Monday, October 30, 2006

Collapsing Onto The Canvas

Crystal told me she only sparred once before in the kids' boxing class. Erin had never sparred before at all. Steve felt they were ready to try it out, so he had them in the ring. He sat on the outside observing, while I was on the inside of the ring with the fighters. The first two rounds consisted of a light drill of throwing and catching jabs. The women sparred in the third round, but I asked them to keep that light, as well.

Both told Steve they were up to doing a third round. Erin backed Crystal into the corner, but the punches were extremely hard. Crystal remained on the defensive, as she had in the previous round. Suddenly, Crystal held her stomach and keeled over onto the canvas.

Steve and I removed her protective gear and gave as much first aid as we could. Crystal admitted that she has always had head pains since she was a child. An accident where she tripped on a treadmill and hit her head on a rail made things worse. When she works out hard, the pains come on, and she gets dizzy and nauseated. She was crying out of embarrassment as a gym full of folks stood by and stared. As it was the end of the evening, Steve cleared everyone out of the gym except for myself, Crystal and Erin. He went to the front desk to call Crystal's mother and get an accident report form.

Erin was very concerned and worried, but Crystal assured her that it wasn't her fault. When Jenna, Crystal's mother arrived, Steve explained what happened. She was given a copy of the accident report to take with her to the hospital. However, I learned from Barry on Saturday, that Crystal did not go to the hospital that night. She and her mom will go to the doctor on Wednesday.

The incident bothered me all weekend. It appears that Crystal may have a pre-existing medical condition, one that may exclude her from participating in any strenuous sport. I also worried that Erin may be hesitant about sparring again.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Barking Out Orders

Wednesday evening was really a productive time in the gym. I taught uppercuts and some defense to Rachel and Helen. The gym was rather full, which was surprising to me. It had rained late that afternoon, and the ground was slippery with the falling leaves. I had expected that many people wouldn't come in.

Steve was not feeling well. Poor guy seems to always have a sore throat and other cold/flu symptoms every time I turn around, especially this time of year. He had also did some damage to a rotator cuff, so there wasn't a whole lot he was able to do that night. He called for the fighters to do interval training. "Could you keep them pumped up throughout the exercise? I can barely talk," he said. Five rounds were done. I sat on the side, barking out encouragement and orders as people alternated between punching the heavy bags at half-speed, then as fast as they could. "Keep your guard up! Don't lose your form! Go, go, go!" I admit I got carried away a few times, continuing to yell after the round had ended. It was fun.

No Crystal again, although I hope she comes in on Friday. Joe, who hadn't been in for awhile, surprised all by coming in. He drove Steve and I home in a car he brought from Junior. It's an old beater that has some problems, but luckily, Joe knows a little about fixing cars. If I knew more about the inner workings of autos, I would probably go pick up an old car and fix it up. Public transportation is just horrible in Chicago right now -- constant reroutes due to construction, and endless delays. Another couple of train lines have been moved around due to a bad building fire a few days ago. The building is right next to the tracks, and there is fear that debris may fall on the passing trains. A car has become a necessity for me, not a luxury.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Familiar Faces and Citizenship

John, who used to come in on a regular basis, showed up to work out last night. He's a lawyer by trade, I believe. His young son, Josh, came in after finishing up a basketball game. John had competed in the Golden Gloves back in the 1970s, when he was a teen (I don't think John is much older than I am). "They used 12 ounce gloves, and no headgear," he said.

The bigger surprise was seeing Betty, who used to attend the gym a year or so ago. Her aunt blessed her with a car, so now she believes she'll be able to come back and workout. I sparred with her once--she has to be nearly 6 feet tall. She's not fat, but she's not a small woman, either. Her fist came down on my head during the last round we sparred. My neck hurt and I had a slight headache for awhile.

Sadiq asked Steve to help him fill out an application for citizenship. Sadiq is originally from Nigeria. He wants to be very careful that he fills out the forms correctly. I noticed that he had to fill out two sets, and both of them looked like novels. There's no doubt that in the post 9/11 world, the government is making it even harder for someone to become a citizen.

Monday, October 16, 2006

My Boss Vs. Boxing

"The agency can't promote fighting," Les told me after he told me to take down a picture I had up on my door. It showed a businessman in a suit wearing boxing gloves with the title "Fight Club".

