Ed “Black Magic” Latimore speaks with eerie calm.
He’s a rising star: an undefeated professional heavyweight.
Recently signed by Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s sports promotion company, Ed also serves his country in the United States Army National Guard. He’s an international chess player and known for his delivery of incisive, simple and powerful observations on Twitter, where his @EdLatimore account just passed the impressive 4,000 followers mark.
His website Mind and Fist is full of succinct and thoughtful articles on performance, mindset and his experiences growing up with serious challenges – and overcoming them with the same indomitable spirit he brings to the ring.
He shares some grave observations here at Dark Triad Man.
Read on for his candid and intriguing answers in this interview with the imposing fighter feared by his opponents as “Black Magic”.
Ed graciously agreed to be interviewed despite his training schedule for an upcoming fight this month and was quickly responsive with his answers. We are very pleased to present the first installment of a two-part interview series with this notably candid champion.
Background for Ed’s life and transformative rise.
Your Lessons From The Ghetto article series reveal the development of a very competently centered mindset. Was there a transformative encounter or epiphany that led you there?
When I think about it, there isn’t one thing but there are some overarching themes that came up repeatedly. By the time I was 10 or 11, they were firmly entrenched in my mind. The most powerful thing I remember feeling is that no one would ever help me. I was a nerdy outcast of a kid (in that environment anyhow) and I didn’t have any family to stick up for me. So I learned – really quickly at that – that I was going to have to fight a lot because I was an easy target.
At home, I learned similar lessons. My mom didn’t do a lot of things right, but one thing she did was hustle. There wasn’t a lot of anything, but what we did have my mom hustled hard for. She even sold forties (40 ounces of malt liquor) to make extra money. She hated borrowing or asking people for any type of help. I never got it and to be honest, I still think that theoretically it’s a stupid idea, but in application it formed the idea in my mind that in this world you have to get it or be got.
So this self-sufficiency gets continues to develop in other ways. I don’t fit in with most of the kids around me, but I love reading, video games and I discover sports. These are the areas where I learn to enjoy life. I didn’t really find any friends until I was fourteen and started high school across town in a different neighborhood. Unsurprisingly, my friends were all (and many still are) big nerds. In fact, two of my most enduring friendships started over us meeting at the arcade to settle who was better in Marvel vs Capcom 2.
So there’s a lesson. Focus on being true to yourself and self-sufficient, and you’ll eventually find like-minded people. It is never a bad thing to be tough and resilient.
How old were you when you found yourself permanently differentiated from your peers?
What’s interesting about that is that I’ve always thought differently than perhaps I should, given my background and upbringing. I always knew I thought differently than the people around me but for different reasons. Before I went to the high school in a different part of town, I knew that I was different because I liked reading books and didn’t care about clothes and shoes. It’s a silly difference, but things like the newest sports games, shoes or clothes I simply didn’t care about. I liked books and role playing video games.
When I got to high school the difference was more subtle. I didn’t understand why guys found certain girls attractive or why people would allow other people to abuse their feelings and take advantage of them. I wasn’t a tough guy, but I wasn’t a push over. Many people are (and young men especially, in the matters of girls). Certain things infuriated or annoyed me. This was also when I began to notice that most people are very content being told what to do and will not break the rules, even when it doesn’t make sense to follow them.
Now, I wish it was I could say I stayed true to the path differentiation from then to now, but one of the biggest drawbacks for me was that I really like people. For a while, my urge to be liked exceeded my duty to be authentic. This is almost certainly why I started drinking again at twenty-three and did (heavily so, at that) for the next five years. A large reason was because I wanted to fit into the party scene. Now I don’t give a damn about it because I’m the party (and almost always the most interesting dude most people have ever met), but that confidence to stand out comes with time.
So mentally, I always thought differently. Those small differences added up to big ones. But eventually I had to be comfortable being different, and learn to embrace that as a strength.
Success outlook and mindset for survival in the dark world.
What were some realizations that enabled you to surmount risks of visible peer differentiation in that environment?
