Holly Holm: Fight Lessons from the Preacher’s Daughter!

by Ron F. Hale

I had a very short boxing career as a young teenager. I discovered that I was allergic to leather. It made my face swell. However, I’ve always been fascinated by the fight world. Recently a mixed martial arts fight between two women captivated millions of people around the world.

Rough and tough Ronda Rousey came into the UFC 193 ring expecting to teach the Preacher’s Daughter a lesson or two. Refusing to touch gloves with Holly Holm at center ring was disgraceful.image015

After being slapped silly by a brutal left kick to the head and neck, Rousey fell hard and fast. It was over in 59 seconds of the second round. Holly Holm stood crying – the thrill of victory overwhelmed her every emotion!

At age 34, Holly became the new UFC Bantamweight Champion of the World!

The victorious blonde from Albuquerque, New Mexico, quickly became the talk of the fight world. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she pull off one of the greatest upsets in fight history?

“The Preacher’s Daughter” is her nickname because her dad, Roger Holm, is a minster and is his daughter’s biggest fan. He came to the fight believing his daughter had what it takes to wear the belt, and his prayers were answered.

Holly didn’t come out of nowhere, she was a former professional boxer and kickboxer before entering mixed martial arts. She defended her titles 18 times as a world champion boxer in three different weight classes. Holly was the two-time Ring magazine fighter of the year in 2005 and 2006. She is the only person to win championships with fists and feet in both mixed martial arts and boxing.

In thinking about Holly’s fight, I want to borrow some thoughts from David B. Smith (a.k.a. the Fighting Father), an Anglican Priest who is a boxer and black belt; therefore, I wish to use his three main points from an article entitled: Boxing Can Teach a Thing or Two About Life – as well as my thoughts.

1. Learn how to take a hit!
Only in Bruce Lee movies can you fight a horde of fiendish foes and not get hit. In real life, you are going to get hit no matter how prim, proper, or pious you are.

There is a churchy myth that goes like this: If I try real hard to do the right things and treat people nicely – then bad things won’t happen to me. Jesus never promised us a painless life. He knew the learning and personal growth that can come through disappointments and failures.

Holly Holm was knocked out by Anne Sophie Mathis in 2011 and embarrassingly it happened in her hometown of Albuquerque. She later said it was a life-changing experience and she learned so much about herself and other people. Facing her fears, Holly climbed back in the ring with Mathis six months later and won a unanimous decision in taking her title back.

Just remember you are not alone in this world as a Christian. If you are “in Christ,” He also is in you! We are overcomers because He has overcome and – “…. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).

2. Learn to Take Control of your emotions
Fighters who try to work themselves up into a wild-eyed angry frenzy before a fight usually fizzle before the finish. Raw emotion will take you so far. Brawlers have short careers.

There are “checker players” and “chess players” in the sport of boxing and mixed martial arts. The “checker” fighter will absorb a bevy of blows to land one punch.

The “chess” fighter is strategic and comes into the ring with a plan. He does not depend on brawn, speed, and youthfulness for victory. The “chess” fighter’s brain is the most important weapon and they pace the fight by setting up future exchanges. The “chess” fighter will bob and weave as their opponent comes in like a windmill — they stay cool and calm allowing the brawler to waste their energy.

3. Learn to listen to your corner
In life your “corner” are the people who hold you accountable, pray for you daily, and teach you the Word of God. They can be your Bible Study teacher, pastor, prayer partner, good friends, wise family members, and caring co-workers. It seems that Holly has remained close to family and friends, and values the wisdom of her father.

Good fighters know their corner can see the state of the fight better than you can. You are in the middle of a war-zone. It is your corner who can see what is going on in your life. They can read the momentum of the fight and see opportunities against your opponent. They can encourage you to take it easy one round in order to be strong at the next sound of the bell.

God made us to need other people. However, we must choose our corner wisely. Early on, Mike Tyson was blessed to have “Cuss” D’Amato in his life as manager and trainer. When D’Amato suddenly died, Tyson surrounded himself with shady people. Tyson’s life became a nightmare.

Holly Holm attributed her dramatic upset victory to her team (corner). She didn’t join the pre-fight trash-talking like Rousey. She stayed focused and humble. After the fight, Holly called Rousey a “great champion.”