Let me explain something about where I work: I regularly witness the kids who live on the premises being disrespectful to staff. There are times when kids have to be placed in restraints because they go totally out of control. Most of the kids have no qualms about assaulting staff. I remember one person who walked around with bruises and black eyes for days after a kid caught them in a corner and beat them down. What the kids do is closer to no holds barred streetfighting, as opposed to boxing, which is a sport with rules. And yes, it is apparent that most of them knew how to punch, scratch and kick long before they ended up in the agency's care.

Later, I left a message for Les that basicially said I don't think he knows the difference between a fight on the street and a fight in a ring. He didn't comment on what I said, but that doesn't negate the fact. I don't think a boxing poster in my office has much influence on any of the kids' behavior. For one thing, they seldom come in my office, and truthfully, I would prefer that they don't. Second of all, I don't think they are paying that much attention to what is in my office, or to me, for that matter.

I was told I had to go to a mandatory meeting on Friday, despite the fact that it was geared towards the staff who work directly with the kids. I had to walk inbetween two buildings to get to the meeting, and it was cold. I put my warm hoodie on, and kept it on during the meeting, as it was cold in the room where the meeting was held. The president of the agency was running the meeting. It occurred to me that maybe Les might not have appreciated me wearing the hoodie. You see, it reads "Golden Gloves Boxing since 1923" in bold yellow letters set against blue fabric. I have worn it, as well as another hoodie that has "Ringside" emblazened across the front of it, often to my job. Funny. . . .I never noticed any of the kids spontaneously breaking out into fist fights when I've worn it. Uh-huh.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hangin' At Hamlin

The best thing about being at Hamlin last night was not having to deal with Tony. He wasn't there. The bad thing was that none of the Loyola boxers got any matches. I figured there wouldn't be anyone for Keith. He's about 200 pounds and there seems to not be many guys in his category. However, Sadiq could have been easily matched up. There was someone available, but when Steve tried to get him in, the reply was, "Nope, he's too good." What was that supposed to mean? Junior already knew there were no matches for him, so he didn't come out yesterday. Emmanuel, who boxes out of Clarendon, showed up too late to get a fight. Kevin, who was also in attendance, didn't get a match, either, which is surprising. Usually the kids are easier to match up than the adults. Steve and Barry decided to stick around to help out Bill, so we all (except Keith and his girlfriend) stayed. Seems Bill didn't have enough people to work the glove table.

Spoke to the Secretary of State. . . .he was one of the special guests giving out trophies to the boxers. Kitching (I keep calling him Kitchen) took a picture of us. The Secretary of State does not know me well, but he was a good buddy of my late dad for about 40 years.

Barry told me that the other teen girl whom was supposed to train in the adult class probably hasn't been showing up because she feels discouraged. She wanted to get fights during the last boxing shows, but came up empty. I know the feeling. She shouldn't give up; I wish I could talk to her and give her encouragement. After all, being way younger than me, she still has a chance.

Jesse, one of the women who fights out of Hamlin, won her match. She's a slight built person, but very tough. I remember watching her at the Golden Gloves earlier this year. She took a beating from her opponent, and was very bloodied up. Jesse never backed down, though. She zapped her opponent last night with a jab immediately after the bell. The other woman fell to the canvas, then got an eight-count. It was downhill after that, and Jesse got the decision.

Kevin is about the funniest kid I know right now. On the ride home, he was telling us about a game involving a maze that he has played at a church. If you follow directions and go the right way inside the maze, you end up in "heaven" where candy awaits. If you decide to go your own way and not listen to advice, "hell" awaits. I understood immediately that the game was a tool to teach basic Christian concepts. Kevin said one of the kids ended up in "hell" several times before finally making it to "heaven". It was the way he said things that had Steve, Sadiq and I cracking up.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Interval Training and Left Hooks

I spent most of the time last night going over how to throw left hooks with the women who showed up. Crystal wasn't there last night, unfortunately, but she did tell me she has a job through her high school. Perhaps she was delayed too late to make it down.

Still not sure about the crop of new women who are there now. It's been three weeks, and they are still around, so that is good sign so far. The new men disappeared for the most part, although I did notice one guy who did not look familiar.

