Thursday, May 27, 2010

Running In The Church

I pulled the speed jump rope out of my gym back this morning when I got to Rogers Park Baptist Church.  But then I thought that I really didn't want to jump rope.  Both knees were bothering me, the right one more than the left.  But I had to do something to get my heart rate up.  "Why not jog?" I thought.

My personal training timer is always set to three-minute rounds just like in the gym at Loyola Park.  I thought I was going to have to stop to catch my breath as I ran around the church gym, but I didn't have to do that.   My knees were still tender, but the pain was not unbearable.  After a second round of jogging, I figured I could go for a third.  "If I do four, 15 minutes will have gone by.  Fifteen minutes is a mile," I thought.  When the end of the forth round came, I was feeling okay.  My stamina seems to be slowly going up.

I was smelling like a big dog, too.  On Thursdays, I just brush my teeth, put on the clothes I'll workout in, grab my gym bag and go straight to church.  I bring a change of clothes to put on after I take a shower upstairs.  When Pastor Roger came into the gym briefly to check on the tables that will be needed for a potluck this upcoming Sunday, I was hoping he wouldn't get too close to me to pick up the scent. 

There are no mirrors in the gym, so I can't accurately check my form while I'm shadow boxing.  I had a half a mind to shadow box in the mirror that's in the choir room, but I thought against it.  There's not really enough room to move around, and I didn't want to transport the radio back and forth. 

I just noticed today that the boombox has a tape player on it. . .another example of how slow I can be on the uptake sometimes.  I had been playing a tape on the way to church, so I took it out of my Walkman (yes, I still have one of those) and popped it into the boombox.  I was in the middle of jogging when the song, "I'm A Ho" by Whodini, a popular 1980's rap group came on.  "Whoops!  Can't play that in church!" I thought.  The round ended a few seconds into the song, and I quickly fast-forwarded the tape to something else. 

Sometimes it feels that my regular exercise is getting easier.  Or maybe that's something I just tell myself to keep doing it.  After all, it's not always a matter of wanting to do it, or even feeling like doing it most of the time.  It's under the category of needing to do it, and not just because of possible fights on my horizon.  I have health conditions that are helped greatly because of regular exercise. 

It also helps that I love boxing, and often imagine myself beating down an opponent while I shadow box.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This Sermon's For The Girl Boxer

I was the first one at the gym, and I was a little late.  There was a woman hanging around the front desk who was interested in signing up for the gym.  Jilberto opened the door, and she got a good look inside the place.  I answered the questions she had, and she was appreciative.  She went back down to the front desk to sign up, and said she would start on the first day of the summer session in June.

Alan came in a few minutes later.  "Just us two?" he asked, when he saw how empty the gym was.  Eventually, Ralphie, Diana, Jamil and Neville came in.  Yes, another quiet night, this time because it is near the end of the spring session. 

Jamil and Ralphie sparred.  I heard Ralphie ask Jamil if he hit him in the family jewels.  I turned to see Jamil looking tired and pained. 

Alan asked Diana about sparring again, but she said she didn't have her mouthpiece.  She and I did interval training on the heavy bag instead.  Diana lasted one round.  I did the second round with Jamil on the bag. 

Lately, Pastor Roger has been teasing me about beating people up.  In church this past Sunday, he told the kids during the children's sermon portion of the service that fighting with others is not good (the adults got the version that emphasized that conflicts among believers is not good).  "What happens when you hit someone?  What's the other person's usual response?  They hit back," he said.  "Not if you hit them hard enough the first time," I said from my position in one of the pews up front.  Several folks nearby laughed, and the pastor looked at me.  Today at lunch he smiled, "I was directing that sermon towards you!"  "See, I knew you were talking about me," I laughed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The New Woman

Another night at the gym where few came in.  The weather was very nice on Monday, so that may have kept a lot of people out.  Alan was running late again, so Carolyn opened the door.  As I waited for her to to unlock the door, a tall, cheerful woman walked up to us.  "Is Mr. Alan in?" she asked.  "He hasn't made it in as of yet," Carolyn answered.  "This is where the boxing gym is?" she asked.  Carolyn and I confirmed that it was.  The woman asked if I was in the class, and when she found out I was she said,  "Good!  That's encouraging!"

