Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Randy and Anthony

The only sparring that took place Monday night was between Randy and Anthony.  Mike L. wants to wait until next week to spar.  I still can't spar because of my right eye, and Danny, to my knowledge, has only sparred once, and that was when Steve was still the coach. 

Alan continually admonished Randy.  "Keep your hands up!  Hands up!  See, that's why you got hit!  You've got to keep your hands up!" he barked.  Randy and Anthony went around a couple of times. 

Once again, we had to go through the door in the basketball gym that leads to the boxing gym.  Alan went around to the main boxing door gym to get it open once the rest of us was inside.  A tall, light-skinned African-American basketball player roamed into the area, asking questions about the program before going back to the game.  Anthony commented after the basketball gym door was closed, "We should leave that door open to get a breeze."  It was crazy hot in the boxing gym, as usual.  "The problem is, when that door is open, the basketball players roam in," I told him.  Some are cool like the aforementioned b-ball player, but there have been some incidents where other basketball players were just obnoxious.  "I wouldn't care if they roamed in and out all the time.  We'd have more air.  You gotta look at the big picture, Hillari!" Anthony laughed.

Alan was telling me that when Carolyn, one of the field house staff persons, opened the door leading to the basketball gym to let us in, she wrinkled her nose.  Carolyn commented on the smell of the gym.  "I never notice it.  She probably got a good whiff because of the smell of the sparring gloves," Alan said.  The gloves are on a table nearest to that particular door.  "It's rare that I notice the smell anymore.  Once in awhile I do, and I go, 'Whoa!', but I've been in here so long that it doesn't bother me," I told him.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Coming In the Other Door

Alan forgot that he had to attend a wedding on Wednesday night, so he wasn't able to come in.  "Tell the guys there's no sparring," he told me when he called Tuesday afternoon.  I meant to ask him if he had told Mary that he wasn't going to be in.  Rob had to call her to make sure it was okay for the gym to be opened, so she might not have known. The summer session officially ended last week, and we're in a break period.  The fall session doesn't begin until September 20th.  "Mary said it's okay, but don't let anyone spar," Rob informed me.

The gym door was sticky again, so Rob had to let us in through the door that's in the second basketball gym.  Only Anthony, Ralphie and Professor came in.  Professor told me he had a fight at a downtown gym on Thursday night.  I told him that I would try to go.  Later, I remembered that I couldn't because I had to go to paralegal class.  I'll have to ask him how it went the next time I see him.

It was a quiet night, one that ended right at 9:00 PM.  The door leading to the basketball gym had to be left cracked open while we were inside.  If it closed, we would have been locked in.  Luckily, none of the guys playing hoops wandered in.  It's happened in the past.  They were gone at least a half-hour before we left. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Room Full of Men

Last night, Anthony asked what happened to Shay.  She hasn't been in for weeks, and she hasn't been heard from.  Joan disappeared after sparring with Shay and getting her lip cut open.  I thought LaShawn was going to come by, but she didn't and Evangelina didn't come in.  So that left me in my usual position as the only woman in the gym.

I ran into Mike L. while walking to the gym.  His friend Jack has gone back to college in St. Louis, so we won't be seeing him for awhile.  Mike is gearing up for getting in some sparring soon, but he wants to wait for a minute.  He just got a new teaching job and doesn't want to start off showing up to work with bruises on his face.  I don't blame him.  It's a trip explaining to people at work why the bruises are there.  If one is a woman, there's the extra problem of people thinking one is a domestic violence victim.

Jamil was quick while sparring with Anthony.  His game has really been improving.  He got in a lot of solid head and body shots.  But Anthony is no slouch, either.  He's learned to calm down a little while in the ring and pick his shots.  Later, Jamil sparred with Ralphie, and he slowed down a bit.  "I need the bucket," he said, and for a second, both Alan and I thought he was going to throw up.  But he was fine. 

I forgot to bring my boxing gear to work today.  I was running late -- again -- so I hopped on my bike in order to get there on time.  The second boxing bag I have, just like the other one which I carry to the gym, is too unwieldy to carry while riding a bike anyway.  I rode the bike for about an hour and a half after work to get some exercise in.

On my way out of church, I spot Pastor and Mark, the intern, returning from lunch.  Mark called out, "Frazier!" which is his nickname for me.  He asked about when I was boxing next.  "I'm supposed to have a fight in September, but I don't know if my eye is going to be okay by then," I replied.  "I heard you telling someone about your eye earlier this morning.  I hope it's okay," Mark said.  "So do I.  I want it to be fine by the time the fight happens because I'd like to win this time," I said. 

