Thursday, May 28, 2009

Boxing Photographs

Katie and I sparred last night. I had the feeling that some may have been waiting for another knockout to happen, but nope. I got in a good overhand right, and some hooks to the body, but that was it. Katie still has the advantage of having long arms. You can also see from the picture that she is way taller than I. I asked Alan to take pictures of us sparring. I plan to send them on to my older half-sister Mary, who I have recently reconnected with after almost 30 years. It's a long story; I'll just say that our late dad was mostly at fault for that.

Katie and Maggie work together. I heard John asking her, "Where's your friend?" "I don't know," Katie replied. Later, Katie told me that last week was the first time that Maggie had used a mouthpiece. Maggie had commented that she had a hard time breathing exclusively through her nose while wearing it. While I was sparring with Katie, I found myself breathing through my mouth. The mouthpiece slipped as a result, and I had to push it back in place. It is very hard to breath through one's nose during the course of a round, but it should be done. Mouth breathing is always a sign to the opponent that the other boxer is tired.

Alan, Sadiq and Rafael (Ralphie) were talking about how tough body punches are. I haven't experienced too many of those, but they do take the wind out of a person. There is a reason why some trainers will tell their boxers, "Break down the body first, then go for the head."

John's son Josh came in the gym. The last time I saw him, he was a little guy. Now he's about 13 years old and lean. I was showing him how to hit the speed bag. I noticed it had been changed out again. Last week, the bigger speed bag was up; last night, the smaller speed bag was in place. I like the smaller one better. Too bad the speed bag platform can no longer be raised up and down. Both Josh and I had to stand on the aerobic steps to reach it.

My right knee was acting up all night, and today, the left knee has decided to take a turn. I don't bob and weave like I used to because of the arthritis. It irritates me because while I don't always have to go low with a tall opponent, I do need to do that with people closer to my height.

I knew people at my church were going to trip out about me knocking out Maggie last week. Margaret, the choir director exclaimed, "You hit a woman? My goodness!" Alex and Nigel shook their heads in amazement. Alex said, "See, I should have been in on that action. You should make me your manager!" David, the Sunday School Supervisor said, "Please tell me when you have your next fight so I can come to the gym." The pastor cracked, "Remind me not to drop my left."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pepper On A Right Hook

Jilberto opened the door for me. Two unfamiliar guys walked in the gym. One guy, whose name I learned was Carlos, stated that he had signed up for the summer session. He wanted to check the gym out. The second guy looked like he was in his late teens. He barely grunted when I said "hi", then proceeded to punch on every bag in the gym.

He was kicking the smaller of the heavy bags. "Don't do that. That's not what they're for," I ordered. The guy asked Paul a few questions about the gym. I watched the guy carefully. He took one of the jump ropes, grabbed his backpack and jacket, and walked out of the gym. I followed him. "Excuse me, young man, but where are you going with that rope?" He walked back, mumbling something about wanting to jump rope outside. There wasn't that many people in the gym at that point, so he would have had plenty of room to do that there. "Why would you take a rope? That's Park District property. You can always buy your own," I said with a bit of irritation. He put the rope back and left again. Alan came in a moment later. "You just missed a would-be thief," I told him.

Later, I sparred with Katie and Maggie. I still have not figured out how to get around Katie's long arms. On top of that, she's getting better at feeling her range. I took a lot of shots to the top of my head.

Maggie and I are about the same height, so moving around her was easier. During our second round, I realized I kept moving the same way each time I threw a left-right combination. Maggie was able to anticipate what I would do next. "Why don't I try to slip a hook in?" I thought to myself. Maggie's left dropped for a moment after she threw a right. I came over with a right hook. The next thing I knew, Maggie was on the canvas.

My memory dialed back to the last time I physically knocked someone down. The first person that came to mind was a worthless ex-boyfriend who had the nerve to hit me nearly 20 years ago. I cut his cheek open with a right, and his head snapped back, but his 6'3 frame did not go down. There was a fight between my late younger sister and I that took place a few years before that. I do remember knocking her down and cutting her lip open in the process. That was a long, long time ago.

