The high school athletic dead period taking place this week has a different effect on everybody.
While local athletes tend to spread out because they know this break from training won't be much more than a fading memory in little to no time at all, more recognizable individuals like St. Louis native Devon Alexander have been on hiatus from the World Boxing Council since 2015 with no end in sight. Those facts aren't likely to change any time soon, either, considering he lost his last two fights by Unanimous Decision to Aaron Martinez and Amir Kahn, the first of which was for the WBC title.
Maybe that's for the best considering when I saw him fight Tim Bradley on Jan. 29, 2011, at the Pontiac Silverdome he was so swollen and bruised he didn't even attend the post-fight press conference. While Alexander did get cut that bout by an accidental head collision, it seems fitting that just two years later the roof collapsed on that building and now it's in such a state of decay there's already a movie coming out about it co-produced by Texas Tech head football coach Cliff Kingsbury.
Former University of Missouri wrestler Ben Askren, on the other hand, absolutely plowed through the Bellator Fighting Championships to win that organization's Mixed Martial Arts welterweight title before earning that same standing with One Fighting Championships in Singapore. Now the Wisconsin native (16-0-1) plans to defend his belt on Sept. 2 in Shanghai according to thefightnation.com, and while his opponent has not been announced yet, one possibility could be Zebaztion Kadestam (9-3).
Currently Askren is on top of the world and known for being in such great shape that he doesn't need as much time as other athletes to prepare for a fight. It hasn't always been that way, though. There was a time when the former Tiger won the first seven bouts of his career en-route to claiming the Bellator 170 lb. title, only to be given his release soon after for not being dynamic enough in the ring.
When Ultimate Fighting Championships President Dana White then called him boring and refused to sign the free agent, Askren literally had to go to the other side of the planet to find work. Fortunately for him, he wasn't just accepted. Instead, the fans of One FC truly embraced Askren and its been that way ever since.
Even though the Mizzou product is presently living large, that doesn't mean his success has gotten the proper recognition. For example, when I met Askren at Perani Arena in 2014 in Flint, Mi., he was serving in a dual role as matchmaker and announcer for AGON Wrestling Championships.
The show was headlined by University of Iowa Olympic hopeful Brent Metcalf against University of South Dakota head coach Chris Bono, and while the Hawkeye grad was on his game that day, it didn't take long before that organization was out of business.
The depth to the ventures Askren's been a part of are still rather impressive regardless of whether you're a fan of MMA or submission grappling. But the accomplishment that truly helps put everything into perspective is the fact he was involved with the Professional Disc Golf Association from 2005-11.
That being said, unless you're Steve Bartman, the guy who reached from the stands to block Moises Alou from making an important catch along the left field foul line for the Chicago Cubs all those years ago, there's not much in life that can't be overcome. Getting knocked down is never something to be ashamed of. How you get up, on the other hand, is a defining trait people are going to use to measure your character both now and forever.