Joe is victorious, wins the cash the family need, the family who don't know how he really earned the crust. Joe is slowly becoming more aggressive as he tries to come to terms with his brutal path at his fathers hands
He lay unconscious in the middle of the ring. I felt no sympathy towards him, or what used to be his nose, or any interest in seeing him stand.
Standing, a lone soul in my corner, my hands by my side, taking in the crowd’s roar as they cheered my victory. Now I could hear them in their full voice.
The tension and nerves sank from me as the Pole hit the floor. Proud as never before, body bursting with endorphins, blood soaring through my veins like a victorious gladiator standing in the middle of the Coliseum. Bruised, but still on his feet.
The audience roared with satisfaction, pleased at the one-round battle they just witnessed. Racing through me was pure ecstasy, and if the feeling could be sold, I’d be a millionaire before the end of the week.
“I told you Joe! I told you! You’re made for this! Good job lad.” Tim came into the ring, digging his fingernails into my shoulders, looking proudly into my face. I was quite speechless for the moment, relieved the job was done.
“Let’s get out o’ here, back to the changing-room before this mob turns into a riot.”
To be honest, I didn’t want to leave. Standing in the ring victorious, my foe dormant on the floor, made me feel alive.The crowd still leaping over each other, throwing beer everywhere, added to my excitement.
Tim led me out between the ropes into the jubilant crowd, instantly mobbed by people tugging my arms and tapping me on the head. Feeding me praise and trying to shake my hand, I did my best to barge my way through to the changing room. It all felt a bit claustrophobic.
In the commotion, I lost Tim but continued on until I reached the room at the back, finding Tim already there.
Mike and Bull awaited, sitting on the two chairs, looking keen to praise and stood as I entered the room.
“That was quick mate.” Bull said raising his brows with welcomed praise.
“Cheers Bull. Quicker the better, don’t get paid for overtime.”
“You gave the crowd their monies worth there.” Mike said. Both the guys offered their hand, and I said I hoped that would be the last time I’d have to.
Their new found respect for me, giving me an extra kick. People knew who I was now and I’d given them a fight to talk about, a fight to remember.
Mike, Bull and Tim talked about the fight as I took a seat, started to relax and let my head catch up with my body. Taking my gloves and wraps off, downing a bottle of water. I felt satisfied and happy I would be taking the £400 home to May.
May! As soon as she crept back into my head I had to check if my face was marked. I rustled for my phone from my jeans pocket that lay on the floor and brought up the camera screen. My forehead and face ached from the hard blows and to my amazement, I was unmarked. A huge sigh of relief.
Another three bodies entered the room. One of them Mr Dean and the other two were the next trainer and fighter. Mr Dean shook my hand while the rest of the guys discussed that night’s events. “That was impressive boy, very impressive.” He removed his glasses.
“Cheers, it was easier than expected.”
“You made it look easy Joe, that’s why. I can see you’re a smart kid by the way you dealt with my boy Warsaw.” His Fife accent was thick.
“It takes more than muscle to win a fight, Mr Dean.”
“That’s very true kid. I hear you used to box?”
“Aye, in Aberdeen years ago, my dad used to train me.”
“Your dad eh! He did a good job then.”
“I suppose he did, aye.”
“Well, hope I see you again. I’ll keep in touch with Mike. Look forward to following your path.”
“Sure, Mr Dean.” I had no interest in becoming anything back then.
“Please…. call me Steve, Joe.” He put his glasses back on.
“Alright, Steve.” We shook hands and he coasted out the door. He seemed like a rational well-mannered man, but everyone knew around here, he was anything but nice. A gentleman, but a very treacherous one.
“We need this room so we can get our man ready?” One of the two men said in a thick Dundee accent.
“Aye, sure. We’ll get out your hair in a sec.” Tim answered.
Tim started gathering the stuff we had lying around, while I began changing out of the joggers and wiping Warsaw’s blood off my chest, still not knowing if he was dead, but I think if he was toast, somebody would have said.
“Let’s put this shit in the car.”
Took a quick exit out to the car in the cold October night. There were a few people floating around outside. Probably grabbing some fresh air from the smoke-filled shed.
Tim popped the boot of his car, threw his gear in, handed me a jacket, revealing a couple cases of beer.
“Have a beer, you’ve earned it.” Tim said.
“Cheers mate, fuckin’ need this!”
“You deserve it, after that pay day.”
“Aye, so where’s my cash, dickhead?”
“See Bull. He’s the banker. Don’t worry, it's yours.”
“Sound. By the way, if you’re drinking, how we getting up the road?”
“We’re no’. We’re crashing in the car.” On such a high, I really didn’t give a shit. Figured out how the rest of the night was going to pan out. Lots of beer, a few bloody noses and a bad hangover the next day.
“Joe, I’ll have to get the bookie before the next scrap starts. Coming?”
“Nah, I’ll stay out here, drink my beer and cool down.”
I couldn’t be arsed going back in, the drunken rabble was kicking off again. Stayed outside, drank my beer taking a moment to myself, thinking about May, Jess and Junior.
Did what I needed to do, won the fight, won the cash. Happy I’d be returning home without a mark on me. The noise escalated from inside the shed, curiosity got the better of me, so I headed inside with my pockets full of beer.