Happily, despite all the time I spent with the women, I was able to get some of a workout in. Steve had us do interval training: hit the back hard for 30 seconds, then at half-speed for thirty seconds, through an entire round for several rounds. Tiring, but an excellent exercise. None of the new people took part. I believe most of them had gone right before or during that portion.

Tonight is Hamlin's boxing show, which unfortunately means another encounter with Tony, the coach's son. He hasn't called in a few days, so maybe he took the hint that we aren't compatible. I hope so, especially since I know his motives for getting with me are highly suspect. Perhaps he'll curse me out for not calling him or not picking up the phone when he called me. Doesn't matter; he's gone.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Boxing Entertainment

A friend who runs another blog posted a lot of movie quotes for readers to guess. It got me thinking about what good entertainment is out there that pertains to boxing. When you need to be fired up before a match or want to watch stories about the ups and downs of the boxing world, here are some that I thought were decent.

Movies and Documentaries:

Rocky (1976)
The first and best of the Rocky saga.

Against The Ropes (2004)
Story based on the life of Jackie Kallen (played by Meg Ryan), the first female boxing promoter. "He's messin' with my fighter!"

Girlfight (2000)
Latina tomboy channels her anger into the boxing ring. "You know, they say love kills you in the ring."

Shadow Boxers (1999)
Documentary about female boxers, focusing a lot on Lucia Rijker.

Body and Soul (1947)
John Garfield as a tough boxer beset by underhanded promoters and his own ego. "What are you gonna do? Kill me? Everybody dies."

Requiem For A Heavyweight (1962)
Somber tale of a worn out fighter (played by Anthony Quinn) at the end of his career. "He's been chasing ghosts so long, he'll believe anything."

Songs to work out to or to enter the ring before a fight:

Mama Said Knock You Out -- LL Cool J
Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down -- Brand Nubians
My Prerogative -- Bobby Brown
Hit Me With Your Best Shot -- Pat Benetar
Hand On The Pump -- Cypress Hill
Eye Of The Tiger -- Survivor
Survivor -- Destiny's Child
Jump -- Van Halen
Bad To The Bone -- George Thorgood and the Destroyers
The Vapors -- Biz Markie
Get Up and Get Down -- The Dramatics
What You See Is What You Get -- The Dramatics
Engine No. 9 -- Wilson Pickett
Dirty Water -- The Standells
Oye Como Va -- Santana
Cult of Personality -- In Living Color
Rock This Funke Joint -- Poor Righteous Teachers
I Reminisce (Over You) -- Pete Rock
Jump Around -- House Of Pain
Deep Cover -- Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
Walk On -- CeCe Penniston
Paid The Cost To Be Boss -- James Brown
The Big Payback -- James Brown
Papa Don't Take No Mess -- James Brown
Don't Tell It -- James Brown
My Part/Make It Funky -- James Brown

Monday, October 09, 2006

Three Hard Rounds

Erin did not come in the gym on Friday night, so Crystal did not get to spar. I ended up sparring with Sarah. "I want you two to do three hard rounds," Steve said. Whoops. I hadn't been exactly eating healthy the whole week, and had slacked off on exercising the other days as well. Time for me to get my behind whipped again, I thought as I stepped into the ring.

Sarah's punches came flying consistently, as they always do. However, this time, I did manage to avoid some of them. Not a lot, just a few. Steve kept saying, "Don't stand right in front of her. Move around!" I don't know why I just stand there and take punches like that. Has to be some psychological issue that has yet to be resolved. I attempted to throw body shots, since I am much shorter. It was harder to be an inside fighter than I thought. Sarah's arms were in the way, and I could hardly get close enough. The next idea was to go for her face and head. About three or four times, my right hand connected. Surprised the hell out of me.

When the rounds were over, I literally laid down in the middle of the ring. During the sparring, I noticed Crystal and Helen off to the side watching. Later Crystal told me, "When you hit her, you really hit her!" Sadiq said in amazement, "I had never seen you spar before!" Sarah touched her lip and said, "You got me good. I think I'm going to be puffy later on."

After Steve dropped me off, I trudged upstairs to my aparment and collasped on my couch for several minutes. Sarah had caught me hard in the head with one of her punches, and the spot was tender. Hadn't been that tired and sore in awhile. Sparring always points out to me that I need to do more exercise. That is especially true now that I won't be able to roam outside for long periods of time for much longer due to the weather.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Adventures In Coaching

Hmm. . .I have a lot to learn about coaching. I've spent extra time over the past couple of weeks going over the boxing books I have. Still feel a little unsure at times, though. Makes me glad that Steve and Barry are nearby.

