In 2001, a huge upset happened in boxing.
A man named Hasim Rahman, a 20-1 underdog (meaning: you’d win $20 for every $1 wagered if he won), shocked everyone by knocking out incumbent champion Lennox Lewis.
Boxing analysts say the factors surrounding Lewis’ defeat were very similar to the loss that Mike Tyson had suffered a decade earlier.
Lennox Lewis was not so focused on the fight, they said. The only time a boxer does that — in a sport in which you are risking your life and health every match — is when he doesn’t respect his opponent.
Watching clips of this fight on YouTube, you can even see Lennox smiling at his opponent one second before Rahman delivers the knockout blow.
Seven months later, there is a rematch.
In the lead-up to the sequel, Hasim Rahman became increasingly disrespectful of Lennox Lewis. He had won, after all, and his confidence was high.
The two boxers appeared on an ESPN talk show and began brawling on live television. It took 20 people to get in between them.
These are two 250-pound men who make their living beating people up. Who’s breaking up that skirmish?
Go watch the clip. It’s funny when you’re not in the middle of it.
There was another clip that I couldn’t find online, but I specifically remember Rahman talking all kinds of shit in the pre-fight press conference the week of the second bout.
Hasim Rahman talked so much junk that day, that Lennox Lewis and his team got up from the press table and walked out of the press conference as Rahman joked and taunted them from the microphone podium.
Lewis, now fully aware of and focused on his opponent, knocked Rahman out early in the second fight.
Still in the ring after the fight, Lewis finally did his share of talking, giving his defeated opponent a new name: “Has-Been Rahman.”
The other day, I posted a 4-second clip of myself playing basketball on Instagram.
Instagram — the app itself and the people on it — loves basketball clips. They always invite discussion, if nothing else.
One or two commentators claimed that while they admired my skills, they could still “give me buckets” in a head-to-head matchup.
I appreciate the humor in the banter. I also know this, from my time as a player: those who can really play don’t talk about it.
As soon as they get on the court and perform, what a good player can do becomes self-evident.
I read one book where the author theorizes that people boast about what they can / will do often because they’re not so sure themselves of their abilities.
Talking about it can prompt others to give supporting feedback.
Since our minds don’t know the difference between imagination and reality, talking can also give us the partial satisfaction of having actually done something even when we haven’t.
There’s a difference between our self-talk — what we say to ourselves — and our external, “everyone else” talk.
Self-talk has no social reward. No one knows you said it; no one can read your thoughts.
External talk is, essentially, a performance.
There’s an audience listening. Talk loud and long enough and people just might believe you.
In some cases that’s fine — running for political office, for example.
In sports, though, there’s another step: you still have to play the game.
Don’t get all your satisfaction from the talk while forgetting to be ready to perform.
If you’re not an athlete, just know this: what you can do, you do.
What you can’t, you talk to convince yourself and others that you can.
Sometimes, it’s better to say less.
My deepest and best course on the Mental Game is called Bulletproof Mindset. If you want to learn how to get all of your internal thought habits working in your favor on-call, this is the course to do it with.
Learn more about Bulletproof Mindset here: http://WorkOnMyGame.com/Bulletproof