent will not be forgotten. I will make sure your legacy lives on. I want you to remember that the sun does not shine brightly on you anymore but it still does shine. You have worked so hard and truly lived up to the name that was given to you before anyone knew what it would mean. Apollonius, please remember, that Everything eventually stops, Everything must end. Even if we refuse to accept it.


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