Monday, August 31, 2009

Vintage Knockout

I always appreciate a good knockout. Not necessarily on me (smile), but a beautifully executed one is a thing of art. Here's Vonda Ward and Ann Wolfe.

Friday, August 28, 2009

No Boxing Wednesday

Alan had to take his son to military school, so he told me he wouldn't be in on Wednesday. It appeared he forgot to let staff know that it was okay to open the gym that night if I came in. Rob, BK and Carol had no go-ahead from Mary to do so. Yeah, most of the staff knows me, and I've been in the boxing program for nearly eight years. I'm a Chicago Park District volunteer and a USA Amateur Boxing coach. But I never want to staff to get in trouble for opening up the gym when they didn't have permission to do that. Carlos, Justin, and Jamil showed up, but left a little while later when they learned the gym was closed for the evening. I hung around and talked to Rob for about a half-hour before I went back home.

Save on boxing equipment and gloves.

I was hitting the bigger speed bag on Monday, and it's very raggedy. It is still in decent shape to use, but the outside is falling apart. I never know which bag is going to be up there when I come in -- that bag or the smaller bag. Barry probably changes it when the kids are in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The smaller speed bag is easier to hit, but the bigger bag's advantage is that it makes one work more.

Before Comcast decided to move ESPN Classic so that those with the basic digital package -- like me -- can't see it anymore, I watched some of "Iron" Mike Tyson's matches. The announcer made a comment about Tyson coming to the ring wearing no socks with his boxing shoes. I've done that a few times when I forgot to wear socks, usually during the summers. I guess the sweat from one's feet would do some damage to the shoes after awhile in terms of the moisture.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Moving With Caution

Ieisha and I sparred last night for the first time in weeks. She naturally hits hard, and remembering the beating I took the last time, I proceeded carefully. Occasionally, I have bursts of energy while at the gym. Last night was one of those times. I felt light on my feet as I bounced around the canvas during the first round. I was chasing Ieisha around the ring too much, however. She turned away from me at one point as she was moving away. I landed an illegal punch -- by accident -- on her lower back.

One of her left hooks nearly took me out. For a moment, I thought I was going to collapse onto the canvas. After taking a few deep breaths, I kept going. Ieisha also got me good with a hard body punch to the stomach.

Alan told me that I would get a couple of good punches in, then I would back up. Since Ieisha is good at fighting on the outside, my actions would make it easy for her to clock me. I also have a bad habit of closing my eyes when a punch comes towards me. I've been trying to break that habit for eight years now.

It was a quiet night in the gym. Carlos and Justin, E and Markel, Jamil, and Ralphie were in attendance. Everything was copacetic until the end of the evening. A guy rushed into the gym, going on about how another guy was harassing him. He wanted help. "I ain't trying to get caught up in nothing," he kept saying. The second guy shows up, demanding that the first guy return a pair of shorts he lent him to wear. The two of them had been playing basketball in one of the other gyms.

The first guy insisted that the shorts were a gift. Despite of Alan offering the guy sweatpants that were laying around on the clothes rack in the gym, the first guy wouldn't back down. The second guy was talking about beating the first guy down. The first guy barked about the second guy and others always picking on him. As the argument continued, I got the feeling that the first guy wasn't wrapped too tight. Ralphie also tried to be a voice of reason, but it was a no go. Finally, Alan threw his hands up and hustled both guys out of the boxing gym. BK also made sure they got out of the building. BK was muttering under his breath about their attitudes.

My question is this: why did the first guy tried to get other people caught up in his drama? In my opinion, it was a petty dispute, certainly not worth going to war over. Alan and I encountered the second guy and a few of his friends when we got to Alan's car. Alan basically asked them something along the lines of, "is that really worth fighting about?" The second guy's friends seemed ambivalent, but the second guy was still hot about the whole thing. "I'll see that guy again," he grumbled. Alan and I shook our heads and headed home.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Getting The Uppercut In

Leon, Ralphie and Carlos did a bit of interval training on Wednesday. The drill went like this: one person hits the heavy bag for 30 seconds while another person holds it. Then the person holding the bag hits the bag for 30 seconds while the next person holds it, and so forth.

