AUSTIN (KXAN) — “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”

In Scott Kujak’s opinion, Mike Tyson said it best.

2019 Texas State Boxing Tournament in Fort Worth (Courtesy: Scott Kujak)

Kujak is the two-time defending Golden Gloves super heavyweight boxing champion of Austin and Central Texas. His time in the ring facing adversity lead him to develop his own quote and mantra: “one punch at a time.”

He’s had to swing a few while growing up. One of his hardest: losing his friend and former TCU football teammate Phil Taylor to cancer. Taylor got diagnosed with stage three colon cancer at age 23, and died just before his 25th birthday. Yet, during the last years of his life, he clung to one mindset: positivity.

“He always told me, ‘Hey, I don’t know what’s gonna happen to me. I might pass away, I might get better. I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that in the end… God is going to get the glory and something good is going to happen because of this,’” Kujak said.

Kujak is hoping to use Taylor’s “good” and create some of his own through writing, speaking and podcasting.

‘People love to cheer for the underdog’

He created the Underdog Podcast more than two years ago, along with authoring a book. The show focuses on true stories from all different walks of life:

  • Amputees
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Famous athletes
  • Former drug addicts
  • Veterans
  • Victims of racial abuse and more

The one thing they have in common? Each overcame adversity to achieve something significant. Kujak hopes to give his audience an opportunity to “replicate that same success, that same methodology, that same mindset.” For him, addressing mental health is a huge aspect of his conversations.

“If we ever need mental health advocacy, it’s right now, cause a lot of people who used to have those outlets of exercising or riding [a bike], or meeting up with their community organizations or getting out into the community and forgetting some of the hard things in life, [don’t anymore]… We need to address it at home on the frontlines. People are stuck, cooped up in their home, or in their business office and they can’t interact with others like they once used to.”

Kujak believes the stories he’s covered so far can inspire other Austinites in overcoming their own battles, such as depression, anxiety, emotional loss, financial loss, and addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID is real… I’ve known people who have lost their jobs, who’ve been delayed in getting hired, people who have lost their businesses, and it’s just causing a mass panic and hysteria and anxiety throughout the community. Can I even go outside, and be safe going outside?” Kujak said. “If people are looking for some form of encouragement, some form of hope. Will I ever get out of this situation? Will things ever return to normal? I encourage you to go look at the website, look at the podcast, and look at one of these 80+ guests and hear their story of how they’ve overcome tragedy to build a business… to beat drug addiction, how they’ve overcome with just the loneliness of depression and find a better tomorrow.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Kujak, his podcast or book, you can visit his website.