My Fight is Cancelled

Alone and Dangerous

It will still be a great show, but my fight won’t be happening

Yes, it was going to be the fight of my life but, no, it’s not going to happen. To cut a long story short, I took a big hit last Friday and suffered a minor brain haemorrhage. Hopefully, it’s not the end of my fight career but it certainly is the end of this fight.

For those who want the long story …

I did some sparring with an old mate last Friday. I won’t mention his name, but I will say that he did hold a world title and that he is a little bigger and a little younger than me. I probably should have been wearing a head-gear.

He caught me with a big hook to the side of my head while I was on the ropes. Everything went black for a moment, but only for a moment. I stayed on my feet, finished the round, and I think I did two more rounds after that. I felt OK. Indeed, I felt pretty pleased with myself, figuring that if I could handle a shot like that I could handle anything my upcoming opponent was going to throw at me. I drove myself safely home, but have no memory of what I did after that until I woke the next day.

None of this is too unusual. I’ve been out on my feet before (though not for a long time) and I’m not the first person to suffer a bit of memory loss. Even so, I didn’t feel quite right, and that showed itself when I tried to get back into the ring the following day. I couldn’t perform. I was in pain in my head and I just wasn’t functioning properly. I figured I was just having a bad day and thought I’d try again the next day. The next day I was worse. Within 30 seconds I was on the ground. I stopped and took counsel from a wise mate (Anton) who recognised that I’d been concussed. The next day I booked myself in for a scan.

When I did the scan, I expected to head straight home afterwards but the doctors made me wait. I was eventually called into the back room where they sat me down and told me that I had a haemorrhage and needed to get to hospital immediately. I said I wasn’t going anywhere until after I’d got my little girl home from school. They agreed, saying that since I’d taken the hit four days earlier, I was probably going to be fine anyway.

The medics at the hospital were great. I’m very privileged to live in a country where teams of experts gather around to help you when you’re down. I don’t take any of that for granted. In the end, the doctors agreed to discharge me that evening, providing that I monitor myself carefully, get more scans, and report back to them.

I’m hoping that this is only a temporary set-back. When a skier breaks her leg that doesn’t mean she’s never going to ski again. You get over the injury and you head back to the slopes. Hopefully, it will work for me like that too. Indeed, I’ve already got another fight lined up for November, and I hope I’ll be good for that. Even so, if this is the end of my fight career, I’ll come to terms with that too.

One thing is very clear to me – that I owe a big debt of gratitude to those who supported me in preparing for this fight, and most of all I want to thank the guy who was going to be my opponent – Dave Birchell.

I know Dave only took the fight because he wanted to help me raise money for Syria. He was the first person I called when I got the scan results. I was a bit teary when I called him, and I think he got a bit teary too. He thanked me for getting the scan, saying “If you hadn’t done this and something had happened to you in the ring, I never could have lived with myself”.  Thanks brother. You’re a top bloke and a great mate.

There is, in fact, a long list of people I need to thank, including my trainers, the boys at the gym, my family, church, close friends, and the promoter of the August 25 event, John. Instead of going off at me for losing him money, his response, when I told him that I was out because the scan had discovered a haemorrhage was “Praise God”.

As I say, I hope that this is not the end of my fight career. In truth, I think I still have my best fights left in me. Even so, I suspect all fighters think that, and if my time has indeed come, I will come to terms with that. It will be difficult though, as the fighting is so deeply tied in with our social justice work, with the inter-faith work, with Syria, …

Keep me in your prayers please. Pray for a full recovery, and pray that if my boxing days are over that God will show me other ways to raise funds and raise awareness. In truth, I can’t imagine a life without boxing. Part of me had always hoped that I’d depart this world from the ring. Even so, this experience has made it very clear to me that even if it’s great to die doing what you love, it’s not good for the people you care about.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Christmas is almost upon us!

the Binacrombi 're-ignition' team. 🙂
Remembering the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Kindy's scariest Halloween girl!
celebrating Halloween with Imogen at Movie World
with Maher, the honorary Syrian Consular General
we turn the first sod of our new Youth and Community Centre
we turn the first sod of our new Youth and Community Centre
we turn the first sod of our new Youth and Community Centre
with Roy Jones Junior in Gosford
at St Francis College, Brisbane, with Ray Baraclough for the 'Friends of Sabeel, Australia' AGM
with Zain Sherrif in Penrith, battling protesters objecting to the development of an Islamic community centre.
a wise woman preparing for the Christmas pageant

Hi Fighter,

Father Dave here, and I’m starting this missive from sunny Binacrombi Bush Camp where we are about to ‘re-ignite’ things.

