Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Short Woman's Well Placed Shot

Joe grinned, "You had him up against the ropes!"  Alan and I sparred for two rounds.  I caught him a couple of times with a right, but I didn't realize how potent one of them was.  "You got me good that one time," Alan would say later on.    Alan usually leaves his left jaw open, and I have gotten him there a few times when I've sparred with him.  I guess I put in a real hard shot that time.  Alan and I ended up sparring because Earleatha decided not to do so.  "I'm taking a break," she said. 

Of course, he got in a good one, too, a jab that caught me in the mouth.  Mouthpieces are good things, you know.  "I just flicked it out there.  It wasn't hard," he said after it was all over with.  "Oh, yes it was," I laughed.  It slowed me down for a moment. 

Larry, a new guy, came in and sparred with Victor.  Alan stopped it when Larry got tired and was not returning Victor's relentless punches.  Victor had pinned Larry up against the ropes. 

Neither Carlos nor Jamil was in last night.  I remembered Carlos saying he had to work the late shift at his job this week  I'm not sure what happened with Jamil.  Demond, Patrick, Toya, Stacy, Cynthia. . . .all no shows.  Neville came in, and Alan didn't recognize him at first.  "Yes, he's signed up.  He just hasn't been in here for awhile," I told Alan. 

I'm going to see the Mayweather-Mosley fight later this week at a local movie theater.  "Aw, man, I have to be up at the military school with my son that day.  I'm going to have to find a bar nearby to watch it," Alan said.  It ought to be a good match, depending on all the trash talking that's been going on.  The best was when Mosley and Oscar de la Hoya were on George Lopez's talk show.  Mosley said he was going to knock Mayweather out.  Lopez gave the two men a pair of blue Everlast boxing shoes to deliver to Mayweather.  On the bottom soles of the shoes was the "Lopez Tonight" logo.  "When Mayweather is laid out, I can get some promotion for my show," Lopez grinned.

Besides being on HBO's "24/7" (where he made the outrageous claim of being a better pugalist than Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson), Mayweather has also been seen on "What Chili Wants", a reality show on VHI.  Mayweather has been friends with Chili, who is part of the girl group TLC, for years.  The show focuses on Chili trying to find love with the help of a matchmaker.  Mayweather acts like he likes her, and Chili is willing to see if their friendship can turn into a relationship.  In the episode I saw last night, Mayweather stood Chili up for a dinner date.  Not cool. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Scrapbook of Scrapping

The crowd was light Wednesday night.  Earleatha, Patrick, Stacy, Toya, Eric and Demond were not in attendance. Cynthia didn't come in, but Matt did.  She sent along a holder with him to keep my mouthpiece in.  It's great because it allows air to circulate around it, unlike the case it originally came in. 

Carlos did his usual several rounds, including a couple with Alan.  Alan caught Carlos dead-on with a few overhand rights.  What really amazed him was when Carlos took a few hard body shots and didn't flinch.  "I expected him to go down, but it seemed they didn't affect him at all," Alan said after the bell rang. 

I found myself sparring a couple of rounds with Ralphie.  Before I put my gear on, Matt asked who I was going to spar with.  I didn't know at that moment.  Ralphie was in with Carlos, and Alan hadn't decided who would remain in the ring for me.  "Ralphie's very slick, and Carlos just keeps charging," I told Matt.  "I think you're slick.  I've seen you on the heavy bags.  You have some secret punches," Matt smiled.  He had been in the ring with Jeremy earlier.  The experience wasn't bad for him, but Matt had trouble with the idea of punching someone back.  "I'm a pacifist, and it's hard to get my mind around inflicting pain on someone else," he admitted.

Jumping rope more has been helping with my stamina.  When I sparred with Earleatha on Monday, I wasn't as tired as I usually am afterwards.  I didn't sputter out during the first round with Ralphie.  I was exhausted after the second round, so I need to jump rope more.  I've caught yet another cold today, but I think I'm going to move around in the church's gym anyway, if only for a short time.  I don't want to get out of the habit of exercising extra days -- again.

