The shy but determined 19 year old Kim Yuna’s spectacular gold medal winning performance in 2010 was unquestionably one of the greatest moments in Korean sports history. I felt both joy and relief for her in victory, emotions she certainly must have felt standing there on the podium this night. There was tremendous pressure and lofty expectations to win impressively going into the competition from her fans and countrymen. But instead of buckling under the pressure, Yuna excelled as no female skater had previously before her. She skated her best performance, a near flawless and world record breaking performance!
This medal ceremony was one of the best moments on television for me in 2010 and a proud moment as a Korean. I hope she can continue to display her tremendous talents at the top, championship level, while staying grounded and show the same grace and humility that has endeared her to so many fans.
Mexican boxing legend Julio Caesar Chavez, affectionately known as JC Superstar, was one of the greatest fighters in history. Chavez won multiple titles in the lower weight divisions in the late 80’s through the early 90’s.
Julio perfected the trademark punch of previous Mexican greats, the left hook. His hook broke ribs and dislodged eye sockets. His indomitable will broke opponents’ spirit. He was a relentless pressure fighter, incredibly durable and seem to get stronger in the later rounds if the opponent managed to last that long.
I wanted to be a professional boxer at one time. At 5’7” and 127 to 130lbs, I was a sinewy built featherweight or junior lightweight. I was fast, good sized and had good power in my hands. But this would mean I would be fighting in the same weight classes as Chavez.
Time and time again, I saw how effortlessly he would dash the championship title dreams of so many boxers that opposed him. Fast guys, strong punchers, naturally bigger opponents, smart tacticians. It didn’t seem to matter who was in front of him. He would beat them all, often demoralizing them. No one was the same after fighting him. And with over 80 wins without a loss, Julio was nearing his prime. He seemed unbeatable, virtually a perfect fighting machine. And he was getting better!
How would I be able to beat someone so formidable? Was it worth committing to the long hours in the gym to develop my skills? And would my skills be enough to ever beat the great JC Superstar? His confident quiet calm was as intimidating as Tyson’s rage and fire. I definitely had my doubts and opted to focus on getting into college.
I wish I was encouraged to read more when I was growing up. My reading was limited to endlessly flipping through the pages of the World Book of Encyclopedia and skimming through the captions on the pictures. There were some enjoyable light reading. Curious George, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, most Richard Scarry’s Busytown stories and any book on dinosaurs or animals were all among my favorites. All I read basically from then on were comic books, maybe a few short stories on some of my favorite athletes and lots of boxing magazines.
Reading wasn’t fun for me. I was a slow reader and it felt like too much work. I’d rather watch TV or play outside.
I somehow managed to get through high school without cracking open a book. Not too many anyway. CliffNotes and the help and kindness of a few close friends briefed me on the mandatory reading. I had deprived myself but did not feel that way back then.
I could have discovered the stories of some of my favorite authors like John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury and George Orwell, and my love of history, politics, literature and social sciences much sooner.
It wasn’t until much later, even after college, I began to read in earnest. Aside from reading my Bible almost every night (a promise I made to God and myself sometime in high school), I have gone back and read Animal Farm, The Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, Fahrenheit 451 and most of the books I was suppose to read in middle school and high school.
Now I have a love of reading books. I’ve make it a goal of mine to read at least four novels a year. There’s no better time than the present to make up for lost time.