Control the Controlables – How Pro-Boxer Stephen Ormond Reacts to a Shock Decision

Mental Toughness trainer, Alan Heary, was in Stephen Ormond’s corner in Belfast for his bout against local fighter, Paul Hyland on Saturday night. Here’s Alan’s take on what was a storming performance and how Ormond is able to keep fighting even after an extremely controversial decision…

There are 3 ways in which you don’t win an event – you lose, you are beaten or you are robbed (poor official decisions). Having worked in the corner for professional boxer Stephen Ormond at the recent IBF European title fight against Paul Hyland in Belfast it was easy to see that being robbed is exactly what happened him. In a shock result to everyone who witnessed it, Stephen won the fight but wasn’t given the decision. But how can any sports person recover after receiving what could potentially have been a career ending decision?

Before we look at how Stephen and other athletes can recover from such a loss lets examine the difference between losing and being beaten. If you turned up to a competition and your opponent outperformed you, had a better fitness level, stayed more focused than you, dealt with pressure better than you, and ultimately was more skilful than you on the day, then you were BEATEN by someone who deserved the win.

LOSING is different to getting beaten. There are many ways you can lose in competition. Perhaps you did not put the work in, your strategy was poor or you made silly mistakes because your concentration was bad. Then you were not beaten, you lost. You gave the win to your opponent. Even Stephen Ormond has admitted letting this happen in the past. For this reason, he upped his game and level of professionalism for last week’s fight.

Stephen knew there was a chance he may not win but if he was going to come away without a win at least he would be beaten rather than lose. He knew that If he did everything in his power to be the best he could be, including following the strategies set out by his coach, Paschal Collins, be in the best physical shape possible, which he achieved thanks to Brian Guy and if he worked closely with me to crush doubts and enhance concentration then he may still not win (even the best in the world get beaten sometimes) but, he could hold his head up high with no regrets.

But what happens if you don’t lose, if you don’t get beaten and the result is taken away from you by others such as judges. Then you feel robbed. What then?

Well, for Ormond he had choices, throw a tantrum, scream at the judges, accuse his opponent of cheating. But Stephen didn’t do any of that. He acted as a true professional. Although he was hugely disappointed and rightly felt let down by the system he just spoke from the heart.

It was a bad decision and I know I did enough to win.

He didn’t even blame his opponent.

So why is that he reacted in a way that showed this level of professionalism and calmness. What will he do to overcome his disappointment and what can others learn from him.

Firstly, Stephen knows that most athletes who suffer a loss see it as failure but he knows that loss and failure are two completely different things. Losing is about having fewer points than your opponent or victory being taken away by poor officiating. That is not really failure. You have probably had times where you achieved a new personal best and were still beaten. You must learn to separate losing and failure.

Secondly, Stephen didn’t set a single goal to win. He had multiple goals all focused on having a super performance. He achieved these and more. Most athletes only focus on winning but this is completely outside of your control. Decide what performance goals you have and aim to smash them!

Thirdly, Stephen has learned to control his emotions. He only focusses on things he can control. Many people focus on their opponent, the fans, the referees decision, the weather and even the environment but they are all outside your control. Do what I teach all my clients to do – “Control The Controlables”.

Finally, when we started working together for this fight he answered a question I ask all my clients when we start to work together – what happens if you lose? Some athletes are shocked by this question but it is one I have posed to World Champions and one I will continue to ask others. A lot of athletes answer with “I don’t want to think about that” but this is wrong! They will think about it and that time may come just before the competition which can put doubts in their head at completely the wrong time. So I think its best it to get it sorted straight away. That way we can learn to handle the doubt now!

When we work out the answer to the question with something like “I will have learned from it and I will change some things the next time” then we can park it one side and only focus on all those small things we can do to stack the odds in our favour for victory.

The right decision didn’t come for Stephen Ormond on Saturday night in Belfast but he has a mental toughness and resilience that will bring him through. He has an exceptional team of people around him including former professional boxer, coach and mentor Paschal Collins who will get him back in the ring and fighting fit.

After the tremendous performance, he put up on Saturday night he is going to be sought to fight even bigger fights because that is what his many fans want, including the many fans he gained on Saturday night. I am looking forward to standing in the corner again as we progress towards his ultimate goals!