Permit me, if you will, a moment to brag about the eldest of my three baby brothers.
Firstly, here is some background: Grant is very athletic, and he loves to play. He channeled this energy for awhile by playing in a men's baseball league. However, he was forced to hang up his cleats a couple of years ago when an old childhood injury (badly broken arm that never properly healed) flared up, and he was unable to continue to play. Never one to give up and remain idle, Grant merely went out and found a new passion. Initially, he learned how to box simply as a method of working out and staying in shape. However, he ended up tapping into a natural talent that I don't think anyone knew existed. It turns out that Grant is good at boxing. I mean really good. At the age of 37, he began to fight competitively on a toughman circuit that is highly regulated by the North Carolina Boxing Commission.
In October of 2007, I attended Grant's first competitive match in Salisbury NC. He was fighting in a lighter weight class than he fights now. Frankly, I thought he looked way too thin. His weight just didn't seem to suit his 6'3" frame. He was TKO'd in his first fight; he ended up on the ground more than once, and the ringside doctor was the one who ended the fight. It was difficult to watch; not because Grant lost, but because I knew how disappointed he was. He had been working and training exceptionally hard.
In his usual fashion, Grant didn't give up. He got back up on his feet (literally and figuratively) and went about trying to figure out how to build a better mousetrap. After conferring with some guys who had been in the business for awhile, Grant decided he would bulk up and fight at a higher weight---the heavyweight class. This lighter weight simply wasn't working for him. He took some time off from fighting, and he trained. And trained. And trained.
The following January (a mere 3 months later), we all traveled to Mooresville NC to watch Grant debut in the heavyweight class. He won 5 fights over a course of 2 nights, and he won the tournament! He's been kicking ass and taking names ever since. He's weighing in now in the neighborhood of 205ish pounds.
So flash forward to this past weekend: we were back in Salisbury almost a year to the day when Grant started fighting and was soundly beaten in this very same building. Talk about coming full circle...
He won his fight on Friday night---TKO in the 2nd or 3rd round (forgive me, Brother...I can't remember which!). We all returned on Saturday night to watch him continue to move through the tournament. By the way, when I say "all", I mean Grant's huge entourage. Grant is pretty lovable, and he is loved dearly by many people. On Saturday night, his entourage consisted of his wife, our mother, another one of our brothers and his wife, our aunt, me, and several of Grant's childhood friends.
Grant waits for his TKO to be called on Saturday night
You know...I just have to say here that I am both amazed and embarrassed at how having someone I love in the boxing ring so easily brings out my inner white trash redneck. Up until Grant's fight, I was cool and calm. I applauded politely when the other fights' winners were declared. I quietly snacked on my king-sized bag of peanut M&M's while I watched other people's husbands, brothers, sons, and friends enter the ring. And yet, when my brother was in the ring and involved in a fierce battle for the heavyweight championship, I was shocked to hear "Stick 'em, Grant!!" and "Knock 'em on his ass, Grant!!" raging out of my mouth while my fists were clenched.
The championship bout was about as close as it can be. It went all three rounds, and it was a split decision. Grant was declared the winner, and we went nuts! Another trophy and another $500 prize for Grant and Erica (the deal is that Grant gets the trophy, and Erica gets the money--which is compensation for severe emotional distress caused by watching her husband fight and get knocked around). His opponent's group obbbbvioussssly disagreed with the decision, and they were quite vocal in their disappointment. At first, I took it really personally, and I wanted to challenge each of them to a slap fight. However, my cool head prevailed, and I realized that I would have been booing and scowling if the decision had gone in the other direction. They love their guy as much as I love mine, I guess. So I decided to let it drop. This time.
Next fight is next month in Morganton NC. I'll be there with bells on.