The Third Man
After each three minute round, the boxer gets a one-minute break.
He collapses onto a stool.
His cornerman squeezes water into his mouth and places a bucket beneath his jaw to catch the run-off. He then towels him off with an aggressive rub down to keep the muscles elastic.
All the while a second man, the fighter’s trainer peppers him with advice.
Stay out of the corners! Body blow, body blow, uppercut!
For the fighter, these two support systems are critical.
But they are not indispensable.
The third man in the corner is.
He doesn’t speak or concern himself with the boxer’s comfort. He just does what it takes to get the fighter ready to answer the next bell.
If the temple is swollen, he applies firm—but not too firm—pressure with a frosty enswell to the bruises. The goal is to reduce the puff without spreading the damage to other blood vessels. Too hard a push defeats its own purpose.
If there is bleeding, he cleans up the area with a cold towel. And then he dips extra thick, single-ended, Q-tip like, cotton swabs—like the ones they use in Emergency Rooms—into liquid adrenaline and jams the fibers into the cut, revealing as much of the damage as possible. Exposing the largest possible surface requires a certain brutality. If the fighter doesn’t wince and pull away, he hasn’t probed hard enough.
The adrenaline dams up the blood flow long enough for him to rub Avitene flour directly into the length and breadth of the laceration. The powder binds to the ends of the broken blood vessels and coagulates the flow. An eye socket seconds ago drenched by a red river is now as dry as Los Angeles.
All with fifteen seconds to spare. Just enough time for the boxer to shake off the sting, compose himself, and lift himself off the stool.
While the internal fight isn’t as wonderfully dramatic as an external bout, you still need three forces in your corner.
You need a cornerman…the one to care for your basic needs…the inner gofer who makes sure you have your coffee, your chair, your desk at the appointed hour each and every day.
You need a trainer…the one to teach you the craft, to remind you of the fundamentals when you make a mistake…your inner editor.
But without a cutman…the one whose only purpose is to do whatever it takes to get you back in that ring…you’re lost.