The Boxer

by Andrew

Phil was the best boxer in the school. In fact, he had never been defeated. The closest he had come was a split decision against Tobias, a German lad who had trained on a semi-pro basis. They had fought hard, but Phil had won out. He remembered standing in the ring, cool air washing over his shining torso when the result was announced. He had glanced down at his physique and looked at his navel. He had a large innie, but that did not mean he was fat...far from it. His muscles stood out on a chest that he took delight in shaving every fortnight. Now, as he hit the punchball in the gym, he glanced down at his navel again. He loved to poke it gently, but he didn’t dare do it in public. He decided to go to the locker room. Now, as the door closed behind him, he ran his fingers over his smooth tummy and let his index finger run round the edge of his navel. Then, he let it slip inside. It was a lovely sensation. Suddenly, he stopped as he heard a door open and a stranger walk in.
‘Hey!’ said Phil, always the friend to a newbie at the gym.
The stranger ignored him.
Phil turned round to change. He thought he’d have a shower back home, so he took his T-Shirt and pulled it down over his body. He was reaching in to his locker to get his jacket when the stranger suddenly lunged at him from behind and grabbed him round the throat. Phil struggled, and the stranger let go.

‘WTF man?!’ cried Phil, pushing the stranger. Close up, the other guy looked not much at all- though he was carrying more weight than Phil and was about 15 years older. As Phil had just turned 23, this guy must have been closer to 40!

‘Think you’re so tough!’ muttered the stranger darkly.
Phil felt anger rising.

‘OK punk! Let’s go out there right now and fight. The loser quits the gym!’
The stranger nodded.
Phil felt strangely apprehensive as he walked out onto the training ring, and tried not to notice everyone staring at him.

A few minutes later, they were about to fight, gloves having been found from the store cupboard. The stranger wore a thin white, stained vest, but Phil flexed his muscles and stripped back to bare skin. The referee- the odd job man- blew a whistle and they came out fighting.

Phil landed a punch on the stranger’s belly, and another to his jaw. He’d see off this old fool!
But, the punches seemed to anger the stranger, who stepped forward and punched Phil on the cheek. Phil wasn’t expecting that, and reeled back. The stranger advanced, pummelling Phil’s defenceless body. Thud! Thud! Thud! Three punches hit Phil around his navel, and he was forced back against the ropes. The stranger then backed off, and the pair traded punches until the end of the round.

Phil retreated to his corner. Sam, his friend, rubbed his chest.
‘You’re doing fine!’ he said enthusiastically.
Sam massaged Phil’s tummy, and pushed his finger into Phil’s navel.
‘You’re amazing!’
Phil smiled.

The whistle sounded, and round two began. Phil was determined to silence this stranger, and really went for it. He landed several punches, and the stranger visibly staggered. Phil followed up, but was unprepared for the stranger lashing out – a punch which caught Phil in the centre of his belly. He stepped back, and relaxed his guard. The stranger’s eyes gleamed. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Four punches hit Phil’s tummy, and the last was bang on his navel. Phil reeled back, and flopped against the ropes, arms wide out- holding on. The stranger saw victory in his grasp, and punched again and again into Phil’s navel which grew red and bruised. Finally, as Phil moved away from the ropes, the stranger hit him across the face. The world started spinning before Phil’s eyes, and he went crashing down to the canvas.

The referee started counting.
Phil opened his eyes. He could barely see, but he could hear this count going on.

Phil flopped back against the canvas. He had lost, and he knew it.
Two minutes later, a dazed Phil stood with the referee in the centre and the stranger on the other side. He looked down at his gleaming torso. His belly button was bruised and felt sore. He tried to rub it, but he still had the gloves on. The stranger’s hand was held aloft, and he punched the air in delight.

‘Sorry you lost buddy!’ he said to Phil, but his smile said he was far from sorry.
He looked at Phil’s tummy.
‘Bit bruised are we?’
Phil grunted.
‘Just my belly button...a small thing in my defeat!’

‘Come on mate!’
Phil looked up- and saw Sam’s face.
‘Round two buddy. Go on!’

Phil realised he had been day-dreaming, and pulled himself together. He hadn’t lost after all- he was still in this fight! He advanced on the stranger, and punched hard- again and again. He felt strength flowing through him, and the more the stranger backed off, the stronger Phil felt. He hit the stranger time and time again. In the end, the referee stopped the fight. Phil had won after all! He was still undefeated, and he smiled at that fact.