People love David and Goliath stories, we seek them out, we relish the lessons they provide and we get inspired by the possibilities they represent to the underdog in all of us. Such a story transpired last night in Las Vegas, Nevada, when Goliath, Manny Pacquiao faced undefeated Timothy Bradley for boxing’s WBO, welterweight championship title.

After a 12 round battle, the underdog Bradley won a split-decision to upset the fighter few, if any, thought could be defeated.

There will be plenty of analysts who tell the boxing story associated with this matchup, but a lesser told story of interest is the fact that Timothy Bradley trains for fights as a vegan. While it would be my personal preference that Timothy practiced a plant-based lifestyle all year round, it makes it that much more compelling that he opts to be plant-powered in order to achieve the advantage all athletes seek, a secret that allows them to bring their game to a higher level, one their opponent can’t match. Timothy Bradley sees first-hand the benefits that a plant-based diet provide him and that is why he trains that way. There are perhaps no other considerations involved for Timothy, its just about being your best. One look at this athlete makes evident that even among boxers, Bradley is an uncommon physical specimen, something special and in a class by himself.

I suppose my goal is to put some perspective on the physical and mental demands required of an individual who hopes to best a man that most agree is superhuman in physical strength, speed, quickness and endurance, Manny Pacquiao. Most people have some level of appreciation of the physical strength and athleticism required of boxers. What might be less apparent is how large the difference in strength, endurance, and athletic talent existing between the 10th best boxer in a weight-class compared to the champion. That gets exaggerated even further when you refer to the world’s agreed pound-for pound champion, Pacquiao, who is considered the best of the best. This was the physical challenge awaiting Timothy Bradley. Another equally important aspect of boxing in the elite, championship level is mental strength, which in my mind is the same as spiritual strength.

Focus comes from clarity and clarity comes from inner-peace and being present in the moment.

Oddly enough these words apply so strongly to the demands placed on a boxer. Boxing is a dangerous sport, your opponent is trying to impart blows to weaken you, undermine your mental resolve and to sap your energy, both physical and mental. Naturally, as a fight goes on, fighters tire and become mentally fatigued. This causes them to lose focus, lapses in focus, even for a split second, can spell the end of the fight and increase a fighters chances of serious injury. Manny Pacquiao is among the most aggressive fighters of all time. This trait was going to ensure that Timothy Bradley’s focus, calm and response to extreme adversity would be tested. Rarely if ever do the rest of us face situations that test our mental strength so strongly or in a more real way. For Timothy Bradley to prevail on Saturday night, he would need to overcome the steepest of mental and physical challenges possible.

Timothy Bradley understood better than anyone the challenge he faced on Saturday night and his sole focus for the past decade or more has been to make himself the very best he can be. He elects to train for fights under a plant-powered regime.

For those who live a plant-powered lifestyle, we cite among the many benefits we experience: greater endurance, increased recovery time between exercise, increased strength, and increased mental clarity and focus.

We know this to be true but often find it difficult to convince others that our words aren’t simply hyperbole. Timothy Bradley is now a hero to the vegan community, as he demonstrated by putting everything he has worked for, his career and reputation on the line and he entrusted a plant-powered existence as his best chance to realize his dreams. Timothy Bradley knew something other professional athletes are just beginning to hear about. Plant-powered living! I’m not a prophet, but all athletes want to be better at what they do and I am certain that the number of athletes that follow Timothy Bradley’s example will increase, perhaps dramatically over the coming years. Based on my experience, the American public takes its leads from our favorite celebrities and athletes.

The idea that a shift in athlete’s dietary habits might impact waves of people who want to adopt a plant-powered diet is exciting to say the least.

There’s always room at the table for another vegan. Gratitude to Timothy Bradley for being among a growing number of elite athletes that are achieving new levels of human performance through a plant-powered existence.

See Video of Timothy Bradley explaining his plant powered diet.

Photos courtesy of the Associated Press