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Getting Punched in the Face

WILL WALKEY, HOST: Now, we move onto the next installment of our Commentary Series, where reporters tell stories from their lives that had a big impact on them.

Reporter Brett Forrest isn’t much of a fighter. He’s always tried to avoid getting physical — except for just once. Here’s his story about why he chose to fight and why he doesn’t regret it.

BRETT FORREST, BYLINE: For my entire life, I had never been in a fight. I wasn't scared or anything like that. Nor was I a hardcore pacifist.

You always hear stories about people getting into fisticuffs to settle their differences, let out some steam, or to prove their "manliness" — whatever that means. But not me. I was raised to be a lover, not a fighter.

I don’t think my dad would’ve cared, but my mom? She’s a strict Catholic. A fight would’ve been extremely disappointing to her. I can hear her now, “Bad boy! You’re going to confession!” Fighting wasn’t my style.

I kept that mantra for as long as I could. I’m always a friendly guy. I have a cool head. If people got a little angry after drinking, I could always talk them down. No fighting for me…Ever

That is, until an old buddy messaged me out of the blue a couple years ago. He was starting a charity boxing event and wanted me to be a fighter. Amateurs would box each other in the ring for 3 rounds after 4 months of training. For cancer.

“Sounds absolutely ridiculous,” I thought. At the time, I was working in TV on camera. No amount of makeup pancaked on my face could hide a black eye or broken nose . Why would I risk damaging my money maker?

I deliberated for weeks until the final day to sign up. "Fudge it," I said. I was almost 30. Maybe I kind of secretly did want to see what it was like to fight someone. Some sort of primal urge I suppose.

But first, I had to learn how to punch. Then, I had to learn how to punch people in the face! And then, I had to learn how to get punched in the face. One practice, I got hit so hard I saw stars and my nose started bleeding. Punching bags are one thing, but people actually punch back. I didn’t think for a second about giving up though. I just had to learn how to guard my face.

Finally, it was fight night. I knew who my opponent was. He seemed timid, but I was still nervous. My hand wraps felt too tight. My helmet was uncomfortable. And why was I sweating so much? Oh no, here we go...

FIGHT ANNOUNCER: Here he is, Brett “The Hitman” Forrest!

((SOUND Fight night sounds)

My opponent came charging right at me. Whoa,I thought he was supposed to be timid! I was getting tired fast. I fought 3 rounds. 2 minutes each. All I remember was a flurry of my blue gloves against his red gloves in front of thousands of people. My mom included. It was the longest 6 minutes of my life. And guess what?

FIGHT ANNOUNCER: The winner, by unanimous decision, Brett “The

Hitman” Forrrrrrreeessssst.

I won! I won my first (and hopefully only) fight. Sure, I got hit in the face a few times. I could barely walk. But you know what? There are people battling cancer.

I realized, sometimes, it's ok to fight. Sometimes, being a fighter is also being a lover. And even my mom came to understand that. She watched me fight and didn’t throw Catholic guilt at me once. Plus, I raised over 6 thousand dollars for the Children’s Hospital of Colorado.

I’m Brett Forrest. I got into a fight. I helped kids with cancer. I’m a lover, but also a fighter.

And as a bonus, I immediately retired so I can tell people I'm undefeated.

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