Maggie got to her feet and caught her breath. She assured Alan and I that she was okay, but she looked shaky. Alan stopped the round and took her gloves off. I asked her again if she was fine, and she said she was. "You're a knockout specialist, beating up on poor social workers," John the lawyer said, referring to Maggie's job.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Punching While Short

"Are you loosened up?" Alan asked me. "As much as a middle-aged woman can be," I answered. I sparred twice last night, first with Maggie, and then with Melanie. Maggie had no mouthpiece, so I had to pull punches and be extra careful of putting my fist in her face. I started off strong, throwing a lot of jabs, but I got tired out. Definitely need more conditioning in my exercise routine.

Katie and Heather sparred next. Katie is getting better at using her arm length. Heather's jabs are coming along, but she hesitates a lot before throwing the next punch. She doesn't use her right enough, either, but that will come in time.

When they came out, I got in with Melanie. She is getting more confident in the ring. I took a few hard shots from her. "You don't mind if I hit harder, don't you? I just assume that you will hit back harder," she said to me last night. "No, I don't mind," I smiled. I can take a bit of punishment. I've always figured that was because I come from a family of short women (on my mother's side) who are built quite tough. My Aunt Mary, who is 4'11, is always fond of telling people, "Dynamite comes in small packages." "Why were you hitting me on top of my head?" Melanie asked. Alan had told me a few times before to utilize the overhand right. But Melanie is closer to my height, than say, Katie.

Alan joked to Steve, a newer guy in the gym (not to be confused with the former coach) that he retired Kiki. Kiki was the doctor that used to come in the gym with his fiancee Sol. Kiki's eye was injured during a sparring match between him and Steve. Sol has come in on ocassion, but Kiki hasn't been in since.

Oscar and Leon sparred, and I noticed Oscar kept going for Leon's head. Oscar is not a whole lot taller than me, and I'm very short (5'1). Leon is about 6'5 and muscular. I thought, "If I was in there against Leon, I'd have to fight inside the whole time." I'd just waste a lot of energy constantly going for the head of anyone who towers over me.

Leon claimed that he was going to travel to an amateur boxing tournament in another state. Alan, Ralphie and Sadiq wanted proof. "Oh, I'll bring it in and put it up on the wall," Leon said.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Keys and People

Alan told me some time ago that he asked Mary if I could have a key to open the gym whenever he's running late or not going to be in. I wasn't surprised that Mary told him no. Nate Sr. has been volunteering with the kids in the gym for years, and he's never had a key. I'm not upset about it, because I understand the reasoning behind it. I'm not a Chicago Park District employee.

Also, it's not a good idea to allow everybody to have keys. That's a problem at my church, where there are three congregations, and people are often roaming in and out as they please. The fieldhouse is a public building. Keeping a tight rein on who has access cuts down on maintenance, custodial and security problems.

Barry left me a message that he left the digital scale out. I worried about that because from time to time, things do come up missing from the gym. Alan, after noticing all the gloves weren't matched up, wondered why someone would take one glove and leave the other behind. I don't have the key for the cabinet in the back, or else I would have locked it up. I did put in back in its case and put it behind the cabinet.

Older John, the attorney, came in last night, wondering, "Where is everybody?" Just like on Monday night, the number of people in the gym was small. My best explanation was that it is late spring, and the attendance always drops off after the Golden Gloves are over. Plus, once the weather gets warm, the gym attendance goes down even further. People don't necessarily want to be inside when the weather is nice.

Young John came in. He hadn't been around for awhile, and he inquired about Jim. I don't think I've seen Jim since February. "He trains at other places, then makes his way back here for awhile. Give it a few months, and he'll be back," I told John.

Leon must have given Sadiq a wallop during sparring. I was hitting the heavy bag, and had my back to the ring, so I didn't see the punch. I turned around to see Sadiq frowning at Leon and asking, "What the fuck?" Sadiq wanted to quit the sparring session, but was talked back into finishing the round. Alan warned Leon, like he always has to do, to take it easy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Leon Takes All Comers

Never a dull moment at Loyola Park's boxing gym. Leon came in last night and sparred with three people. Josh was a new guy who came in yesterday, who decided to jump into the ring his first night there. Fortunately, Leon took it easy on him. Not so on Oscar. Now that was a mismatch. Oscar is not that much taller than me, and Leon has got to be about six foot three. Leon kept catching Oscar with hooks and uppercuts. "If you're brave enough to get in the ring with Leon," Sadiq told Oscar, "then you and I can get in the ring the next time."

