Grappling with the Suicide of Don Cornelius

February 2, 12

Believe it or not I try really hard not to judge people. I realize that judging another human being can be a sign of both condescension and insecurity on the part of the man who is judging. I do try to show empathy and understanding to my brethren who have gone astray and most of the time I am successful, however, when a situation like the suicide of Don Cornelius comes about it becomes very difficult for me to keep my opinions bottled up.


Suicide really bothers me. I am aware of mental illness as I have been affected by it on more than one occasion in my life. I know about the daily struggles to survive as well; I just have a hard time respecting a person who takes his own life. I can’t imagine what it’s like to a 75-year-old man living every day in isolation, pain, and anguish but I also can’t imagine quitting—for I am a fighter and fighting is all I know.


Don Cornelius did extraordinary things for black-culture and he should be applauded for that. He represents part of my childhood as he does for millions of other people around the country, which makes it seem even more pathetic to me that he would end his life in this way. Suicide has always struck me as a very selfish act. I’m sorry but that’s how I feel.


In the end only the judgment of god will matter. The opinion of Youngen Black probably won’t even leave The Ghettosun. I hope that Mr. Cornelius has found peace and I hope that he will be forgiven.  I just don’t get suicide, I never have.


A Fighter’s Insecurities

January 25, 2012

Very strange things happen in a boxing gym; peculiar things that a person who has never been inside one would have a hard time believing. Like what occurred yesterday for example. I was moving around the heavy bag feeling real good. Working on my combinations while trying to adjust to having a new trainer when this very regal looking elderly gentlemen approached me. I saw him looking at me throwing my shots and I thought wow old dude must be really impressed. So I started throwing crisper more accurate blows.


So the guy, who obviously used to be a fighter, says to me; “Hey man, what are you about 140 pounds?” I smile and say yeah I’m about that. Then he shook his head in disapproval and said; “You need to get down to around 135,” and walked off.


That old son of a bitch! How dare he call me a fat ass. I spent the whole rest of my workout disappointed for eating one too many Oreo cookies the night before. I hate Oreos by the way. Every time I eat one it goes straight to my hips. And thus the great hidden secret of the boxing world is revealed. Boxing for all its hyper-masculine images of Mike Tyson knocking people through the ropes, Hagler and Hearns trying to kill each other, and Rocky Balboa drinking raw eggs at 5:00 in the morning, is the most effeminate sport in the world.


Men judge other men’s bodies constantly at the gym. Patrons say things like; “Damn you hella fat. How much you weighing now?” or “Damn you looking good. Do you have a fight coming up?” Sometimes I swear I’m in a girl’s locker room or a gay bar in The Castro district….Er erm, not that I’ve ever been inside either of those places I’m just trying to make a point. When people think about individuals that have poor self-images and low self-esteem they automatically conjure up a teenage girl starving herself to try to fit into a summer bikini but let me tell you, what a grown man puts himself through to make-weight for a boxing match is way worse. Let’s use this actual dialogue from my gym as an example;


“Damn how much you weigh now?”

“Shit I’m down to 150.”

“150! How you lose all that weight?”

“All I been eating is baby food and protein shakes.”

“Does it work?”

“Hell yeah look at me. I only got 9 more pounds to lose and I’ll be at my fighting weight.”



It’s an extreme problem. I find it to be very telling that a man is only allowed to be insecure in an institution where he is being trained in-depth on how to render another man unconscious. I also find it to be so ironic that a place can only be so macho until it begins to turn a little suspect. Like prison for example, the only place where societies toughest men can feel free to sleep with other men and not be judged harshly for it.

No but seriously I love boxing a lot. It’s just that I have a hard time getting used to hearing muscular men with tattoos talking to one another like a couple of women trying on clothes at the local department store. Before I started learning this craft I had no idea that fighters could be so insecure. So to all the boxers around the world I just want to remind you all to love yourselves. It’s OK to gain a few pounds here and there because your real beauty is on the inside. Be proud of who you are man. Be proud of what you look like.