Friday, March 30, 2007

Looking To Saturday

I wasn't in the gym on Wednesday because I was in a recording studio. I needed a copy of the music for the song "Black Coffee" on CD so I can perform it at a neighborhood coffee house/Internet cafe. The session itself took less than an hour, but I had to go near downtown to get it done. By the time I got back home, the gym was about fifteen minutes from being closed for the night.

Mort, Javonta and Keith are fighting tomorrow night in the semi-finals at the Golden Gloves. Javonta is the wild card. He looks capable in the gym, but sometimes that does not translate to being in an actual fight. I'm worried about Keith because he doesn't workout. Mort seems to have the best chance, already having experienced two wins at the Gloves.

It ought to be a busy and long night. Have no idea how the guys' matches will be spread out until we get to St. Andrew's. They could fight right behind each other in a row, or in some other configuration.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Junior's Loss and Antonio's Surprise

J.J. met Orpheus, a guy he spars with at the Evanston Boxing Club, in the ring this past Saturday night, and all did not go well. He was fine when he kept Orpheus in the middle of the ring. When Orpheus caught him up against the ropes and in the corners, that's where J.J. got into trouble. I felt bad for him afterwards. I never know quite what to say when one of the guys lose, and I don't want to say something that's going to pour more salt on the wound.

Later in the evening, Antonio (Tony), the MMA fighter who comes into the gym sometimes, had a match. His coach didn't bring any of his gear, so J.J. let him borrow some of his. I was worried because I've seen how Tony fared in sparring sessions against J.J. and Sadiq. However, Tony beat down his opponent in a stunning upset.

Only three guys are left in the Golden Gloves: Keith, Mort and Javonta.

Yesterday, Muhammad, J.J., myself, Nate Sr., and Keith were in the gym. A father and son duo, Tracy Sr. and Tracy Jr. came in; Tracy Jr. sparred with J.J., and that kid was fast and good. I couldn't believe he was only 14 years old. He carried himself like a guy much older. Muhammad and I commented to each other how tough Tracy Sr. appeared to be as a coach. The older man explained that he was trying to help his son get a scholarship to U of Michigan. The son plans to become a chemical engineer in the future.

There was also talk of attending different tournaments. I was thinking about going to the Ringside Tournament in late July, but Steve won't be able to go. I haven't filled out the application yet, but I may be able to go with another coach. It's a matter of finding out who definately will go, and if I can scare up the travel funds.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Meeting The Big Man

Mort had a second preliminary fight last night. I taped it with the use of Mike's digital camera. Mort got a TKO, so he is solidly in the semi-finals. He seemed to be very light on his feet the entire time. Mort had a lot of support from the audience, as well. Several guys sitting near me were boisterously cheering him on.

Immediately after Mort's win, I introduced myself to Ernie Terrell, who was sitting at the judges' tables. Terrell had a famous 12 round match against Muhammad Ali in 1967, and his sister, Jean, sang with The Supremes in the years immediately following Diana Ross' depature. He is a big man; his hand completely enveloped mine. I learned later that he is six foot six tall. I had seen him in attendance at many fights, but never had a chance to say hello until last night.

Unfortunately, Mike lost his fight; it was a close decision. Both Mike and his opponent were gassed out in the 2nd round, but continued battling in the 3rd round. Mike got off the cleaner and more decisive shots, but the judges did not go his way. Some members of the audience booed the judges' decision. "That was bullshit!" Mort snapped.

I overheard the guys running the glove table asking each other if they had seen Kitchens, the ring photographer. I was looking for him myself; he took a picture of me with a politician friend of my late dad's some time ago, and I wanted to buy it from him. The guys said they hadn't seen him. It was unusual because he's always at the Gloves.

I was feeling out of sorts on the way home. Two days of eating the junk food being sold at the Gloves had taken it's toll. "I'm stopping at the health food store tomorrow and buying good snacks to bring down to the tournament," I told Steve.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

First Up, Mort

Mort was choosen to fight in the first match on the first night of the Golden Gloves in the 178 pound Novice category. While Mort watched his opponent carefully for openings, his opponent was often unsure and came in swinging wildly. I knew in the middle of the second round that Mort was going to win that preliminary match, and he did.

