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What I Have in Common with a Ugandan Boxer

August 16 2008 | by

A New York Times Saturday profile, A Blind Boxer Inspires Uganda on Bashir Ramathan, a blind boxer from Uganda, sparked my interest, not just for the awe-factor: “Wow, a blind boxer!” but rather because of a statement he made towards the end of the article. Listing the good fortune that has befallen on him since his newfound fame on the boxing circuit, Mr. Ramathan said to the reporter that he would give it all up for two working eyes.

“They think I’m doing this for attention or for money. But I’m not pretending. I want to see, like them.”

This is how a lot of driven people with disabilities really think, including myself. I’m a disability writer, but I’d give up a a graduate degree and professional writing career — and yes, start over — if I could have hearing in my two ears. I’m not regretful about my disability, but this kind of passion that I have for writing about disability topics stems from a life of being an outsider.

If I didn’t have a disability, I’d still be a writer no doubt. But I have always wondered if I would be a better one. I’d have like to have tried my hand at investigative reporting for the New York Times or Washington Post, the kind that wins Pulitzers. Or I might have enjoyed the newswires, even, with their fast-paced days and tight deadlines. On the other hand I know of a deaf journalist in Chicago who is a Book reviewer (though he’s probably not employed anymore, considering the demise of Chicago newspapers these days.) I didn’t want to be a book reviewer when I started my career because it’s basically an editing job, and I wanted to be a reporter. Two totally different jobs, as any journalist will tell you.

Mr. Ramathan is following his passion, despite his disability. Bravo, bravo. He tells the New York Times that his plan now is to start his own worldwide blind boxing league. I wish him all the best.

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