TSD Memphis

Wed04162014

Opinion

‘A Social TKO’ & the proper way to fight Life back

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(Kelvin Cowans, aka Six-Four, is an author/writer and Memphis-area mentor. He spoke recently to about 20 male youths at Southwest Prep Academy, where he was invited by Don Thomas, director of the Mentor Program.)

Definition of technical knockout: the termination of a boxing match when a boxer is unable or is declared by the referee to be unable (as because of injuries) to continue the fight – called also TKO. Source: Merriam Webster

The Talk

Gentlemen you are losing the fight. The reason that I know you are losing the fight is because you don't even know that you are in a fight. You are in a fight for your passions, heritage, love, education and dreams. ...

I understand that I am here to speak on "Goals and Ambitions" and my reply to that is, "For what?"

Line these chairs up into one single line across this room. ... If you have a father in the house and you are not in a gang and you do not sagg your pants, move your chair forward. Wow, one, one out of twenty. So in essence I'm actually here to speak to just one kid.

You wanna know why I'm obviously here to speak to one kid. It's because society has already calculated that the rest of you will not make it before them to even be recognized for your goals, ambitions, college, job and nothing else. They figure that those of you without a father will eventually turn angry enough to turn every one around you against you, including the police and end up in jail.

They figure that those of you who are in a gang will eventually kill each other or yourselves or do a crime violent enough to where they can package you up like a KFC combo and send the whole group to prison for life. They also figure – and know – that the rest of you who simply don't know how to dress properly will never have a good interview and get the job you want, leading you to frustration, street life and ultimately prison.

So to you young man, the one out of the twenty, please stand up and turn around and look at your statistics. You are one out of twenty and this is close to accurate, if not a perfect percentage, of how you will be judged by the world. So while you have the encouragement of your father and have avoided joining a gang and know how to keep your pants up on your behind, you still can prepare to be looked upon as if you are in this group. I congratulate you today for being different.

Unfortunately, different doesn't get you a scholarship to the college of your choice. You are going to need more, so please take your seat.

For many of you, your father's have left and are not in your corners. This is fact. And this particular fact is, or will become, as essential to your growth and lateral movement in life as a (car's) horizontal movement along the street without tires.

Here's a simple analogy: Your lives are as if a boxing match. Pastors, coaches, teachers and mentors like Mr. Don Thomas here are the referees in your lives. Your opponent in this fight is Life and it is whipping yall's behind. You are taking too many blows to the body and far too many to the head. We see you trying to get some punches in because you are in school while others skip or have dropped out. Yes, we see some of you playing sports and others heavily involved in community activities....

(Being) referees, who were once fighting in the league that you are in, we can comfortably tell you that your are losing this fight. Life is not about all the things that you do well, it is about the things that you didn't even realize you were suppose to try to do well at. So as we see Life punch you upside your head with blows that have been so hard that you don't even know how many times you have been hit, that's where we jump in and put our arms around you and say, "That's it, fight's over."

Just like boxing where the referee has to stop the fight because he has judged that you can not safely go on, we are charged with doing the same. My name is not important. What is important is that I stop the fight and get you to your corner so I can talk to you.

As the referee, I just want to ask you a simple question. Like, "What's your name?" And when you can't respond, I know then that I'm glad I stopped the fight.

Many of you think your name is Little Wayne and that's not true; he's your entertainer. Some of you think that your name is "gang member" and that's not your name, you're just missing a family. A lot of you think your name is sagging pants and that's not true either, that's foolishness.

Just like a boxer who has fought too many rounds without the proper defense, you don't even know how to sit in a chair. Many of you have suffered a social technical knockout and you don't even know it.

I am here, as is Mr. Thomas and others in this school and in your communities, to help you learn the proper way to fight Life back. So, today let's start by reading an article about a young man who also got knocked out but came back to be a champion.

You can do it too, now that you know that you are in a fight.

(Kelvin Cowans can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )