Simon D Weale MA (Oxon) Director, Bishop Cotton School (BCS), Shimla
Mike Tyson once brutally summed up the essential truth of boxing by saying ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face’.
Each September, most boys at Bishop Cotton School (BCS) Shimla get to find this out as they too receive numerous (if well-cushioned) blows to the head from other boys in the school. This does not reflect a surge of peer-on-peer abuse, but an outcome of the schools’ annual inter-house boxing competition – a unique event in India where participation is not mandatory, but certainly expected and most boys (with parental consent) choose to enter.
The boxing competition is part of BCS folklore and there are countless stories associated with it from dramatic tales of wins and losses to dastardly tales of shenanigans that wouldn’t be out of place in the backstreet fights of the Victorian era. At the heart of this extraordinary event is a test of character for each participant that very few other disciplines can provide.
Whilst each year, there are some bouts that would befit a Rocky movie, the most interesting challenges surely come inside the minds of those waiting to fight in the days or minutes before the contests. As there are hundreds of bouts there can be a lack of attention from the small crowd in the gym during the preliminary rounds which must add to the sense of isolation that each boy faces as they shadow box, bind their hands, or just collect their thoughts in the minutes before their moment comes.
Inevitably, each fight produces a winner and a loser, but the BCS contention is that everyone who finds a way to get in the ring is triumphant and if you last a round you win a point for your House. In an education system where so much is warped by the achievement of a percentage score such character-building challenges are commonplace at BCS.
The new learner profile, the Shimla Seven, encourages a growth mindset and encapsulates the qualities that all BCS boys strive to develop at school to be Principled, Curious, Creative, Connected, Motivated, Resilient and Reflective.
If the boys can demonstrate they have grasped these core values it is felt that a good and productive life will surely follow and that when they next get punched in the face – actually or metaphorically – Cottonians will get up and stand foursquare to what is coming next.
Simon D Weale MA (Oxon)
Bishop Cotton School, (BCS) Shimla is an all-boys boarding school founded in 1859 and takes boys from Class 4 – 12.