“In the red corner, weighing in at a reasonably healthy, but certainly not svelte, 198 pounds in the blue jeans and sweatshirt; out of Peru, Indiana with a record of 10 wins; 10 losses; 3 draws – Chris “I Like To Whine A Little” Johnson”
“And in the blue corner, weighing in at an undisclosed, but immense weight, wearing the invisible shorts; the undefeated champion of the world, Alzheimer’s, ‘The Wolf’ Dementia.”
I was only 13 when I heard Howard Cosell utter the words “Down Goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier!” It was ABC Sports and George Foreman (yes, the same George Foreman of “George Foreman Grill” fame) knocked Joe Frazier to the canvas six times in less than six minutes to take the Heavyweight Champions Belt.
Frazier never got up that day. He would fight another day, but was never “Smokin’ Joe Frazier” again. I’ve never been a heavyweight fighter. I’ve never been “Smokin” anything, but I have been knocked down many times; but I’ve never not gotten back up.
In my battle with The Wolf this week, it was a left, a right, another right, an uppercut and a left hook. I was down for the count. Monday evening, I got back up. The referee wiped off my gloves; looked in my eyes; asked if I was alright. I nodded and walked back to the center of the ring.
On Tuesday and the last couple of days, it was round after round of punches. He threw his best stuff at me. I fell; got back up; fell; got back up. Fifteen rounds later, on this Friday morning, I’m still standing. I may be a little wobbly, but I’m still ready to fight.
At the press conference after our war, I was asked what I learned from the rematch.
I looked back, with a fat lip, a black eye and blood trickling from a cut on the bridge of my nose, and said:
“I’ve learned I’m stronger than I think. My opponent is formidable. He’s tough and he’s not going away, but I’m ready for the fight.”
I hesitated and added, “I get knocked down a lot, but I’m going to keep getting up. Sometimes, I may look like I’m not all here, but I’m going to keep fighting. I may want to quit, but I will keep doing what I’m doing. Everything I got is all I got. It’s also all I’m willing to give to fight him (The Wolf), again.”
And then, I said, “One more thing. God does love me! He does like me! He does understand what I’m going through. He knows it hurts. He knows I need Him. When I want to quit, He knows I need Him more!”
There wasn’t a press conference. The world didn’t care. However, I know I’m in a knockdown, drag out fight. Mom and I are in it, together. I walked away from the ring for a few minutes this week. I rested my mind a little. I took a moment just for me. I prayed for strength. I screamed and kicked and cussed and threw a fit; but I’m still here.
God does love me! God does like me! He hates The Wolf and what it does to my mom, as much as I do. Because He does, I don’t hate myself. After a round, He’s waiting in my corner.
“Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes … But Chris Gets Back Up!”