Alan brought in a envelope filled with pictures and clips from when he fought as a young man while attending college in Arizona.  Alan was basically built the same way he is now, but he had hair and a full mustache.  "You were good looking," I grinned.  Ralphie laughed and said, "Alan had that John Holmes thing going on," making a reference to the popular porn actor of the 1970's.  Back in the day, shirts and headgear were not requirements in the amateur ranks.  There were many pictures of Alan fighting bare-headed and bare chested.  He had a chance to go pro, but as he was still going to school at the time, his parents frowned on the idea.  Alan thought about resuming a run for the professional ranks when he returned to Chicago after college.  "I was too late.  I had a solid reputation built up in Arizona, but I would have had to start again from scratch here," he explained.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sparring With Another Newbie

Jamil was in the ring with Ralphie last night.  Ralphie is quick, and a fast hook nearly caught Jamil.  It connected, but at the same moment, Jamil slipped and fell against the ropes.  If he had absorbed the full effect of the hook, Jamil might have been very hurt.  Victor got in a series of non-stop hits on Ralphie when he caught him against the ropes during their sparring session.  The sparring man of the evening was Carlos, who did five or six rounds with different guys who were on hand.  It appears that his stamina is back. 

I heard Earleatha, one of the new people, tell another newbie, Donald, "I might as well get it out of the way," in reference to sparring.  She asked me ahead of time if I was going to hit hard.  "When somebody hasn't sparred before, or they say they've never been in a fight in their life, that's my cue to go light," I answered.  That's not to say that she didn't get some stinging shots in.  The first one was in my left eye.  She backed up, her gloves up to her mouth.  "Ooh, I'm sorry," she said.  "It's fine," I said.  "Go ahead, you're supposed to hit back," Alan instructed her. Donald watched with interest from the sidelines.

During the second round, Earleatha got in some hits to my stomach, but mainly, she was head hunting.  I enouraged her to keep going.  By the time that round ended, she was dead tired.  "It's something else, especially when somone keeps coming at you," she said.  That's how I often get in trouble, when somone continually rushes me like a bull, like Meg did during our second Park District fight.  The trick is to not get overwhelmed, but keep putting out a lot of punches and for goodness sake, move.

"Are the Golden Gloves over?"  Pastor Roger asked me Monday morning.  "Yes, but the show fights are ongoing, and the Chicago Park District tournament season starts soon," I told him.  There are lulls between fights, but there's never a cessation period. 

This morning, I stopped at Starbucks to get a little breakfast.  One of the clerks commented on my boxing hat, the red one that Steve gave me about two years ago.  "Stacy, one of the the people that works here, started going to a boxing gym," she said.  "I know -- she goes to the same gym that I do," I smiled.  "Cool!  I like your hat," the clerk replied.  Stacy wasn't in the gym last night.  I hope she comes in tomorrow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oh My Aching Extremities

This morning, I stopped at Starbucks to get something to eat before running off to the rest of the day.  Stacy was behind the counter.  She did mention to us down at the gym that she worked at Starbucks.  I was surprised to see her at that particular location.  She said she wasn't at the gym the night before because she took a nap and didn't wake up in time.

Last night, Eric walks in with the black eye he got courtesy of Jamil.  "My wife jinxed me before I came here Monday.  She told me, 'Don't come back with a black eye', and that's what I did."  Eric moves very well on his feet, but Jamil is becoming more confident with throwing his punches.  

I only lasted one round with Carlos Wednesday night.  "You hit hard in the beginning, but then you slow down.  You have to take a step back from time to time and remember to breathe," he told me.  "You usually do two or three rounds," Alan pointed out to me, and Carlos agreed with him.  I was disappointed with myself for the loss of stamina.  Another light bulb went off this afternoon while I was shadow boxing in the church's gym.  I seldom, if ever, move my head while sparring.  I take too many punches which wears me down as well. 

Alan took a shot from Carlos' right hand while they sparred.  It rocked Alan, and he was unsteady on his feet.  "I recovered, but it was after those initial 30 seconds," Alan told me later. Demond also took a hit -- from Carlos, I believe -- that nearly stopped him.  He shook it off eventually and continued. 

My feet, ankles and knees hurt right now, but I needed that workout at church today.  I've been pushing myself to jump rope more.  I did six rounds of using the speed rope today.  I'm thinking I should do 15 minutes of jumping rope, even when I'm down at Loyola Park. 

I ran into Sam today.  He used to train under Barry.  He had been crossing my mind a lot lately.  I had heard awhile ago that Sam had been in some trouble with the police.  He has a job now, and he looked like he was doing okay.  It was very good to see him. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Going Easy and Light

My new MP3 player made me late.  It was on sale at Kmart, and it has the capacity to hold 1000 songs.  I couldn't pass it up.  I was fooling around putting songs on it, and the computer was acting crazy, so I left the house later than usual.  When I got there, Jamil finally had my camera card to return to me.  "I'm sorry for keeping it for so long.  I kept forgetting it," he said.  It was no big deal. I still need to figure out why it'll tape videos, but not upload them to You Tube easily.