I learned her name was RoShawn, and she has a teenaged daughter who used to come to the kids' boxing program.  Alan had a lot of extra time to work with her because Eric, Jamil and I were the only other people in the gym.  RoShawn watched as I sparred with Jamil.  Alan asked if she wanted to try it, and the next thing I knew, she had put gloves and headgear on and jumped in the ring with Jamil.  She was doing well until she got a charley horse in her leg.  "I probably did too much in one day," she told me, but she promised to come back on Wednesday. 

After she left, Alan marveled how willing RoShawn was to spar.  I was impressed, too.  "I don't get why most girls get scared.  They see other girls in here in the ring when they come in," he commented.  "You know most women aren't encouraged to hit people," I told him.  I'm very glad that my mother felt that women should know how to defend themselves and taught her daughters how to throw punches and kicks.  "But they have to get in to get used to it," Alan said. 

A guy named James came in to inquire about coming to the gym.  I heard him say he had a coach, but the coach didn't want to come up north to work with him.  Alan gave him some information, including telling him about the people in the gym who had been Golden Gloves contenders.  Before James left, I overheard him tell Alan, "Call me 'Professor'."  I guess it was because he wore glasses and looked scholarly.

Barry and the kids in the boxing program were not in the annual Gym Show that took place this past Friday.  I don't know why, since the kids' boxing program usually appears there.  Mary put in a last minute call to me to sing the National Anthem before the festivities began.  I like doing that, and the Gym Show is actually entertaining, so I went. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Intervals With Diana

Both Alan and I asked Diana separately last night, "Do you have a mouthpiece?"  Before she went on vacation a couple of weeks ago, she stated that she would buy one while she was away.  She didn't have one with her yesterday.  "I don't think I'm ready," she told Alan when he asked her about sparring. 

I sparred with Jamil for three, count 'em, three whole rounds.  I haven't done that many rounds with anyone for a long, long, time.  "Good for you," Alan said, when I told him I would do a third round.  I practiced picking out my shots, but I was favoring body shots over head shots.  A few times I backed Jamil into a corner with side shots.  He grabbed me to stop my momemtum.  "Break!" Alan called out.

"So you're no longer nervous about fighting with the guys?" Diana asked me.  "I always fought boys.  I can count the fights I've had with girls when I was in grade and high school on four fingers," I told her.  They may have been a few more than that, but not much.  I hated fighting with girls when I was a kid.  They would swing their arms like windmills, throwing wild and sloppy punches.  I really got mad when they resorted to scratching.  That would set me off like Curly in that Three Stooges short where he would go nuts whenever, "Pop Goes The Weasel" was played.  Luckily, my mother taught me how to throw punches.  Once the scratching started, I would step back for a moment, watch for an opening, then zap them with a right or a left.  "Now, scratch me again, expleted deleted!" I'd yell. 

Alan suggested that Diana and I do a "burn out" (interval training) on the heavy bag.  Alan is a nice guy, but I noticed last night that he can really bark orders out.  "Time!  Go, go, go!  You gotta be quick!  Don't stop!  Keep those hands up!  Don't lose your form!" he repeated throughout the rounds.  Diana was a little slow about switching off to hold the bag for me when it was my turn.  She did pick up the pace of her punches when it was her 15 seconds on the bag, however. 

Most of the guys were MIA again last night.  Jamil, Donald and Ralphie were there.  While Ralphie sparred with Jamil, I noticed he'd put his left elbow up to ward off Jamil's right punches.  "Is that legal?" I asked him after they finished.  Ralphie laughed.  "I don't know if it's legal or not," he answered.  "What's that?" Alan asked.  "Hillari said I was hitting Jamil with my elbow," Ralphie said.  "No, he wasn't hitting him with it, just using it to defend against him," I said to Alan.

Later, as Alan drove me home, he grinned about his wife knowing him "like a book".  "I'd answer a question of hers, and she'd say, 'You're lying, Alan.'  I asked her how could she tell, ad she said it was a look that I got on my face that gave me away," he shook his head.  "Well, you also know how we women tend to remember things you told us 10 or 15 years ago.  We remember what you were wearing when you said it, what date it was, what day it was, and so on," I grinned.  "Yeah, how in the world do you all remember that stuff?  I just figured the best way not to get my wife mad is tell the truth," he said.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Aches and Pains Have It

When I got to the gym, Mike was waiting by the gym door.  He hadn't been in for a long time.  He's now engaged, and plans to be married sometime next year. 

