This is a piece of fan fiction that I wrote for The Lost Worlds of Power. It was published in volume 0 and was available for a short period of time on Groupees.com as part of a bundle for charity. I just got the go ahead from the publisher, the honorable Philip J. Reed of http://noiselesschatter.com/ to post it here. So here it is, my story based on the video game Ring King of the original NES. If you don’t know the game it is worth watching a youtube video.
By Robert Holt
The Ring Walk
Talent cannot be taught. You are born with talent. Talent is in your blood. Without talent you’re left with only skill. Skill can serve you well if you work hard and remain dedicated, but greatness is reserved for those select few talented individuals of the world. The likes of the Sandman, Macho Man, and Little Mac work hard to tone skills, but the natural talent that pumps through their veins is what separates them from the likes of me. I know people are quick to point out the few rare exceptions of skilled fighters that are able to break the glass ceiling and make it to the big show. Don Flamingo is the one name everybody likes to throw out. But tell me this, what was Don Flamingo’s claim to fame? Getting his face beat in by Little Mac! Regardless, I am no Kid Madrid. I am a tomato can, a palooka, a bum. I will never make it to the big show. For guys like me, there is only one way to get a minor taste of glory, and that is in the Ring King tournament.
I entered the tournament with a winning record, and I was proud of that. When I saw that I was fighting J. Crush in the first round I was a little worried. He is a good fighter. But the night was mine. I ended up knocking him out in the third round. That victory set up the grudge match with E. Apollo, who was coming off a first round demolition over B. Sothpa. Again the night was mine. It was amazing really. Apollo and I had faced each other three times prior to that fight, and he had won all three times in close fights. This time, I came in with an extra notch on my power meter and it paid dividends. I was able to floor him early in the second and finish him a few seconds later.
Those victories were meaningless though. All they did was move me closer to the true fight. A. Madman was the tournament favorite, an honor he had earned with back to back first round knockouts. The first one was over C. Rocky and then S. Ropes. Quite frankly, I was scared out of my mind of him. I had faced him once before in training, and he had flattened me rather quickly.
Before the fight I sat in my dressing room, my leg jittering nervously. My trainer came in and leaned against a locker in front of me. I looked at her feet, and then I looked away, into the endless realm of possible futures.
“What are you thinking about?” She asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to think. Christ, I didn’t want to exist.
She came up to me and squatted down in front of me. She lifted my chin so that I met her eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I said, but she didn’t buy that. We had been working together too long for her to buy that. “Just nervous, that’s all.”
“Is it because of what happened in training? Because that was just training.”
“It’s not that,” I said. “I just think he is better than me. More talented.” I said talented with a sneer, and she knew what I was getting on about.
“This isn’t the Major Circuit. Hell, this isn’t even the Minor Circuit. This is the Ring King,” she said. I know she was meaning it to be a confidence booster, but really she was making me feel more and more shitty. “If you think A. Madman could last a round against Piston Honda then you are as crazy as Soda Popinski.”
“Yeah, I guess you are right,” I said. “He is just shit, and I am worse than shit.”
She playfully slapped me across the face. “That’s not what I am saying at all and you know it. I am saying that he isn’t a god. He is just another Ring King contestant like you. If he was better, people would remember his name.”
“I was just thinking,” I said as I looked off in space. “Maybe I need a new trainer. Doc was able to take Little Mac from zero to hero. Maybe he could do the same for me.”
She laughed at this and slapped me again. “That fat fuck would have a heart attack if he had to sit and watch you fight.” She put her hands on my knees and got right in my face. “Besides, the Nintendo Fun Club wouldn’t help you.” She kissed me, kissed me hard. Her hands snaked up the legs of my shorts where they confronted the cup. “And besides, he wouldn’t be able to recharge you between the rounds.”
I laughed and pushed her hands away. Just then a security guard came in. “It’s time champ.” I rolled my eyes at being called champ. It is an honorary term for most fighters, but for the talentless, it is a mockery.
I took a deep breath and clambered to my feet. My trainer helped me into my robe, and she ran her fingers through my red fro. She kissed me again and then twirled my mustache between her fingers. “Go get him.”
I winked at her, and we walked out into the roaring heart of the stadium. The announcers were screaming and flailing about. But Madman just stood there looking at me. Throwing jabs in my direction. As the ring announcer introduced us, I too shadowboxed to stay warm.