No, we’re not about to start a bush fire but we have been closed for the last few weeks while we’ve been upgrading the water system and the power system, repairing the tracks and repainting the cabins. All bodes well for our re-opening in time for the Christmas holidays!

And speaking of Christmas, we have plenty of other things happening over the coming weeks and I’m hoping that you’ll be able to participate in some (if not all) of them.

  • December 21st – the Jubilate Singers Christmas Concert @ Holy Trinity (7pm)
  • December 24th – Carols on our front lawn (7pm)
  • December 25thHoly Trinity’s Christmas Day Eucharist (9.15am)
  • Christmas Day Lunch at the rectory

I appreciate that it’s going to be a lot easier to be a part of these activities if you live in Sydney but even if you live in West Virginia I can assure you it will be worth the trip (and it’s a lot warmer here too)! 😉

The last of these events does require an RSVP as the number of people we can fit around the rectory table is limited. Having said that, we had an offer from some Muslim women this year to prepare the lunch for us on Christmas Day and that will certainly make things easier at our end! The women said that it wasn’t a busy time of year for them and they knew that it was for us so they figured they were well placed to pitch in! What a gracious thought!

So there may not be any wine or ham served at Christmas lunch this year but I’m expecting a wonderful fare nonetheless! Just let me know if you’re coming so that I can tell the ladies how many they need to prepare for.

Sermon Time

I appreciate that you’re probably in the mood for something with a Christmassy flavour this week but I’ve decided to give you my sermon on Paul’s Epistle to the church of Rome, chapter 6. I don’t often preach on Paul’s letters but I had been wanting to preach on this passage for a long time as I think it shows St Paul at his most radical – proclaiming an understanding of Jesus Christ and His work that makes the Christian message entirely distinctive in the world of religions!

As you no doubt know, I work very closely with other faith communities – the Muslim community in particular – and that leads a lot of people to assume that I see all religions as basically the same. I don’t. Indeed, while I don’t disrespect anybody for their religious beliefs, the understanding of God and of life that I glean from the New Testament is quite distinct from other religious traditions, and I think this excerpt from St Paul writings highlights those differences with precision!

You may disagree with me. That’s OK. You may disagree with St Paul too, and I’m sure he’d be OK with that. Even so, hear him out, for according to St Paul, religion is NOT fundamentally about living a good life or about believing the right things! Indeed, religion, in St Paul’s understanding, is not primarily about us at all!

I’ve given you a list of diary entries today and I appreciate that you’re probably not thinking much beyond Christmas at the moment but I want to give you one more set of dates to consider before I let you go – Friday, January 18 to Sunday January 21. I’m hoping to host a weekend away at Binacrombi over those days for all who can make it.

On that weekend I hope to:

  • Dedicate our new Binacrombi chapel
  • Consecrate the Fighting Fathers to their work
  • See the lives of everyone who participates enriched

My plan is to build the weekend around our rather unique combination of extreme sports and monastic silence – fluctuating between the two extremes, like running out of a sauna and diving into an icy stream and then back into the sauna!

I appreciate that this may be too extreme for some people and so a less intense alternative will be available. Even so, I am hoping that all who participate will find the weekend confronting and life-changing!

It won’t cost you a fortune. A donation of $100 to Fighting Fathers Ministries will cover your accommodation costs. We’ll bring our own food and pool our cars to keep transport costs to a minimum. Email me if you’d like to participate or leave your details on www.warriorweekends.com and I’ll get back to you.

I’ll be in contact again soon with my regular Christmas video-greeting.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.holytrinity.org.au
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. Support the work of the Fighting Fathers by joining our online community at  www.fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month and the first month is free.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s Missive – January 31st, 2014

Hi Fighter,

I got caught in a domestic violence situation tonight.

I think I handled it just right. It’s so hard to get these things right.

I was putting the garbage out and heard what I thought at first was kids shouting at each other. Then I saw a woman on the ground and a man standing over her and … I realized happily that I had my clergy shirt on. I adjusted my collar appropriately as I rushed to the scene.

The clergy collar has always proven to be more powerful to me than a superman outfit in situations like this. Nobody wants to punch the priest, and nobody wants a priest watching them while they beat their woman.