Mike was supposed to fight that evening, but his fight was put off until tonight. That didn't go over well with Margaret, the choir director at church. I called her this morning and she said, "Don't say you're not going to be at choir rehearsal tonight!" We go through this every year; it's like a running joke. "Be careful", she told me before we ended the call. She's always concerned about me talking about trying to get fights.

Felt a little depressed when a professional female fighter, Rita Figueroa, was introduced in-between one of the matches as one of the many special guests who were in the audience last night. The announcer made a mistake and said she was a two-time Golden Gloves champion. She corrected him and told him she had actually won the championship four times. Four times? "I can't even get in the tournament one time," I grumbled to myself.

Many of the fights last night ended quickly in the first round, due to fighters becoming too overwhelmed to offer much of a defense. There were a lot of guys having eight counts called on them.

We (Steve, Ben, Erin, JJ, Mike, Mort) had our stuff near some guys who were making a lot of funny comments on the fights. One boxer had the misfortune of being named Eric Estrada. "Eric Estrada? Where's his motorcycle? Hey, Ponch!" said the guys, making references to the old TV show "Chips". Steve and I were cracking up. Steve told the guys, "You know he's probably heard those jokes all of his life."

Another guy named Mike, who used to train in the gym, came by and wished everyone well. "Do you remember me?" he said, when I saw him. He was a nice guy -- I used to help him out a lot when he used to come in. He's a student at Loyola University, and studies kept him out of training for awhile.

This year's tournament marked the first time I had to watch what I ate there in light of my recent health problems. That was a pain. There's not much there that's healthy to eat, and I didn't have time to stop to get something before I got to St. Andrews. I broke down and had two hot dogs, but bypassed the cake and pop. I had half a mind to get some nachos, but fortunately, we all left before I could make another trip to the concession stand. Deciding that I had done enough damage to my eating habits that evening, I did not eat again when I got home.

Title Boxing was there, and I picked up a T-shirt with a silhouette of a boxer on it. I had been eyeing that in their catalog for some time. Maybe I'll pick up an instructional DVD tonight, depending on how much money I have on hand. I was wondering if Ringside had ever had a table at the Golden Gloves, but in the past four years I've been going there, I don't think they have.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday Before The Gloves

I was in the gym both Friday and today. Keith sort of ticked Steve off on Friday. They were working on the mitts, when Keith decided he didn't want to do another round. He kept coughing and saying he was ill. "Come on man, you need it," Steve told him, but Keith left the ring and walked out of the gym for a few minutes. It is somewhat in Keith's favor that he does not have to fight during the Golden Gloves preliminary matches. He and Javonta got walk overs, so they don't have to fight until the semi-finals next week.

I heard that Samantha got walked over for the preliminaries, the semi-finals and the finals. I wish that could happen to me! She's automatically in for the National Golden Gloves.

Mort and Mike fight on Wednesday, and JJ fights on Friday, so the gym will be closed this week. All three of them were in the gym earlier this afternoon. Steve's main purpose for opening the gym today was not the workout. He wanted the guys to get some time in, but to go light. Steve wanted to double check that everyone had the equipment they needed for later this week.

Willie, a guy who used to come to my church on a regular basis, was also in the gym. I had mentioned after services was over this morning, that I was going to the gym. He got his gear and showed up for a workout. He was glad for it. He said he helped him clear his mind. I held mitts for him near the end of the session. Willie hits very hard, so I had to quickly adjust how I was holding the mitts.

Steve had little Eli with him, and the boy was sound asleep when he first came in. When he woke up, Eli observed everyone as they worked out.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Where For Art Thou, Oh Fighters?

Both Keith and Mort were nowhere to be found in the gym last night. Last night marked exactly a week before the start of the Chicago Golden Gloves. "I'm afraid Keith's not going to come in on Friday iether, and he's not going to know what's going on," I told Steve. Two years ago, Keith rolled up on the first day of the Gloves over an half-hour late to be weighed in. The officials wouldn't let him box, and he raised all kinds of sand. As much as he said he didn't want to miss out again (he couldn't do it last year due to his work schedule), I'd hate for him to lose the opportunity. However, if he doesn't show up, what can be done?

