My Dad Died, And This Is What I Said

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It’s 1:30 in the morning. The memorial service ended hours ago. All the visits with family and friends ended minutes ago. Kathy’s asleep and I’m just now finding time to blog so, the easiest thing I can think of to share are the words I said at my dad’s memorial service. Continue reading

Genesis 14:20-24 Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything

Excerpt from interview with boxer:

Then Abram gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth of everything.

The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”

Genesis 20-24

Fight Night in Chicago–Bennett vs. Bursey

It’s Tuesday evening, February 10, 1959. Don Bennett, a young light heavyweight is sick with strep throat and only weighs 167 lbs. At 6’2″ he looks even skinnier than when he’s at his usual 175. He hopes he’s recovered enough to pass the physical so he’s allowed to fight in tonight’s Golden Gloves tournament, in Chicago. He runs from the bus stop near the arena to check in. As he approaches the doctor for his pre-fight physical, he’s overwhelmed by the aroma of alcohol on the good doctor’s breath.

“Your temperature is above 99. Sorry, but you can’t fight,” the doc mumbles.

“I just ran from the bus! That’s why I’m so sweaty and warm,” Bennett says.

After some more begging he’s finally allowed to register. He enters into the selection room where the night’s pairings will be decided. His eye is drawn to a 5’8″ boxer who’s the most muscular man in the room.

“Man, I hope I don’t draw him,” Bennett thinks to himself.”

The draw is decided and Bennett discovers he’s drawn that muscular fighter, the very one he wanted to avoid. Timothy Bursey is his name. A fighter with a reputation for toughness and great punching ability. A fighter with considerably more experience and success than the young skinny guy with strep throat.

But in the ring Don Bennett finds hope. He’s left handed and this confuses Bursey. Bursey’s been trained to circle away from his opponents power but against a lefty he needs to move the other way, and Bursey is clearly uncomfortable with it. When Bursey does circle in the right direction Bennett pops him with a couple of jabs, just as his trainer Tony Zale taught him to. This causes Bursey to fall back into his old habit of circling as though he’s fighting a right hander.

Bennett catches Bursey with a good punch and Bursey drops his hands as though he’s hurt. Bennett then swings with a right but he only grazes Bursey who then comes with everything he has, with a right hand that catches Bennett in the temple. Bennett’s knocked five feet to the side where he bounces off the ropes. But, surprisingly, as he’s coming off the ropes Bennett quickly throws a couple of jabs.

Bursey’s eyes grow wide. He can’t believe this skinny kid didn’t go down. Bennett looks unhurt, unfazed.

In the next round Bennett feints with his left and Bursey covers up with both gloves, peek-a-boo style. Bennett then steps to the side and hits Bursey with a solid left hook to the jaw, just in front of Bursey’s right ear.

All of Bursey’s muscles go slack. He goes down. He’s limp and flat on his back.

“1, 2, 3…” the referee counts.

Then, incredibly, when the ref is at the count of 5, Bursey gets up. Now it’s Don Bennett’s turn to be surprised.

But something’s wrong. Bursey’s not all there. And the referee seems not to notice Bursey’s lack of alertness.

“Fight,” the referee says.

“Why isn’t the ref stopping the fight?” Bennett wonders. He gestures with his hands to indicate Bursey’s not capable of defending himself.

“Fight!” the referee barks.

Bennett gestures again.

“Fight or I’ll disqualify you!”

“Don’t want that,” Bennett thinks to himself. “And I don’t want Bursey to come back from this round and catch me with another great punch like he did in the first.”

So he kept boxing. Later, after the fight, in the locker room, someone who saw it from ringside told Bennett, he hit Bursey with eight straight lefts before the referee stopped the fight. As he was pulled back Bursey fell to the canvas unconscious.

The crowd went wild.

After things calmed down some, Bennett searched the arena for Bursey. He found him still unconscious in the hospital tent. He felt horrible. He was afraid. Bursey’s parents and brother were there. Bennett thought they might be upset with him but instead they shared words of comfort.

“You know, that’s boxing,” they said.

“The ref should have stopped the fight,” they reasoned.

Minutes went by and Timothy Bursey still lay unconscious.

One half hour went by and Bursey was still unconscious.

Finally, after 48 minutes, his eyes fluttered open. Bennett says he was near tears and had never felt so much relief.

He Made Me An Offer I Could Refuse

On the way out of the hospital tent Don Bennett was approached by an older man in a suit.

“Nice fight tonight.”

“Thanks.”

“You know we need white fighters who can take a punch.”

The wheels started turning. This man was a powerful person in the boxing business. He was one of the premiere boxing promoters in the country at the time. Don Bennett was 20 years old with a one year old son and another on the way.

“I could sure use the money.” He didn’t say it out loud, but he sure was thinking it.

“Don,” the promoter called him by name. “We take care of the fights, do you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.”

He thought about just exactly what that would mean. He understood that they’d fix his fights, to provide him with success for their own financial gain. He also realized, at any time, they could ask him to throw a fight. If he didn’t fall in line there’d be consequences. With a young family to think of…

“No thanks,” Bennett said.

Abram’s Offer And His Offering

“Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” the king of Sodom said to Abram in verse 21.

But Abram refused. “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you…” (verse 22-23)

Abram gave one tenth of everything to Melchizedek. (verse 20) But refused to accept anything from the king of Sodom.

Wise is the man who avoids financial entanglement with the world.

And wise is the man who invests in God’s kingdom.

The world system is founded on owing something to somebody. For the twenty year old boxer, yes he’d receive riches from the promoter, but there would be strings attached.

The king of Sodom offered Abram riches from the spoil of battle. And yes, Abram would receive riches, but with strings attached.

Whenever you accept an offer from the world system, there are strings attached, whether it be from someone with political influence like the king of Sodom, or a corrupt fight promoter, or a credit card company. There are always strings attached, and before you know it, those strings can become a tangled mess.

So refuse to invest in the world.

As Abram did when he tithed to Melchizedek, the prophet, priest, and king, invest in heaven.

You’ll never regret it.

As Jesus said,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

References:

Chicago Mail Tribune, Sports Section, February 10, 1959

The Chicago Golden Gloves account is a true story as told by Don Bennett to Kurt Bennett June 11, 2011. For the full 5 minute interview see below: