Lessons from watching Nate Robinson vs. Jake Paul


Updated: Nov 30, 2020 2:10 pm

‘This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.’

Who could forget these timeless words of advice from Polonius to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s classic play, Hamlet? Centuries later, the truth in these words have not changed one bit; they remain as relevant now as they were then. Life is a journey, and everyone must find their own path to happiness and fulfilment.

Much of the discontent of the modern age lies in the fact that so many people are blinded by the shine and glamour emanating from the success of another; it then becomes difficult to remain focused on the tasks that are best suited for the individual. Another person’s life looks more appealing and before long an ill-advised endeavor is being pursued.

Never before have these words rang truer than they did on Saturday night when for NBA player Nate Robinson made an ill-advised appearance into the world of professional boxing. Even if Robinson had been training for years, which he hasn’t, it would be foolish to make a professional debut at 36 years old. Never the less, this is the world we live in, where the promise of a quick buck and the appeal of another moment in the spotlight can outweigh logic and reasoning.

It’s a wonder Robinson hadn’t been discouraged from his pursuit of a fighting career while he was still in training. For years, fight fans have heard rumors that some of the best fighters in the world have been knocked out while sparring.

Given Robinson’s clear lack of skill and experience in his debut, it would seem only logical that one of his sparring partners would have done to him exactly what Jake Paul did: expose his inexperience and knock him out. The fact that this did not happen can only mean that even his training camp was a sham, designed to build false confidence to ensure that he would show up for the debacle. Thus guaranteeing everyone in his camp their share of the purse.

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert

Famous journalist Malcolm Gladwell once said that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world-class in any field. The fact is neither Nate Robinson, nor his opponent fit this moniker when it comes to the sport of boxing. Jake Paul, for his part, became famous for posting videos across various social media platforms, which led to him landing a role in a Disney Channel series. While he’s clearly been fighting longer than Robinson has, he has not put in the years of boxing training that so many others have in order to climb through the ranks legitimately. Fighting on the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones under-card as an exhibition is one thing, but it would be awful for the sport of boxing if this launches a professional career for the under-qualified Paul.

It’s no secret that Nate Robinson has been an athlete his entire life. On the one hand, it takes an enormous amount of confidence for anyone to become a professional athlete, regardless of their God-given talents. On the other hand, that confidence should be coupled with realistic expectations and an honest assessment of one’s potential from an unbiased expert. Clearly that wasn’t the case here. Nate Robinson should’ve been warned that combat sports are not to be taken lightly and should not be participated in on a whim by inexperienced amateurs. This is not the same as a celebrity softball match; someone could get hurt. Unfortunately for Nate Robinson, on Saturday night he was that someone.

Athletic attributes do not easily translate from one sport to another

Michael Jordan is revered the World over for being the best basketball player to ever hit the hardwood. However, one chapter of his athletic career that many people gloss over is his time as a minor league baseball player. The spring after shockingly retiring from the sport of basketball, the greatest athlete in the world was forced to go back to square one in a brand new endeavor.

Nate Robinson was a college football player at the University of Washington. He speed, power, and explosiveness set him apart on the field and those same attributes caused him to stand out on the basketball court. However, years after playing his last game of football and concentrating solely on the game of basketball, Nate decided he would be willing to give football another shot. He sent a message to his hometown Seattle Seahawks of the NFL that he would like to be invited to training camp. The return phone call never came.

There were too many young men in their early twenties who’d dedicated their lives to the sport of football for a professional organization to take a risk on a man in his mid 30’s who hadn’t played in years. Yes, Nate Robinson still possessed speed, power and explosiveness, but his football days were over. His boxing days should’ve never begun.

Be careful what you wish for

The purpose of this article is not to relish in someone else’s demise. Nate Robinson wanted to try his hand at a new endeavor and it certainly takes courage to climb into a professional boxing ring. However, this article is intended to serve as a warning to those who don’t understand the serious nature of combat sports. Furthermore, the integrity of the sport of boxing must be protected.

Promoters everywhere must be careful that they do not allow boxing to turn into professional wrestling. Every fighter should be worthy of a boxing license before having one bestowed upon them. There are amateurs in every country in the world training in gyms with no cameras and no fanfare hoping to one day get a shot to turn professional.

Those of us who love the sport are grateful to the fighters who risk their lives every time they come into the ring. We should all be offended when such a time-honoured tradition is not taken seriously and is turned into a mockery for casual fans who don’t care about the sport to casually consume.

Sports fans must maintain realistic expectations

Last but not least, the fans themselves must be reminded to stay mindful of what they are consuming. Legitimacy must not be granted to an event just because a couple of famous names is attached to it. Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. are indeed boxing legends.

Those of us who love sport celebrate them and they deserve it. Although they put on an entertaining exhibition in their main event, it was irresponsible to lend credence to an ill-advised spectacle like Robinson vs. Paul by allowing it to be on the same card.

Fight fans must do themselves a favor and get educated about the sports. Even those who have never sparred or been inside of a gym must be knowledgeable about what they are watching if they are going to digest it properly.

Otherwise, they approach an event like Nate Robinson vs. Jake Paul as if it should be taken seriously. One look at Nate Robinson’s lack of technique should serve as a reminder that boxing is indeed a sport of skill and it takes years to perfect the craft. The sport of boxing was done a grave disservice on Saturday. Those who care about the sport hope this does not happen again.


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