Friday, April 28, 2006

New Toys To Play With

Steve was back in the gym on Friday. His wife is better. Turns out she doesn't have strep throat, but what looks like a bad cold, which is torture enough.

The new equipment he ordered some time ago finally came in. A new medicine ball, a maize ball, groin protectors, a fast feet (to help a boxer stay in correct stance and build up power in the legs), aerobic shadow boxer, an ab wheel and jump ropes. I noticed that a T-shirt and hat was included in the order. I guess because a certain amount was spent on the equipment, a few free items were thrown in. Steve gave me the hat.

I have an ab wheel at home, but I seldom use it. Great exercise for the abs and arms, but hard to use. After trying the one at the gym, I gave up and did regular push ups and crunches. My upper body strength could be improved; I don't do many push ups before my arms start crying for mercy. My strength in actually in my legs.

It was another one of those nights where I had to force myself to focus on the workout. I'm becoming tired of spending part of or all of my workout taking out my anger over irritations at work; it's been happening too often over the past couple of months.

Got some good news when I stepped on the digital scale; I lost a few pounds. Haven't been eating a lot of the junk I was last week.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Somewhat Of A Lull

Ben wondered if the warmer temperatures were keeping people out of the gym. Only myself, Ben, Junior, Logan 2 and Joe were there tonight. Weather could have been the reason, but there is a bit of a lull right now before the Chicago Park District summer boxing show season starts. Steve stayed home; Ellen was sick, and he wanted her to rest while he took care of their son.

Junior was telling me that jogging was the best thing. He jogs and runs all the time. I may take that up now that the seasons have changed. There is a track not far from the house that I can use. I admitted that I have been very lazy about roadwork (running/jogging); I don't do it. I want to in-line and roller skate a lot this summer to help with stamina and endurance. Now all of my skates are street ready, including the rink skates, which were converted to street skates. I put street wheels on them, replacing the old indoor wheels.

A kid came in and asked about the gym. He was harmless enough, although I did have to lightly admonish him against hitting the bags and jumping rope. Had to tell him a few times to come back when the kids are in the gym. Didn't want to discourage him; when I see kids hanging around the gym door looking curious, I'm helpful with giving information.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Good Sparring

Saddiq sparred with Pierre, a guy who normally trains with the Evanston Boxing Club. Pierre has sparred with Junior in the past. Saddiq continues to amaze me as how mild-mannered he appears to be, and his viciousness in the ring. Pierre's nose was bloodied up a bit.

Only two of the new folks showed up tonight: Fara and Mike. I promised Mike I would show him how to put his wraps on the next time he comes to the gym.

I was pooped out early. Eating too much of the wrong stuff this week, namely Eli's cheesecake, and not exercising at other times are the culprits. I'll be glad when the outdoor roller skate wheels I ordered come in this week. The weather is getting better, and I'm going to do a lot of street skating to supplement working out in the gym.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Little Gym That Could

Found out yesterday that Saddiq is now the Citywide Boxing champion in the 147 lb. weight categeory. God has really smiled on our gym this year. There have been so many championship wins over the past several months.

Both of the women who are named Logan were at the gym last night, but the other newbies were missing. I understand that Fara was in the gym on Wednesday, the day I had to go to choir rehearsal, but she was the only new person that night. Already people are skipping out. I'm surprised that Crystal didn't show up. She seems to be the most interested out of all of the new people. The weather may have contributed to the absences, too. It was extremely nice, warm enough for me to wear shorts to the gym.

Neil, who hasn't been in the gym for awhile, stopped by with his kids, a little girl named Carmina, and his baby son, Luka. I was shocked at how big Luka was. He looked more like a two year old child than a baby who's only a few months old. Carmina was her usual shy self.

