Outside the Cage – #2By
Walking into the restaurant, I worked my way to the bar through a thick crowd of people. I asked a waitress behind the bar if my food was ready yet. She shook her head, signaling that I’d have to wait a little longer. Taking a seat at the bar, I felt a few people glancing at me from various spots in the room. It was common for me to catch people staring, during the week following most of my fights, when the bruises on my face were still fresh. The looks I was getting this time were different though; they lasted longer, and were much more obvious. I looked up and began watching some sport highlights on a huge television mounted on one of the walls as I waited for my take-out order to be ready.
A week earlier I had been in San Diego, inside an octagon shaped cage, fighting in front of five thousand screaming marines at Miramar Air Force Base. Something like two million viewers were also watching Josh Koscheck and I battling it out, from the comfort of their own homes.
The trip to this restaurant had been my first time out in public since I had returned from California. My first few days back were spent relaxing around the house, talking with friends and hanging out with my family.
After a few minutes the waitress came out from the kitchen, with three or four bags filled with food. Reaching for my wallet, I tried to remember the cost of the food — they had told me over the phone — and figured it to be around one hundred dollars. I had ordered enough for the five or six people that were waiting at my house for me to return.
The waitress handed me the bags and as I attempted to give her my money, she said “No charge”. A warm smile appeared on her face. I felt a puzzled look cross my face as I tried to make sense of what she had just said and done. The girl must have noticed my confusion, because she shouted “The manager says great fight!”. Pausing for a moment she continued “The place was packed that night for the fight, thanks a lot”. I smiled, thanked her and turned to leave when I was approached by a few other people, the same one who had been glancing over at me minutes earlier. Some said kind words about the bout and many asked when my next fight would be. One man tapped me on the shoulder.
“I was so proud to see Hamilton, Ontario on the T.V screen” he said with a smile and thanked me for making that happen.
It really felt awesome to have them show their support that night through many kind words and the free food was a nice touch also . I also realized something great; When I’m fighting, it’s not only me, my friends and coaches that feel the excitement, nervousness and thrill of the moment, those same feelings are felt by many other people in my community, people who maybe I’ve never even met before.
I really hope that I can put the concussion problem behind me, work my way back into fight shape and get back in there and get back to business.