What do you do when life gives you a hard punch to the jaw? What do you do when you find yourself lying flat on your back looking up through swollen eyes? What do you do when you think you just can’t go on?
I grew up hearing my dad use an illustration in his sermons about a boxer named James J. “Gentleman Jim” Corbett. Corbett earned his nick name because of his rugged good looks, his innovative fighting style, and his passion for flashy clothing. My dad used him as an illustration of not giving up when the going gets rough.
On May 21, 1891, Corbett fought Peter “Black Prince” Jackson, who was the reigning Australian Heavyweight Champion to a 61-round draw. Yes, you read that correctly—a 61- round draw! Talk about not giving up!
The next year, on September 7, 1892, he won the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship, by defeating the reigning champion, the iconic John L. Sullivan. This was the first championship bout fought under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, which required—among other things— the boxers to wear gloves. Before that, they usually fought bare-knuckled. Can you imagine that?
To win the championship, Corbett knocked out Sullivan in the 21st round. That sounds like a short fight by comparison, doesn’t it?
Corbett ended his fighting career with 11 wins, 4 defeats, 3 draws, and 2 no contests.
Consider these words from “Gentleman Jim.” They explain why he was a champion, and they challenge us to never give up.
“Fight one more round. When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the center of the ring, fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish that your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round—remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped.”
Corbett was tenacious. He believed in persevering. He believed he should never give up or in. He believed in answering the bell. He believed in fighting one more round.
Here’s how the Bible says it.
“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:14). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jas. 1:12).
Answer the bell! Fight one more round!