I sparred with Carlos again earlier that evening, and managed to make it through two rounds. I caught him a couple of times with uppercuts. "Nice," I heard Alan say from the sidelines. For the longest time, I have been trying to figure out how to get in uppercuts on opponents. As short as I am, it's not easy. Carlos likes to do a lot of bobbing and weaving. One of the times he ducked down is when I got him with a left uppercut.

Alan told Carlos that he was ready for a match, and he told him about a Park District boxing show that takes place next Thursday. Carlos works various shifts at his job, but he thought he'd be able to attend. "I have to talk it over with my wife before I say yes," he announced. "She's afraid of you being hurt," I said, and he agreed. He also talked about the possibility of being in next year's Golden Gloves. Since he's had no previous fights, Carlos would be classified as a novice in that competition.

Carlos told me that his son Justin would like to box, but his wife nixed the idea. He'll put Justin in basketball instead, when the boy turns six years old. Moms either are for their kids boxing or against it. There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to that. The ones who are supportive of it appear to be really into it when they show up at the matches.

The following day, I was on my way to help Pastor and Virginia clean and move some things up to their new apartment when I spotted Barry in the alley. Barry was working; he's with Streets and Sanitation. He was chatting with a neighbor of mine who lives on the other side of the alley. For several years now, I've been exchanging pleasantries with that particular neighbor, but I never knew his name. After I greeted them both, Barry told the neighbor, "Hillari is one of the boxers at the gym."

My neighbor smiled and said, "I figured that she was." To my surprise, I found out that he's Gabe's dad. His name is David. "I was looking for Gabe this summer," I told him. Gabe was going to college out of state, but he would stop in the gym several times during the summers. "He's going to law school downtown now," David said. I've always thought that David was a good-looking silver fox. Now I see where Gabe gets his good looks from.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

He Keeps Going and Going. . .

When I got to the gym, only Alan and a colleague of his, Patty, were inside. "Where is everybody?" I asked. "Maybe the rain is keeping them away," Alan supposed. It was about twenty minutes before anyone else got there. Ricky's sons arrived first.

Carlos sparred with both of Ricky's sons. Ricky had a pair of gloves on. "Are you going into the ring?" I smiled. "Oh, no! I'm perfectly willing to be the parent who encourages the kids to participate," he laughed. The boys didn't do bad at all against Carlos.

It was my turn to step into the ring with Carlos. He and I had not sparred before. Carlos didn't hit as hard as he could have, but then, I wasn't hitting him hard, either. He willingly gave me some openings to get punches in, but by the middle of the second round, I was moving like an old turtle. Carlos was light on his feet, which was amazing, considering he had just gone several rounds with Ricky's sons. Carlos is like the Energizer Bunny whenever he's in the ring.

Carlos' son Justin gave both his dad and I curious looks when we came out of the ring. He said something like, "Dad, you fought the girl?" The little guy is funny to me.

It seems that I have fewer hand wraps than I did before. Some of them were given away -- I gave Jamil a pair, and I think I gave either Sadiq or JJ a pair awhile ago. I have a black pair that Country (Mike) gave me a couple of years ago, a couple of red wraps, and some blue wraps. The blue wraps are mismatched. One is from Ringside and I think the other is Everlast. Who knows how I misplaced the hand wraps. The blue ones are for kids's and women's hands, and they are shorter.

Get your boxing gloves and equipment for less.

