Before we agreed to post the series "Conversations With The Champ", I agreed to let Frank Torres write the occasional blog.
In my mind, I thought he wanted to write simply because he felt I would not do a good job of telling his side of the story.
To my surprise, his first blog was nothing like that.
It was nothing like that at all ...
"Fighting For One More" - By Francis Torres (The Champ)
We all get lost along the roads of life, and (I apologize for sounding cliché but ...) at eighteen I was pretty damn lost. I had thought the world would give me everything and more, yet I was standing in the crowd of my friends’ all-star game being drowned, not in the sounds of the fans or the helmets crashing, but in anger and self-pity.
It was then that I saw Coach Mahoney. A week prior to this, I had been kicked off the Advanced Training program for not showing up, for not being accountable. I don’t recall too well what was said, but I think he saw that I was lost.
Allowing me back into the program, a month later I won the “Toughman Challenge” and off to college I went.
Now college was another rough one. Getting acclimated to the “big fish, big pond” theory was not working out well for me, and with physical set backs it seemed as if it would only get rougher. Transferring from one school to next, problem after problem, I figured it was time to come home. Packing my car with everything from my baseball bag to my shame, I made my way from West Virginia back to Staten Island. The eight-hour trip turned into an endless journey, filled with classic 90’s rock and some sad country songs.
Thoughts rolling around my mind, clanking back and forth like the empty tins rolling around the dashboard. The one happy thing that I had, besides being with my family, was that I would be back in Advanced Training. Again, I do not recall what I said, but I think he saw I was lost and invited me to come train with the guys.
Now there were many personalities that filled Advanced Training, everyone with a different goal. Some trained to make the starting roster on their college team, while others trained to become bigger and stronger. There were cops and military men, guys who worked on Wall Street and guys who walked the gridiron of the NFL. With such a stud filled lineup, I’m still so proud to consider myself one of them. And like any mixture of personalities, egos tend to clash from time to time, something I was well aware of (because I either started or instigated). And although I look back and cringe on some of things said and done, I smile knowing that everything I’ve ever said or done was only in attempt to make the people around me and myself better.
You see, the secret of Advanced Training was the competition. From the moment you pulled up, to the moment you left, it was a constant battle to not only be the best, but to give it all you had. Screams like war cries echo throughout the gym when another guy is about to break a P.R. (personal record). We put aside age, weight and status ... because in that moment we are all in it together, fighting for just one more.
Now I may have not accomplished everything I set out for, in fact I’ve failed more often than I’ve succeeded. But if there is one thing that I have taken away from the countless teachings of George Mahoney and Advanced Training, it is to fight for one more. To break the bar and drive no matter the weight, and for that I am forever thankful. I don’t know if I was the first, but I am surely not the last person Coach Mahoney will help get back on path.