Cam Awesome inspires area students … “Mind your business!”

Cam Awesome, this year’s Merrill Great Speaker Event speaker, interacting with the student audience at last Thursday’s event. Tina L. Scott photo.


This year’s youth speaker for the annual Merrill Great Speaker event at Merrill High School was Cam Awesome, a man who achieved notoriety as the #1 Super Heavyweight Boxer in the nation in 2008 at the age of 20 and is currently the “winningest Boxer in USA Boxing history” with Golden Glove Championships, six U.S. Championships, three PAL National Championships, six Ringside Championships, and three Olympic trials. Netflix also created a documentary about him entitled Counterpunch.
But what many people don’t know is the story behind his rise to such notoriety. That story begins with Cam getting beat up and continually bullied as a youth and Cam joining a gym in the hope that he could learn to protect himself. And like all good – and true – stories, Cam’s story is one of ups and downs and challenges along his journey from being a bullied kid to an all-star boxer. It wasn’t a smooth journey or an easy one. But along the way, Cam learned a lot of lessons, and he shared some of those lessons with Merrill area students during the April 11, 2024, Great Speaker event in the Merrill High School Field House where he spoke to a crowd of students in grades 5-12 who packed the bleachers to hear his story.
Among those most memorable lessons for students:

  • “Mind your business!” Cam said. He shared personal stories of how his journey very literally veered off course when he lost sight of that piece of wisdom, including right into a ditch at the very beginning of his first speaking tour. “… When I say mind your business, I don’t just mean staying out of other people’s business,” he said. (Although that too.) “A lot of times you’ve got to keep your business to yourself.,” he said. “A lot of us spend so much time talking about what we’ve got to do … that we don’t actually do anything.” Instead of talking about what you’re going to do, especially on social media, Cam urged his listeners to just start doing it. “I believe in setting impossibly big goals and taking small steps to get there,” he said.
    He also talked about goals and discouragement and urged students never to let discouragement stand in their way of achieving their goals.
  • “If you can fail without being discouraged, success becomes inevitable.” Cam said. Real goals are supposed to stretch you, he said. If they are too easy to achieve, they aren’t really goals. That’s a to-do list, he said. Instead, he urged students to use failures along the way as just another stepping stone to achieving their goals and not to allow those failures to discourage them. “Here’s another way to look at it,” Cam said. “Let’s say you fail the fourth grade, right? Fourth grade a second time. Wouldn’t it be easier the second time? It will be … because you already have experience on your side.”
    He encouraged students to set their goals for the fruit at the top of the tree. If you set your goals high, he said, you’re guaranteed to win. Because even if you ultimately miss the fruit at the very top of the tree, “What I did get, was each and every fruit on the way down,” Cam said.
    “I hope you set your goals so big that you allow yourself room for failure,” Cam said. “Because in failure is lessons. And every time you fail, you learn a little bit more. … If you set your goal big enough, you already expect to fail at some point. You’ll be likely to keep on going. So what I want you guys to do is, whatever your goal is, set it 10 times bigger.”
    Because … “What if I were to set my goal for, let’s say, something small … and I barely missed. What would I have? Nothing,” Cam said. But if you set your goals for something really big, and even if you ultimately miss that top goal, as he did with his ultimate goal of boxing in the Olympics, you’ll still have achieved many and great things even if you miss that top goal. (See Cam’s list of titles above.)
    Cam also encouraged students to lift people up, including themselves.
  • “Be a lifter,” Cam said. He explained there are always three options: You can put someone down, lift someone up, or walk away. And whenever possible, you should be a lifter “‘cause you never know when you’re gonna need someone to be there to lift you up,” he said. You should do that for other people.
    But Cam explained how being a lifter meant lifting other people up, and also lifting yourself up, and believing in yourself. “The second you start to believe in yourself, something magical happens,” he said. The secret to other people believing in you is to first believe in yourself, and then it spreads exponentially. “Surround yourself with positive people,” he said. “But also … you yourself need to work on your positivity.”
  • “Have an attitude of gratitude,” Cam said. He issued a challenge to his listeners to do what he does.: “Every morning when I wake up, I write a list of 10 things I’m grateful for,” Cam said. “The thing is, I don’t repeat anything. … Never repeat any. … If you’re dealing with sadness, depression, if you’re just not feeling as positive as you want to, try this practice. It’s free. I do it every morning. I’ve been doing it every morning since July 26, 2021. And I’ve never repeated anything on this list.”
    “That’s the first thing I do when I wake up every morning,” he said. “And by the way, the first two weeks are easy, but after that, it gets increasingly harder to come up with 10 things every morning, so what I would do is, I would look for some things to be grateful for throughout the day.” He said he’d store them in his memory to write down on his list the next morning. “It has allowed me to be a much more positive person … to be discouraged less often,” Cam said.

Cam Awesome’s message of goals, perseverance, positivity, and gratitude resonated with area youth in part because area youth helped select him as their speaker for this event.Area youth serve on the committee that helps evaluate and select the speaker to come to Merrill to deliver a message that will meet kids where they’re at and share a message that will hopefully inspire and uplift them in some way and possibly even have a life-changing impact on individual students.
The Merrill Great Speaker Forum started in 1978 and the cost of bringing in high quality speakers is paid for with donations from community members.

Merrill students from grades 5 through 12 packed the bleachers in the Merrill Field House to hear the message at this year’s Greast Speaker’s Forum presentation. Tina L. Scott photo.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top