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Harsh sentence for Rod Blagojevich: Did his fight reflexes cause him harm? (VIDEO)

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One explanation is that Blagojevich indeed trained as a Golden Gloves boxer while in high school, participating in two fights before moving on to college.

Yet the skills Blagojevich learned in the ring did not help him in his political life.

“He’s a guy who’s not served well by those instincts. He just doesn’t understand what his priorities should be,” says Patrick Cotter, a former US prosecutor now in private practice in Chicago.

Legal experts say the severity of Blagojevich’s sentence – by comparison, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan received 6-1/2 years on corruption charges – is due in part to the continued adversarial approach he’s taken toward the legal system, and Judge Zagel in particular, since the start of the first of his two trials in 2010.

In the years that stretched between his arrest and sentencing this week, Blagojevich angrily defended himself through every means possible: a book, website, radio program, appearances on daytime, primetime and late-night television and even as a guest on Howard Stern. He positioned himself as a workingman’s populist who seemed to enjoy shaking hands with onlookers outside the courthouse and his home.

Late Wednesday afternoon, after learning he would spend 14 years behind bars, he was seen signing autographs outside his home. For Blagojevich, it appears that he is not yet down for the count.

“Rod always likes to say he’s an old boxer, but I see in Rod one of the habits of a bad boxer that every time you get hit you gotta hit back,” says Mr. Cotter.

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