Saturday, January 02, 2010

Bridgeport Boxing

I took a trip this morning up to the Chicago Boxing Club.  It is the successor to the old Windy City Gym, which had been a part of Chicago for over 80 years.  My intent was to donate an old cell phone of mine to the fund of a fallen boxer, Francisco Rodriguez.  I gave the phone to Rita, who had a similar brain injury to Rodriguez's.  She survived her ordeal, but unfortunately, Rodriguez did not.  Rita's hair is growing back in, and the current short cut looks cute on her.  She told me that it would look funny growing in for awhile because of the scar on her skull. I was glad to see her up and walking around.

The Chicago Boxing Club sits in the Bridgeport neighborhood.  It's not far from US Cellular Field (where the White Sox play).  Bridgeport is famous for producing a few city mayors including the current one, Richard Daley.  It is also known for its racial intolerance, particularly towards African-Americans.  I went to high school with a pair of twins who lived in that area.  More than once I overheard them bragging about jumping the Hispanics and African-Americans who came through the streets.  Hispanics have made inroads into what is still predominately a white area, but a lot of the same tensions remain.  I kept my antennae up as I got off the Halsted bus at 35th Street.

Barry, Kevin, Yale, Alan and Rick were in the gym when I arrive.  Also, Paul, whom I at first didn't recognize, was working out on the bags.  I saw legendary coach Sam Colonna, who runs the place, walking around.  Barry said the place reminded him of a loft.  It's a nice open space with two rings in the middle of the floor.  I noticed a sign over an uppercut bag asking boxers not to use it for uppercuts, but to punch it straight on.  The bag had seen a lot of use, as it was torn and worn in several places.  I liked the place, and it's fairly easy to get to by public transportation.

I had forgot to mention when I saw JJ at Loyola Park this past Wednesday, that he had pictures of two famous guys on his cell phone.  JJ had gone to a fight at the UIC Pavillion the weekend before.  He found himself sitting behind former pro boxer Thomas "The Hit Man" Hearns.  "I also met one of the HBO announcers, but I can't remember his name," JJ said to Rob and I.  "Larry Merchant?  Jim Lamphley?  Emmanuel Steward?" Rob and I guessed.  "This guy," JJ said, showing us the picture on his phone.  It was Max Kellerman.  "He and his brother Sam put out a rap record a long time ago," I said.  Rob told me, "Yeah, I remember that.  You have a good memory."  Kellerman and his late brother had some rap skills as displayed here on this clip:

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