A few days ago I was in Alaska sipping PBR in a can at the Seward AleHouse with Santo when I received a text message via carrier pigeon from our man south of the equator, Disko Baloba, wondering where I’ve been of late and why haven’t I posted anything in almost 4 months. While Disko’s been sipping cachaçaand churning out the Radio Saudade episodes, and Jesús is reconciling himself to the fact that his hero Nicolas Anelka will be plying his trade in China for Shanghai Shenhua for the next 2 years, I’ve been meditating on the onset of the season of yin and searching for lonely waves all over western BC for the past months with Santo in the Asian Noodles Sound System truck.
The mind is a strange and unpredictable animal, much like Santo himself who insists on wearing a disturbingly-worn Speedo and his faded Vancouver Canucks T-shirt underneath his wet suit when he surfs. As I was wondering aloud how to respond to Disko’s charge, Santo ordered a round of Kokanee Lagers and said simply, “drop the yin, brother.”
Yin. That’s right: ol’ 陰陽 itself. In the Taoist paradigm of reality its the dark, passive, downward, cold, weak, feminine, reclusive, latent and contracting energy to her brother’s yang: bright, active, hot, masculine, expanding and strong. Read: winter. Here in the Northern Hemisphere what better place to observe and philosophize about the onset of the season of yin than here in Alaska as the snow falls and my awkwardly hirsute comrade seriously considers paddling out in the arctic waters alone to commune with the primal vibration made manifest in the atomic pudding known as ocean waves.
But the beauty of this cosmic continuum is that within each piece of the duality-puzzle lies the seed to the other, a glimpse of the crest created by the trough, of the beauty that spontaneously arises with the ugly. And indeed, in the long cold months of winter many of us dream of that latent but unstoppable seed in order to carry on. We fly to the tropics, cruise the surf magazines in Barnes and Noble, or in my case mentally sail away to Recife as I don my headphones and kick back to the tunes spun by Disko down on the beach in Brazil. But when times get really tough, I always fall back to one thought to see me through to the break of day and the sun’s warm rays: Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Yes, Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Undisputed Middleweight Champion of the World for 7 straight years (1980-1987) who had his name legally changed to “Marvelous Marvin Hagler” in 1982 because he was sick of punk-ass boxing commentators not referring to him as “marvelous” when calling his fights. And he deserved the moniker – 78% of his fights resulted in his opponent lying unconscious on the mat – the highest KO percentage of middleweight champions ever.
So whats the connection with yin, you may rightfully ask. See Hagler, who moved to Brockton, Massachusetts as a youth after his Newark tenement was destroyed in the Newark Riots of 1967, liked to train for fights alone in the winter by renting out motels that were closed for the season out on Cape Cod and doing his running in army boots, on empty snow-swept streets, running backwards to train his legs, because running shoes were “sissy shoes.” Seriously. And again, his 62-3-2 career record included 52 KO’s. Fifty-two. And yes, again, that calculates to an incredible 78% of his fights.
For me the climax of his amazing career was when the dangerously bloodied Hagler knocked out Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns in the 3rd round in 1985 in what is arguably the greatest 8 minutes in all of boxing history. Enough words on this – watch the fight below and judge for yourself.
Hagler’s stellar record was unjustly marred by a shameless charlatan known as Raymond Leonard in their legendary fight of April 1987. I refuse to bless anyone with the title “Sugar” except for the one and only Ray Robinson, especially not this aforementioned shyster. In a bout that lived up to the enormous hype that surrounded it, the conniving Leonard – who was able to successfully barter his way to an enormous 20×20 ring so that he could run in cowardice throughout the match – bamboozled the judges – and even my own blessed mom – with his gallimaufry of cheap gimmicks such as his baby face and his showboating flurries of meaningless punches that mostly landed on the champion’s arms and gloves and stole a disgusting 12-round decision by the apparently twitterpated and hapless judges. Suffice to say that we know who the real winner, and champion, was and is.
After Raymond was able to duck the rematch that Marvelous Marv desperately and deservedly sought, Hagler retired from the ring and became an action movie star in Italy, which of course should be everyone’s Plan B in life. He currently resides in Milan like a rock star with his second wife and occasionally stocks his formidable coffers by lending his voice to boxing commentary for British television. Truly Marvelous.
So the next time the grey days of yin seem interminable, think of Marvelous Marvin Hagler running the stormy winter streets of Cape Cod alone in army boots by day and sleeping in vacant motels by night, and know not only that your foes shall lay vanquished and unconscious at your feet but also that your Mediterranean days of warm, quiet glory are waiting on the horizon. Viva the Hagler!