So this reminds me of an old saying: “the nail that sticks out gets the hammer”. I’ve alluded to this in the last questions, but now I want to make something clear. While I lived in the projects until I was eighteen, I only went to school in them until I was fourteen. Then I went to a different high school. This spared me a lot of nonsense, but not all of the nonsense.
One thing that I had to learn to get used to was attention. I didn’t start playing sports until I was in high school. I was a nerdy kid and I didn’t care about trying to get the latest shoes. I also always had a book and I did well in school. Also, you have to remember that I wasn’t particularly big. I think I was slightly taller than average, but there was kids bigger than me. And I was an ugly kid. So here are all the ingredients to be either completely ignored or horribly bullied. Guess which one happened to me in the projects?
I didn’t really know how to (or have any inclination to) be different. I didn’t want to fit in and once I realized I was going to go to a different high school, I couldn’t wait to get away. So I was going to change, and my surroundings weren’t going to change, so that plays out the classic formula “proximity + diversity = war”. I fought so much. Like, you’d have no idea if you met me even a year into high school that I logged over 100 days of suspensions related to fighting. I never started fights because I HATED fighting, but I hated being scared and harassed even more. So anytime something looked like it was going to go down, I HAD to throw the first punch of a fight. I had to do a little more damage (or at least try to) than I was comfortable doing.
Here’s the thing that is not going to make sense to a lot of people. You have to fight. You don’t really get a choice in the matter in that kind of neighborhood. Especially if people know you don’t have any family and they think you’re weak. My only strategy was to never get bitched. I dislike violence so much (street violence, not boxing), but dislike being a target even more. I hate feeling afraid and anxious. I figured out pretty early that if you demonstrate that you’ll fight back, you severely reduce your chances of being in a fight in the first place.
So the main realization is that people like easy targets. If you show that you’re willing to fight when confronted, you make people think long and hard before they confront you. Eventually life does get easier.
What role does fight performance anxiety play for you, and how have you been able to profitably cascade your response to it across other areas of life?
For me, anxiety is a function of preparedness. The more prepared I am, the less anxious I feel. I really enjoy feeling confident and free of anxiety, so I work very hard before a fight. My goal isn’t to feel like I have a solution for every problem I’ll encounter in the ring. Rather, I want to feel like my skills are as good as they can be and that I’m in the best shape I can be. The only thing more terrifying than being in a fight with a guy much better than you is getting tired during that fight. So spend a lot of time taking care of those two things: my skills and my conditioning.
That controls my physical and emotional preparation. Mentally, I have to detach myself from the fight. Its the ONLY way I react in the moment. There is such a small window of time to attack and defend that I cannot be attached to any one thought or plan. I have to be fluid, and the only way to do that is to be detached from the process.
This is actually strange to me, now that I write about it. During the fight, I don’t think I care if I win or lose. But I do care if my mindset during the fight isn’t right. I know my mind isn’t right if I get stuck on an idea, like a certain punch or step. Then I am mentally tight and it will show in my body. I’m not perfect with this idea but I am getting better and it shows.
This idea shows up in other areas of my life. When dealing with people, it’s very important to react to what they give you and make your best move to take the conversation where you want to go. The same is true in chess and poker. A general plan is good, but one must be dynamic in the tactical possibilities if he wants to assume victory.
Writing and physics (all of my examples come from my areas of craft or proficiency) are also similar. I’ve tried writing with the exact structure in mind and I can not do it. I’m sure there are some that have success with this approach, but I am not one of them. I start with the a general ending and point I want to make, then I write. I have more fun with the words with way.
In the realm of physics, most problems do not have a clear way to attack them, so I have to remain detached as I solve a problem. Otherwise, I will spend time on a method that won’t work best, just because I feel comfortable with it. Instead, better to simply be comfortable with all methods and not be attached to any particular one for solving.
Narcissism, dreams and vision of a heavyweight champion.
What role does deliberate cultivation of vision play in your life and achievements?
So this will deviate sharply from what people expect to hear, but I don’t have a particular vision in my mind for any achievements. However, I do have a vision of myself and a standard that I try to meet. Everything that I do in my life, I want to meet or exceed the standard that I have set for myself. For example, right now my major investments are my relationships, physics, writing and boxing. If I do everything to the standards that I have set for myself, I will not only go far but I will enjoy the person that I become as well. In other words, I care more about how I do the few things that I decide are worth my time than any particular vision or goal. I’m very processed oriented. The eventual outcome is not very important to me.
