Howard Davis, Jr. is an Olympic boxer who won the 1976 gold medal in the lightweight division. The athlete is one of dozens who will compete in an October golf tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
Davis lives in Florida with his wife and their daughter, where he runs professional fights. As a boxer, Davis said he wants to help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) fight for a cure. Everyday Health chatted with Davis and asked him a few questions about his boxing career and why he’s supporting the MS cause.
Everyday Health: You’ve been faced with a lot of challenges. Give an example of one, specific challenge you overcame and how others can use that as inspiration.
Howard Davis, Jr.: While I was competing for the Olympics, my mother passed away. I didn’t know it for three days because nobody called me. They didn’t want me to know. I happened to call home, and that’s how I found out.
When I called home, my next door neighbor answered the phone. When she answered the phone I was joking with her, and she wasn’t joking back. I said, ’What’s wrong?’ and she dropped the phone. My sister picked up the phone, and she couldn’t talk. Then my brother picked up the phone, and he couldn’t talk. I knew my mother had passed away then.
She died of a heart attack. She was in and out of the hospital because of her heart. She was only 37 at the time.
I was against the wall, crying. At first, I wanted to go home, but my Olympic trainer Tom Serg Johnson asked me, ‘Are you sure you want to go home? What would your mother want?’ I remember my mother’s last words. She said, ‘You better bring home that gold.’ So I had to stay and do it for her. I could have easily given up, but I wanted to do it for my mother. That was my challenge – to win for my mother.
I think the most important thing is to always stay positive no matter what or how you’re feeling. The disease, or anything in life, becomes more challenging when you have a negative attitude about things. Stay positive.
EH: You coach boxing. People with MS often struggle with exercise. What are some tips you have for them?
HD: It’s always important to stay fit. Exercise is important to ward off some of the symptoms of MS.
You could shadow box in the mirror. They call it shadow boxing because you’re simulating throwing punches at somebody when nobody is there. Just move your arms up and down for five minutes at a time.
Multiple sclerosis is a fighter – sometimes you get knocked down, but as long as you get up, you are a winner.
Speaking of boxing, your dad taught you how to box. What role did your family play in your success?
When you make sacrifices, the people around you have to make sacrifices, too.
If you have people around you who care for you and believe in you and believe in the cause then that helps. You definitely have to have a great support system around you. You have to have a great family umbrella that will protect you. It can be friends, too, and support groups.
I see people with MS, and they have a positive attitude, and they move forward. Know that people are trying to find a cure so there’s always going to be hope. I think that’s the greatest of inspirations.
Why are you supporting the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation?
This kind of disease is not like a broken leg where in six months you’re walking again. This is something handed to you so I think it’s important to try and find a cure. I always want to help people out so when I was asked to participate in the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation golf tournament I gladly accepted.
article link: http://www.everydayhealth.com/multiple-sclerosis/boxer-howard-davis-jr-olympic-boxer-helps-ms-community.aspx