When I faced my opponent in the ring, the fact that he was six inches taller than me was the only thing running through my mind. It didn’t matter that we were both fresh green belts; the fact that they stuck me with Legs didn’t bode well for the upcoming match.
We bowed, but my eyes never left him; all I could think about was how to outsmart him and hope he tired faster than me. I remember the first ki-hap, then the rest was a blur of circling, jabs and kicks.
I landed the first hit; a solid kick to the side. The whistle blew and the flags flashed my way; one sweet point on my side. He won the next point, but he was tiring. I knew I could win.
I punch him square in the chest twice, enough to make him wobble even with the pads on. No whistle. I glanced at the ref in shock, blocked a punch and kicked his off-side. No whistle; no flags.
Even though it wasn’t fair, I couldn’t think about the ref. Sweat trickled into my eyes. I wiped it off, and that’s when the first low kick blazed towards my shin.
I didn’t remember how many of those dirty blows hit, but my friend outside the ring said she counted forty. All I remember is the searing, agonizing pain as my shin swelled an inch and the referee didn’t say a word. I scored one more point before I started limping. Legs scored the final three points for victory as I hip-hopped around the ring. No calls from the ref for intentional blows, no time out or disqualification. What’s a kid to do when their degree-ranked heroes disappoint them?