ABOUT THIS EPISODE
“The more you can be in this present moment and control what you can control, the better off you’re going to be.”
To be totally honest, I don’t follow the pugilistic arts all that closely. But professional boxer barely describes this week’s guest — a man who has faced stacked odds and overcome career-ending setbacks to meet the biggest moment of his life.
Ask him how he did it, and Mike Lee answers with conviction: it’s all about mindset.
A professional light heavyweight boxer currently 21 – 0 with 11 knockouts, this Saturday, July 20th Mike will be fighting for his first world title against Caleb Plant — the current Undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion. It’s Mike’s first fight in 13 months. On the other hand, Plant (18-0 with 10 knockouts) is fresh off his biggest victory. Suffice it to say, it’s shaping up to be quite the bout. And it’s all going down live on Fox PBC, live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Hardly your average fighter, what compels me about Mike is the unique path he’s blazed to arrive at this place. This is a guy who studied business at Notre Dame, where he relaxed by reading The Wall Street Journal and watching CNBC. When he graduated in 2009 with a 3.8 GPA in finance, he was welcomed with lucrative opportunities on Wall Street. But then he takes the road less traveled, turning every job offer down to pursue a lifelong dream: winning Chicago’s Golden Gloves.
He did just that. The following year, he went pro, winning his first two professional fights. The national spotlight shone bright. Endorsement contracts followed. The boxing world, it appeared, was his oyster.
You might say the rest is history. But that belies the severity of his next bout — a fight for his life that blindsided him outside the ring.
At the peak of his career, after knocking out Tyler Seever in 2012, Mike fell prey to a mysterious health condition that would bench him for over two years. Experiencing great pain in his joints, severe headaches and debilitating chronic fatigue, doctors struggled to determine the cause. Some believed it was psychological. Others prescribed a multitude of drugs, none of which resolved his underlying predicament. But all of them told him he would never fight again. The hospital bed had become home. His identity challenged, he suddenly felt worthless, succumbing to a deep depression.
Nonetheless, Mike never gave up hope. He committed to seeking alternative and non-traditional solutions, which culminated in a diagnosis: an auto-immune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. A version of arthritis, AS can be devastating both physically and mentally for anyone, let alone a professional athlete who pushes his body to the limit every day.
The path forward hasn’t been easy. Mike wakes up in pain every day. But he’s gone all in on this comeback. And that’s something worth all of us getting behind.
Layered with life lessons and formative takeaways, this is a conversation about the value of perseverance. It’s about deploying a potent mindset to keep your dream live, no matter the circumstances. It’s about visualizing success. And it’s about the importance of always giving back.
The visually inclined can watch our entire conversation on YouTube here: bit.ly/mikelee454 (please subscribe!) and the podcast is of course available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
An exemplary ambassador of sport, I really enjoyed Mike. I think you will too. And don’t forget to tune in to
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