Then the bell rang, and everything else in the world vanished. It was just me and A. Madman and the pasty, bald ref.
The fight started as every one of my fights does, with me jabbing. I hit him and moved away, he came at me and I stuck him again and again. Ten seconds in and I was starting to feel okay. I was starting to relax. Self belief is a crucial part of boxing. It is the fuel that drives you on and keeps you moving forward towards a big man that wants to knock your freaking head off. Without confidence a fighter is a wreck. Look at Glass Joe. He isn’t a fighter, just a punching bag with legs and pasty floppy tits. But the dude thinks he is something special. Because of his confidence he gets shots at all the big names and on occasion is able to get some good work in. And that was where my mind needed to be.
I stepped in on Madman and landed a nasty little right cross. His head snapped and a cloud of sweat danced off his brow. I didn’t entertain the idea that I had hurt him with the punch, but seeing his head snap filled me with gusto.
I danced backwards, found my distance and lunged in at him. I guess I was thinking I was Bald Bull. Madman saw me coming and timed me perfectly. He hit me with a jab as soon as I was in range. My charge was stopped instantly, and I stood there staring at him stupidly. In that split second he reduced me from feeling like I owned the ring to wondering what the hell I was doing in there. He followed it up with three brutal hooks. I was defenseless in that moment, unsure of myself and scared. I pressed in and tied him up. He tried to push me away, but I just held on until the little, bald ref came in and separated us.
Madman came at me like…well, like a mad man. He came in and moved around me, stopping occasionally to hit me with a jab. I turned with him and ate the jabs as they came in. My head was snapping with each blow, and I felt my health slowly diminishing. When he took a few steps back, I was relieved. I thought I was getting a break from the debilitating beating he was delivering. Then he came at me. His dark brown skin rippled with anticipation of the blow. His orange afro bobbed on his head, and his mouth was distorted into a smile-sneer hybrid. It came in slow motion, as if my memory banks couldn’t handle the speed at which everything was happening. Yet I still couldn’t do anything to stop the punch.
It was a straight right hand that caught me. I momentarily felt my face melt around his glove, and then I was hurled backwards. My feet left the ground, and I literally flew backwards. My back hit the ropes, and flung me forward. I had images run through my mind of being clotheslined by Starman, or being thrown from the ring and having twenty seconds to get back in. Funny where your mind wanders to during a fight. I tinkered with wrestling back in my youth. It was a chance encounter with King Slender that made me abandon that pursuit and dedicate my life to learning the skill of boxing.
I took a step off the rope and dropped to my knees. I curled into a fetal position and took a deep breath. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to just stay down. Deep in my soul, I heard a rhythmic clicking sound. I couldn’t explain it, but it was this clicking sound that drove me to raise myself off the canvas.
The ref was on the count of seven when I got up. In the big show, the ref is supposed to check you and make sure you are okay. Here in the Ring King tourney, he just sees that you are up and shouts “Fight.” Maybe it was my ears ringing from the punch or maybe it was just the way the ref said it, but at the time it sounded like “Right.” I tried to ask him what that meant, but Madman was already upon me. He hit me with two quick jabs before I even had a chance to comprehend anything. I quickly stepped in and tied him up before he had a chance to hit me again.
While we grappled there in the center of the ring, I had the perverse notion to twist Madman into a headlock and start biting into his skull like The Amazon once did against The Great Puma for the VWA Championship. The thought of suddenly turning this into a perverse wrestling match made me chuckle. The ref came in and separated us, and I was still laughing. Madman stared at me as if I was the crazy one. He stepped back, and I saw something new in his eyes. He was scared of me.
I jumped forward with a leaping uppercut and the blow caught him on the butt of the chin. My confidence soared back into me. He was backing away again, but it wasn’t to run. No, he was making distance so that he could land another of his bombs. When the distance was just right, I seized the opportunity before he could. I landed another blistering uppercut.
He jabbed me twice and moved away. I looked at the large clock mounted on the wall. There was still fifteen seconds left in the round. That thought stumped me for a moment. Ring King rounds were only a minute long. Everything that had happened since the opening bell had happened in forty five seconds. While this thought sank in, Madman hit me with the first body blow of the fight. It was a painful punch, more painful than the one that put me on the canvas.
My eyes met his, and his fear was gone now. It was replaced with a rage, with fury.