There was lots of shouting going on and the woman was screaming obscenities but it didn’t seem as if any punches had been thrown so I stopped about three meters short of the two and stood at right-angles to them without saying anything. From the nature of the shouting and accusations it was clear that they were partners (of sorts).

There was another woman involved (a friend of the first woman) who was also screaming at the man and probably wasn’t helping. The man had no shirt on but didn’t seem to be drunk. The woman would scream “give me my phone back. Give me my smokes”, etc. He would then throw the smokes/phone at her and then lean over and grab them back from where she’d dropped them.

None of this was done in an overly violent way though I was aware that things could degenerate into open brutality at any moment and I was only a millisecond’s distance from the man’s right hand if it came to that. Even so, I think that by standing where I was, saying nothing and so not confronting the man directly but evidently monitoring the situation very carefully in my clergy collar, I helped keep a lid on the problem.

The man eventually complied with the woman’s repeated requests, such as “f**k the hell off” and “get the f**k out of my life” (or at least with the first request anyway). He disappeared and she then walked around the corner. I took the opportunity to call 000 and the police said they were on their way.

The woman had sat herself down in a heap alongside our local Salvation Army store. I spoke to the friend who was all very grateful to me, recognised me as the boxing priest, and told me all about how God had spoken to her while she was in a coma. Our happy conversation though suddenly ended when she screamed “Oh my God, he’s coming back“, and sure enough he was coming back, and I turned to take my stand this time between the man and his target.

I figured this time that things were highly likely to get bloody but before the man reached us a paddy-wagon screeched to a halt alongside me and four policemen had the man on the ground and hand-cuffed within about 0.5 seconds! The man didn’t resist at all. Two of the police stayed with the man, one talked to the woman and the other came over to me “Hey Father Dave, how’s it going?”

This young Constable took down all the relevant details but he was frankly more interested in hearing how his mates were doing at boxing training (as I’m currently training three officers from the Marrickville Local Area Command).

It was a horrible way to end what was otherwise a quite night of domestic tranquility. I stepped out into a war-zone. Then I stepped back inside again. I’m not used to that now like I used to be. I think that’s how I learnt to compartmentalize in the early days here.

Feeding deer at Mogo Zoo
We still enjoy the merry-go-round at Luna Park
Festival of Sydney jumping castle at the Opera House
Imogen and I do dinner and a movie! 🙂
Looking for a chapel for Binacrombi

And so the school holidays are well and truly over and it’s back to business for all of us.

I didn’t really get a proper holiday myself this January but I did spend some lovely time with the kids as you can see from the above.  I also made some significant steps forward in terms of my New Year’s resolutions!

In case you’ve forgotten, I set five goals for this year:

  1. Develop Binacrombi as a place of contemplative prayer.
  2. Make a contribution to peace in Syria.
  3. Make a contribution to Palestinian statehood.
  4. Win a world boxing title
  5. Help each of my kids complete their years at school.

At the moment I seem to be moving forward in leaps and bounds on all fronts!

In terms of Binacrombi, I believe I have found my first Abbott – a true man of prayer and a legendary sportsman who can help develop the monastic side of our retreat without compromising our commitment to extreme sports (trail bike riding, boxing, etc.)!

We’ve also been offered a chapel that we may be able to simply pick up and relocate to our site. Of course these things are never simple but I’ve already been looking over things with a builder-mate and we’ll know soon enough what is possible.

I can’t give the names and details on any of the above until things are more settled but it seems clear that the Lord wants us to proceed with this vision. 

As far as Syria goes, plans are coming together very quickly for another mission that will probably happen this side of Easter!

Again, I can’t give you details at this stage but I can give a broad outline of what we hope to achieve:

  • Express our solidarity with the church in Syria
  • Take in much-needed medical supplies
  • See if we can secure the release of some prisoners
  • See if we can initiate boxing programmes in the refugee camps

No prizes for guessing who came up with this last idea. The exciting thing for me is that my colleagues around the world are as excited about the prospects of setting up boxing programmes in refugee camps as I am! 

And so far as my hopes for a world title go, it seems that I may have two fights on the horizon – one in Dublin and another in Syria itself!

Frankly, it doesn’t really matter whether there is any title attached to either of them. I have a feeling we’ll be able to accomplish something significant with those bouts if we can make them happen!

As to my fifth goal – helping my kids through school – we’re off to a good start! Two out of three are back to their studies and I took Francesca for her evaluation session for Kindergarten today. She will start regular classes on Monday!

