Boxing, or prize fighting as it was referred to for a long time, has a lot of history of tough fighters, trainers, camps, and sayings. An opponent who wasn’t nearly as skilled as a champion, or a well versed fighter was commonly referred to as a “tomato can.” The wiki definition is: “In boxing, kickboxing or mixed martial arts, “tomato can” or simply “tomato” or “can” is an idiom for a fighter with poor or diminished skills (at least when compared with the opponent they are placed against) who may be considered an easy opponent to defeat, or a “guaranteed win.” Fights with “tomato cans” can be arranged to inflate the win total of a professional fighter. The phrase originates in the childhood pastime of kicking a can down the street-a boxer is advancing his career with minimal effort by defeating a “tomato can” and notching a win. “Tomato” refers to blood: “knock a tomato can over, and red stuff spills out.”
Although the definition of tomato can is sort of dark, it is usually used as a light-hearted reference to a fighter that doesn’t really stand a chance. With that said, there is another saying in reference to tomato cans.
“Sometimes a tomato can doesn’t know he’s a tomato can.”
I find this to be true when a fighter that is not as well heard of as their opponent is actually a great fighter, but has yet to be given the opportunity to prove themselves. Rocky is a story about a tomato can that beat all odds and even ended up winning the title in the sequel. With all of this said, the champions of yesteryear in MMA, the guys who held titles for several defenses and years may be a thing of the past. The highest level of MMA is (arguably, but barely) is the UFC. The year of 2016 has been a crazy year for upsets. Some may even say the rise of the fighters who may have been tomato cans in the eyes of their champion opponents.
Recently Tyron Woodley took the crown from Robbie Lawler who humbly gave himself no excuses and submitted to the fact that he was not the better fighter that night. The Atlanta crowd saw Robbie, who is thought to be one of the toughest strikers in the world get knocked out in defense of his belt. Dominic Cruz, Miesha Tate, Stipe Miocic, and Michael Bisping all proved themselves to be anything but tomato cans. One can argue that none of these fighters are tomato cans, but for the sake of my blog, I’m simply saying that they were all underdogs to the champions and found a way to get that shiny strap despite the odds. Mixed Martial Arts training and professional fighting are all open to interpretation by the coach and the fighter. New methods of training and cross training are still introduced in every camp. Eddie Alvarez and Amanda Nunes were also new belt holders that nobody thought had a chance. The bottom line of the changing of the guard is that seven new champions were crowned in just seven months to these fighters that many believed were not in the right place in their careers to take what the champions had.
I guess this all boils down to belief in ones self. It doesn’t take a crowd or the masses to believe in you.
If you truly believe that you are the better participant in any sport, you are well on your way to making those beliefs come to fruition.
People like that are an inspiration to the masses that didn’t believe in them in the first place. Movies like Rudy and Eddie the Eagle more recently are all about sportsmen who truly believed in themselves and persevered through the naysayers and the critics, most often even people close to them telling them they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in July. Doesn’t Martial Arts embody that belief as a whole? Isn’t self confidence at the root of sports and martial arts? I think so, it all starts with a belief and an inspiration. Before every football game, the assistant coach, who had a deep strong voice used to start a poem that he read us. I have found the poem since then and memorized it. It is about this notion as a whole. It is titled “The Man Who Thinks He Can”. It isn’t hard to find if you google it. It gives me the chills when I read it because I picture his voice saying it. It always ended up with him yelling “Do you think you can!?” and we would all be so pumped up and yelling back “YEAH!”
In conclusion, I know life isn’t a movie, but anything people want to accomplish, especially something that others think is impossible starts with the belief in one’s self. We teach children that they can be anything they want, then when they get older and hold on to that notion, we often tell them it isn’t going to happen. We should start with belief, and end with it as well. We should support ourselves even when nobody else will. Look up the poem, you won’t be disappointed.