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Case Study: Humility

In Tokyo, Japan, on the night of February 11, 1990, the young king of boxing fell to his unforgettable demise in one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

"Iron" Mike Tyson, was the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history. At 23 years old he was the youngest to capture the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, and International Boxing Federation titles. His unmarveled combination of power and quickness, his physical specimen, and 37-0 record were feared around the world.

In June 1988, Tyson reduced Olympic gold medalist Michael Spinks to a heap of shame. A year later in July 1989, Tyson blasted Carl "The Truth" Williams who, before Tyson, was the youngest to be crowned champion. Both were easy first round knockouts for Tyson.

Buster Douglas was by no means an elite boxer. The Tyson-Douglas bout was to be merely practice for Tyson. However, throughout the months before the fight, Tyson was going through an ugly divorce from an impulsive marriage and multiple accounts speak of Tyson's lackadaisical training efforts and lack of discipline. He'd also parted ways with his long time trainer for an inexperienced, unproven one.

Thus, one of the biggest upsets in sports history came as a culmination of Tyson's pride, leaving him a distracted and unmotivated defending champion. Buster Douglas' 10th round knockout of Tyson was the shocking, physical fruit of what had been brewing for months.

Tyson's story brings to mind David vs. Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

Imagine how the story would have been written if young David, already having a track record of slaying lions and bears (1 Sam. 17:34-36), had grown full of himself and "believed his own hype?" What if the young shepherd in his prime had grown into an arrogant, egotistical young man? What if he started slacking in his work ethic?

If pride was present in David's heart at the time of battle, one of the greatest stories ever told, would have resulted in the tragic death of a boastful Israelite boy. He may have never became king, enlarged Israel's territory, prepared God's temple, nor written the Psalms. David's potential would have amounted to should've, would've, could've.

Which model of a young go-getter will you implement? The one with humility to a certain point, believe your hype and show up unprepared at a defining moment? Or the one who stays in beast mode and rises to the occasion of opposition, always ready for the day's challenges and opportunities?

Remain diligent, focused, determined, honest, and most importantly, humble. Pride will bring a person down, humility will bring you up. Or as the old folks say, "The Way Up Is Down!"

  • Proverbs 11:2
  • James 4:6

* I am an adamant Mike Tyson fan. His rise to greatness trumps his downfall by far. But I do believe, everything teaches something.

God Bless,



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