Thursday, August 30, 2007

Coach's Retirement

Steve announced that in another year, he'll have completed work on his Ph.D, and will be retiring from coaching. The news appeared to be somewhat of a shock to some of the guys, but Steve has been saying all long that he plans to be a college professor. I'll be sorry to see him go, but Steve has a career to pursue. I'm wondering who would replace him once that happens.

Candace came in, which was a surprise. She told Steve that she was trying to avoid being hit. "There's no way that you'll ever be able to do that," he smiled. "Sooner or later, you gonna get hit in this sport." Candace and I did some light sparring drills, and Steve also worked with her for awhile.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Everlast Outfitting

G came in with a list on Friday of all the equipment that Everlast wants to give to the gym. A major world boxing competition is coming to Chicago in October, a sort of precursor to the Olympics games that the city hopes to host. Everlast, the oldest boxing equipment company in the world, has offered to donate stuff to the Chicago Park District boxing gyms. We would get gloves, mitts, heavy bags and whole lot of other brand new items. It's just a matter of figuring out where to put it all when it comes.

Steve kept saying he wasn't feeling well, and he planned to go home early. Yet, he stayed until almost the end of the evening. Graubien brought his wife, four daughters, and a friend of his daughters to the gym. I saw the girls peering in, and thinking they were just kids hanging around, I asked if they were interested in the sport. They just smiled back. Later I learned that none of them speak English. Graubien was finally able to bring them all up from Mexico, and get their immigration papers in order. Steve let a couple of the girls put gloves on and do a mock sparring session.

Then two other kids walked in, a boy and a girl. When kids see other kids in the gym, they assume it's allright for them to be there, too. "No hitting the bags," I warned those two. I explained to them the procedure they'd have to follow to join the youth boxing program. "Why are those kids in the ring?" the boy asked. "Because their father is here to watch them," I told him.

Steve read the story I had written which was printed in True Love magazine, which just hit the newsstand last week. True Love is one of the many "confession story" magazines that you see on newsstands, full of stories with titles such as "I Faked My Death To Get Away His Torture" and "Left At The Altar By A Two-Timing Groom". He liked it. I made a copy of it for Les to read. Les told me he read -- and liked -- the story I wrote that was published in True Experience a couple of months ago. I have to make a copy of that story for Steve to read.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Little Men On The Bags

Willie showed up with his two grandsons again. Steve expressed his concerns about the kids being in the gym to me. If they belong to someone in the gym, there's the assumption that the adult is going to watch their kid. A little leeway is given sometimes in that situation. Those kids aren't run out of the place like the others who come in unsupervised. However, regardless if they are being supervised or not, the kids' aren't supposed to be in the gym on Wednesdays and Fridays. Mary, the fieldhouse supervisor, doesn't want kids in the gym during those times.

One of the boys kept beating the cobra bag, which was already loose. The kid beat it down nearly to the floor. Finally, I told him, "Look son, this is broken. It's not supposed to lean way over like that." He and his brother left it alone after that. While we were doing intervals later in the evening, Willie's grandsons decided they were going to join in. I kept worrying that they might accidently get hit by one of the adults' fists, or be KO'd by the heavy bags.

Larry, who hadn't been there in a long, long time, showed up at the gym last night. He had grown his hair out.

My left arm and shoulder was bothering me. That arm hasn't been completely right since that car accident I was in two summers ago. I've been checking out kettlebells online and thinking that maybe I should start lifting those. I need a little more strength in both arms, so it could help.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Missing

I guess both Candace and Bridget have given up. Neither of them showed up on Friday night. G was not there, either, although Gilberto told me he had shown up the week the gym was closed. JJ was asked about Mort, and he stated that he hadn't seen him in awhile.

Steve wanted to sign up Terrell for a show fight in September, but Terrell's going to back in college by that time. He attends school in Mississippi. Terrell sparred with his friend Wally and popped him in the eye. Steve and I inspected the damage -- Wally's eye was a little red, but it wasn't blackened or closed. His nose was bleeding a little, but he took care of it.

Willie came in late with a couple of his grandchildren. He arrived a little too late for sparring, which was just as well. Personally, I didn't want to see a repeat of the slugfest that took place between him and Terrell the other day. JJ and Nate Sr. got their usual sparring in.

I learned that Diego made it all the way to the finals at the Ringside competition in Kansas, but lost his final fight. That still left him as a number one ranked contender, which is a good thing. I wish I could have competed in that. I'll always regret that I couldn't.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gotta Work Together

Willie and Terrell were supposed to take it easy on each other during a sparring drill last night. Steve showed the both of them how light they were supposed to hit. Terrell was told to do jab-jab-cross, and Willie was to do cross-hook-cross. Willie kept pounding Terrell, then caught him up against the ropes and fired off several hard shots to his face. Terrell dropped his hands and took the hits. Steve made them break, and repeated that they were supposed to go easy.

