Saturday, July 04, 2015

The Fourth In The Gym

A few days ago, Nassir's mom asked how often the hand wraps got laundered.  She must have smelled them.  I had been noticing the smell for awhile.  The kids don't seem to care, and to be honest, I never washed my own hand wraps out on a regular basis when I was at Loyola Park.  However, if a parent noticed that, then I needed to take action.  So today (yes, I had to work on the Fourth of July), I took the time to wash the hand wraps.  I hung them up on an old, unused exercise bar in the storage room to dry.

I also got rid of a small trampoline that has no legs.  Every time the kids saw it, they would ask about using it.  Having long been tired of the questions, I decided that it was time for the trampoline to go.

The refrigerator in the storage room was filthy.  Luckily, I was only storing bottles of water in it.  Now that I will occasionally store food in there, it was high time for a cleaning.  It's not spotless, and it could still do with a good scrubbing in some places.  But it is passable enough so that I don't have an icky feeling when I open the door.

Of course, no one showed up for class.  The park was filled with people and barbecue grills.  After doing my chores, I spent the rest of the day listening to my old, rickety radio in the gym, then for the last hour of the day, I helped monitor the front desk.  Leonard, an attendant, and myself had to keep admonishing boys who were coming in the building shirtless, or coming out of the pool area shirtless.  Other people were going in and out to use the washrooms.  The day was slow and quiet.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Fight Night at LaFollette Park

The fighters for LaFollette Park's boxing show arrived early.  It wasn't long before the gym was filled with kids from Scottsdale Park, Ogden Park, Hamlin Park, and Fuller Park.

Shanita and Julius were complete no-shows.  Unfortunately, I expected as much.  When Rick from Scottsdale showed up with the kid whom I had pre-matched with Julius, I called Julius's mom.  Come to find out that her son had gone visiting somewhere and would not return until next week.  I didn't even bother to ask about Shanita after that.  I was embarrassed to tell Rick that his fighter no longer had a match.  But Rick shrugged his shoulders and said, "We'll make do."

I really wanted to get fights for Kishaun and LaKendrick, but there just weren't enough contenders available for either.  Most of the kids had a lot of experience, too much for Kishaun and LaKendrick, both of whom have no fight experience.  But I'm determined to get them fights in the upcoming boxing shows.

Johnathan, one of the new kids, apparently thought that he was just going to bulldoze his way into getting a match.  In everything that I was going on, I momentarily lost track of who actually had fights.  I gave Johnathan a pair of hand wraps to put on, and I helped him wrap his hands.  When I realized that he had no fight, I was irritated with him.  "Boy, why did you put those on?  Don't waste people's time like that!" I snapped.

Coach James, seen here in the above photo, did a nice job being the announcer.

Mya decided at the last minute that she did not want to fight.  "If you don't want to, I'm not going to be mad," I told her, and she bowed out.  Her sister Ashley, and her brother Carmelius were pre-matched, so they were ready to go.  Nassir and Jordan came in later and were able to get fights.

Alan came by with John (not John the teacher), but there were no adults available for matches.  Kenny and Colonel came by, and they told me they wanted to volunteer in the gym.  I would love to have them there.  Some of the people in Loyola Park's adult boxing program also came to watch the fights.

Carmelius went the distance with his opponent, who I believe was one of David Diaz's fighters.  Diaz has some aggressive fighters in his group.  Carmelius did not win.  Every time he ran up to throw a punch, the other kid was laying in wait and had something for him.

Nassir was throwing wild punches during his bout.  I think Nassir's opponent was from Scottsdale Park.  Nassir wears glasses, and I'm not sure if that was because perhaps he couldn't see what was coming back at him.  That fight ended in the first round, when Tommy, who was the referee, saw that Nassir was taking too many punches.  Nassir's mom said to her son, "Why are you crying?  You know that this is boxing, and that people get hit.  Remember we talked about that."

Jordan's fight also ended quickly.  Another first round of throwing wild punches, while the other kid was picking shots and aiming correctly.  Jordan wasn't happy, either.  Next week, it is back to basics for all three boys, because they've got to learn how to control their punches.

Ashley fought a girl named Diana from Ogden Park.  Ashley was moving a bit slow, but her hands were not.  She kept popping Diana while constantly moving forward.  I could see Diana becoming frustrated because she couldn't figure out how to ward off Ashley's onslaught.  Twice, an eight count was called on Diana.  The third time it happened, the fight came to an end, and Ashley got the winner's trophy.  Kenny, Diana's coach, told me, "We want a rematch!"  "You've got it," I smiled.

Here is a shot of Ashley with her winner's trophy and her brother Carmelius (otherwise known as Man-Man) holding his second place trophy.  So Ashley is the first fighter I have trained to a win.  I felt very good about that, but even more so for Ashley who gave a good fight.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gym Madhouse

I believe John and Katie were sparring when I took this picture of Alan watching the action at Loyola Park.  Alan asked me was I happy at LaFollette Park.  I am.  However, some days are more challenging than others.

Currently, I am helping out in the summer camp for the next few weeks, in addition to me coaching my regular boxing classes.  The theme for the summer camp this year is sports.  Nineteen girls were sent down to the gym for me to coach for an hour.  Things were going fine until the one kid in the group -- and there's always one -- decided to be difficult.

She kept interrupting me with inane questions and comments while I was trying to explain techniques.  She didn't do much in terms of the exercises I had for the class, either.  Luckily, a camp counselor was on hand to cut down on some of the girl's annoying antics.  But not before the little wonder partially tore up one of the bulletin boards I had created in the gym.  I was able to fix the damage before the normal boxing classes begun.

It seemed like every kid who signed up for the 12 years and under class decided to show up.  I was being pulled in all directions.  I only allowed Andre, Jordan, and Kishaun to spar.  Nassir kept bugging me to spar, but Nassir ain't ready for that yet.  Neither are most of the other kids who were pestering me about it.

Jordan deserved credit because he came in early to practice.  His mom told me that Jordan wanted to give up boxing after that beat down he took from Kishaun the other week.  But after I talked to him, Jordan was determined to continue.  He did okay against Andre, but Kishaun caught Jordan with a few low blows.  I was going to pull Jordan out, but he waved me off and finished the round.

Shanita and Julius did their usual showing up way too early for training.  When I told Julius he had a fight in the boxing show, I got a blank look and silence.  There was yet another promise made to return at the correct time, but the siblings were no-shows once again.  I don't know what to do about those two, but I do know I can't keep worrying with them.

I didn't allow some other kids to spar because they had either lost their mouthpieces or left them at home.  Ashley gave me a blank look when I admonished her about not having her mouthpiece.  "I want to spar my sister," she whined, but her sister didn't have her mouthpiece, either.  "From now on, no one spars unless they have their mouthpiece.  Do not leave it someplace else.  Do not lose it; I will not give you another one," I announced.  I have plenty of mouthpieces in the back, but like my mother used to tell me when I was a kid, "keep up with your things!"

BJ and Tandi were the only two in the teenage class.  I sparred with BJ.  He got me a few times, but I kept coming over his jab with my right and getting some face shots in.  When his father, Ben, came in the adult class, he was happy that his son had gotten in some work.

Ben and his sister Alex got in a good workout.  We're going to work on speed the next time.  I really wish I had a stand to hang the double-end bag on because it would be good to have them practice on that.  We can do burn-outs, which will help.  Also, I have some punch mitts drills to practice hand speed.

I was dead tired when I left the gym.  But like David Letterman used to say, "It was a good kind of tired."