Every athlete has a reason they do what they do. We put our bodies in situations that are not always comfortable and sometimes even dangerous. Whether we play on a course or a court, a field or a rink, or a mat, we walk off tired and sore because we gave it our all. But WHY did we give it our all? What kept us going? What was our MOTIVATION?
Motivation is different for every athlete. It’s a force that is personal to all of us. It’s the reason that comes from within, that makes us do what we do.
Motivation is timeless and can be found in athletes dating back to the beginning of competition. Take William “Billy” Arthur Miske, the heavyweight boxer who was diagnosed with a terminal kidney disease. Miske, nicknamed “The Saint Paul Thunderbolt,” began his boxing career in 1913. In just five short years after his boxing debut, the boxer was diagnosed with Bright’s disease; a terminal kidney illness. Miske understood he was deep in debt and needed to provide for his wife and three young children. Because of this, he kept his illness a secret and continued to fight for five more years.
Finally, in 1923, The Saint Paul Thunderbolt came to terms with his illness. He understood he was getting too weak to fight. He asked his manager to set up one final fight with the motivation to able to provide one good Christmas before he died. November 7th that same year, Miske stepped into the ring one last time to beat Bill Brennan in four rounds and bring home a purse of about $15,000.
Miske spent that 1923 Christmas with his family. The smiles on their faces confirmed his decision to fight one last time was well worth it. His family, his motivation, was going to be okay. Miske passed away New Year’s Day, 1924.
For more on Billy Miske’s life, death, and everything in between, visit: