Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Little Woman vs. Tall Woman

Nicole and I were the first to spar last night. I did a much better job of covering up, so my head didn't get knocked around as much. I punched back a little harder than I did the last time. Alan told me that I have to get in closer on her to get in the overhand rights. I throw them, but I'm usually too far away to make them effective.

Manny came in with his adorable little girl, Anjolie. "She's gotten bigger since the last time you saw her, hasn't she?" he said, giving a proud papa smile. Anjolie put on a pair of bag gloves and was hitting the heavy bags. Manny also held pads for her as she playfully hit them.

E didn't bring his son with him yesterday. "He wanted to stay with the women," he explained. I've gotten so used to his son being in the gym that I miss him when I don't see him.

Alan sparred with Oscar. Alan was not wearing headgear, and Oscar was catching him in the back of his neck with punches. Manny was telling Oscar not to do that. "He's short, and he can't help it," Alan said. He caught Oscar in the face a few good times, but Oscar kept coming forward. "Oscar is like a pit bull," Alan commented after they were finished.

The gym was rather full. JJ came in to get a workout, stating that he was taking a day off from training at Evanston Boxing Club. Steve, the former coach, had been in town for a few days, and JJ saw him. I wish I could have seen him, too; I miss him.

Julio sparred with Jamil, and Julio was worn out afterwards. Jamil got Julio in the face several times, and I could have sworn that Julio's headgear had been knocked a little crooked. Jeremy, a guy who trained with Alan at Clarendon Park, was also in attendance. Ieisha didn't come in, but I remembered her saying that she mentors children one night of the week.

I had a lot of energy after Nicole and I sparred. I was on both heavy bags for several rounds. If only I had that burst of energy every day! It sure would make my life a lot easier.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boxing At The Baseball Field

Last night, a group of young men who are planning to compete against young men in Ireland, showed off their boxing skills last night. It was a fundraiser to help drum up money to help pay their way there. The boxing show was held at Thillens Stadium, which is a baseball field favored by various Little League teams. A ring was set up in the middle of one of the baseball diamonds.

I ran into JJ there. A Park District coach was telling JJ that he doesn't need a conditioning coach. JJ told me that he no longer goes to see Jerome for conditioning; the commute to Elgin is too far. However, JJ thinks he needs someone to motivate him to do his conditioning. The Park District coach disagreed. "Man, you need a strength coach to work your muscles. How old are you? Twenty-two? You can motivate yourself to do your own conditioning!"

The fights were good, particularly one that involved Tracy Jr., who is trained by his dad. I hadn't seen him in awhile, and it looked as if he had gained more muscle. His opponent was showboating a little too much. Tracy Jr. answered him with a flurry of combinations.

Today, I had to run some errands. On the way back, I passed Hamlin Park. I ducked inside to use the washroom, and noticed the boxing gym was open. Coach Bill was there, and about three guys were working out. Bill has been coaching at Hamlin for 35 years. "Don't you spar up at Loyola Park?" he asked me. I told him I did, and he said a couple of women usually come in on Saturdays. "You could come in and get some sparring in with them," Bill told me. I thanked him and told him I would stop in next week.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stunned and Stopped

Alan asked me if I wanted to spar last night. "I don't know. I'm not feeling that well," I told him. My stomach was acting a little funny, probably because I hadn't eaten much yesterday. A check of the scale in my bathroom showed that I lost another ten pounds. A combination of always sparring and not eating a lot due to the recent heat may be the culprit. I'm glad for the weight loss, however; I still need to lose more.

Ieisha was there, but I later agreed to spar with Nicole. Nicole is similar in build to Katie (who didn't return for the summer session), with long arms and legs. Right away, I knew I had to be an inside fighter. "Don't hit me too hard. I'm not wearing a mouthpiece, and I haven't done this before," Nicole told me. "Have you ever fought with anyone at all?" I asked. "Just play fighting," she answered. "I'll go light," I said, as I adjusted her headgear. "Remember to keep your mouth closed," Alan told Nicole.

