Woody Springfield had his man against the ropes all the first round. He came back with crowd cheering and calling his name. He has a terrific following which goes beyond his Crow heritage. He fights under his late father’s nickname, Bugsy, which he got for his love of carrots as a young boy. Woody is one of Bugsy’s ten sons and one daughter–all of whom I love so much: My grandchildren.
Woody and I are extra tight for I am his cornerman as well. His life is in my hands. Our goal from the beginning of that relationship is to build him into a warrior, not a fighter. The bouts are far from the Crow Reservation so we have much time for philosophy, religion, strategy, sharing and sleeping on the way to and from. He is like a tornado and in the best shape of fighters in Montana and in Wyoming. He can run ten miles without rest or water. The kids follow him around for he never smoked a cigarette or drank a beer. . . quite a feat in Lodge Grass, Montana.
He is looking into my eyes, a penetrating look without guile, almost like a child looks in your eyes so full of trust. It is a look going into my heart as well in my head. When we fight, he is my warrior; I can’t get head and heart mixed up for I must send him back out there from a knock down, after wiping his blood from his face, or yelling at him “Do you like getting hit? Then, don’t get hit!” Tonight, I have to tell him to do exactly opposite of what he is keyed up to do, what is pleasing to the crowd–take a step back. He is smothering his punches by going too fast, stepping in too close. It looks good to everyone but me. It feels good to him. His foe cannot hit him, and Woody is landing at will. He listens to me and slows down a half step, letting his punches go from eight inches further out and the fight is over. Only way to win in Billings, Montana, where the judges drink at ringside and look at his dark skin, his home on the Crow Rez–Kayo.
On the way home, for both of us, we go over how slowing down in the ring, in life, in relationships brings us victory over not only that which we see in front of us but also those aligned against us outside our peripheral vision. He is tired and sleeps the contented sleep of victory. I am driving my little Chevy Colorado pickup full of gratitude that my grandson is safe with me; that slowing down was the right thing to tell him. There is no traffic between Montana’s largest town and our little places now one-hundred miles away but if there were, they’d be passing me for I have learned to slow down myself.