When I first heard the news on Twitter that Andre Ward announced his retirement, I was shocked! The proclamation seemed out of nowhere. But as the shock wore off, I could see the brilliance of his decision. This declaration came on the same day that the autopsy report was released on the athlete from the New England Patriots, Aaron Hernandez. The report revealed that Aaron had a severe case of CTE, the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and we know that brain damage has no remedy.
I don’t know whether or not this subject matter played a role in Ward’s thinking. All he said was his body cannot take the rigors of boxing anymore. Well, his brain is certainly part of his body, so I hope it was a part of his thinking. Maybe he is the only athlete that faced the Will Smith movie Concussion and was actually brave enough to watch it. I know when I saw the movie, I thought if I knew any of this, I would have never played contact sports or had so many neighborhood fistfights growing up.
As the day rolled on and I thought more about Andre’s decision to retire, I realized that I was desirous of this kind of thing in sports. I want more people in all of the sports who reach the pinnacle of their careers to retire on top. Too many sports figures can’t let go at the right time and then they go into this later half career of decline that always leaves us sad. We see our heroes one way and we want to remember them as that. Just watch the Ali/Holmes fight and you will understand what I mean. That was not the way people wanted to remember Muhammad Ali.
Andre Ward has nothing left to prove. He did it all. A flawless boxing career that ended 32-0 and he fought everyone. He retires as the pound for pound best fighter in the entire world. He won the Super 16 Tournament years ago. He was an Olympian. After his many years away from the ring fighting a court battle with his former promoter, Andre came back to the sport and beat who everyone said was the best now; he beat Sergey Kovalev. Hell, he beat him twice. There is nobody else left to fight. Andre beat them all and is certainly headed to the Boxing Hall of Fame.
For me, I will miss him in the ring. I followed his career from start to finish and I was a fan. I am very proud of the way he carried himself in and out of the ring. Coming from his background, Andre Ward is a walking miracle. I never doubted him, not ever. He is a class act and ending his career on top was also very classy. Maybe some other sports figures should take a page out of Ward’s book and think about life after contact sports. Maybe they should take some other pages from his book and learn how to act like a man. Just maybe, some others could retire on top and not wait for a postmortem CTE diagnosis. With all that being said, boxing will always be my favorite sport. There is nothing like the sweet science, even if medical science itself says otherwise.