In recent days many of us have learned a lot about ourselves as life as we know it has changed for the time being in the wake of a health crisis that has plagued the world.
When I saw a social post from Pittsburgh super lightweight, Mike Conway in recent days discussing how the time has come due to a series of injuries to trade in the fight gloves for training mitts after 18 years, I saw a perfect opportunity to give the 25-year-old a chance to reflect on his career and what he's learned about himself in making this decision.
Conway, who started boxing at the age of 8 said he fell in love with the sweet science the second his dad introduced him and his two brothers to the sport.
"My dad took my brothers and I to the gym and we just instantly fell in love with the sport," said Conway who started his training at Carrick Boxing, before moving onto South Park Boxing before winding up at The Brownson House in Washington, Pennsylvania.
Through the ups and downs that goes with any athletic career, the pinnacle of Conway's career came in September of 2016 when he made his pro debut at Wheeling Island Casino Racetrack.
"My proudest moment in boxing probably had to be winning my pro debut with a first round knockout," stated Conway. "It was the feeling of knowing that I'm living my dream and nothing can top that".
As Conway progressed in his pro career, he began to feel the wear and tear of his body breaking down which ultimately led to his recent decision to transition from boxer to trainer.
"It's been in the back of my head over the last couple years," Conway said of retiring as a fighter. "I never gave it serious consideration until I blew my knee out training in the beginning of February of this year".
With his decision made, the next decision was an easy one him.
"I've always planned on coaching, even as my career was progressing I always worked with the kids in the gym and after 18 years I think it would be impossible to just walk away from this sport," said Conway of his decision to begin coaching. "You have to stay involved or you won't be the same person".
Making the transition a little bit more special is the fact he is now helping train his brother, Matt and recently worked his corner alongside their father for his fight on the Fury-Wilder II undercard.
"Truthfully words can't express how amazing that entire experience was" said of watching his brother, who he trained alongside all these years on the big stage in Las Vegas.
"Being able to share my career experience right next to my brother side by side is something most people won't understand", said Mike of his relationship with his brother Matt. "We've pushed each other past limits we didn't know we had. Being in camp together, fighting on the same shows from amateur to professional, it's been an honor to have him right there with me and the greatest part of all is that I started working with him as a coach and I'm excited to see what we can do together as fighter and coach".
Like every fighter who hangs up the gloves, Mike will now have some more free time on his hands and is embracing the opportunity for personal growth outside of the boxing gym.
"I might start golfing some more or maybe get into competitive pistol shooting," said Conway of his recent freed up spare time. "I might even give my older brother Sean a run for his money in Strongman Competitions".
Even with his eyes on the future, Conway knows that without the sport he would not be the person he is today.
"You have to protect yourself at all time," stated Conway. "I learned in the ring that when you fall you have to get back up and it translates to life. I learned there's no one I can blame for losing a fight and just like in real life I have to accept the consequences for my actions".
Though boxing is sometimes considered the loneliest sport with no teammate between the ropes with you, Conway knows that his success could not have happened without many individuals we wishes to thank.
"I want to thank my very first (late) coaches Shorty Gruber, Billy Zaletta, and Glen Young at Carrick Boxing...I want to thank my uncle Bob Healy for the time we spent working together at South Park Boxing....Skeets Levandosky for always being in the corner for us, my strength coach Jeff Morganti, and obviously my dad for being my coach since day one. I can’t thank my brothers, family, and friends enough for the sacrifices they’ve made on this journey as well. And lastly I wanna thank all the fans who always came out to see me fight, I wouldn’t have had a professional career without the fans and I can only hope they always got their money’s worth when they saw me fight. And a huge thank you to Youngstown Boxing News for always following and sharing our experiences and writing awesome articles for us"!