I moved in to try and tie him up again, but he danced backwards out of my reach. I glanced at the clock. There was eight seconds left. Eight seconds. My mind hadn’t even wrapped around that concept when he hit me. It was a brutal hook. I spun on my heels like a top and crumpled to the floor for the second time. And it was still the first round.
The world was a chaos of glitter and muffled shouts. I heard from somewhere in the nether world the ref counting. The numbers came in undecipherable grunts. I had no idea where his count was at, but it didn’t matter at that point, I was done. I was finished.
Then there were hands in my armpits helping me to my feet. I found myself looking into the face of my trainer. She helped me across the ring, and I saw the fans going haywire. I sat down heavily upon the stool and began to cry.
“I’m so sorry. I gave it as good as I could,” I said.
“And you will give more,” she told me.
“I can’t,” I said. “It’s over.”
“No it’s not. You were saved by the bell.”
I looked across the ring to see A. Madman smiling at me. I looked at the announcers who were as animated as ever. And I looked down at my trainer, who was squatting in front of me. It was only then that I realized that I had in fact not yet been knocked out.
“Can I win,” I asked her.
“You can win,” she said. “You just need to relax.”
I laughed. “You try relaxing while a psychopath tries to knock your head off.”
She smiled at me as her hands messaged at my inner thighs. “I can relax you,” she said.
Public displays of affection were forbidden through my Catholic upbringing, and maybe it was this that led me to prudishness. I put my gloves down to stop her. She slapped my hands away and swallowed me. The crowd roared with pleasure. The announcers stood still for a moment, and then exploded into their animated chatter again.
My eyes wandered around the arena. Every eye in the place was on me and my trainer. Then I looked across at Madman. He growled at me. He really did, the crazy bastard growled. Then he grabbed one of his corner men and threw him to the canvas in front of him and ordered the young man to give him the same treatment that my trainer was giving me. When the young man did not act, Madman slapped him across the face. Then the man moved in, and did what he was told.
I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t. Here we were, in the final battle for the title of Ring King, and we were both getting satisfied after the first round by our corners. Of course, his corner was forced, and mine did it despite my protests.
I relaxed against the ring post and enjoyed the sensations. The world slid from my mind. Thoughts of A. Madman and the Ring King tournament slid into background noise. All there was in that moment, that glorious moment, was me and my trainer. The wild cheers of the crowd fell to a dull hum in my ears. I grunted with satisfaction.
And just like that, the peace was over. My trainer tucked me back away, wiped her chin and slid out of the ring. I sat up to protest. I was not yet finished, but the bell had rang and Madman was rushing towards me.
If the fight had been beaten out of me before, it was sucked out of me now. I cared little for trying to beat Madman, I only wanted to get back to the corner, back to my trainer. As soon as he was within reach, I stepped in and tied him up, holding his arms to prevent him from hitting me. The ref stepped forward to break us. I stepped back and then stepped in again and tied him up again. As we wrestled in the middle of the ring, the crazy bastard thrust his pelvic at me, and I felt the thump of his hard-on against mine.
This act of sexual aggression towards me, more than the punches to my face and body, more than his taunts, more than anything else, this made me hate him and want to hurt him.
I shifted my weight and threw him off of me just as the ref stepped forward to break us. Madman was smiling at me. I threw a brutal uppercut at him, but he stepped back from it and hit me with a quick one-two, snapping my head back and bringing a trickle of blood from my nose.
I launched myself at him again. My head buzzed with rage, and the fury within me drove my fists with reckless abandonment towards Madman. The frustration was all consuming. My now flaccid penis throbbed in its protective cup. And my head throbbed in rhythm.
My hook went behind him as he stepped forward and caught me with a sharp uppercut. My knees buckled, and I took a step back. I swung wildly with a looping hook, but Madman landed two crisp jabs in my mug before my punch even finished its arch.
I could hear my trainer screaming at me to cover up, to jab, to hold, but I wanted only to tear the slimy shits head off with a single punch. I threw an uppercut. It was stupid. He wasn’t even in range for the uppercut. He came in quickly with an uppercut of his own, and I was knocked off my feet and flat on my ass.
I struggled to push my way back to my feet as the little ref counted into my face. I got to my feet, shook my head clear, and launched another uppercut. Madman used my recklessness against me. He held out a jab and allowed my momentum to be the force behind the blow. My face wrapped around his fist, and I went down again for the second time in a matter of seconds.
I was a little slower getting up this time. I glared at Madman and started to charge at him again when the bell rang bringing an end to the second round. The ref had to step between us.
