Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Shiner

Mike came in sporting a shiner. Junior said, "What the . . .?" It was from when he sparred Sadiq on Wednesday. Didn't know he was hurt like that. Reminded me a little of Neil, who used to bleed everytime he stepped in to spar. I still remember Sean, a tall, thin guy that used to train at the gym. He was bleeding at the Golden Gloves, before he even got into the ring with his opponent! I remember Josh and I looking at the drops of blood on his towel and commenting on how strange that was.

Josh came in and announced he graduated from college. In a few months, he'll be on his way to Japan to teach English for a year. I told him he's got options now that he's received his degree, so why not go for it? On the flip side, Junior was saying he didn't know what he was going to do. He needs a better paying job, but is not sure if he should also think about returning to school. "Back in the day, people didn't need to have degrees, did they?" he asked. Steve told him to look up the word "deindustrualization". "I could have just got a job and kept working after I graduated high school," I told Junior, "but nowdays, you have to have a degree just to have someone look at your resume." Junior keeps talking about going pro from time to time, too. Oh, to be young and have numerous opportunities.

Maria, the roller derby member, didn't come in tonight to learn some boxing drills, and about a couple of hours ago, I found an email from her. She said she was still available for tonight, but of course, I got the message too late. She has a new cell phone, so I emailed her my home number so we can set up another time. I've been going through my boxing books at home to come up with routine for her. I'm assuming she'll want some things to put into use right away, so starting up slow with the basics may not be practical. It probably would be a good idea to show her exercises specific to boxers, instead.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gotta Do The Work

Keith asked Steve if he could get him a fight. Steve refused because Keith always wants to fight, but doesn't want to train hard. "We've been down this road before," Steve told him. It was pointed out to Keith that getting him fights is never a problem. However, it makes no sense to put someone in the ring when they haven't prepared enough to face an opponent.

Boxing is not an easy sport. Doesn't matter if one is in the pros, or in the amateur ranks, or in the yuppie world of white collar boxing. In order to be successful at it, you have to work. My main goals are to keep the skills up for self-defense purposes, and to get and keep in shape. I was glad that I was at the gym for more than two hours today. I needed the workout. I needed to sweat. I needed to come home tired and sore. The work has to be put in.

No, I don't like jumping rope. It's a chore to do the crunches, sit-ups and squats. Some nights, I can't get my mind in the right place to focus on getting the right rhythm on the speed bag. There are times I hit the heavy bags improperly, and my hands and wrists sting. There are other times I move like a turtle with a limp when I should be up on my toes. But I keep working, because I'll never get better if I don't.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fighting At The Aragon

Barry was on a local independent radio station this morning to talk about the boxing program. There is a documentary that was done by Steve's brother-in-law, Kevin, that will be shown in early June. The documentary will focus on the youth boxing program. Junior's name was mentioned several times. Junior and Steve were supposed to be a part of the interview, too, but Junior stayed in bed, and Steve had to rush Ellen to the hospital. She is fine now, but it was a bit scary earlier.

The host of the show asked Barry if there had been an adult female boxer at the gym who was a graduate student. Barry mentioned mine and Lan's name. "Maybe it was Hillari," the host said. "Yeah," Barry said, "she's at Northwestern." I wish I had the time and money to go to grad school! I got a good laugh out of that.

Steve was able to make it to this afternoon's match at the Aragon. Mike came along, too. The place had been a ballroom back in the 1930s and 1940s. It is used for concerts and sporting events today. The program was a fundraiser for research to cure cystic fibrosis. It was a pro-am fight, meaning both amateur and professional matches were featured. The draw was what was the last amateur match for a kid named Tome who is also a football hero at Notre Dame. The kid won, which I suspected he would, against Jeff, or TNT, as he is nicknamed. The crowd was clearly on Tome's side. News cameras were all around the ring to catch the action. I'm still trying to figure out why Tome is touted so much as the next best thing in boxing.

Junior was getting the best of his opponent, but for some reason, the judges were not watching the same one everyone else was watching. Junior was robbed. An older man came up to Steve and Junior immediately afterwards and said, "That was a bullshit decision!" Sadiq won his match. His opponent caught him a couple of times with some hard shots; Sadiq had his head up. After the second time, Sadiq stayed low.

Junior was pretty bummed out that he lost. He said that his brother had admonished him about losing other fights, stating that Junior had "talent, but not skills." I think that sometimes, Junior listens too much to negativity from others about his boxing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Flurry Of Activities

I sang the National Anthem before a show at the fieldhouse that highlighted the sports activities that take place there. The focus was mainly on the kids' participation in the programs. Diego, Kevin and Nate Jr., along with Barry, did a boxing demonstration for the crowd. Before the show started, I caught the eye of a baby who seemed to be fixated on me. His dad, Michael, joked that his son could not take his eyes off me. The baby was a very pretty boy who had a light mocha complexion and soft, sandy brown curly hair. I played with him a little before and after I sang. His wife, Allison, came in with their older son, who had been featured in an earlier portion of the show. The older son was a good looking kid, too.

