Saturday, October 25, 2008

Returned To Sender

Evan Tanner, former world champion figher--and one of the world's last "warrior-poets", may you rest in peace. May your soul be free to trek to the elusive corners of heaven--and your courage guard the integrity of our Holy Father.

Evan Tanner fought in many "Ultimate Fighting Championships." He wasn't the biggest, nor the smallest in size. His record reflected the battle tempo of a real-life Samurai--good but never perfect. He was in his mid-30s during the most of his UFC exposure--when most of us accept our bellies and begin drinking beer and WATCHING fights--as opposed to starting them. "Thirty-something" is when our ACLs tear, our discs slip out and our fatigue-level drops by like some ill-reputed inlaws. "Thirty-something" is the realization of our eventual demise. Oh, except for Evan Tanner.

Evan Tanner appeared to his fans with long hair, then corn rows, then short hair. From top knot to crew-cut... those who knew Evan Tanner knew that he was more than an image. He didn't care about contracts and superficial trivialities. He also never vocalized these anti-corporate or hardline standpoints. He didn't have to tell you anything. You just knew. That, to me, is one of the single, greatest facets of a champion. I don't want to be told to form an opinion of you. I will surely weigh you out on my own--and never a boast from Evan.

Nearly all professional fighters have a nickanme or monicker. Be it a "pride-thing" or a ego-booster--these brawlers usually are dubbed "The Something-or-other Assassin" or something quippy and stupid ." When you can systematically kick that much ass, you can call yourself "Joe 'Jewish Payback' Blow" and no one can poke fun. Evan never needed a nickname.

Evan died doing his own, one-man "Survivor" series in the eastern Californian desert. He succumbed to heat exhaustion after his water and gasoline sources dried up. He bought the best equipment. His body--honed to endure the harsh heat and stinging elements of the Mojave desert." Still--his sudden death serves as a reminder that even rocket launcer-toting superheroes and real life Ironmen can die. We can die all alone--despite how many loved-ones or admirers we have.

Evan's death has made me realize a few things:

1) I love an underdog. The older, average or more different you are--the more you're like me. Test yourself after it is safely your time to do so. DARE to carry the balls that Evan Tanner did, become a cage fighter in your 30s and test your body in extreme climates. However, do it safely... because your tender testacles do not carry the spiney skin that Evan Tanner's did.

2) Never talk--always act. Talk is great if you're trying to sign a multi-million dollar contract. Let's face it though, you're not. Everyone who knows you for five minutes has already figured you out. Quit with the theatrics and stick your neck out there. True Greatness is always witnessed--never declared.

3) Don't fear your sensitivity. Do the silly shit. Everyone knows that you still cry at Hallmark commercials. Boldness is a characteristic only contrasted to the real person you let the rest of the world see. Remaining in touch with ourselves is what makes a man who he is.

4) You don't win all of your fights. Hell, we dont even win most of them. Evan was at about 66%. Thats not even enough to keep the UFC presidents interested in having him return to the Octagon. The biggest lesson learned after 40 fights is that you only win some of them. Make sure they're the important ones. When you are defeated, you never lose. For it is t
he coward that is never tested that will never know his true mettle.

Evan Tanner-- thank you eternally for all that you were and were not. Thank you for being real and thank you for dying on your feet--with your boots on. Thank you for remaining an example that men need to remain tested. I am sorry that your last two fights are a loss, but who cares? No one remembers who they were anyways.


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