Monday, October 29, 2007

International Fighting

Yesterday, G hooked us up with some tickets to see the fights at the World Boxing Championships. JJ invited along two friend of his, and Steve brought Eli. Several countries were represented including the USA, a guy named Demetrius who won over a guy from Latavia.

Two rings were set up in the UIC Pavillion, and the judges watched the action on laptop computers set up in front of them. Counters showing the points each boxer scored were in front of each ring. The fights were also broadcast on a huge screen, along with trivia about the World Boxing Championships. I found out that this is only the third time the event has taken place in this country.

I heard that professional boxer Andrew Golota was somewhere in the building. I saw referee/official Shifty running gloves back and forth, as well as Rita, another professional boxer, doing the same thing.

The fights themselves were a little slow. Olympic-style boxing is a bit different from regular amateur boxing and professional bouts. There are many rules, and I noticed the referees giving hand signals to the boxers to indicate which ones they had broken.

There was a fighter from Mongolia competing, and when he was in the ring, it seemed that the entire Chicago Mongolian community was there cheering him on. The Irish boxer who fought and won had a good sized cheering section, as well.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Training Day

I spent six hours down at UIC today, as a volunteer for the World Boxing Championships. I was stationed at the training center. Several teams came through, including England, Belarus, Italy, Korea, Japan, the Ukraine and China.

Some of the women who were there kept going on about how nice the team from Ireland was. They had volunteered the previous weekend, and said that the guys on that team were very sweet. I wanted to meet them, but they didn't come to the training center today.

There were tales of rude behavior from some of the teams. One woman said she was told to "shut up" by a boxer from Turkey. That team wanted to have access to a VIP area at the Palmer House Hotel, and were denied. There were also stories of the women being ignored when they were attempting to help the athletes. Unfortunately, that behavior from foreign men who come from countries where women aren't empowered, is common. They just can't stand having to deal with women who have authority. Fortunately, I neither witnessed or experienced any of that crap today.

The training center had several rings set up for the boxers to use. The teams were allowed one hour in the ring, and George was tough about getting them out on time. George is the coach over at Garfield Park, and he was in charge of running the rings there. Percy, whom I met at the Golden Gloves earlier this year, was also helping out.

The volunteers helped keep the rings clean, passed out towels, alerted teams when the shuttle buses were coming and going, and helped the boxers find their way around the building. At one point, I showed one of the British boxers where the washrooms were. It was somewhat like going through a maze to find the toilets in the lower level of the building.

After my shift was over, I took the shuttle back to the Palmer House. Volunteers were allowed to do this as long as they showed their credentials, or IDs. I enjoyed my volunteer time today. Now I wish I had signed up for more shifts. However, they need people during the day, and my job prevents me from being there.

Tomorrow, there are plans to see the bouts as spectators. Last night, Steve said that G is going to have tickets for those who want to go. I forgot that I told Ron, the church organist, that we could type up (well, I'm the one doing the typing) the program for the cabaret show we're doing in early November. We have to go to my office, since my laptop at home doesn't have Microsoft Publisher on it. Hopefully, that won't take more than an hour, so I can make the fights. I'll have to call Steve later tonight to see what the plan is for meeting up with everybody.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Dwindles While Old Increases

Steve had to stay home with Eli. The little guy had a bad reaction to some medicine. Plus, Ellen had an interview outside of the city. Steve thought it best not to leave their son with babysitters last night, which was a good idea.

Most times when Steve is out, someone shows up whom none of us have seen in awhile. Last night, our own 2007 Golden Gloves winner, Mort came in. Also, Big Jermaine showed up along with his buddy, Danny. I hadn't seen Danny since last winter, I think. He told me since the weather was cooling down, he'd be coming in the gym more often. Last, but not least, Antonio, a MMA fighter who also won a Golden Gloves trophy earlier this year, came in to train.

Antonio, Mort and I got into a discussion about food, which made me more aware that I should watch what I eat. I had grumbled on a diabetes forum earlier that day how I hated having to think about the condition every day and adjust my habits. The forum monitor suggested a couple of books for me to read, and added, "The books will explain what bad things can happen if you don't eat right!" Antonio explained that he likes to eat a lot of Korean food. "It's the best because it's so healthy. It's full of vegetables," he said. Both he and Mort agreed that eating White Castle hamburgers was dangerous. I admit that I like "sliders", but even I can't eat them every day. Once every few months, I'll get a strong craving for them.

