Fight & Flight

I love fighting.

I’ve loved it since the first time my brother wrapped my knuckles and slipped on my first pair of boxing gloves when I was 12 and set me up with the notorious D.C. boxing trainer Fred Wright to make sure that I always knew how to hold my own.

Even after training sessions with Fred, I still wanted to fight; I simply couldn’t get enough. I would punch anything I could to perfect my form. My knuckles bled and my mom would scold me, often rushing me off to the hospital. For a couple of years, my knuckles were always black and blue, swollen to the size of oranges.

I”m not a masochist, at least not in traditional terms, I just love the feel of fighting; the adrenaline blocking out any physical pain. The desire to be the best drove me on. The empowerment of knowing how and when to fight is amazing.

But my unwillingness to back down from a fight really came into focus not many years ago. When I was 20, a burglar broke into my home while I was there alone, house-sitting for my parents. I woke up to a burglar rifling through my parents possessions. At first, I was half-asleep, thinking it was my brother accidentally scaring me, but then I saw the man in a ski mask hiding behind my bedroom door. He was tall, at least 6 feet, wearing all black clothing and black gloves with the ski mask. As soon as he saw me, he jumped out from behind the door to grab me.

My body flooded with adrenaline, the fight or flight instinct kicked in, but, with my usual ambition, I opted for both.

I slammed the door on his head, he fell back against the wall and I sprinted like lightning down the stairs, out the door and to a safe neighbor’s house, where I could call the police.

That was the most terrifying moment of my life, but and also solidified to me that in moments of need, I wouldn’t back down from a fight and stand frozen; my fighting skills are ingrained in me and know how to act. Or so I hope.

Over the years, I've been in a couple of fist fights and seen more than my fair share of guns drawn in anger. When I travel, I’ve moved through war zones and scenes of violence from terrorism to gangs to public bombings. At those moments, I feel scared, but I also always acted, would not stay paralyzed long and was never worried that I wouldn’t. I owe to my brother and to Fred as it has saved my life in many scenarios and most likely, many scenarios to come.