How do you personally set measures for what is achievable versus what is probably fantasy?
Ha ha, this is an excellent question! I think that a person can truly reach the top 1% if they have a combination of three things: strong interest, natural advantages, and sufficient time. For example, I know that I will never be a great chess player. I simply don’t have the natural advantages (i.e. talent) needed to become really good. That’s fine though, because I really enjoy the game. I have the ability to be something truly special in the realm of public speaking, teaching or boxing because I have a very strong mix of the three necessary ingredients. I have natural advantages, strong love and I have sufficient time horizon to invest in my development in those areas.
So this is how I figure out what is possible and what is a dream. If I have the time for something, the talent for it and a strong enough interest in it, then I can be incredible at it. If I lack any one of those ingredients, then my chances are achieving excellence are very small. As I get older, I have learned to appreciate the small amount of time I have to make something of my life. Therefore, I don’t take chess as seriously I used to because I know that my time is going to get a much better return if I work out, [write] 1,000 words helping someone with something or study physics.
Each person has a few things they are interested in, possess talent, and they have the time (or are willing to make it) to get into the top percentage and be truly great.
What guidelines do you adhere to for revisiting your visions, and potentially altering them?
Richard Feynman once said that, “We would always like to present things accurately, or at least precisely enough so they will not have to be changed once we learn more”. Feynman was speaking on scientific matters, but idea is applicable to goals as well. Your deepest goals – the ones where you likely have an overlap of the of the three traits I mentioned – most likely have been the same for most of your life. But I don’t think in terms of specific goals or vision. I have the standard that I will do things in my life to. Now, the beauty of focusing on standards over the vision is that superior standards almost always result in a superior outcome.
I’ve spoken a lot about standards, but only generally. Now I will be specific. Your standards involve how you relate to three corners of a human being: mind, body and emotions. One must take pride in the order, control and development of all three. As you worry about controlling your mind, body and emotions, the rest of the world will respond in kind. This is because disorder is always drawn to order. We want to make sense of things in the world and are very uncomfortable with randomness. So when a person demonstrates reliability in their being, their world reflects this and thus opportunities and people find them.
So, I do not recommended altering any goals or visions you have for yourself. Instead, focus on revising the standards you set for yourself. The beauty of this approach is that you will always become a better version of yourself in this way, instead of simply chasing a task. As you become a better version of yourself, you’ll be able to achieve more of what you want.
What are some lessons you would share with young readers who struggle with grandiosity v. consistent effort?
The first thing I would say is, it is very important to find out what you are naturally good at. Even if you are only marginally better at something that anything else you do, what’s important is that for you, this will result in the greatest ROI. Once you figure out a few things you have a competitive advantage in, narrow it down to what you like most. Once you do that, the struggle is over. The struggle ends because now you actually become great. You can become great because consistent effect will come with greater ease.
It will make it easier for you raise standards for yourself. With raised standards, you will naturally do the things that can make any vision of grandiosity possible. To make visions of grandiosity possible, you must work consistently. It’s hard to be consistent if that is not a standard in your life. The struggle between the two ends when commitment to your best self ends.
Part Two Interview with Ed “Black Magic” Latimore is next.
Machiavellian skill and psychopathic detachment – as well as more personal questions regarding the heart of a champion and role model – are covered in the second installment of this series.
Click here to read the chilling, vital analysis Ed delivers!
In the meantime, get ready for Ed “Black Magic” Latimore’s next fight on April 23, 2016 at the Mountaineer Casino Ballroom in New Cumberland, West Virginia. He will be facing boxer Hassan Lee.
Make sure you follow @EdLatimore on Twitter and take in the stream of knowledge.
The man has vision, brilliance and competence wrapped up in a package of outstanding class.
Absorb the lessons he offers, and work to incorporate them into your life.
Train hard as a practitioner.
Strive for scholarship.
Master the Way.
It is the throne of champions.
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