Antonio told me that he has opened his own gym, which is located on North and Elston. In addition to MMA, he teaches other martial arts and boxing. I would like to go there and check it out.

Only two of the new people came in, and they were gone at least fourty-five minutes before class was over. The male half of the married couple (I still can't think of his name), and Arin worked out a little, but I didn't do a formal lesson with them. I would have worked with them if they asked for help with specific things, however.

When I got to the gym, I noticed that I left one of my new boxing shoes at home. I never check to see if I have everything in the bag before I leave the house. It's the umpteenth time I've discovered I'm missing something; it's annoying. Must be one of those "senior moments" people joke about. Luckily, I had an old pair of flat tennis shoes in my locker to wear.

I watched the first semi-final match of "The Contender" late the night before. I had taped it because I had gone to a women's fellowship meeting sponsored by my church earlier. I knew Jaidon was going to beat his opponent, but I didn't expect the beat down to be so sudden. He caught the guy with a right cross, and his opponent crumbled to the canvas. He made it up before the referee finished the count, but his legs were not under him. The fight was stopped. He'll fight whoever wins the second semi-final match: Sakio Bika or Sam Solliman. That's a hard fight to predict. Both of them are tough men.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Friday Only

I wasn't feeling well on Wednesday, so I didn't go to the gym. I went in this past Friday, and the crowd was small. The married couple, Andy, JJ and Tommy were there.

When I picked up my World Boxing Championships uniform earlier in the week, I was given four free tickets. I chose to go to the matches on Halloween, since I took that as a vacation day. Steve and JJ expressed interest in going, but JJ has to work, so he may not be able to go. I also told Steve that since Barry and Gary are also volunteers, they should have free tickets, too.

Tommy and I were laughing about the Oscar DeLaHoya picture incident, the one where pictures were posted of him in risque clothing on the Internet. DeLaHoya has denied the pictures are of him, and Steve said the photos looked like a Photoshop job. "He's too much of a businessman, and too much of a big image to mess up to do something like that," Steve said.

Terrell and Wally came in. Wally announced that he has graduated from college, with a degree in computer science. "I'm just waiting on Terrell to get finished," he said. Terrell is a junior at a college in Mississippi, carrying a double major in biology and chemistry. "Those are some tough subjects," Steve pointed out. "But they go well together," I told Terrell. He's better than I: science was one of my worst subjects while I was in school.

Yesterday, I ran into Tall Ben, who was walking with his girlfriend and their kids. "You don't spar down there, do you?" he asked. "No women are available. The new ones that come in don't want to spar," I said. Linda, the administrative assistant who works downstairs at my job, had asked me the same thing earlier on Friday. It's been months. I think the last person I sparred with was Erin, right before she had her fight out at the Sabre Room. I miss that type of practice. But then, on the other hand, with my sprained shoulder, I need to cool out on that for a minute.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Switzerland Guest

Steve said that a boxer from Switzerland, who wanted to learn "technical boxing", had planned to show up at the gym Friday night. According to Steve, the guy would be a good match for JJ, but the guy never showed up. The boxer is associated with the World Boxing Championships, so it is expected he'll visit the gym at some point. However, no word on if any other international boxers will come.

Mort showed up with his girlfriend, whose name I can't remember. He was happy to see all the new equipment, especially the speed bag, which is his favorite. Of the newcomers, there were Andy, Aren and Nina; their numbers seem to be dwindling, as what usually happens as the session goes on.

I had a good workout, despite the fact that my shoulder still hurts. My left leg is now hurting, too. That happened yesterday while I was dancing to a music video -- "New Jack Swing" by Wrecks N' Effects -- I was converting from VHS to DVD. Seems I forgot that I am no longer in my 20s (when the song was released), and that I've gained some pounds since that time. I foolishly thought I could still do the moves displayed in that video.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Four For Class

Steve called me before I went to work yesterday morning, explaining that he had to prepare a talk he's going to give to some professors. I agreed to open the gym that evening.

