Someone like Peter Aerts
By Kim Heung-sook
I don’t like fighting whether physical or verbal. If I have to take sides with one of the two men, bulls, or political parties fighting, my instinct is to cheer the smaller, weaker one because there must be a good reason for the one to battle despite one’s disadvantageous conditions.
Knowing my preference for smaller beings, my friends would be surprised if I tell them that I not only like Peter Aerts but respect him very much. The Dutch professional fighter is big and tall, weighing 108 kilograms and standing 192 centimeters. If my friends ask me why I like him, I would let them see the footage of his latest fight with Semmy Schilt at the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 2010.
In his 17th appearance at the Final in Tokyo on Dec. 11, the 40-year-old Aerts faced the 212-cm, 133-kg Shilt in the semifinals. Aerts was smaller while he was three years senior to the giant fighter who was a four time champion and the first and only fighter in K-1 history to win the championship three times in a row.
Aerts looked almost pathetic in the first round, dwarfed by the huge presence of Schilt whose reign of K-1 since 2005, I believe, has made the kickboxing tournament less appealing. As the clashes became intense, Aerts gained a bloody cut above one of his no-nonsense eyes and his soulful gladiator face was swollen all over. That, however, didn’t mean he was flinching; he surged on instead and finally won a decision.
According to Wikipedia, Aerts coughed up blood in his changing room after the fight. It was natural that he suffered a TKO loss to Alistair Overeem in the first minutes of the following match. Overeem is 10 years younger than Aerts.
Though Aerts failed to earn his fourth champion belt, he proved to be the real hero in the eyes of millions of beholders around the world, including me. It was not simply because he set three world records in K-1 history: he was the oldest man to fight in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final, the man who made the most appearances there, and the first man to beat Schilt in a tournament.
For me, Aerts’s unwavering commitment was as inspiring as ever. From bell to bell, he fought with all his might until he fell, totally exhausted. Though I had cheered for him, I didn’t feel sorry but felt relieved and fulfilled. I had the hunch Aerts was feeling the same.
As I was changing the television channel, I remembered another scene of fight I had seen on the tube lately: The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) was railroading the government’s 2011 budget bill, using its majority power at the National Assembly on Dec. 8. It was the ugliest scene I had seen since the GNP did the same thing exactly one year ago. .
To my dismay, President Lee Myung-bak reportedly called and praised one of the GNP lawmakers who had contributed physically to the railroading. I feel even more frustrated to note that the greatest victim of the unruly passage is the most impoverished people of the nation.
Among others, the bill includes no money to feed poor elementary school students during the winter vacation starting late this month and 200,000 children will be starving unless some corrective measures are taken, according to the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a leading NGO in Seoul. As PSPD tacitly informs, the most imminent challenge facing the nation is poverty.
The number of households consisting only of grandparents and grandchildren doubled during the past one and a half decades and there are 69,000 such households in the nation. Their average monthly income is a meager 597,000 won (approximately U.S. $515) and the average age of the grandparents is 72.6 years, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has revealed based on a survey of 12,750 such households.
Having 171 seats in the 297-member National Assembly and backed by the richest Cabinet ever, the GNP is hoped to fight against poverty as Peter Aerts fought against Semmy Schilt. Aerts couldn’t get the belt as a result of his unsparing maneuver, yet the GNP’s bout with poverty would bring benefits to its campaign in the presidential and general elections in 2012. I am not a GNP fan, but if the party offers someone like Peter Aerts, I would vote for him or her. At the moment, I am afraid I can’t see any.