Enough prattling from me for now about goals and achievements, but I think the above proves the point I made in my last missive – that if you tell people what your goals you are far more likely to move on them!

I’m still hoping that you might share some of your hopes and dreams for the year in the comment-box below. Go on! Be daring! Dream big!

Sermon Time

I’ve been preaching rather a lot lately so I’ve got plenty of sermons I could pass on to you today but I really want to share with you the one I did for the Feast of the Holy Family.

I’m conscious of the fact that ‘Christian values‘ and ‘family values‘ are often taken as being synonymous and that the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) are generally depicted as being the archetypal white, middle-class nuclear family unit.

A little investigation of the texts though suggests that Jesus’ human family was far from the ideal model that preachers of family values would like it to be. Indeed, I suspect that most family therapists would have found plenty of material to work on there!

I don’t know whether you’ll find this sermonic exploration into the family life of Jesus encouraging or unnerving. Either way, if the church is going to make pronouncements about what a Christian family is supposed to look like, this material needs to be taken into account!

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If you can’t view this video, click here.

OK Fighter, I’ll be in contact again as soon as I’ve got the details of the Syria mission all worked out. We’ll be doing some fundraising and simultaneously launching Fighting Father Denning’s documentary movie of our last Syria trip.

Until then, I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.binacrombi.com.au
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.dulwichhillgym.com
www.warriorweekends.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Father Dave’s missive – November 21st, 2013

G’day Fighter,

What a magnificent time we had last Thursday night at Fight Club!

If you missed my invitation, we had six members of the Palestinian Olympic team join us.

Not all of the team were boxers but all of them were great ambassadors for their country and a number of them joined in the training even though it was their first time in the ring!

I had particularly memorable bouts with Ahmed, their swimming champ who did his best to put me on the canvas, and with Aseel – a lovely girl about the same age as my eldest daughter and a long-distance runner.

I also did a round with their former heavyweight champ, Nader Jayousi, who is now their boxing coach. He was gracious enough not to put me on the canvas.

I have to tell you that the pic of my stare-out with Nader is one I will always treasure. It was taken just before we did our round together and has Michael Dahdal (of Palestine MMA) keeping us apart. It’s the complimentary tatts that I love. I have my small white-boy logo of the Fighting Fathers on my shoulder. He has an enormous tattoo of Yasser Arafat on his!

(hint: hover your cursor over the pic to pause the slide-show)

Palestinian Olympians visit Father Dave's Fight Club
I teach Ahmed and Aseel their boxing basics
Heavyweight, Nader Jayousi, hits the bags
Sizing up against Palestinian Heavyweight, Nader Jayousi
This pic gives the illusion that I was in control! 🙂
Friends for life! 🙂
A great night! 🙂


Thank you to John Clutterbuck for providing us with these wonderful photos.

It was an inspiring night and one that has left me with a powerful sense of the way boxing could be used to help fight prejudice against Palestinians and build bridges between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

I’m not exactly sure at this stage how this will all play out but Michael and I were talking about sponsoring a Palestinian boxing team to come to Australia. In my mind I’d like to take it one step further and see a combined team of Australians and Palestinians of all faiths touring this country and then moving through Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, teaching boxing to children in the camps and preaching a message of reconciliation and hope.

Does that sound overly idealistic? Watch this space … :-)

Sermon Time!

“Blessed are you poor!”

That’s the title of today’s sermon, and it’s a direct quote from Jesus! (Luke 6:20)

It’s NOT a typo. It’s “Blessed are you poor” and not “blessed are the poor in spirit!”, which is the better-known variation of the saying and turns up in a totally different part of the New Testament (Matthew 5:3).

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” sounds sort of poetic, but “blessed are you poor” sounds  like a crazy thing to say. Surely if you’re poor it means you missed out on being blessed!

Of course it’s easy to romanticize poverty when you’re young but once you’ve visited a refugee camp or have seen families lose everything through war, fire or flood you realise that there is nothing blessed about the state of poverty, or is there?

Perhaps Jesus sees something we don’t see?

Or perhaps He meant something else?

Or perhaps He was just plain wrong?

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If you can’t see this video, click here.

Warriors’ Weekend

I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that our Warrior Weekends now have their own website: http://warriorweekends.com.

You’ll also, no doubt, be glad to know that you still have time to to book your place on our last Warrior Weekend for 2013, running from December 6th to 8th.