Since Stacy had a mouthpiece, Alan asked if she wanted to move around with me in the gym.  Stacy was hyped up for it, but I was a little worried.  I remember giving Maggie a TKO, and I was going light with her.  It was like Bam Bam hugging his dad Barney and accidentally bruising him.  I tagged Stacy in the middle and in the head with jabs, rights and hooks, but I was landing as soft as I could.  We did one round.

Eric and Jamil sparred, and the experience involved Jamil getting a low blow and Eric getting a black eye.  Matt was amazed.  "You should get in the ring," Eric told him, but Matt said he's not ready for that yet.  Stacy, still hyped from sparring, suggested that Cynthia should go in, too.  "Hell, no!  Not ready for that," she said.

I also moved around in the ring for a couple of rounds with Toya, who is taller than I.  Just like with Stacy, I went easy.  I threw in some uppercuts, but I made sure they didn't connect hard.  Alan kept instructing her to hit back, just like he did when Stacy and I were in the ring. 

Matt told me he was impressed with how I jumped rope.  I basically jump the same way I did when I was five years old.  I have learned to jump with my right leg only, but that's about as fancy as I get.  During the first season of the reality show, "The Contender", there was a scene where Sugar Ray Leonard was showing the younger boxers how he jumps rope.  Leonard is in his 50s, but he could still out jump everyone.  I would love to learn how to jump like him.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Wars

Friday night, Myra Ramirez faced Brittany Brown in an 108 pound female novice bout.  I was surprised at how tiny Ramirez was.  She had to look up to Brown.  However, that little woman threw some hard punches.  Brown kept making the mistake of being pushed against the ropes and in the corners.  Ramirez fired on her with a flurry of hooks to the head that left Brown dizzy.  Brown kept walking into punches, and not using her jab to work her way in.  Ramirez was a burst of energy that Brown couldn't stop.  The crowd gave Ramirez a standing ovation when she won.

As per tradition, the bell was rang ten times in honor of a fallen boxer.  The boxer honored was Francisco Rodriguez, who passed away from injuries sustained in the ring the past fall.  I have seen the bell rang for deceased boxers and others associated with the sport on TV many times.  It is something else to be there in person.  Fundraising efforts continue to go on for Rodriguez's family.

My buddy Paul faced a fellow teammate from Chicago Boxing where he trains.  His opponent was throwing punches all over the place.  Paul got cool on him and picked his spots to punch.  Paul won, and he was also awarded a trophy for being the best boxer at the Golden Gloves. 

Before Paul's fight, professional boxer Carl "Iron Fist" Davis presented a trophy to the winner of the previous bout.  Davis used to work at the agency where I was laid off from.  We didn't know each other well, but I remember having some brief conversations with him about boxing.

Tiffany Perez, the Olympic contender, did not disappoint in her match on Saturday night.  She moves and punches like a guy.  She's also a short, petite woman who packs a lot of power in her punches.  I shook her hand and congratulated her on her win afterwards.

Some guys sitting near me that night had some kind of betting scheme going on.  I overheard one guy explain it to the others, but I couldn't figure it out.  It is not uncommon for gambling to go on at the Gloves.  I was gambling myself, so to speak.  Spent twenty dollars on the 50/50 raffle.  Tina, one of the announcers, saw me with the tickets.  "You ready to win again?" she grinned.  I let my greed get the best of me, and I lost.  Oh well. . .it's back to buying scratch off Illinois Lottery tickets once in awhile.  The correct name of the professional boxer who helped me up to the ring when I won the raffle the other night is Angel "Toro" Rodriguez.  He's scheduled to fight Peter Manfredy Jr., of "Contender" fame.

Antonio, the MMA fighter, presented the trophy to the winner after the 2nd bout.  Johnny Lira, a former professional boxer who was once ranked number one in the world, also presented a trophy.  He happened to hear Jonny B. and I talking about the failed Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.  "Mayweather knows he could lose, that's why the fight didn't take place," Lira commented.  I recently read an article in The Ring magazine that basically said the same thing.

The best fight on Saturday night was a heavyweight match that was the last bout of the evening as well as of the tournament.  The two men were like Godzillas, throwing bombs and bashing each other.  I usually don't go for heavyweight bouts much because I think guys that big move too slow to make things exciting.  But that was an extremely good match.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Lucky Thursday Ticket

I went to the Golden Gloves last night to view the first set of final championship bouts.  Natalie, who has sparred at Loyola along with gym mate with Chloe, sang the National Anthem.  She's a trained opera singer, and she sounded fine. 

