For as long as I can remember, people have told me I can’t do this or I can’t do that.
And, for as long as I can remember, I’ve taken the words of those naysayers and turned them into personal goals.
On the interior, I’m a normal, everyday chap. But, on the exterior, people feel compelled to suggest what I can or can’t do because I was born missing my left arm below the elbow.
As a young, one-handed lad dressed to the nines for my first day of school, my teacher pulled my folks aside to air those concerns.
The instructor, whose name is being withheld both to protect her identity and because I’ve simply forgotten it, wanted to put me in a special education program.
Granted I’m not a doctor, but if I’m not mistaken having one less limb than one’s peers has little impact on one’s brain cells.
Luckily, my parents, backed by the War Amps program, fought the kindergarten instructor and I was put through regular education as I should have been.
That’s when I started to notice that I was different.
Other amputees, myself included, were routinely picked last for grade school sports because of quick assumptions from our peers. In all fairness, they chose correctly in my case — I’ve always been terrible at sports. Though, that has nothing to do with having but five phalanges. I was just plain uncoordinated, un-enthused, bad.
However, I never let it stop me. As a kid, like every other young boy, I tried every sport I could: soccer, basketball, flag football, you name it.
In high school, I played defensive back for the Aden Bowman Collegiate Bears. I was terrible and only landed one solid tackle on a wide receiver in my tenure, but I still competed.
Unfortunately, being picked last doesn’t stop after graduation.
After school, I had a myriad of jobs in a plethora of different fields. One more than one occasion, my employer pulled me aside to air concerns felt by “other staff” that I wouldn’t be able to keep up due to my missing digits. I stayed long enough to prove to myself that I could do it, and then I quit because no one should have to work for an employer that doesn’t support its staff.
It wasn’t an attempt to prove to the masses that I could do what everyone else could, it was to prove it to myself.
However, there’s always been one thing that I never thought I could do because of my hand: boxing.
Enter Baxter (The One Armed Bandit) Humby.
Humby, a Winnipeg product, has won more than 15 belts and held two world titles, including the International Muay Thai Council’s World Super Welterweight Champion for a time. Humby is the only one-armed man to do so.
Granted, Humby competes in muay thai, which for those who are unaware, is a Thai martial art that utilizes fists, feet, knees, elbows and clinches, as opposed to boxing which is all about the punch.
But, if Humby can hold a champion title in muay thai, then why can’t I be equally as terrible at boxing as I am other sports?
With lofty goals of being the next One Armed Bandit and inspired by my friend and fellow Black Press reporter Dawn (Killer) Gibson’s recent boxing bout, I decided it’s time I stop telling myself that I can’t.
They may not throw you in the ring, but Ralph and Mily and Ralph Buisine of 9Round Fitness in Vernon have beat me into shape.
And, with my first class under Brian Jones, head coach of the Vernon Boxing Club, under my (non-championship) belt, that proverbial carrot on a stick is slowly coming within reach.
I hope to one day catch that carrot, though I may never have the opportunity to fight as boxers are required to have approval from a medical professional and certification from Boxing BC. However, Humby, Gibson, the Business and Jones have shown me one thing: I may be terrible, but I can still throw that hook.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Because if a one-armed man can box, you can do anything.