We stood there for a couple of seconds glowering at each other over the ref’s head. My trainer stepped forward and grabbed me by the glove and pulled me back.
“What are you doing?” Her reprimand snapped me back to myself, reminded me of who I was and where I was. I could feel the blood pounding in my ears as my adrenaline slowly fell back to normal levels.
“I want to kill him,” I said, despite not having that burning rage in me anymore.
“Clear your mind of that. Just focus on boxing him.” Then she grabbed me by the waist band and pulled. She held me in her hands and kissed me gently. I fell back against the turnbuckle and felt the world slowly start to drain away.
I have always been somebody that could live in the moment. I never really concerned myself too much with the future. One day at a time. Why worry about paying the rent until the eviction crew arrives? That is the way my life has always been, that is what got me stuck in a sport that the media has been claiming was dying since the forties, that is what has me fighting below the fringe of obscurity, and that is what had me getting my brains beat out through the first two rounds. However, there in that corner with my trainer kneeling before me, I was content with the direction I had chosen for my life.
I looked across the ring at Madman. His trainer was staying out of his reach, refusing to perform the act again. Madman was screaming at him while attempting to masturbate with his boxing gloves on. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed at him. My laughter drew his attention. He stood in the corner and screamed at me.
My trainer pulled back a little and smiled up at me. I smiled back at her. “You got this guy,” she said. “You may never be the next Little Mac, but you are the king. The Ring King.”
Then she finished her work. She sucked the rage out of me, the fury, the indifference, the self-doubt, and the defeat. We were both panting afterwards, and as she smiled at me again. A calming, energetic rush filled my head, and I knew then that I could win.
I looked up to see Madman standing on his stool with his erecting on the top rope as he screamed at the crowd. I whistled a sharp pitch at him, and it drew his attention. I stood up in the corner. The bell to start round three rang, but before I took the mouth piece from my trainer I yelled to Madman. “I finished. Now you are finished.” The look on his face was as clear as could be. He was terrified.
I came out in round three like a man possessed. I hit Madman with a quick one two, moved ninety degrees around him and hit him with a nasty hook. He swung at me with a wild leaping punch but the range was all wrong and we ended up tying our arms around each other. He was growling at me when the ref broke us, but I didn’t even pay attention to it. I dove in with a brutal straight right hand that sent him flying backwards. He bounced off the ropes, and I again thought of my brief stint in the Pro Wrestling circuit.
The ref counted and I was again aware of the rapid clicking sound that I could hear faintly over the roar of the crowd and the constant banter of the ringside announcers. Only now I knew what it was. I was able to reason through it. The sound was Madman’s guardian angel pulling the strings on his lifeline drawing him back to his feet. The rhythm was constant and precise. And in that moment I wondered if I could possible win. Then I looked at Madman and all doubts drained away. He was not the untamable beast of my nightmares. He was a fellow punching bag, a palooka, a lummox. I felt a little sorry for him then, but not too sorry to hit him with three straight punches that he blocked with his ugly mug. He swung wildly at me, and the punch missed me by a few feet. I hit him with three more quick punches and I could tell he couldn’t have much left on his life meter.
I stepped back and he started to lunge at me, I moved around him and hit him with a sharp hook that turned his entire body. I moved again and he charged me. I stuck him with a jab before he could get his punch in motion.
I stepped back, and the world went silent to me. Everything vanished in that instant. Nothing else mattered. Everything was blissfully perfect. Truly, it was too perfect. Madman was hurt bad and moving slow. My distance was just right for an uppercut the likes that nobody has thrown since Mike Tyson. I felt as if I had a star punch or something. My feet didn’t move, or at least I don’t remember them moving as I launched towards him. My fist swung back as I moved towards him, and there was a split second where I thought he was going to step in and tie me up, but he didn’t. My arm snapped upwards. His head jacked backwards and his feet left the ground. My eyes stayed on the canvas waiting to see him fall to the ground in front of me or against the ropes a few feet away. But he didn’t land. I glanced up briefly to see his feet sailing into the crowd. Now amount of string pulling from an unseen guardian could save him.
My hand was raised and a thousand pictures of me were taken with the Ring King belt around my waist while I posed and flexed for my fans. The announcers were still going crazy about the fight. I looked at my trainer and winked. She blushed and ran toward me. We kissed.
One of the announcers shouted to me, asking me who I wanted next. I smiled at him. “I want Little Mac!”