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The Intelligence of a Fighter

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
Muhammad Ali

Former champion boxer Muhammad Ali struck a knockout blow when he stated this, hence why it is a quote many people aspire to live by. It does not sound like the musings of a man with a less than standard level of intelligence; in fact it seems quite the opposite. This leads to the question at hand – why are fighters viewed as less intelligent than others? Muhammad Ali is not viewed as unintelligent, yet the assumption about fighters remains. Maybe it’s the fact they endure such physical pain in the name of entertainment and continue to do so even after having been defeated, or maybe it’s because they decided to involve themselves in the sport in the first place. Either way, there are many fighters, no matter what form of fighting they specialise in, that have a high level of intelligence but have chosen to follow their dreams, often combined with continuing to pursue an education.

The Intelligence Involved With Fighting Strategies

A key factor of fighting that many viewers do not consider, is the ability to pre-determine what your opponent is going to do. This involves an array of multi-tasking from the fighter – they must focus on attack and defence, whilst also carefully watching their opponent to look for any signs of an incoming blow so as they can defend against it and also use it to their advantage. On top of focusing on attacking and defending, they must also consider their footwork and ensure they conserve energy to stay at their best for the duration of the fight.

Occupations Can Deceive

Fighters may appear as ‘just a fighter’ to anyone watching them fight or to anyone who supports them, but more often than not they are normal people from normal backgrounds who have decided it is career path they would like to follow. There are many famous fighters who have a highly academic background but have decided to follow their dreams of being a world class fighter, ranging from boxing through to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).

Mixed Martial Arts Fighters

Many fighters who practice mixed martial arts are very successful in their sport, but also have a brilliant education behind them. Education is generally considered the most conclusive form of intelligence, however it is common for people to focus on a single subject to excel with, as many champion fighters have chosen to do.

Richard “Rich” Franklin is an American mixed martial artist, born on the 5th of October 1974. He is a prime example of a person who has a brilliant education, but has also been a champion in his fighting career. In 1999 (aged 25) he began his career, progressing upwards to eventually win Middleweight UFC Champion on June the 5th 2005, a title that he held until October the 14th 2006. However, he has a highly academic background – working as a mathematics teacher in a high school prior to his fighting debut – with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics as well as a master’s degree in education.

Joe Lauzon is another example of a fighter with educational achievements prior to beginning his full-time career in fighting. He is also an American mixed martial artist, born on the 22nd of May 1984. His first professional fight was in 2004 (at the age of 19) and he steadily progressed upwards to achieve the title of WFL (World Fighting League) Grand Prix Champion on the 1st of April 2006. Also in 2006 Lauzon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Before this he had worked as a network administrator up until he began fighting full-time.

With multiple championship wins under his belt, Rashad Evans is a brilliant example of a mixed martial arts fighter with intelligence. Born on the 25th of the September 1979 he started learning to fight from a young age, progressing through school and continuing on with this hobby throughout this time. His professional career began in 2004 (aged 24) and he has since advanced to win numerous Light Heavyweight Tournaments and other awards. On top of his fighting achievements he also has a degree in Psychology, which he gained from Michigan State University.

Professional Boxers

Very similarly to mixed martial arts fighters, boxers can be viewed as merely a punching bag for entertainment. However, there are many boxers who are also very intelligent, as well as very successful in their career choice.

Robert “Bobby” Cyzy is a retired American Boxer who was born on the 10th of February 1962. From a very young age he was showing signs of interest in fighting, playfully sparring with his father. He started his professional boxing career in 1980 and continued to improve upon his fighting skills; he is a former World Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight Champion, continuing to box until he retired from fighting altogether in 1999. To add to his impressive array of championship wins he is also a member of Mensa, having shown a very high level of intellect from a young age.

The Klitschko brothers are professional Ukrainian boxers – Vitali Klitschko was born on the 19th of July 1971 while his brother Wladimir was born on the 25th of March 1976. Both brothers are heavyweight boxers, being very successful at gaining and holding numerous World Boxing Championship titles. Adding to this impressive feat, Wladimir also won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games for Super Heavyweight boxing – a medal he later auctioned off to raise money for charity, yet the winning bidder returned the medal as he wanted it to remain with the Klitschko family. In addition to their outstanding achievements in the sport, both men have PhDs and are multilingual – speaking Ukrainian, German, Russian and English.

Another notable person is Nicky Piper, a Welsh boxer who was born on the 5th of May 1966. He began his boxing career in 1989, steadily progressing until he became the Commonwealth Light Heavyweight Title holder in 1994. Since retiring from boxing in 1997, he was awarded an MBE in 2005 for his services to the sport as Chairman of the Professional Boxing Association. Furthermore he is also a member of Mensa, showing how he excelled in both his sporting career and outside of it.

It can be easy to make a fast judgement of a person’s intellect due to their career or life choices, but this does not make them any less intelligent. Education is a good way to judge a person’s intelligence, but it is not final – many intelligent people may choose to start their own business or follow their dreams rather than pursuing an extensive education. Fighters are a prime example of these kinds of people, although many of them have still made time to excel in both areas.

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