Junior was grumbling about having to pay the IRS. He was also complaining about having to pay rent to his dad. At least his dad only asks him to pay once a month. Mine wanted rent out of every paycheck I got. That nonsense was squashed when I moved out of the house when I was twenty, which is how old Junior will be in a couple of months. Steve asked him when was he planning to move, but Junior didn't have a idea. He's thinking about dropping his cleaning business and getting another nine-to-five gig. I wish he would consider going back to college. It'll help him in the long run.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Saddiq Surprises

I attended the 2006 Tony Zale Chicago Park District Citywide Boxing Tournament (that's a mouthful) llast night. I had never been to that tournament before. It was held at Curie High School on the southwest side, a school that boasts about having the biggest gym in the city. I'll give them that. My high school's gym was huge, but Curie's looked like they had more room. Recognizing that the school sits in an area that has had its share of racial problems, like a lot of neighborhoods in Chicago, I got off the train prepared for smart remarks from passersby.

Two rings were set up. There were too many boxers to have one match going on at a time. A little confusing to hear two sets of bells going off, however. Hard to tell sometimes when the round had ended for which fight, and the boxers were thrown off a little bit, too. Things went along at a fast clip. There was no time to linger. Barry gave me his video camera and asked me to tape the matches.

A few of Barry's boxers--Joe, Freddie, Alex, Kevin and Montrell--were on hand. Only Joe, Freddie and Kevin had matches, and of those boys, only Freddie came out a victor. The towel was thrown in on Joe. Montrell was expected to get a match, but I'm not sure what happened with that. Some of us from Steve's stable were there--Mike, Junior and Saddiq. Saddiq's fight was at the end of the evening. I think his bout was number thirty-nine.

Saddiq was quiet and appeared to be a bit nervous before his bout. Once he stepped into the ring, the pops he gave his opponent echoed off the walls of the gym. The crowd had thinned out a little by that time, but those who were left were fascinated by what they saw. So was I. A man with an island accent stood next to me and asked, "Where dat boy from?" "Nigeria, I believe," I answered. "Dat boy fights like a muthafucka!" the man exclaimed. Just then, Saddiq cracked a fist into the face of the other boy. "If I got hit like dat, I'd have to go for my guns!" the man continued. I laughed at his remark. Saddiq then knocked the other boxer to the ground. About three times, the other boxer had to take an eight count. "They might as well stop da fight!" the man said. "No sense in dat boy gettin' hurt!" The referree agreed with him and did so. "He's young," the man told another bystander, referring to the losing boxer, "he can fight at another time."

The usual cast of characters were at the tournament--Shifty, Kitchen (who I found out last week was a former Golden Gloves champion), Allan, Gary, Yale, Chupi (a coach at Windy City Gym), and the coach everyone loves to hate, George. Tina, a major player in Chicago's amateur boxing scene, was also there, as was Samantha, a teenaged boxer who had come down to Loyola once.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Champions and Brawls

Junior's name was called before any matches started at the Golden Gloves this past Friday to come to the glove table. Those of us from the gym in attendance at that moment--Sarah, Saddiq, Keith--sat up in anticipation. The annoucement could only mean that Junior was going to be one of the first to fight that evening. His match was number three in the line up. Steve and Barry rushed to get him ready. Mary, Mike, and Ellen (along with Eli) arrived not long afterwards. The place was packed and practically sold out.

I could see Junior's opponent over in a far corner of the gym, warming up with his trainer. "Junior can take him," I thought to myself. Sure the guy was a little bigger in the muscles department, but he had looked very sloppy during his semi-final bout.

Novice fighters only go three rounds during the finals, as opposed to open fighters who have four rounds to get the job done. I was surprised when the fight ended, thinking there was one more round to go. Junior's fight had been featured in the program for that night. It was explained that novice fights are not usually given that attention, but powers that be saw something in Junior's skills that they liked. They felt that he would win, but they also listed his weaknesses. Apparently, his opponent had read that in the program, because his style was a little different than what he showed in the ring the previous week. Junior watched him carefully, and set him up for punches.

The announcer rambled on about the T-shirts on sale, the beer available to drink, and the special guest who would award the trophy to the winner. I was on pins and needles. I used to bite my nails when I was a kid, and was seriously thinking about taking up the habit again at that moment. Steve and Barry stood in Junior's corner, looking like they had patience in waiting for the judges' decision.