Terrell went to his corner and whispered to Wally, "I'm gonna whip his ass." I don't think Steve heard it. The second round began, and Terrell didn't pull any punches on Willie. Willie returned heavy fire again. When the round ended, Steve made both of them take their gloves off. "You're not working with each other. You all are letting your emotions get too involved," he told them. Terrell said he was able to take the punches that Willie dished out, but Steve was not convinced.

At the end of the night, we did a cardio exercise. We paired up; one person held the mitts, while the other wore bag gloves. The idea was to throw many punches as fast as one could and remain in form at the same time. After three rounds, the pair would switch. Ben and I were paired up, and I was wore out afterwards. It was a good exercise. I hope we do that again.

I keep hearing bad news. Les' mother is dying, and he's in New York to be at her side. David, a nice guy who's a friend of Steve's, experienced the death of his mom recently. Steve's mother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer. All of this reaffirms the saying, "When it rains, it pours."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Seeing Eye Boxer

I should have asked the opthalmologist about boxing in relation to my eyes this morning, but I skipped it. He probably would have told me, like my primary doctor keeps telling me, "boxing is not a good idea."

I'm still wearing my shades, because the dialation of my eyes makes them incredible sensitive to light. The sun is shining brightly today, and I labor under florescent lights at work. It'll be hours before they feel normal again.

Maybe it is just as well that the gym is closed tonight. Normally, I can see a punch coming without my glasses on, but with my eyes being dialated, I might miss one coming.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Closed Tonight

The gym is closed tonight, but I might go to self-defense seminar that's being held by the Chicago Police Department. I heard that the cops will give out free pepper spray, too. For those of you who read this blog and don't live here, there's been a rash of assaults against women in an area of town known as Lakeview. Lakeview is one of the city's many yuppie havens, located not far from downtown Chicago.

My interest in going is to hear what tips for self-protection will be given out. I'm guessing it'll be the usual -- don't walk alone at night, have someone pick you up from the public transportation stops if you'll be coming home late, make cab drivers wait until you get inside the house before you drive off, etc. I have no doubt that most of the women in attendance will display expressions on their face that indicate they haven't heard the tips before and/or have never considered them.

It's disturbing in this day and age that both men and women often get lulled into a false sense of security. Judging from the comments I saw in the local papers after the attacks, it appears that a lot of people think because they live in a supposedly safe area, such incidents would never happen there or to them. I realize that many also believe that if they are shelling out money for property, particularly some of those who have condos and town houses, that their mortgage payments should automatically guarantee that the neighborhood be free of criminals. People need to wake up and get real. There are no "safe" neighborhoods, towns, cities or suburbs. Crime is everywhere and it happens anywhere and anytime.

I grew up in neighborhoods where you learned to watch your back from day one. The front doors, back doors and the windows in the house were closed, locked and checked regularly. You learned not to always use alleyways and gangways as shortcuts. There were houses and apartment buildings that you hurried by when when you walked pass, if you couldn't avoid them at all. Everybody knew what streets and corners were particularly bad, and they stayed away. People learned who the bad guys and girls around the neighborhood were, and they were hip to all the con games and schemes. People also knew how to protect themselves.

I keep saying this: it galls me that women and girls in this country are still being told, "It's not ladylike to fight." When facing a criminal who wants to rape, rob, assault, etc., that kind of attitude will get females killed. I'm always running into women who tell me, "I've never been in a fight." That does not negate the fact that women and girls should be prepared to know how to defend themselves in case the need arises. Forget about nonsense like, "when people learn how to fight, that makes them aggressive." Better to learn how to be aggressive when appropriate than to end up in the emergency room or the morgue.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Friday Before Close

Last Friday, Mort came in, and it was good to see him. His face lit up when I told him that my niece Jalissa had asked about him. I had spent some time with her while I was on vacation last week.

When I first walked in, the only persons in the gym were Steve and Bony. "Where is everybody?" Steve asked. "I got in eight rounds on the heavy bags before anyone came in!" Bony and I were able to get some pad work in before others came trickling in. Gabe came in, and it looked like he had been working out. His abs and chest were cut nicely.

Steve has to go out of town this week, and I opted not to come in, so the gym will be closed this Wednesday and Friday. If there was a major tournament coming up, I could see coming in. However, it's summer and people have been slacking off a little in regards to attendance. I wasn't surprised when Bridget didn't show up again, but I was surprised when Candace didn't show.

In regards to Bridget, she's just following a pattern that those who have children usually do: they drop out early on. This is especially true when they are always bringing their children with them when they come to the gym. I remember Brendon, who had a little girl. He disappeared before the session ended. Another guy had a cute little boy named Benny, who was also attending during the same time Brendon was. He stopped going, too. Then there was the guy who was not only showing up with his kids, but with his wife as well. He explained that his wife and kids wanted to see what the boxing program was all about. After a couple of weeks, they were satisfied with what they saw, I guess, and they stayed home. The guy stuck around another couple of weeks after that, and he dropped out.