You can expect the usual combination of intense training and good, clean fun:

  • Develop your boxing skill
  • Build your fitness
  • Meet some great people
  • Enjoy the Aussie bush!

$110 per person covers accommodation, training and food for the weekend, and subsidies are available for those without a regular income.

We’ll also help organise transport if you can’t get to Binacrombi under your own steam. You can’t ask for much more than that! :-)

Call Fighting Father Marco on 1800 620 706 to book your place.

Solomon with his two boys

Solomon with his two boys

And before I let you go, please join me in wishing a Happy Birthday to our brother in the Good Fight, Sol Egberime – friend, fellow-parishioner at Holy Trinity, and senior boxing trainer for our Warrior Weekend.

I won’t tell you how old he’s just turned but I will say that he’s still young enough to take his shot at the World Junior-Welterweight title next yet. I’m hoping that 2014 will be a big year for him. Indeed, I’m hoping that it will be a big year for all of us!

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.zerocostwebsite.net
www.prayersforsyria.com
www.israelandpalestine.org
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!

 

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – October 15th, 2012

Bulla Fighter!

No, that’s not a typo. I’m giving you a traditional Fijian word of welcome!

I am writing to you from my cabin at the ‘Uprising Resort’ in Pacific Harbour, Fiji!

Just below you’ll see the view I’m looking out on from my cabin at this very moment!

It’s a beautiful place, and it was a beautiful setting for the wedding of Geoff and Laura – our onsite Binacrombi managers.

It has been a great privilege to be here for the wedding. I leave tomorrow, but I can see myself coming back here with the family one day. It’s a wonderful place for kids.

The view from my cabin The wedding The Happy Couple

The pics above capture something of the beauty of this experience. If you click on any of these thumbnails you’ll get a full-size version of the pic. I’ve also set up an online wedding album on the member site here.

I’m not going to take up too much of your time this week as I am trying to relax in the hours I have left in this place, but I must confess that my week has been one of both extreme highs and lows.

The highs, of course, are all associated with these days in the tropics and the opportunity to be a part of something very special in the lives of two of our Fighting Fathers team. The lows are largely tied to what’s been happening back at home – most particularly at Binacrombi!

One of the boys we’ve had staying with us out there ran amok. I won’t mention him by name. Suffice it to say that he is an old friend – someone we have been working with for many years now – and the courts had put him into our care at Binacrombi as an alternative to prison.

Perhaps we should have seen it coming. We were having trouble securing his medication as the country doctors were reluctant to take responsibility for his prescription without a fresh diagnosis. Also, with Geoff and Laura away getting married, his regular support team was not there. We had Denning – my highly capable assistant- on his way to assist for the weekend when the young man snapped. He broke into our cabin, stole a bunch of knives, and started threatening people and doing extensive property damage.

When Denning arrived he quickly got the situation back under control. He settled the young man down, disarmed him, and they watched a DVD together. By the time the police arrived the young man was quite placid, though he apparently got agitated again when they went to take him away, and he needed to be handcuffed.

So … we now have a handful of intimidated guests, a fair bit of damage to clean up, and a young man in psychiatric hospital, pending a return to prison – not a happy situation.

The one positive in it all was Denning’s performance! He proved himself a true Fighting Father. Perhaps it’s time that the rest of the Order got together and gave him his Fighting Fathers tatt!

The Fighting Fathers Tatt

The Fighting Fathers Tatt

And while Denning waits for his tatt, feel free to send him a note of congratulations via his Fighting Fathers mailbox (just click here or on his pic).

Fighting Father Denning

Fighting Father Denning

OK, I said I wasn’t going to take up much of your time today, but before I go let me say that I’ve been encouraged to see more participation on the forum this week.

My dear brother Ali Baghdadi has joined the member site this week and has published a scathing assault on Mitt Romney, most especially on his plan to “outsource US Middle East policy to Israel” (nb. I’m quoting Ali and not Romney). The Republican candidate has been staunchly defended by my Confederate brother, Cibby, but I think there’s a lot more room here for constructive dialogue! Click here to join the debate.

Might I also recommend to you a few articles that have appeared in the last week:

That should keep you busy till next we meet.

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Dave
dave@fatherdave.org
www.fatherdave.org
www.fighting-fathers.com
www.how2changetheworld.com

P.S. I know I promised you the videos of Mother Agnes by this week but Denning (who is also our video editor and producer) has had his hands full! We should have them packaged up and ready for you in a nice ezine by next week.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four