In 1977 I fought in three boxing tournaments. James “Chief” Noahubbi (a full blood Choctaw Native American) was a contestant in two of them. I won the first meeting between us in the Grand Prairie, Texas finals. In that first fight I happened to have broken his nose. Entering our second fight, in the East Dallas Christian Church tourney, I went into it knowing there was a possibility we would end up in the finals. When we did, I was scared that he would be gunning for me because I had broken his nose. I fought with my mind, not my whole heart, and lost in a split decision.
Then, in February of 1978, we met again, in the Dallas Golden Gloves Championship (Heavyweight Division). The fight was held at the Dallas Convention Center. It would be our third and final bout. For two days prior, I had been sick with diarrhea. The night of the fight I weighed in at 182#’s. Dad’s ‘old school’ way of dealing with my problem was to have me down about a pint of honey 15 minutes before the bout.
Stepping into the ring, I had no clue what would happen, no game plan, I stepped in sick and in total free fall. Here is what I remember: The first round I ran for my life. Circling the ring, I barely threw a punch. When the bell sounded, ending the first round, there were “Boo’s” from the crowd! That hurt. No one but my family and coach knew I was sick. I’d never been boo’d in my life. That woke me up.
Going out for the second round I threw a few combinations that hit the mark. Combinations had never worked so well. My strength only allowed me to throw a few of them. I was done. Spent. Nothing left. Somewhere during that round, I got my nose re-arranged. The septum of my nose was sticking out of my right nostril. My coach and trainer, Bob took one look at me and, just like in Rocky, where Mick wanted to stop the fight, told me he was stopping the fight. I almost got in a fight with Bob right then and there.
There was no way I was not going out for a third round. I had never been so exhausted. Right then and there I had a conversation with myself. Saying to no one but me, “Don’t stop swinging for the 3rd round”, “Don’t stop swinging for the 3rd round”, “Don’t stop swinging for the 3rd round”. “Keep swinging until I hear the bell.” When the 3rd round started, I stepped to the middle of the ring, stood there and waited. James met me there. I have no idea what shape he was in. I only remember beginning to swing. In a mantra to myself the whole round I said, “Keep swinging.” “Swing for the rafters.” “Swing for my life.” I only had to keep swinging and moving forward, waiting for the sound of the bell. There were brief glimpses of James being in front of me. I don’t even know if he hit me. “Keep swinging.” I was lost inside myself. I was alone and focused. The crowd disappeared. There was no coach, no family in the stands, it was almost as if there was no opponent. It didn’t even matter if I hit him or not. Time disappeared…all that mattered was my keeping on swinging until I heard that bell. When it did sound…..I fell to the mat. I then heard the crowd. There was never a sweeter yet disorienting sound. Fear washed over me. You see…the bell was rung by hand at ringside. I may have been the only one that heard it. Because…the roar of the crowd was so loud, a fear came over me that the judges may of mistaken my falling to my knees at the end of the round, for my having been hit by my opponent. I was too weak to stand. The referee tried to assist me up several times, it was a ‘no go.’ There was no reservoir to draw upon to do anything but lay on the mat.
When the moment came and I was able to rise…the referee held my hand (as they do when a decision is read). The judge’s verdict was in. Over the loudspeaker came the words, “The winner….. in the blue corner.” Up to that point in my life, they were the sweetest words my ears had ever heard.
Later that night, I was curious. You see, my mother and father had been in the audience.
I was curious as to what dad thought of the fight. While driving home, sitting in the back seat of the family sedan, mother was driving, dad was in front of me. I asked him, “How’d I do dad?” I wanted to know what my dad thought of the fight. His answer not only surprised me, but has been a source of strength the past 44 years. He said, “I know I’ll never have to worry about you the rest of your life.” I also remember, driving home that night feeling the septum sticking out of my right nostril and thinking to myself, “I don’t care if I ever breathe out of my nose again, I won.” Over time, my nose has grown back into place, such that it didn’t look deformed and I could go through life with folks not really knowing what had happened, but my breathing out of it was pretty lousy until I got it fixed a couple years back.
Scott was 16 when he won the Golden Gloves Championship. This photo was not taken on that day. Scott ran into James at a tournament a few years later and asked if they could get a picture together.