As soon as the bell rang, Nicole came out with a hard left jab. "Okay," I thought to myself, "I promised to go light." I proceeded to go to the body, and tapped some hooks to her sides. The hard punches kept coming, so I decided that I had to take some to get some in. Nicole put out both fists at one point, and Alan told her to use one hand at a time.

I stepped back to avoid one of her punches, but didn't get back far enough. WHAM! Nicole caught me full on the left side of my face with a right hook. I stopped cold in the middle of the ring. I was stunned. Alan watched me carefully. A few seconds later, the bell rang signaling the end of the round. Nicole decided one round was enough for her. "I want to get used to it, so I know what to expect. The next time, you can hit me a little harder," she told me. I took a round off and sat down. The side of my face was stinging.

Ieisha went a couple of rounds with Ralphie. He wore a mouthpiece, but no headgear. "Uh-oh," I thought to myself, remember how hard she had punched me during sparring. She caught him good several times. Leon and Carlos were commenting on how good her punches were. Alan smiled again and said, "She's lying. I know she's done this before!"

Leon and Michael sparred. Michael took a rough punch from Leon, but I couldn't tell which punch it was. I turned around in time to see Michael doubled over in the corner. It might have been a low blow or a punch to the gut.

When I got home, I checked my face for wear and tear. It was still stinging a bit, but I saw no cuts or bruises. I'm surprised it's not hurting today, but then sometimes, it takes me a couple of days to feel more pain. I escaped being totally knocked out again, but one of these days, I might not be so lucky.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tylenol Punches

This morning, I went looking for the first aid kit in Pastor's office. "I need some aspirin", I wearily announced. "Are you feeling okay?" he asked. "I got knocked in the head last night, but I didn't feel it until today. I wasn't expecting the punches to be that hard," I replied.

Last night, I sparred with Ieisha. I called myself going easy on her, because Ieisha said previously that she hadn't sparred before. I think I got one shot in, and that was a left jab early on in the round. After that, I was pummeled with a series of very hard, strong punches. Alan was after me to keep jabbing and throw overhand rights, but I spent most of the one round we did covering up. "Those were some good strong punches," I told Ieisha afterwards. "Are you sure you haven't done this before?" Alan asked her. She indicated that was true. Alan smiled at me, "I think she's not telling the truth." Later, he would say that Ieisha showed "natural ability". Somebody get that girl a fight!

E returned with his little boy last night. "No one from the previous session signed up again?" he asked me. It certainly looked that way. For example, Maggie never returned after I gave her that right hook. Melanie and Heather disappeared before the spring session ended, and Oksana had been gone.

Another guy came in with his little boy for a few moments. I heard him tell the kid, "I used to box here a long time ago." Before I got a chance to ask him anything (he walked in during the middle of a round, and I was shadow boxing) the guy and his son left. He might have trained under Harlein, a former coach who passed away several years ago.

Four younger boys hung around the door of the gym. They witnessed the sparring session between Ieisha and I. I came out to look at the clock in the wood shop room (the clock in the gym is currently not working). One of the boys said, "She was fighting with that other girl." I walked back to the gym, and another boy asked, "Were you fighting?" "Yeah, and she throws very hard punches," I answered. The boys looked impressed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pathway To Boxing Glory

Alan was out this past Wednesday, so I ran the gym. A couple of guys came in, one of whom I recognized as a former tenant in the building I live in. The former tenant's friend was looking for a place to learn how to box because he wanted to go professional. Amateur boxing can be a springboard to a professional boxing career. The Chicago Park District's boxing program is purely an amateur program. But joining a boxing gym/club is the first step.

Starting training early, preferably before the age of eighteen, is a plus. Train often, and maintain a stable weight. Sparring is good practice, but a boxer will have a better handle on their strengths and weaknesses when they participate in an actual match. It is good to go up against a variety of opponents.

Males still have the advantage in this sport because there are several avenues they can take to move up, especially if they have an eye on the Olympics. Competing in the Golden Gloves, the P.A.L. tournaments and the Pan-Am Games are crucial steps in that direction. The Olympics are not yet open to female boxers, but work is being done in an effort to make that possible.