It was another evening that was light on people.  In addition to Mike, Eric, Donald, Jamil and St. Louis came in.  Alan didn't change out of his street clothes.  He had picked up a lawnmover a few days ago, and it messed with his back.  "I didn't think it was that heavy," he said, but sometimes, it's the things that happen we think are slight that end up hurting us. 

Both of my knees were bothering me, but I forced myself to jump rope for a couple of rounds. After church service yesterday, Yvonne asked if I was still boxing.  "Don't you have arthritis?" she inquired.  "Yeah, and sometimes I can't jump rope.  I have to substitute doing something else," I answered. 

During shadow boxing, I was doing my latest favorite combo:  two jabs to the body, then jab, right upstairs.  "Don't do that because you leave yourself wide open," Alan pointed out.  He was right.  My left hand down during the body shots left my left jaw open to hooks.  "I'd rather see you bend down and deliver a body shot with your right," Alan continued.  I tried that, and it worked.

Donald and I did interval training on a heavy bag, not long after I had done a couple of rounds and a half in the ring with Jamil.  I admit, I cheated a bit by throwing a lot of short uppercuts to the bag when it was my turn.  "You both have to punch like you normally do. . .throw the punches full out and straight," Alan told us.

Bobbing and weaving did a number on my right knee after awhile.  It went "ping!" at one point, and I was hopping around, trying to shake the pain away.  I found some natural remedies for arthritis online earlier today, but like natural meds tend to be, they were expensive.  I would like to try them at a later date, however. 

"My father told me thirty years ago that when I got older, boxing would take a toll on my body.  He was right," Alan said later as he was driving me home.  "The older I get, the more I'm realizing that's true, too," I said.  But boxing doesn't have an age limit.  There are folks older than me who regularly do a boxing workout, even if they don't spar or compete.  The sport has a magnetic draw for many.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Feeling The Age

Deo stopped in briefly last night.  "What happened to all the life in the gym?" he asked.  Good question.  Most people stayed away again yesterday evening.  Outside of Alan, only Jamil, Donald, Ralphie and myself were there.  The low attendance is a little troubling because the new summer session doesn't start until a month from now.  Usually, people go missing during the last couple weeks of the current session, not this early on.  Alan missed Deo by a few minutes, because he came in later.  "He looked good," I told Alan.  Deo was the guy who's eye socket had been broken by Leon a few months ago.

I didn't spar, although I could have moved around with either Jamil, Ralphie or Alan.  Donald likes working out on the bags, but I don't think he's too keen on sparring.  Alan opted not to change out of his street clothes, so Jamil and Ralphie worked with each other. 

When Alan asked why I wasn't sparring, I answered, "I'm feeling old today."  The day before, I had done my usual shadow boxing workout at church, and I worked out at church this morning.  My right knee is stiff, and it feels like its weighed down in fluid.  I only did a couple of rounds of jumping rope because of it.  While actually punching, I kept having to take short rests to give my left arm a break.  It was tight, as well as my middle and lower back.  I did put in a hour's work, however.  It's a good thing I give my body a rest Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but the recovery times seem to get longer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Floater's Already There

The rain and the damp, cool weather must have put most people off last night.  Only Jamil, Donald, and myself were in the gym, outside of Alan. Alan and I sparred.  Once again, my left eye took a shot.

A look in the mirror confirmed that my eye was red, but no other damage was visible.  I worry about that eye because it has a floater in it.  I don't know exactly how long it's been there, but I do know it started sometime after I was laid off from the agency two years ago.  I just woke up one morning and noticed a little dark wisp traveling across my pupil.  It's probably a little blood that seeped out from the vessels in my eye.  Who knows how it got there?  I don't remember taking extremely bad hits to my eye or head (other than what normally happens when I spar).  It's been time to see an eye doctor, but I need to find an inexpensive one that is knowledgeable about diabetes.  My father had cataracts, and at the time of his death, there was a tumor behind one of his eyes.  He refused to let doctors do anything about it.  I'd rather be more proactive about my sight.

