“Perhaps more than anyone-more than concert pianists, more than surgeons, more than quarterbacks-a fighter’s confidence, illusory or not, is everything.”
Things don’t always go as we think they should but many times happen exactly as they are meant to. When Josh Rosenblatt moved to New York, it was to start a MMA website at Vice Magazine but when he was fired, a little over a year later, he knew he needed something to do with himself. He was almost 40 years old and had two desires in life. One was to step into a cage and fight a fight before he got too old and the other one was to write a book. There didn’t seem to be a more perfect opportunity for Rosenblatt to do both.
“The training was a lot. I got the opportunity to write the book (“Why We Fight“) nine months before my fight day and since it was MMA, that meant training all around in jiu jitsu, boxing and kickboxing. Three hours a day, six days a week for basically the entire nine months. This is without mentioning all the time invested into writing the book.”
When Rosenblatt met his now wife, he was in the process of writing the book proposal so she was aware of what, by his side, she would be putting herself through. She knew that he would be fighting but it was so far off in the future that Rosenblatt says he doesn’t know if she actually believed it would happen. “She was dumb and fell in love with me and two months after we got married, I fought.”
In his book, Rosenblatt does a stunning job at including thoughtful meditations on life and giving you such vivid descriptions of violence and his fight, that you truly feel it. More than mere words on paper, he takes you on a trip into everything that is going on inside and around him as a future fighter in training and, once the bell rang, as a fighter.
Only a minute into the fight and Rosenblatt was entirely on the defensive. What stands out to me about the way fighters think is that he wasn’t worried about his health or even his pride, he was horrified by the lack of action unfolding. The fact that in that moment the fight had no movement, no energy, no life to it. That was what terrified him.
Rosenblatt admits that fighting was such a thrilling experience that he would love to fight again but also understands that it would never happen again. “It’s a terrible thing to put the people you love through. I mean, it’s awful. I got out of the cage that night, saw the look on [my wife’s] face and she looked so miserable. When something means that much to you and then you have these people that mean so much to you, you have to find a balance. Sparring is my balance.” He adds that it would be different if he were 25 years old and had a chance to be a professional but at 40 he does it more for the excitement and fun.
After fighting, Rosenblatt finds all other forms of exercising so boring admitting that he couldn’t be more bored than when he has tried running as a form of working out. Even his wife’s suggestion of hiring somebody to randomly jump out and try punching him isn’t enough to excite him.
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, has been home to Rosenblatt for about three years now. After his fight, he started looking into boxing gyms in the neighborhood and that’s how he stepped foot into Sweatbox Brooklyn. What he most loved about it was that he asked very early on if he could spar and remembers that the next day he was sparring with, professional boxer, Frank Galarza. “I’m pretty sure I humiliated myself but they let me fight. I fell in love with the place. It’s great!”
FIGHTING AS INSPIRATION
“Fighting is a muse to me. I don’t think I can write an article about racism or gender issues. Writing about it directly… I feel clumsy but if I can write about politics through the lens of two guys punching each other in the face, I’m all for it.”
As the former founding Editor of Fightland, Rosenblatt continues to combine his passion for writing and fighting through weekly UFC event previews on Daily Dot.
When it comes to writing a future book, Rosenblatt’s answer depends, like he stated, on the day you ask him. Like most writers will agree, one day he feels he has an amazing book idea but a week later it’s fizzled out and no longer seems that great. He explains that writing “Why We Fight” was the most important thing to him. “I don’t know how to look at it differently. It’s six months to get a contract, two years to write the book, two years of editing and another year for it to be released. It better be the most important thing to you. The problem is that there is nothing more important to me than fighting.” For this reason, Rosenblatt is pretty certain a future book would have to somehow be related to fighting.
In the last paragraph of his book, Rosenblatt beautifully talks about loss, imperfection and trying again. No better way to end this piece than with his perfect last line which captures everything: life is glorious failure.