I prefer the longer wraps because of the extra padding -- and protection -- they give my hands. There are many ways to wrap the hands to sort of cut down on injuries (but not completely). As a middle-aged person, plus being a writer and currently working as a church secretary, I have to be particularly careful about my hands.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's The Shoes

I had ran into Barry on Tuesday afternoon as I was coming home from work. He was very concerned about Deo and his injury. I told him what Deo had said Monday about his progress. "I'm thinking of having a boxing class for 18 to 21 year olds," Barry said. That might be a good idea. Sometimes, I sense that the people in that age group may feel a little out of place training with old folks like myself. But then, I might be wrong.

Once again, I only lasted one round on Wednesday with Oscar during sparring. My stamina is way down, and I can't blame it all on age. Ieisha did better while she was in the ring with Jamil. Carlos sparred with Alan again, and he kept going like the Energizer bunny.

It's good that women's boxing will be in the 2012 Olympics. It's not so good that only three weight classes are allowed for the women. One of the men's weight classes were dropped to make room. Well, I guess having three weight classes is better than women not being allowed to box at all in that competition. Hopefully in 2016, the female boxers will be included more.

My boxing shoes have to be almost two years old. I noticed they're holding up pretty well. The last pair was made of faux leather. I'm very hard on shoes, so they wore out quickly. I've only worn my current pair outside once on Halloween. I was still working at the non-profit agency, and I dressed in my boxing shorts and jersey for the occasion. Not wanting to take the time to change back into my other clothes to go to lunch, I went outside as is. A lot of curious looks came my way on the Evanston streets that day.

Get your Everlast boxing equipment for less.

Ieisha pointed to a chest protector near the headgear. After Alan and Carlos sparred, she suggested that maybe Alan should wear the protector. "You're still able to feel those punches if someone hits hard. It's just like headgear -- it only offers so much protection," Alan explained. My chest protector is somewhere at home. It's somewhat of a pain to put on. But there have been times that I've wished I had it on during sparring.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Deo's Progress

It was a surprise when Deo walked into the gym last night. I assumed he'd be out for awhile due to his eye injury. Deo explained to Alan and I that his sight is still blurry in his left eye. When Leon hit him, the muscle around that eye got caught up in the bone fracture. Doctors were able to move the muscle back in place, but Deo has to be careful for awhile. He's still under a doctor's care. Deo hung around for awhile to talk to Alan, who also experienced a bad eye injury years ago.

Carlos sparred with Alan. The oppressive heat in the gym was bothering me, so I did one round on the uppercut bag, then I watched the guys. I reminded Carlos to keep his hands up. Alan likes overhand rights, and he tagged Carlos a few times with them. Carlos improves each time he spars. Regardless of what he gets hit with, he keeps coming forward. He tends to back away straight from his opponents, however, and I also reminded him to be mindful of that.

Upon looking at the class roster, Alan noted, "Ieisha hasn't been in for awhile." The other women have not been around, either. Some of that could be blamed on the weather. It's been too hot outside, and unfortunately, there's no air conditioning in the gym.

One of the last times I sparred, my mouthpiece became very loose in my mouth. Teddy Atlas of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" grumbled once during a match when a boxer's mouthpiece kept flying out onto the canvas. He stated that there's no reason -- or excuse -- for a mouthpiece to keep slipping out. It was a sure sign that it's not fitted properly. I've had both of my mouthpieces for several years. Maybe it's time to change them.

Get your boxing gloves and equipment for less.

Since I've had my mouthpieces, I've had five of my teeth removed: all four wisdom teeth, and another tooth in the back that was too bad to save. I'm guessing that when dental extractions have been done, a boxer should be fitted for a new mouthpiece. I would love to get one professionally done by a dentist, but the cost is steep. Most of the ones that can be brought from boxing equipment companies are very good, however.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Back To Sparring

Oscar and I sparred last night, and he has become greatly improved. He got me with many combinations. I got winded early, and it showed. Remember, I hadn't been sparring for awhile, not since Ieisha scored a TKO on me about a month ago. My mouthpiece was choking me. Alan ran water over it, and he was going to put it back in, but I declined it. I have to get used to wearing it again. "Keep your mouth closed," Alan told me.