The gym had a lot of people hanging 'round for the first portion of the evening. Sam was there, along with a kid who I had not seen before. I assumed he was a new guy in Barry's class, because Barry was giving him a lot of encouragement. Barry saved a T-shirt for me with the same of the boxing gym printed on it. I thought that was very nice. Made me feel very appreciated.

Was offended by an answer to a boxing question I saw on Yahoo! Answers earlier. A woman wanted to know if boxing was a good workout to lose weight, and another woman told her to avoid the sport if she didn't want to look like a man. Mia St. John, a professional boxer, doesn't look masculine to me. Neither does Laila Ali. Looks as if people are still not aware that very few women have the capacity to naturally build themselves up to look like professional bodybuilders. Only 2% of women can do that; the others have help, usually of the wrong kind (steroids, anyone?).

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Joints

Larry came in the gym, which has become a rare occurrence lately. He told me that school was out for the year, so hopefully, he will come in more often during the summer.

Mike and Junior sparred for a few rounds. Steve found a print out of sparring drills, and he had them try them out. Afterwards, Junior felt that Mike had more stamina, but I could see that Mike became tired out more quickly. Junior, on the other hand, didn't appear to break a sweat. Junior never seems to actually get tired, despite the fact that he often claims that he is. "I'm tired of these young men talking about they're tired!" I tease him whenever I hear him claim exhaustion.

Finally had to admit something to myself: it takes longer for me to get up off of the floor these days. There are a couple of aerobic steps in the gym. I seem to to be the only person who uses them. I'll sit on one of them to put my boxing shoes on, then struggle to stand up. The same thing happens when I get up off the mat from doing crunches and push ups. It's too easy to blame weight. I have to face the facts: it's age.

My middle aged joints don't have the spring they used to have. It's funny, though. . .when I'm jumping around practicing punches and footwork, I don't notice my right shoulder acting up or my knees cracking. It's as the clock turns back twenty years, and I'm able to glide and fly.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Place of Deep Pockets

Sadiq and Diego had matches at a non-for-profit fundraiser held in the Gold Coast neighborhood. During the evening, a silent auction as well as a live auction was held. A lunch with Laila Ali went for $4,000, while a visit with her dad on his Indiana farm went for $8,500. A lot of people with deep pockets were in the room that night. The attendees paid $175 per ticket to be there.

Junior came along, but the guy he was supposed to have a match with crapped out. We joked that the guy was scared of him. The guy was the 2005 Golden Gloves champion. Since Junior is the 2006 champion, that would have been a good fight. Kevin should have had a fight, too, but that fell through as well. Both Sadiq and Diego won their matches.

I met Mike, who is the head of the Illinois Boxing Association. He announced that there would be an all female boxing show soon. There may be an opportunity for me; I hope.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Missing In Action

A guy was talking to Steve about taking up boxing. I guess the guy asked how many people are normally signed up, because Steve asked me how many I thought there were. It appears that about 40 people are signed up at any given time. Many do not come in on a regular basis, like Rias (I've been spelling his name wrong; I hope that's the correct way) who came in on Wednesday. Some showed up once or twice, but never came back, yet their names are still on the roster.

Gilberto, one of the fieldhouse staff members, asked Steve and I had we heard from Lan. She's been on my mind lately. A few months ago, she was assigned to a military base in Missouri. Steve had emailed her awhile ago, but the email bounced back to him. I hope all is well.

From time to time, I wonder what happened to Igor. He was a middle aged man of who was a regular in the gym when I first started training there. Igor didn't have a good command of English; I don't remember which country he was from. Half the time, we couldn't make out what he was talking about. He would ask Steve a lot of questions, often while the coach was trying to concentrate on something else. Got on Steve's nerves sometimes.

Ike was a young man who had a great interest in boxing and seemed to be moving up. He had a lot of personal challenges: job issues, family issues, financial problems. Ike had moved to another city for several months, then came back, claiming to want to get back in the game. His appearances at the gym became sporadic, though. Rumors began to fly about drug use, drug dealing, and child support problems. I was surprised to find out that Ike had a toddler. One of the last times I saw him, Ike attempted to work out with alcohol on his breath. Steve admonished him about coming to the gym under the influence.

Betty was a tall, big boned woman who came in on and off, but regularly than most of the women who have been there. She had to have been six feet tall. I liked her. She was very articulate. Steve put her and I together in a sparring match. I dipped down to avoid her fist at the wrong moment, and her glove came down on top of my head. I had a headache the rest of the night, and was sore for days afterwards.

Mike and Dorian were a couple. Dorian worked at the martial arts school I used to attend, and Mike had taken classes there. Mike had also graduated from the same high school I attended, although years after I had gone there. Dorian didn't come in often, but Mike was usually in the gym. Dorian was sophisticated, and Mike, a tall, friendly, lanky guy, always seemed in awe that he landed such a woman. They moved out of the neighborhood over a year ago.