A letter that I had forgotten I'd written to The Ring magazine was printed in their latest issue.  The issue has Manny Pacquiao on the cover (who by the way, won a political election in the Philippines recently).  A columinist wrote an article not long ago complaining about ring card girls, and I agreed with him.  Now if only "The Bible of Boxing" would cover more of the female boxing scene, I'd be very happy.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Owed a Half of a Round

Last night, Carlos and I began sparring in the middle of a round.  After that round ended, Alan told me, "You still owe me a half a round."  "You gonna do that to me?  As old as I am?" I said while I huffed and puffed.  "Yeah, you gotta push yourself," Alan smiled.

The next round proved that I have become better at covering up.  Deflecting punches is something I still need to work on, howver.  Carlos was going non-stop.  It was as if someone had put rocks in an oversized slingshot and fired them all at once.  I did get in hooks to his head and his body, but they were not effective in slowing down his onslaught.  I was done after that round.

Jamil sparred with Carlos, and there was blood around the collar of his white shirt.  It was hard to tell who was bleeding, as neither man had signs of crimson leaking.  Carlos had a bruise on the underside of his top lip, and Jamil had taken hits to the mouth as well.  But it still was a mystery as to whom had been cut.  It could have happened while Jamil was sparring with Demond earlier.  "My mom's gonna yell when she sees it," Jamil smiled.

I heard Alan ask Diana if she was going to spar.  "No, I don't have a mouthpiece," she answered.  She told him that she'll pick one up for next week.  The other women did not come into to the gym last night. 

This morning, I did my usual workout in the church gym.  "Tell me if the music is too loud," I told Pastor Roger before I went downstairs.  Today is the National Day of Prayer, and most churches are open for people to have some quiet time in the sanctuary.  It wouldn't do to have people in the sanctuary trying to focus on God and hearing some R&B and hip-hop floating up from below.  During the workout, I felt a little twinge in the middle of my upper back.  Several years ago, there was pain in that area after I helped a nurse lift my dad so she could change his bed sheets while he was in the hospital.  He was average height, but he was heavyset.  I didn't have enough leverage as I thought on my side to lift him.  That happened a couple a weeks before he passed away.  I ended up going to the chiropractor to have my back straightened out after that.  I hope that little twinge doesn't mean I reinjured myself.  

Carlos likes to cook.  He told me he had eaten some chicken fried steak with gravy, and that his son Justin really liked it.  He's trying to change his diet in order to get down in size.  Alan joked to me, "Did you eat the whole pizza you ordered Monday night?"  I had told him when he dropped me off at home that I was going to order one.  "I ordered lasagna instead, but I didn't eat the whole thing," I answered.  Having noticed that Paulette will save half of a restaurant meal to eat later, I made that suggestion to Carlos and Ralphie.  I've been doing that myself lately whenever I order out.  If I'm actually at a restaurant, I'll either save half to take home, or just leave it on my plate.  It is so true that most restaurants serve bigger portions than necessary. 

Paulette and I had gone to a luncheon this past Tuesday, so I didn't do my usual workout that day.  I'll have to do another one either tomorrow or Saturday.  I haven't done a kettlebell workout in awhile, so I may do that if I don't do another boxing workout at church. 

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

An Improvement In Punching

Chloe came in -- with Joe -- but other than that, none of the other women (Toya, Cynthia, Earleatha, Stacy) were present.  Chloe told me that she thinks she is experiencing some nerve damage in her left arm.  "I spar sometimes with an old man who's 65 years old.  He likes to hit me in the back of the head!  Maybe that caused it," she said.  I smiled, remembering a older man named Rocky (it's true) whom I did sparring drills with while I attended Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts.  He didn't pull punches, either.

I sparred with Carlos, who had already done several rounds with some of the other guys.  I did a combination where I jabbed to his body, then threw a jab and a right to his head.  "Nice!" Alan said, from the other side of the ropes.  Carlos stepped back and looked at me.  "Very nice," he commented.  The first round, I had a lot of energy.  I used a few of the other combinations that I have been practicing in the church's gym when I work out.  During the second round, my battery started running down, but I pushed myself to keep throwing some combinations instead of just one shots. 

