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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Will The Class of 2010 Please Stand Up

Will The Class of 2010 Please Stand Up

What would you do if as an aspiring athlete you lived in a country where people were openly negative towards you and the newspapers of your community publically ridiculed you at every opportunity, despite your ability to compete well in your sport? Sound familiar? Perhaps like the current situation graduates are encountering in pursuit of their career aspirations today despite their ability. Now that I have your attention keep reading, and get inspired.

This was the negative social climate that Joshua Clottey, the undisputed 2008 welterweight champion, faced in his native Ghana before coming to America. Clottey began as a street fighter who had aspirations of continuing the legacy of great boxers that come out of Ghana like Nelson and Hall of Famer Quartey, but was met with bitter opposition and public denunciations of his dreams and ability, even close friends telling him to give up his ambitions due to his age.

Clottey comments on his experience in his home country reminiscing that, “It would have been easy to quit,”…“Nobody was on the side of Joshua Clottey. Nobody. I had faith and I knew if I kept working and kept trying, sooner or later it would happen. And here I am.” Not taking no for an answer, Clottey picked up his fighting gloves and the clothes on his back and left to make a career in America.

However, no American Dream fulfillment is ever quite complete without obstacles and Clottey faced plenty when arriving to America. On top of not knowing anyone, the person who had agreed to sponsor him dropped him off at a motel in Las Vegas. Clottey learned the next day when he was asked to leave that his “friend” had only paid for him to rest his head for the night and the motel turned him on the streets. With only the money in his pocket, he called the only other Ghanian he knew, an acquaintance but not a close friend. However, the atmosphere that surrounded him at his new home was exactly what one can expect to find in Las Vegas, largely influenced by drugs.

Upon the advice of his brother Clottey left Las Vegas to pursue proper training and representation in the Bronx in NYC. Clottey felt that in the Bronx he had found his niche, or rather his new home and an environment that facilitated his growth as a fighter. “It was like I was home in Ghana, but I was living in America in New York,” he said. “I said, ‘Wow, I’m never going to leave this place. I have found it. I love the Bronx.’ “

Clottey spared no time in finding a gym and rapidly building his reputation up as a worthy fighter with a growing potential. Not long after arriving in the Bronx Clottey caught the attention of a famous New York boxing manager by the name of Vinny Scolpino. Scolpino had Clottey fight one of his own fighters and seeing his ability approached Clottey about his fighting career direction, recalling: “I could smell something different about him. He had that something about him, a drive that made him different.” Clottey expressed to Scolpino that he was in desperate need for someone capable to represent and manage him.

After meeting Scolpino Clottey’s career really began to take off, but not without some false starts. Despite some setbacks, Clottey was instilled with the confidence that creates champions, and a champion he became 2 years later in 2008 winning the title of welterweight champion of the world.

Another fortunate circumstance has resulted of Clottey’s hard word and perseverance. As a result of the Manny Pacquio vs. Floyd Mayweather fight falling through, Clottey was moved into Pacquiao’s slot, his hopes of following in his fellow Ghanians footsteps to be in the International Boxing Hall of Fame becoming, with every fight, that much closer to being a reality.

As a soon to be graduate, if there is something worthwhile that I have taken from Joshua Clottey’s story it is: to never let someone else tell you no, because those may be the wrong people. DO NOT measure yourself by anyone else’s ruler but your own. Joshua Clottey’s story of beating the odds despite the overwhelming obstacles standing in his way, is inspiring to someone like me, an American who has been handed every opportunity. Clottey’s ambition is not unlike the ambition of those graduating come May 2010, however the situation and odds he was up against far outweigh our disadvantages, so I’ll end my blog with a challenge for the class of 2010: In the words of Father Lawton, “ Make every day a masterpiece.” Make your dreams come true, because if a penniless African from half a world away can make it here, then we should be able to as well. Olympic Gold Medalist Summer Sanders once said, “Champions are made, not born.” We have been made into Champions for our communities and for the world. Do Big Things Class of 2010.

By Christina Lo Duca


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