When Junior's name was announced as the 2006 Chicago Golden Gloves 165 novice divison champion, I jumped up from the bleachers and yelled my approval. We were all proud of his accomplishment; he worked hard for it. Junior only smiled for one of the pictures that was taken afterwards, though. I would have been hopping up and down if it was me, but Junior was quiet and subdued. "You're the city champ, man! Smile!" we told him. "I don't know, I just don't like smiling for pictures," he said. Junior did hang out in the audience, however, basking in the kudos that people gave him.

Saw the Judah-Mayweather fight at Steve's house on Saturday night. Very good match, but an ugly incident happened near the end of the bout. Judah gave Mayweather a low blow and a pop on the back of his head. Both punches looked deliberate. Mayweather stumbled to his corner, bent over in pain. His trainer jumped into the ring, mad as hell. He threatened Judah, and the referee, Richard Steele, attempted to head him off. Then Judah' s dad, who is also his trainer, jumped into the ring and yelled at Mayweather's trainer for approaching his son. A punch was thrown, and about fifty people, including cops and security guards, flooded the ring. I'm surprised the fight was not stopped, not only because of the mini-riot, but also because of the wicked low blow. But continue it did, and Mayweather ended up winning.

It was a good time, as both babies--Steve's son, Eli, and Barry's daughter, Lily, were in attendance at the viewing party. Now that I've had another good look at Eli, he has his mother's eyes, but his dad's face. Lily is a little charmer who smiled a lot. Also, Allan, a guy who judges matches was there. He told us that he had met Sugar Ray Robinson, when the boxer was at the end of his career. His brother, like Allan, was also involved in boxing and knew a lot of the big names, including Ali. Fascinating stuff. Another guy there, Marty, told me he had been involved with boxing for 22 years, starting off as a fighter. Makes me wish I had started earlier.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wildness and Productiviity

Today was the beginning of the spring session, and several new faces were on hand. One of the newbies is an emergency room medic; another has a two-year daughter at home. Of everyone, Crystal, a curly haired woman, seemed to be the most eager to learn technique. I had fun showing all of them the basics, while Steve worked with Junior and Saddiq. Junior will be back down at the Golden Gloves this week for the finals, and Saddiq will be in the park district's city-wide tournament next week.

There was another guy there tonight named Joe who normally trains under Barry. He came in to get some extra training, but Joe did not do well on the bags nor against Saddiq while sparring. Barry had told Steve the kid could box, but Steve had his doubts.

Junior and Saddiq went out to sprint around the baseball field. When they came back, they announced there was a huge fight going on outside the fieldhouse doors. Steve went out to investigate. Seems that two to three guys were in the middle of a dustup that brought out a crowd of people. Steve saw one guy with a bat. Another guy was yelling about going home and getting his guns. The police showed up and patted several people down for weapons. Mary looked worried as Steve and I left the gym at the end of the evening. Her staff had to do some crowd control before the cops came in. I wonder what was so serious that those guys felt they had to let their conflict get that far. Knowing the neighborhood, it might have been some gang nonsense. It could have just been bad blood from a long time feud, but in any case, I'm sure it wasn't worth gaining the attention of the cops.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

White Collar Washout

I did some research and find out something that I already knew--those who are members of USA Boxing, like I am, can't compete in white collar boxing matches. Looks like I wasted my time going down to JABB Gym this past Saturday to put my name in for their their next boxing show of that type. I had hoped there might have been some way to get a match that way, but I was foiled again.

Recently, there was an article about NYC banning white collar bouts due to safety reasons. Those matches are not sanctioned by USA Boxing. They exist in a shadowland between Toughman contests (which are also not sanctioned) and amateur matches. There are three rounds that last two minutes each, and both boxers get a trophy, regardless who was the victor. The idea behind that is that white collar boxers are made up mostly of professionals--lawyers, doctors, real estate executives, etc.--who allegedly aren't used to being told "no", and don't take it well when they are, so hence the "everyone's a winner" deal.

Legislators in NYC are looking into rewriting the rules so that white collar boxing matches can continue, which would be a good thing for the older gyms that depend on the revenue that white collar boxers bring in. That's how many private gyms have kept their doors open in recent years.