There are destinations much higher than first place on a podium or a ranking. Few athletes, very few, crown that peak. When they do, the adjective that accompanies them is not ‘the best of’, but the ‘greatest’. It is not a question of size or height, but of that innate capacity that arises in those athletes who write a different page in the history of their sport. Not one more, but a totally unique one. Greatness.
It is clear that, after leaving Saunders out, Saúl Canelo Álvarez again takes another step in the search for that path that many travel but few can complete. Sunday morning was one more exhibition that lasted eight rounds. Those he needed to force the withdrawal of his rival (who has needed to undergo surgery for injuries caused by a hook that is already ‘boxing history’). 73,000 viewers at AT&T in Dallas and millions more from their homes were able to verify that Canelo is determined to write an unpublished story to be the greatest.
Álvarez thus obtained the super middleweight title of the World Boxing Organization (WBO), which Saunders possessed, and adds it to his belts of the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the World Boxing Association (WBA). But titles aside, the ring hides other limits to conquer. How does an athlete manage to be great and not just the best? How is claimed greatness achieved?
Greatness -and the limits that must be overcome to achieve it- is something very present one of the great connoisseurs of the nature of combat: Sun Tzu. As we have already pointed out on some other occasion, with its more than 2,000 years and being fully current, The Art of War is the best strategy book there is and one of the books that I revisit practically every week.
From there, precisely, I have extracted some of the traits and attributes that the greatest athletes in history share and that are pointed out in Canelo’s mentality. “I know there are no limits, there is much to discover”, Canelo himself pointed out. And he is right.
How to recognize ‘greatness’?
1.- The athlete fights or competes focused on continuous improvement. The excellence Sport is more decisive in your career than perfection.
2.- If we seek greatness, we will find it in an athlete obsessed with practice of the sport and not only with the competition. An obsession that, for example, made Kobe’s early morning workouts legendary.
3.- Coherence in the time. There are many who want to walk the path of greatness, but few are willing to make the necessary efforts to reach the end and achieve it.
4.- Cold and calm mentality to get away from the noises that can hinder their performance. Keep calm even in the heat of battle it is key to overcoming any adversity.
5.- In the case of Canelo, we cannot forget the Balance between technique and innate talent. Between sharp boxing technique and totally devastating knockout power.
6.- The athlete who seeks greatness is capable of canceling the skills of his rivals, something that is only possible if a previously performed opponent analysis, of their weaknesses and strengths.
7.- Appetite is another of its unmistakable features. Greatness requires ‘hunger’ and be willing to do anything as many times as necessary, acting intelligently and learning from each training session and each competition.
8.- Greatness not only arises from victory, but also from the learning that awaits in the defeat. The ability to excel sculpts the athlete to do better than his previous version.
9.- The discipline it is another of its bastions. When you believe and do what you love, you do it with responsibility and unusual discipline because no passion can be imposed.
10.- Leave legacy. It is not only about winning, but also about leaving a mark that improves the sport that is loved so much. It is no coincidence that Canelo wants to prove himself with the best 10 in the world and that by doing so he changes his story forever. Nor that his motto is precisely “no boxing, no life”.
Now that we know the traits that define a mentality that, like Canelo, seeks greatness, I propose to move to a new plane of attack: Do you want to know how to go from being lucky to having results? Here I discover a guide with the 7 essential elements to achieve it. It is time to take action.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.