After changing my seat to distance myself from an annoying family group, I got down to paying attention to the matches.  Chloe fought, as did Ed Brown of Garfiled Park who beat our Ed Brown of Loyola Park during the preliminary bouts.  I was wondering how Brown pulled off his win.  He spent a whole lot of time waiting on his opponent, a guy named Johnson out of Chicago Boxing Club.  His fan club never stopped believin', however.  They yelled and screamed instructions to Brown the entire time.  Chloe went the distance in her fight, but ultimately lost on points.  She introduced me to her friends as her sparring buddy. 

Earlier in the day, I worked out for an hour and a half in the gym of Rogers Park Baptist Church.  The choir has a good boom box, and I kicked the volume up to ten to play my CDs.  Of course, I would have been scrambling to turn down the sound if Pastor Roger came in.  I'm sure the man would like to have worked upstairs in his office without hearing RUN DMC downstairs bellowing, "I'm the King of Rock/There is none higher/Sucker MCs should call me sire/I won't stop rockin' until I retire!"  It was a good workout.  I went upstairs to take a shower after I was done, and I had a strange thought:  "This is the first time I've been naked in church."  I remember reading the novel Fear of Flying by Erica Jong when I was in junior high or high school. . .I can't remember which.  If you are familiar with that novel, you know it's probably something that people under 18 years of age should not read.  There was a scene between the heroine and one of her boyfriends that had them alone in an empty synagogue. . . .you can probably guess what was up.  I've heard of folks engaging in similar activity in empty churches in real life.  Some people have no shame or fear of God apparently.

Throughout the boxing tournament, a 50/50 raffle has been running.  The objective is to raise money for youth boxing programs.  I played a couple of other times, but I wasn't successful until last night.  It was a little over $100, a nice piece of pocket money.  As I walked up the ring steps to claim my prize, a professional boxer named Angel was coming out from the ring.  He had just presented a trophy to the boxer who won the previous match.  I was a little unsteady, as I always seem to be on those type of steps, and he graciously helped me up.

Diego came over to shake my hand.  That's one kid that has great manners.  I guess he saw me sitting across the way.  He was there with his parents. 

I picked up the finals program, and Paul's fight was listed as a featured fight for tonight.  Tiffany, the 4"11 boxer who is going to try to get into the 2012 Summer Olympics, got a full page highlighting her accomplishments.  There are a couple of photos of Carlos in the program, as well.  One shows him watching as the boxer he fought against in the prelims is announced the winner.  The other shows him and Alan in the corner during one of the rest periods in that same fight.

"I Like This!"

"I like this!" Stacy, another new person in the gym, kept commenting this past Wednesday night.  It seemed like she was meant to come into the gym.  Friends of hers kept buying her boxing equipment long before she considered taking up the sport.  Stacy figured she might as well look into it.

The gym was busy again that evening.  John, the attorney, came in to work out.  I thought I heard him asking Alan about sparring.  Alan pointed to the attenance roster and said, "I need your name on this list first."  I told John that I was planning to return to school to be a paralegal.  "It's a tough market in law right now," he told me.  "Some attorneys are hiring themselves out at $25.00 an hour to do paralegal work for other attorneys."

I spent an early part of the evening showing technique to both Cynthia and Stacy.  When Alan asked if I was going to spar, I turned it down because I felt I hadn't warmed up enough.  Doing a warm-up before any workout is important, but even more so the older one becomes.  Some of the damage I experience now -- arthritis in particular -- might be because I wasn't diligent about doing a warm-up. 

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"You Put Your Face In Front Of The Fist!"

A good sized crowd was in the gym Monday night.  Chloe and Joe showed up, but she and I didn't spar.  I'm assuming that Joe planned that she have a light workout, like most coaches will plan when their fighter has a bout coming up.  It's not always a good idea to spar very close to a match because of the possibility of the fighter becoming injured.  I promised Chloe that would go see her compete at the Gloves this week.

Another new woman named Toya came in.  She had a lot of questions about the gym and the sport in general.  "I think I'm going to like this!" she said.  I went over left jabs, rights, and movement with her and Cynthia.  For a long time, we were just talking and laughing.  Alan came over and grinned, "You all have been standing around for 20 minutes.  Hillari, you've got to make them work!"  I also showed them how to use the bags in the gym.

