Vol. 2, No. 3: The Goal Line Extends Through Infinity photo

All I Do is Win: Lincoln Hawk vs Bull Hurley, 1989 World Armwrestling ChampionshipsDavid LeGault

I wish I could tell you how much force it takes to break a man’s arm, how many pounds of pressure it takes before you can hear the crack of bones, but I can tell you it does not compare to this pressure in my chest: the spaces left empty between you and me.

I wish I could tell you about all those back alleys and truck stops where I’ve spent the last twelve years snapping men’s wrists, dancing away from knives pulled on me by larger, lesser men. The smell of beer mixing with the tables wiped with bleach, like the only way to clean whatever eats away at us is to kill what the body bleeds out.

I wish I could tell you that your grandpa was a liar: that the pills weren’t mine, that the nights never stretched out into years, that every letter sent was a lie—a piece of me hidden away in your mamma’s dresser drawer. For your grandpa to say I’ve been a bad father is to let me off too easily; for him to say I’m a coward or a criminal is to oversimplify the pain that’s been coursing through me since the day you were born. Because men like your grandpa know that money is power and it is also love. I’ve spent too many years believing the opposite is just as true.

But I tell you now that every man’s body is a machine and that every machine is made for a certain kind of work. What I can tell you now is that every man’s body is a machine and that mine is made to drive lesser men’s fists into immeasurable pain, into sounds of thunder as knuckles crash into tables. And boy, maybe I’ve never tried drinking oil but I’ve spent years learning how a body is a machine and all machines must be maintained, must be made new again after the pain of their labor. And I don’t measure my strength in weight but in miles driven down forgotten highway nightmares with half-asleep nods and jerks behind the wheel that are pushed away with any uppers won or stolen off of weaker men than me: I swallow them dry as the road erodes into dark horizons, into the nights curled up alone in the back corner of Wal Mart parking lots.

I tell you that every man’s body is a machine and sometimes even machines are built to destroy each other. What I can tell you is every match is at its best when there is no movement, no action. It’s like jazz: it’s more about the notes that aren’t played; it’s the steps not taken in a dance; it’s the up and over, the wrapping of my fingers over that burly fucker’s fist. What I can tell you is that once they tie that leather strap around us we will be a shared body, a shared pain, a shared success and failure that will only know one master.

I tell you that when I get into that ring—when I turn my hat around, when I flip that switch, when I become the machine I was always meant to be—you will know that I am not a man and I’m not your dad. I am a goddamn champion.

So sing the song, boys, hit the bells and let them ring forever: when I break his grip and that meaty fist drops—with blood streaming from my nose and the lightning through my ripping bicep—when I win it all, remember this: money never cared who your daddy was.