All boxers wanting to go pro should look into finding good trainers, as well as managers who have contacts with professional matchmakers. They should also join one of the professional boxing associations (IBF, WBO, WBC, WIBF), and obtain a license from the boxing commissions where they intend to compete.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oscar Surprises Me

The summer session began last night, and a small group of people showed up. A few of them said they had read this blog, and one had seen an old review I had written about the gym on Yelp. That was good to hear that the blog was a vehicle to bring people in.

Oscar and I sparred again, and I stunned him a few times again. I even managed to get a few upper cuts in on him. But during the second round, Oscar hit harder and faster. I was clocked about the head a few times. He's slowly getting better. Alan told him not to dip down so low; Oscar still has to work on that. There were times I thought that he was going to end up in a headlock. I had a flashback to the fights my late sister Cindy was involved in. Putting someone in a headlock was always her signature move. Whenever her and I got into it, I was always mindful of staying out of position so she couldn't grab me like that. Our late youngest brother Ken wasn't so fortunate most of the time.

Mary came in and made an announcement that everyone needs to be paid up. Unfortunately, the ones who really needed to hear that were not in the gym last night. I told Alan that I need to remember to wear my Chicago Park District volunteer badge. I don't want to get him or I or the gym in trouble.

I had gone to Thillen's Stadium on Friday, but there was no boxing match. Instead, there were a couple of Little League games going on. I wonder what happened? I'll find out at some point.

I really need to start using that Grip Master I have at home. I brought it some time ago to work on my hand and finger strength. Last night, my right hand and wrist felt a little sore, especially when I was doing right hooks on the bag. I've had trouble on and off with my right ever since I injured it -- in the gym -- a few years ago. The Grip Master fits in your palm, and you press down on the buttons to give your fingers and hands a workout. They're not very expensive. I paid less than $15.00 for the one I have. I think I brought it through Ringside.

I received a kettlebell catalog in the mail yesterday. I had stopped using the ones I have when my left shoulder was injured over a year ago. I have no idea what I did to it. Honestly, half the time when I get hurt, or have cuts and bruises, I'm baffled as to how they got there. Anyway, it might have been residual pain from the car accident I was in back in 2005. It feels fine now. I want to build more muscle and strength, as I am not getting younger. What I really need to do is to lose that spare tire around my waist. I looked in the mirror while shadow boxing last night and thought, "I'm tired of looking like I'm a couple of months pregnant."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Younger, Bigger Brother

Josh, who hasn't been in for awhile, came in with his "younger, bigger brother". Zev is 19 years old and 6 foot nine. Leon was taken aback when he saw him, and Leon is not a small man (6 foot 5). Josh's brother worked out for a little bit, but he was more interested in getting back to his hand-held video game. Oscar did not come in last night, and neither did any of the women.

I believe the spring session ends this week, and the summer session begins next week. Mary told Alan to watch out for people who show up frequently at the gym, but haven't paid the fee. It appears that several persons have been doing that for a long time. When Steve was there, he'd let folks get a workout in from time to time who hadn't signed up. But now, the Chicago Park District is auditing programs and cracking down. No one is going to be allowed to participate in programs for free anymore. I think most gyms have the problem of people just dropping in whenever to work out simply because the gym is open. But unlike private gyms, the Chicago Park District does not have a setup where people can pay for a one day pass to workout.

At the end of the evening, only Alan, Leon and myself were in the gym. Leon was talking about breaking up with a long-time girlfriend of his. He said something about "black women are materialistic." "Yeah, white women don't ask for things like black women do," Alan agreed. Leon looked at me and said, "No disrepect!" and Alan said the same thing. I had to agree that some black women do demand financial favors. I once asked a boyfriend to pay my light bill. I wasn't working at the time, and needed the extra money. The now ex-boyfriend did not honor my request (among other things he didn't do, but that's a long story), but expected me to help him a few dollars here and there. I found a job not long afterwards, and never asked him to help me financially again. I also stopped funding him, especially after he never felt the need to pay me back. The jerkass still owes me $200 dollars.

