Last Saturday I spent the evening with amateur boxers from all over Boston and New York for a fundraising event at the Park Plaza Castle.
I was asked to be the driver/trainer/corner man/water boy for one of the contestants. Of course I said yes.
Sean McCarthy, “The Silent Assassin” fought an exhibition match after the seventh fight and he gave it his all for the 3, one minute rounds.
Vinnie Pazienza, the Rhode Island native and former World Champion, was there in Sean’s corner as well. He leaned over to me at one point and said, “Look at that kid. He’s giving him great body shots. I can’t believe his spirit.”
And Paz was right. Sean’s spirit was undeniable. He never stopped, never gave up, and kept pushing forward with all his might.
Sean has Cerebral Palsy, a disease which impairs muscle coordination. He has a hard time walking and if he’s stationary for any length of time, his muscles tighten and it becomes increasingly difficult to move.
But he never let any of that get in the way of achieving his goal to fight in a boxing ring.
He gets up every day at 4:30 am and makes his way to the first of two gyms to do strength training. After a quick stop home to refuel, he zips over to Bay Shore Athletic Club in Braintree to spar for a couple of hours.
And his hard work has paid off. He single-handedly raised well over $1000 for the fundraiser and inspired every single person at the event that night, including Vinnie Paz, someone who knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity.
Paz was involved in a car crash and was told he’d never fight again, only to come back to beat future WBC World Jr. Middleweight Champion Luis Santana by a 10 round decision.
So when the Pazmanian Devil stepped into the ring to put a medal around Sean’s neck, the place erupted. Every person was on their feet and I had goosebumps from head to toe.
But what really put me over the edge that night was when Stephen, Sean’s older brother, came over to where Sean was resting after the fight.
He hugged Sean, looked him in the eye, and tearily said, “Sean, it doesn’t matter what’s on the outside buddy”, gesturing to Sean’s body. He then tapped Sean’s head and then his heart and said, “What matters is what’s in here Sean. I’m so proud of you. You’re an inspiration to a lot of people.”
Sean just held up his fists defiantly, always the fighter, and smiled.
I stepped away from the tender moment for two reasons; first to give the family their privacy and secondly because my eyes seemed to be leaking too, but not from sadness. I was crying because of the indelible spirit of a kid from Milton, Massachusetts, who, despite being dealt a tough hand in life, never complains and who ALWAYS pushes as hard as he possibly can.
I recently came across this quote from Thomas Jefferson.
Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.