Only five of the new people showed up, and one did his own workout (can't think of his name, but he was wearing a paramedic's association T-shirt). The other four -- Aren, Nina, and an engaged couple -- and I got into the ring to go over what Steve had taught them. We reviewed the left jab and right cross. I added the left hook, side-to-side footwork and pivoting. It was a pleasant, but quiet evening. Of the guys who come in often, only Ben and Bony came in.

Mary pointed out some of the work that had been done in the gym. The ring ropes had been tightened, an Everlast heavy bag had been put up, and a couple of Everlast banners had been hung. Today, the body snatcher bag and new speed bag platform will be installed. The double end bag may be moved over to provide more room on the floor. Things are looking good; it's just of matter of finding out when and if any of the boxers participating in the World Boxing Championships will come to Loyola Park to work out. I understand that arrangements have already been made for the international boxers to work out at some of the other Park District gyms. Gary told me that when I saw him last Saturday morning, on my way to take care of some business at the credit union.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Where Are The Regulars?

All of the newcomers except for Amy showed up Friday, but of the people who've been there awhile, only JJ, Bony and G came in. This is the about the third time in a row that the regulars have been missing, and now I'm wondering: what's up? That's the type of behavior I've come to expect out of the newcomers, but not the guys who are usually always around.

G said that the Loyola Park boxing show got high marks from many. It appears that people were impressed with the fighters. I gave Steve my DVD copy of the boxing show so he could burn copies for himself, Mort and Larry.

Steve told me to keep doing the exercises that James gave me for my sore left shoulder. "I liked James. He seems to know his stuff," he said. I did the exercises when I came home from the gym, and I plan to continue them over the weekend. My shoulder doesn't feel as bad as it used to, but it still needs improvement.

I opted not to go to Hamlin Park today, due to my shoulder. I had to buy some more pain killers, and I can never remember what I can take. Since I have hypertension and diabetes, I have to be careful what over-the-counter meds I take.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Another Sprain?

I went to see the physical therapist, James, whom Steve recommended last night after work. James thought I had a sprain. "Did you lift anything heavy? Fall recently?" he asked. I searched my brain, and couldn't come up with anything. The last time I knew I sprained my shoulder was the summer of 2005 when I was in an accident that totaled the car my father left me when he passed away.

James was very helpful. "How did you know to come here?" he asked. I told him Steve's name, and he chuckled. "Yeah, I remember Steve," he said. He gave me some exercises to do, and told me to call him on Monday if I didn't notice any improvements.

Now I'm debating if I should go to Hamlin Park tomorrow. Yale was going to introduce me to some female boxers, and perhaps set up some sparring. I received an email from Margaret, the choir director at my church, questioning if I should do that in light of my shoulder. She has a point. There's no sense in me continually re-injuring my shoulder. For all I know, this could be a flare-up from when I hurt it two years ago. James did say it was kind of unusual that it would hurt now from boxing, considering that I have been involved in the sport for about seven years.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Quiet and Full

There were about seven new people in the gym last night, but yet, the gym was quiet. Most of the regulars did not appear. The radio was tuned to a sports channel and the Cubs game was on. I don't like baseball, so I wasn't paying attention to the scores. They lost anyway, I learned later, which was not surprising.

Candace came in later, and asked, "What's going on?" when she saw all the people in the ring with Steve. I forgot that Candace started three weeks late into the summer session, so she missed the group lessons that Steve always gives in the beginning. Her and I did some pad work. She wanted to work on blocking hooks.

Aren -- that is the correct spelling of the woman whom I was referring to as Erin, not to be confused with the actual Erin who hasn't been in the gym in awhile. I heard her giving big-time encouragement to an African-American woman who was another newcomer during a pad work exercise. I like Aren; I hope her enthusiasm for learning the sport keeps her coming to the gym.

Later in the evening, Steve asked me if he should continue to have the newcomers do pad work or do floor exercises. I suggested the floor exercises, and went into the ring to do them with the others. I was happy that the second time we had to do 20 leg lifts, I did them all without stopping between lifts. We also had to toss medicine balls to each other, which my sore left arm didn't like, but I got through it. Steve emailed me the name of the guy he saw when he was having trouble with his arm. I'm going in to see that person about my arm this evening.

Yale emailed me today about coming up to Hamlin on Saturday, so I'll call him later to confirm. He's going to introduce me to the female boxers up there, but if they are who I think they are, I have met them several times. It'll be nice to get a workout in, however.