I learned that Toby (Kevin), Tracy Jr., and Nate Jr. are fighting at Thillen's Stadium tomorrow. I want to attend. The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow (it's raining today), and Thillen's is an outdoor stadium.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hit Her!

I learned last night that one can't throw an uppercut when your opponent is bent over. But I did catch Oscar a few times while we were sparring. He's got to learn to keep his hands up. It was too easy to catch him full in the face with jabs and crosses.

Alan noticed something that I also did, that Oscar was not hitting very hard. Before Oscar and I got into the ring, Alan told me that I could hit Oscar harder than I normally when I'm in with one of the women. "You can hit her, Oscar. I don't mean whale on her, but you can hit her," Alan told him during round one. Oscar still didn't put much force behind his punches. "Come on, Oscar! Really hit her! You can do that!" Alan admonished him. I nodded my head in agreement. He put a little more pepper on his punches, but not much. I ended up stunning him a few times with some jabs and rights.

While it's nice to know that a lot of males are still being raised not to hit women, guys have to throw that training out while they are sparring with a female. It doesn't matter if they are in the boxing gym or in the martial arts dojo. An opponent is an opponent is an opponent.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Watchin' For Maggie

Maggie didn't come into the gym last night. Now I'm beginning to worry that I indeed scared her off.

I sparred with Katie, and I was very winded and somewhat dizzy after two rounds. "I can never get you into the corners!" she smiled. I don't think anyone has ever caught me in the corners in the ring. As short as I am, it would be too easy to just beat me down once they got me hemmed in.

Alan pointed out again that I seem to hold back on punching. "I go easy on the women because so many of them have never been in a fight of any kind. But I go harder on the guys, figuring they can take it," I told him. "Then I'll put you in with the guys more often. You and Oscar seem to be a good match," Alan replied. Oscar is not that much taller than I. He has a bad habit of not protecting his face, and I'm already feeling guilty about taking advantage of that. But Oscar has to learn to cover up, or else he might find himself laying on the canvas. As for Katie, Alan told me, "You have to get inside. You have to take a punch to give a punch", which is true.

The Chicago Park District tournaments will be written down in my day planner so I can keep track of them. They're starting late this year, beginning in July, and ending in early February of 2010. I'm going to try and get my pastor to come out to at least one. For the past several years, I've invited him to the boxing shows at Loyola Park, but he hasn't gone to one yet. Maybe his wife, Viriginia, will want to go too, and she'll encourage him to check it out. Loyola's show is not until September.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Where Are All The Women?

Raymond, who started off training with Barry and Yale, came in last night. He didn't much feel like sparring, but he did move around in the ring a little with Michael. Michael has a very, very deep voice. He said something like, "It's cool?" to Raymond. Raymond thought he said something about school. "Man, I've had this deep voice since I was 15 years old. I'm used to people sometimes not understanding what I've said," Michael laughed.

"Where are all the women tonight?" Alan asked me. "Maybe I scared them off," I joked, but I certainly hope that's not the case. I noted to myself that Maggie hasn't been back in since I knocked her out.

I haven't been down at the gym during when the kids are there in some time. There was one girl in Barry's class, but the last time I was there on a Tuesday or Thursday, I didn't see her. I wonder if she has dropped out. So few females stick with boxing. I wish more would. I also wish a lot of them would start younger. That's an advantage most male boxers have. I've known of both amateur and professional male boxers who started training while they were toddlers. Most females are in their mid-teens when they begin, if they start young. Other females are in their twenties and older when they take up the sport. If one plans to go pro, the younger the training starts, and the earlier one can get matches, the better.

Alan asked me if I would be interested in getting a match. "You know I can't box in a sanctioned match," I told him. He said there is a possibility of me getting a unsanctioned one. The boxing matches that take place during the Chicago Park District boxing tournaments are not sanctioned, as those are not recorded in the license books of the fighters involved. I don't think some white collar boxing matches are either, as there are no winners. People are rewarded more on the fact that they actually agreed to get into the ring. "I'd be interested," I told him. If I could get one knockout, maybe I could get another one.