Alan and I sparred after Carlos and Jamil.   I accidentally stepped on his foot.  That's a habit I have most times that I spar.  It's a footwork error I need to correct.  Then Alan stepped on mine, and I lost my balance and fell to the canvas.  "Two can play that game," Alan grinned through his mouthpiece.  "It was an accident!" I protested.  He kept motioning for me to aim for his head, which I did reach a few times.  He caught me in the mouth once with a punch.  It was a wake up to me to keep my mouth closed.

I felt a lump inside my lower lip later on.  Upon closer inspection in the bathroom mirror at home, I saw a red bruise.  "Humph. . .he got me good there," I muttered to myself.  When I pointed it out to Pastor Roger at work the following morning, he pointed out, "Well, you put your face in front of his fist!"  "This afternoon, I'm going to work out in the gym," I told him, referring to the good-sized gym that is in the church.  "That's fine.  I don't know why more people don't take advantage of it," Pastor said.  One reason is that there is no gym equipment available.  Oh, there is a basketball hoop, but not everyone plays ball.  It would be nice if there were extra funds to put some used equipment in there, but the Haitian church uses that room for their Sunday services.  I suppose we could find a place to move and lock up the equipment somewhere in church.  But if it's too unwieldy to keep moving back and forth, the other congregation may not appreciate the equipment being in the way, as well as being a distraction on Sunday mornings.

Shortly after the Pastor left for a lunch meeting, I pulled out one of the church's boom boxes, threw on some James Brown and the JB's CDs, and worked out for a little over an hour.  It was slow going in the beginning.  My mind wasn't really focused, and I could feel my blood sugar dropping.  I had a bowl of sugar free oatmeal earlier, but that had long burned away.  After several rounds (I had brought my individual timer with me), I put more energy into the workout and actually had a good one.  Pastor returned near the end of the workout. I was waiting for him to admonish me about blasting the JB's on the boom box.  Pastor is not a fan of worldly music, not since the 1980's anyway.  But I like my workout music to be mostly old school R&B and pumping.  I remember when Anna, a friend of mine, and myself were roller skating in the church gym before a new floor was put in.  I had the JB's on the boom box that day, too, but she decided to switch the music to a steady stream of gospel choir songs.  "You can't skate off of that," I told her.  I like a lot of Christian music, don't get me wrong.  But I do like other genres of music, and it's not my preference for workout music.  

There are showers upstairs in church on the third floor.  I didn't bring soap, a towel, or a change of clothes.  I'm so used to going straight home from Loyola Park and taking a shower (or laying down, depending on how tired and/or hurt I am after the gym).   I want to make a regular habit of working out in the church gym, so next time, I'll be better prepared. 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Most Show Up

Last night, most of the ones on the attendance list came to the gym.  Of the few who didn't appear, I noticed most were women.  I sighed to myself. 

Demond (got his name right from Monday night) came in again, along with Eric and 6 foot 4 Patrick.  I didn't catch the names of most of the other new people, except for Diana.  Alan had gone over some basics with the new people and then sent them out to practice in the mirrors and on the bags.  "I don't want to spar," Diana told me.  She does want to build up strength in her arms.  I told her that boxing would definately help with that. 

Carlos and I sparred, and I tried to get some uppercuts in.  I was on the inside, but he covers up very well.  I couldn't break through his defense.  I did get some good left and right hooks in on his head, however.  I hadn't been able to do that on anyone in a long, long time.  My straight lefts and rights went nowhere.  Carlos was very adapt at slipping those.  I had to settle for ocassionally getting hooks in to his body. 

I commented that Carlos' Energizer Bunny stamina must be coming back, after he went several rounds with Ralphie.  They both worked in some good head shots on each other. 

This morning I went into to work to take care of stuff for Easter this Sunday.  It ocurred to me that it's April Fools Day, and I hadn't pulled any jokes of that type in years.  While walking to church, I racked my brain for a joke to pull on Pastor Roger.  I was going to plaster my face with bandages and pretend that I had been badly banged up in the gym.  Then I got a better idea.

I heard him coming in the door downstairs.  Quickly, I hurried into his office and laid face down on the floor, giving the impression that I had collapsed.  He walked into his office, and called my name several times.  I didn't move.  While in high school, I was often complimented on my ability to play as if I had fainted or I had died in theater classes.  When it sounded as if Pastor had grabbed his phone to call the ambulance (and he had also called for Olga, who was in church at the time, to rush into his office), and sat up and grinned "April Fools!"  "That wasn't nice," Pastor said, but he was grinning.