Demond, who's originally from New York, asked me what I thought about Mayor Daley.  "The current one or his dad?" I asked.  Demond was amazed that the senior Daley had been in office for over two decades and that he remained mayor until he died a few days before Christmas in 1976.  "I went to school in Boston before I moved to Chicago.  New York and Boston are east coast, and Chicago is midwest. . .Chicago is real different from those two cities in terms of the politics," he said.  He asked did I think anyone had a chance in a mayoral election against Daley.  "It could be done, but they would have to have a lot of campaign money and a solid base of supporters in high places, even if they are a Democrat like Daley.  The Democractic Machine politics are still in place," I answered. 

Later, Carlos was attempting to do some interval training on the heavy bag.  "Ralphie can punch real fast when he does that, but I can't do it," he told Alan.  "I'm so tired of these young men talking about what they can't do," I said.  I was laughing while I said it.  Alan told Carlos he can, but he has to work his way up to it.  I was thinking the other day that I wish I had one of those interval timers at home.  Interval training is very good for building up stamina.  I have a half a mind to buy a regular standard timer like the one that's in the gym and store it at church for when I work out there.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Weekend of Fights

This past Friday night, I went down to the UIC Pavilion to watch a series of professional fights presented by 8 Count Productions.  Most were there to see hometown favorite Donovan "Da Bom" George take on Osumanu Adama in a super welterweight  match.  George's fight was televised live on Showtime's "ShowBox: The Next Generation".  It was a tough match.  Adama put tons of pressure on George, who appeared to not know how to approach his opponent early on.  No matter what shots George put out there, Adama kept advancing and backing George up.  Evenutally, George's firepower returned, and he took it to Adama, especially during the last round.  George won an unanimous decision.

Too bad a lot of people didn't stick around for the last fight of the evening.  It was an exercise in technical skill between Marcus "Too Much" Johnson and Derek Edwards.  Nothing flashy, just two guys measuring each other up and thinking about how and when they were going to deal out punches.

Another crowd pleasing fight was the fourth one.  Andrzej Fonfara from Poland went up against Roger Cantrell for the WBC Youth World Light Heavyweight Championship.  Fonfara lit up Cantrell with a lot of jabs to the body and the head.  After Fonfara knocked Cantrell against the ropes and down to the canvas one minute and one second into the fourth round, the referee stopped the contest.

Antonio Tarver joined Nick Charles and Steve Farhood at the commentator's table.  MMA star Darren Aronosky was also in attendance.

Last night was the Mayweather-Mosley fight.  I saw that at the Webster Place Theater.  After dealing with ticket takers who acted as if they didn't know the superfight was taking place, and bored looking concession stand staff, I settled into theater number seven to watch the spectacle.  There were a few of us in the audience who were pulling for Mosley.  A big cheer went up when he busted Mayweather in the face with a right.  "Money" teetered then got his balance back.  Unfortunately, Mosley would never get the chance to embarrass Mayweather again. 

The HBO commentators rightly said that Mosley looked like he was sleep walking.  Looking worn and breathing hard, "Sugar" plodded around the ring, and Mayweather did his usual play it safe defense routine.  Mosley's trainer, Naazim Richardson, sounded like he was going to stop the fight if Mosley didn't get some life into himself.  Roger Mayweather, over in the other corner, was cool as he called Mosley the MF word and encouraged his nephew to stay on course.  Mosley needed to knock Mayweather out, but like Richardson pointed out, Mosley kept looking for a perfect opening to do so.  It never came.

If it wasn't enough that some fans were disappointed -- and bored -- about another Mayweather victory, the champion once again declared that Pacquiao would never get a match unless bood tests were done.  I don't get this.  Mayweather never required that out of anyone before Pacquiao.  I suppose he had to demand that Mosley take the tests because of Mosley's admitted steroid use, and the fact that he had made a big deal of Pacquiao having to agree to testing. 

Before I got my tickets, I overheard a yuppy-like woman telling her two trendy friends after seeing a poster for the fight, "I don't care to see that."  I got a bit offended at her tone.  She was a stick who needed to eat a few steak sandwiches and some cake so that the wind wouldn't blow her away.  Probably couldn't fight her way out of a paper bag in a dark room.  Good thing that she got out of the way so the true fight fans could get through.