The third guy was a teenager, the son of dentist that Alan knows. Father and son came in to check out the gym. The teenager lasted with Leon, but it was tough going. Katie and Maggie joked with Leon about being a bully.

Erin, whose uncle John was a professional boxer, came in last night. She hopes to sign up for the summer session. It was very good to see her. We keep in touch on Facebook, but I haven't seen her in person since before Steve moved away.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Like Dad, Like Daughter, But Different Sport

Since 2001, I've met more and more people in the boxing world. I've made more friends and contacts. People recognize me from the boxing events that I'm always hanging around. I went from competing (or attempting to, anyway) to being a volunteer coach. I'm just like my late dad in that respect, but his favorite sport was football.

Dad played professional football briefly, before I was born. He played for a Canadian team, of which I couldn't tell you the name. I have to do research. There are pictures of Dad suited up on the field, ready to go. He never talked about it to me, but then there were a lot of things he never divulged about his younger life. I only found out about his playing career after he passed away almost five years ago. He might have been playing for a team in Canada because of the lack of opportunities for African-American football players in the USA at that time. I don't know why he gave it up. Perhaps he was injured.

Years later, Dad's third wife had a younger son who was on the football team. Both her younger son and myself were attending the same high school. I don't like football, so I paid little attention to the school's games. I only attended one football game, and at the time, I had been out of high school for several months. The game was being played at Soldier Field. Dad went all the way down to the playing area. He was used to doing that, because he did it a lot at the Chicago Bears' home games. Dad stomped back up to where we were sitting that day, cursing because the high school coaches wouldn't take his advice on how to run the plays of the game.

Dad was known to the Bears' players and coaches. He was a thirty-year season ticket holder. Despite Dad's gruffness, he possessed an air of charm that got him into places and around people that others couldn't. There are pictures of him hanging around the Bears' training camp, smiling with various people. He hung out with Walter Payton, Richard Dent, Gayle Sayers, and others.

He also liked baseball -- Dad was a Cubs' fan -- and golf, but football remained his first love as far as sports were concerned. I'm not big on team sports. You can be Mickey Mantle or Michael Jordan, but if the rest of the team is not pulling their weight, the star's efforts aren't worth much. But my love of boxing has enhanced my appreciate of the sports I followed before I got into boxing (professional wrestling, roller derby, ice skating), and lead me to be a fan of MMA and extreme sports (snowboarding, in-line skating, BMX riding).

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Ricky Hatton and Other Topics

I would have been mad if I had actually opted for the pay-per-view of the Ricky Hatton/Manny Pacquiao fight. It only lasted five minutes! Pacquiao stepped around Hatton and caught him with a left hook. Before that, he had jacked the Englishman up with a left-right-left-right hook combination. Now people are suggesting that the 30-year-old Hatton retire.

Not very many people came into the gym last night, so it was quite, even with the radio on in the background. I actually missed seeing little Markel there; I've gotten used to him hanging around. Oscar, John, Katie, Sadiq and Kevin were in attendance.

The round punching pad, or "doughnut" as Steve used to call it, was missing on Monday. It was back in its usual spot last night. I held it for John, who wanted to work on his lateral movement.

Kevin told me that he wants to sign up for the Golden Gloves next year. "I want to get six months of good training in," he said. He asked me about getting fights other than through the Gloves and the Park District. I told him about the show fights that take place at bars and private venues like golf clubs. I have good memories of when I used to attend a lot of those type fights with Steve and the other guys that used to come into the gym. I'll have to ask Alan if he ever takes any boxers to those shows.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Where Is It?

A check of my bank account online showed that USA Boxing has yet to cash the check I wrote for my coach's license. Mike Q. warned me that the folks in Colorado can be slow to get around to doing things. I knew that too, but the hold up is going on for too long.

I sparred with Heather on Monday. I couldn't seem to get the hooks in. Alan told me I should use more overhand rights. Melanie was in the gym, but she didn't spar with either Heather or I that evening. Heather won't spar with Melanie because Melanie is her boss at work. I guess she doesn't want to start any hard feelings.

To my delight, it appears I have finally gotten used to wearing my mouthpiece. Steve told me a long time ago that I just have to keep wearing it often to get over gagging on it.