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The Day I Became The Champion Of The World

One small step for a child, one giant leap for a man

By Ralph EmersonPublished 4 months ago 6 min read
The Day I Became The Champion Of The World
Photo by Fauzan Saari on Unsplash

Having just finished writing and publishing a long, entertaining and informative article on the world of work, I touched upon my secondary school education, or lack of it to be more precise.

The sad fact of the matter was that at primary school I had learned to read and write and do basic maths. My secondary school added absolutely nothing to that, except perhaps lots of lessons on how to be afraid. 

Physical violence was on the daily agenda, either from fellow pupils or members of staff. It truly was the most miserable childhood experience you could devise for any child between the ages of eleven and fifteen. I hated it with a vengeance and simply could not wait to leave the hell hole.

Ideally, in my dreams, somebody would go there late at night under cover of darkness and burn the whole rotten place down.

However, there were three lighter moments which brightened my four long years of dark days of misery. And to this day I can still have a little chuckle at what happened.

One day we were in metal work class with a teacher whose name I forget (so he wasn't one of those teachers who used to beat me, I would remember that for sure). This teacher had one little handicap, he had only one eye.

The day I am talking about, the teacher got all of us young lads in a semi-circle whilst he tried to explain what we had to make out of metal that day.

There was one fellow pupil, Murphy, who was the class clown. He wasn't the clown for stupidity, in fact, he was quite smart and as funny as hell throughout those early salad days.

Murphy was standing to one side of the teacher as he addressed us. And thinking it was the teacher's blind side, Murphy stuck a rude finger right up to what he thought was the blind eye. It's the symbol for telling somebody to f@xk off.

In an instant the teacher smacked Murphy very hard across the side of his head, almost taking his head off, saying "Wrong eye, Murphy, wrong eye."

The rest of us young lads pissed ourselves laughing.

The second lighthearted moment took place in the playground. Mr Platt was on playground duty and suddenly noticed a small group of young lads making and throwing snowballs at passing traffic, almost causing an accident. Mr Platt blew his whistle, which meant everybody had to immediately stop whatever they were doing and stand still. Then Mr Platt had to shout in a very loud voice to make himself heard.

"The next person to throw a snowball......" he just opened his mouth to say the next part of his sentence, which no doubt would have been a serious threat of agonising punishment when all of a sudden........

.....a bloody big snowball flew across everybody's heads and hit Mr Platt right in the face, smack right in his wide open mouth! After almost choking to death for a few seconds, Platt very angrily screamed "Right, who did that?" Of course, nobody was going to snitch, it would have been more than their life was worth. Besides, it was so frickin funny, and, Platt was very much, widely hated by just about everybody, for the physical punishment he dished out on a daily basis.

And so to the third very important moment, funny looking back, but as scary as hell at the time. 

I have mentioned many times, throughout various articles and short stories, the physical violence that there was at that school, and a great deal of it for some strange reason was directed at me. Well, this day was different, I'd had a belly full of it and I really don't know whatever came over me, but it was the day this little worm turned.

My class was out on the sports field, playing a game of football. I was actually a really good player, but not in goal. Nobody wanted to be a goalie to be honest. But as I was the class weakling the others threatened me if I didn't play in goal.

Now at this time, we had a new classmate from some big inner-city school, who I shall call TH. And this guy was so fearful of being thumped that he used to go around saying that at his old school, he had been the cock of the year. To be the cock of the year means to be the best fighter. 

This boasting of his physical prowess kept him safe from anybody having a go at him. And it made him feel brave. So when I let a soft goal in, he ran back to scream and shout at me very loudly in my face. In fact, his face was so close to mine, almost nose to nose, that I thought he was going to head but me. 

In the not-too-distant past, a much older youth, almost a man with his thick beard and Charles Atlas physique, head-butted me half unconscious. And here I was with that same violent assault about to be repeated. And I thought "Oh no, oh no you frickin don't matey, not again." And as that thought entered my young, young and tender head, my right arm came up of its own free will and made my hand smash TH very hard right in the face with my clenched fist landing square and true, right between the eyes of my bully.

Did I say hard smack in the face? TH went down like a sack of potatoes clean out for the count. The worm had knocked TH unconscious! I actually thought I had killed him. What me? The skinny, undernourished, scared of his own shadow, little worm had killed a boy almost twice his own size.

I immediately ran back to the changing rooms to get changed so that I could run home to confess to my mum that I had killed somebody at school. Just my luck, the changing room door was locked, and I was screwed. All I could do was sit on some steps and wait.

After about another half an hour the class all came trooping into the changing rooms area. Those at the front were saying to me "Ohhhh, TH is going to kill you when he gets here mate." But TH was smarter than that. He knew that if he came in at the head of the line, everybody else would be pushing him to sort me out, and he would be compelled to go through with it to prove his claim to be a cock of the year, and he might get another punch on the nose. And so I guess the problem was that I had hit him so hard, I had made him afraid to have a go back at me.

Eventually, at the back of the line, the very last one to come in was TH. He did no more than mutter that he was sorry for screaming in my face. Then he scuttled off into the changing room. I was just relieved that he was alive after all.

I felt victorious as if I had slain a giant. And for the first time ever, I no longer felt afraid of anybody. I was a champion who could look after himself. And all it took was one lucky punch. It took too long for that opportunity to arrive, but better late than never.

Ever after that, TH kept well away from me, as did a great many others. At last, I had learned how important it was to get the first punch in and to make it count. Thankfully, I have never had to face that type of situation again, throughout my entire life.


About the Creator

Ralph Emerson

Author/top writer/editor for various Medium publications (2020/23).

Musician/singer/songwriter/arranger/producer (1969-2021).

Author of 12 books of short stories and poetry. Out now on Amazon.

Three times Top Story on Vocal Media (June 2023).

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