I was popped in the mouth, and I tasted blood. After the two rounds were done, I asked Alan if I was bleeding, and he didn't see any red. This morning, I noticed a small cut inside my lower lip. That's the second time I've been cut open in the ring.

My eyes looked puffy too. Upon closer inspection, it looked more like signs of aging, a series of wrinkles/crows' feet forming. That was how Dad looked around the eyes the older he became. Today would have been his 76th birthday. I can still hear him laughing when he learned that I box.

I learned that Alan is about 10 years older than I. I remembered that Steve, the former coach, was about 12 years younger than me. I've now had the pleasure of getting boxing wisdom from both an older man and a younger man.

Alan sparred with the younger of his cousin Ricky's sons last night. I was relieved to see that he wore his headgear. I had just come off of sparring with Oscar, so I sat on one of the stools ringside to watch. Alan popped the kid a bit hard in the face. "I'm sorry!" he told him. "What are you trying to do, Alan? Kill him?" I joked. Later, Alan asked me, "Was I hitting him very hard?" "No, just that one time you caught him," I assured him. "I'm an old man, so I can't out slick guys in the ring anymore. I have to rely on my hands to keep them off of me," he explained.

I've been thinking about having a heavy bag in the house for some time. I have a plastic, inflatable bag that I brought from Everlast. It's okay, but it reminds me of that pop-up clown bop bag I had when I was a little girl. I can't hang one up in the apartment, but I could get a stand alone one, like a Cobra bag. If I had a heavy bag, I could also go back to practicing my martial arts moves. It's been a while since I've been in a martial arts class, but I still remember the techniques. Muscle memory is a beautiful thing.

Get your boxing equiment heavy bags for less.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"You Do What?"

This past weekend, I attended my high school class reunion. The classes of 1978 and 1979 celebrated together (I'm part of the latter class). People were asking each other what do they do for a living now. "I'm a church secretary by day, and an assistant boxing coach at night", I told Dennis, one of my former classmates. His eyes lit up, and he laughed. "That's how we Whitney Young High School students are -- full of surprises!" he said. Then we talked about how good of a fighter Manny Pacquiao is.

Others at my reunion had similar reactions when I told them. Dorian, andother former classmate, had taken martial arts for a time. Her youngest son now teaches it. "I used to spar, but I got hit in the stomach once and that was it," she told me. I told her and several others about being knocked out in the gym a few weeks ago by Ieisha. The alumni cringed. "Wow, you are something else," someone told me.

Last night in the gym, I told Leon about the damage he'd done to Deo. Alan told me that Deo had his eye operation, and was doing fine. "You're kidding me," Leon said. "I feel so bad. I didn't think I hit him that hard." I thought the same way when I knocked out Maggie, but I underestimated my own strength.

Alan mentioned a bout to Leon that is taking place out in Mundeline. I overheard Leon say that he had no boxing gloves. I thought about a pair that I have at home, but I think they are more suited to martial arts than boxing. I brought them while I was still attending Degerberg Martial Arts Academy.

Get your boxing gloves and equipment for less.

Once again I teased little Justin about him and I sparring. He gave me a funny look as he played with his Spiderman action figures. "You must be thinking, 'this woman is crazy,' " I told him. He smiled at me. His father, Carlos, sparred with Alan. I was worried when Alan took a few hits; he was not wearing headgear. Carlos and Alan kept locking each other up. I was watching on the sidelines, calling out, "Break!" whenever they did.

Carlos also sparred with Ralphie. During the last 30 seconds of the last round they were in the ring, Ralphie let loose with some fast combinations. He had Carlos up against the ropes a few times while doing that.

Jamil is getting better in the ring. He was sparring with Oscar, who kept his head down too much. I wish I had paid more attention in my high school Spanish classes. Oscar doesn't speak a lot of English. It would be nice if I could help Alan relay instructions to him. But Ralphie, Carlos and Al help with that when they are around.