No Man in Their Corner

Why Every Son Needs a Father

The years unfolded with broken promises, forgotten birthdays, and Christmases spent staring at the door. As time passed, the mold would set, and concrete harden. Sentiments of “I drove past your house the other day to see my brother” — without a thought to stop by and see his son — were soon met with a feigned shrug. It wouldn’t affect me. It couldn’t affect me. I grew up at a young age, and grown-ups don’t need their father’s help.

 

I’ve replayed the scene in my mind more times than I can count. The fluorescent lights filled the basement with a golden tint. The furniture was worn; the table, slanted. I did not know where we were or who this man was. I remember studying my mother’s face. She seemed to like him. He must be safe.

He was tall. Dark. He looked more like me than mom. I remember enjoying that he seemed to like me. He would bend down and ask me questions, give me candy. But when I asked if he wanted to go outside to play ball, he said he couldn’t. Somebody wouldn’t let him. The halfway house had rules a young boy couldn’t understand.

And life did too, apparently. The years unfolded with broken promises, forgotten birthdays, and Christmases spent staring at the door. As time passed, the mold would set, and concrete harden. Sentiments of “I drove past your house the other day to see my brother” — without a thought to stop by and see his son — were soon met with a feigned shrug. It wouldn’t affect me. It couldn’t affect me. I grew up at a young age, and grown-ups don’t need their father’s help.

And this same hurt, frustration, and desperation for the father I (and so many like me) hated to need played out again before my eyes this weekend.

A Man in the Corner

In more ways than one, the story of Adonis Creed is the story of too many black boys. Despite the profanity and one suggestive scene, the story is a poignant picture of a prevalent absence. Although his father, the famous boxer Apollo Creed, died in the ring — an absence more excusable than most — he still grew up without a dad. For a time, he fought his way around different foster care homes until Apollo’s wife (not Adonis’s biological mother) takes him in. Even though Apollo is dead, Adonis still cries out for him.

Angry, hardened, lost, he enters the ring alone to find his father, and in so doing, to find himself. No man in his corner. No one to teach him how to throw a right hook or a left uppercut, how to propose to his girlfriend, or how to process hardship in his family. What makes the movie impactful is that Adonis finds a father in Rocky Balboa.

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