I didn't even notice Mort wasn't in the gym until the end of the night. He had been in the Gloves two years ago as well. He lost a close fight during the preliminaries. I was working his corner alongside Steve that night, and Mort was mighty hot that he had lost. He accused his opponent of playing games and being underhanded. His opponent was a bit scared of him during the rounds, judging by the way he was skipping away from Mort most of the time.

Rias would have been a good candidate for the Gloves, I believe, but he didn't sign up. Jermaine probably would have too, but he didn't register, either. Besides, Jermaine is trying to get a rap music career off of the ground. Sadiq might have won it all if he had signed up, but I sense he's had a little loss of confidence since losing his last show fight.

Erin did sparring drills with Mike last night. Once she worked her jab more, and then hooked off it, she did well. I overheard a few of the guys saying, "Man, she's good! Remember when she knocked out that girl a while ago?" My niece's mom asked me last night what happened to Kristine. As far as I know, she comes in when the kids are in the gym, but I haven't seen her in several weeks.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen any of the kids and teens in a long time, like Diego, Kevin (Toby), Nate Jr., Freddie, Montrell, etc. They might show up at the Gloves to watch the matches.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Yes, License, But No Masters

There were so many people at JABB Gym for the Golden Gloves sign-up this past Saturday that applications ran low, and new license books ran out completely. I was able to renew my license for another year, but alas, no Masters Division fights were scheduled. A guy ahead of me in line renewed his boxing coach's license, and I got information about the next coaches' clinic. Unfortuntately, it takes place this upcoming Saturday, and I have one more Gospel Fest rehearsal to do.

A few guys from Fuller Park who were at the registration asked if Junior was going to be in the Gloves. They bragged on his skills; one of them said he wanted to fight Junior last year, but he didn't make it into the tournament.

There was a good crowd in the gym this past Friday, but no Keith. Steve wondered if Keith would be back in the gym before the tournament next week. "He might show up the first day of the Golden Gloves," Steve mused. Junior sparred with Tony, the MMA fighter who hadn't been around in awhile. It never fails; Junior always manages to bloody up someone's nose when he spars with them. I saw Steve holding a towel to Tony's nose between rounds. Muhammad wanted to spar with Craig, who didn't come in, so he had to go with Junior. Muhammad gassed out early on, but Steve wouldn't let him quit in the middle of the round. "You have to finish the round, even if you're tired!" Steve told him. That's true, but it is so hard to do.

We did intervals on the heavy bags at the end of the evening. I was amazed that I lasted all five three minute rounds with two knees acting up. I find energy at the oddest times, regardless of how my body may be feeling. While doing that exercise, I overheard Steve telling Mike how hard it is to find matches for me. "She even posted on a Masters' Division internet group one year, but no luck," Steve said. I didn't even bother to post there this year, since the last few times were fruitless. I see others on there looking for fights with little luck. I have an application for the Ringside Boxing Tournament, where they do have masters' bouts. Just have to save the money to get to Kansas City in August if I go ahead and apply.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Possible Sudden Change Of Plans

I was in the gym this past Sunday, as Steve had it open. He plans to open it on Sundays for extra practice for the Golden Gloves tournament. I really, really appreciated getting the extra workout in, even though I have snowball's chance in getting a match at the Gloves.

Looks like I may have a hard time renewing my boxing license, too. It was my fault that I didn't think to get a note that I had taken a physical last month from my doctor. Couldn't renew it at Hamlin last night because of that. Now I have to show that I took a EKG, too. The last time I had one was December of 2005. Junior, Mike, Mort, Javonte and Keith breezed through getting new licences/renewing old ones and signing up for the tournament. I sat on the sidelines, ticked that I hadn't taken care of business beforehand. My doctor had no problem vouching that my high blood pressure was under control. It dawned on me that my doctor may not sign off on it this time since I'm now also pre-diabetic.

I hate that I missed the last coach's clinic. If I could have applied for a coach's license, then I could have avoided the medical requirements that USA Boxing forces on boxers over 35 years of age. Hey, Freddie Roach has Parkinson's and it doesn't stop him from producing champions. I could also work the corners, get into amateur tournaments and shows for free, plus get involved more with training. Without either a boxer's or a coach's license, I can't do any of those things.

I have an appointment to see my doctor late Thursday afternoon. Judging by mishaps I've experienced since the year began, I don't have a good feeling it's going to go well.