Crystal (I think I've been calling the girl "Kristin") came in last night, and we worked on footwork and combinations. I put on a pair of punch mitts, being mindful of how I badly broke a nail using them a few weeks ago. That nail is finally growing back. The mitts I had on were a pair of Steve's, and they were more stable than the others I had used. I should bring in the mitts I have at home in the closet. They are practically brand new.

I saw that Crystal needs more practice with her footwork. She starts out a little crooked in her stance, which translates into not exactly being in proper position for footwork. She gets the concept, however. It's just a matter of fine tuning it. She's also a southpaw, which means I have to think of the punches in the opposite direction, since I'm right-handed. One of the boxing books I have is unusual as the boxers in the pictures are both southpaws. They use terms like front jab and rear foot to avoid saying "left" or "right". I found myself explaining the punches to Crystal like that last night as not to confuse myself.

Steve suggested that Crystal and Erin spar together on Friday. Crystal told me she has sparred once; Erin hasn't sparred at all, but she's been working with Steve on the mitts. Neither Steve or I were sure if Erin had a mouthpiece. There aren't any extra ones in the gym, I don't think. If Crystal doesn't show up, or she doesn't want to spar, Steve suggested that I spar with Erin. I have to watch my right hand if I do. Like my late dad, I have heavy hands.

Tony called around 11:00 PM last night. ESPN Classic was showing an hour of Joe Frazier's fights, so I didn't answer my phone. I usually don't answer it that late anyway. The message light on the caller ID went on. When I checked it during a commercial break, all I heard was Tony hanging up his phone. He's done that before, and it never ceases to be annoying. The last few times he did that, he had the nerve to admit he had listened to my outgoing message a few times. Uh, voice mail is designed to leave messages for the person who is being called. Not that I want to talk to him--he's already written off--but common courtesy is in order.

Have to let Margaret, the choir director at my church, know that I won't be in rehearsal next week due to Hamlin Park's boxing show. I already know that is not going to go over well, especially since the choir will probably start going over Christmas music soon.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Surprise Win

Keith surprised me by winning his match during Friday's boxing show at our fieldhouse. The surprise comes because Keith has not been in to workout often. He threw some very wild punches, yet the ones that connected really hurt his opponent.

Steve, Barry, Nate Sr., and myself worked the corners that night. I think Diego was the only Loyola boxer who did not win that evening. Sadiq and Kevin won extra trophies for the extra effort they put in over the past year in the ring. I took a lot of pictures with my ancient 35mm camera. I hope all of them turn out.

Some people just don't take hints or direct statements well, and Tony appears to be one of those people. He had been bugging Steve about where I was before I got to the fieldhouse. Steve caught me rolling my eyes when he told me Tony was looking for me. All that evening, Tony kept following me like an piece of toilet paper stuck to a shoe. I told him that I was not interested in being a stepmom to his kid, or dealing with his baby's mama drama (which he keeps claiming is non-existent). Nor did I like the fact he is a 35 year old man still living at home with his mama. "When are you going to call me?" he asks, instead of taking the hints and moving on. "I'm busy," I said drily. Maybe when he notices I'm not calling him or taking his phone calls.

"I'm working on that," was his response to my complaining about him living at home. Tony has two jobs, or so he told me. What is there to work on? Is he waiting until he turns 40? I don't sense any urgency on his part to get his own place. Not that I'd be interested in dating him even if he did. Someone that old usually is too comfortable to get up off their behind. My parents were wishing out loud for my 18th birthday to come and using road maps as place mats on the breakfast table when I was home. Maybe his mama is not pushing him or his brothers hard enough to hit the road.

His conversation was just idiotic. Bad impressions of famous boxers, complaining about the pizza that had been ordered for the coaches and officials, making fun of the fieldhouse, griping about the north side of the city, and numerous inane jokes. Tony was talking silly to a teenaged girl who he knew. I also heard him talking about going to a club. Now there's a difference between people under and over 30 talking about club-hopping. Most of us over 30 no longer view always hanging at the clubs or bars, for that matter, as a lifestyle. Tony sounded as if he hadn't gotten to that point in his development.