Pastor Roger remained silent during this conversation.  Almost seven years ago, when he first took over the pulpit from the retiring Pastor Shackelford, I told Pastor Roger that I boxed.  He had sort of a funny look on his face then.  Sometime later, after I really learned how conservative he is, I asked him was he okay about me boxing.  He said he was fine with it.  But then, this is a guy, judging by other things he's said regarding women, would probably prefer it if more women stayed in traditional roles.  Don't get it twisted -- I'm not knocking him.  I've always liked the guy from day one.  But I always think that while he's probably known many tomboys in his life, Pastor Roger has never come across one like me.  And one who's involved in one of the toughest sports in the world, at that.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vitreous Trouble

I went to the eye doctor today, praying that some good luck would rub off on me because it was my youngest brother's birthday.  Ken would have been 45 years old today, and he was actually born on a Sunday on a kitchen table in the apartment our family lived in at the time.  It is also the 45th anniversary of when I learned the "here's the steeple, here's the church, open the door and see the people" game that people have been teaching little kids forever.  One of the midwife staff that day taught me that in an effort to keep me occupied while my mother was in labor.

After explaining the recent problems with my right eye (a new floater, white lights flashing), the doctor dilated my pupils with drops to get a better look.  My left eye has a floater, but it's fine.  There is a vitreous detachment in my right eye (and the floater in that eye is an indication of that).  "After four to six weeks if there are no changes with that eye, the possibility of a detached retina goes down.  But come and see me a month from now for a follow up appointment so we can make sure it didn't get worse," the doctor told me. 

As I carefully walked down the street later (dilation of the eyes makes sight blurry for awhile), I wondered how this was going to affect the fight I have next month.  The doctor suggested that if I spar, I shouldn't take any shots to my head at all.  He confirmed what I had suspected:  hits anywhere to the head could affect one's vision.  If I'm not sparring, I won't be getting in the extra practice I need to face my opponent.  Maybe I can do drills instead.

I was just thinking about who may have hit me and caused the eye injury.  But what does that matter?  Stuff like this is usually cumulative most of the time, and I've been boxing since 2001.  I'm still curious as to why it's my right eye and not the left.  I can't remember being hit in my right eye as much as my left eye has been.

Alan called to check up on me this afternoon, and I gave him the report about my eye.  "Didn't that light they shine in your eyes hurt?" he asked.  It was uncomfortable, but the light was the way the doctor had to use to check out the trouble. 

I'm grateful that my sight hasn't deteriorated much.  The eye doctor said that ten years after a diagnosis of diabetes is when the sight problems really kick in (I was diagnosed in 2007).  The capacity to see distances has diminished a little.  If I take care of the diabetes even better than I have been doing lately, I might not need a white cane later on.  I paid for a new pair of glasses, and those will come in a couple of weeks from now. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Look Out For Flying Headgear

No sparring for me again Wednesday night.  I have an appointment with the eye doctor this weekend, so sparring is on hold until I get the results about that.  Plenty of action in the ring generated by others, however.  First up was Professor and his brother Miles.  Miles threw some solid hits, even more so when he was up against Anthony.  Anthony rallied back in a later round, and caught Miles with some bombs.  "I was proud of how you did," Alan told Anthony later.

Since I could not spar with Evangelina, she got in the squared circle with Randy.  It didn't look like he was hitting hard, but I've been in the ring with him enough to know that he can.  Evangelina got in one while Randy was backing up towards the rope.  His headgear flew off.  "Whoa!  Time out!" I called out.  Alan quickly put his headgear back on, and the action resumed.  Josh commented, "She's aggressive!"  Professor agreed with him.

Randy's headgear flew off two more times, each time right behind a hit from Evangelina.  Both Alan and I noticed that she was slapping at Randy several times.  Both of us suggested that she throw her punches straight on. Randy did catch her in the face a few times, but as usual, Evangelina took it and carried on.  There was a cut on her lip after the last round. 

Matthew (Alan's son) was in with Ralphie.  Matthew brought in his iPod and a speaker, playing a mix of heavy metal and rap.  While he and Ralphie were sparring, a heavy metal song played.  Alan kept telling the guys to take it easy.  During a break, Ralphie laughed, "I think this music is pumping him up!" 

As I guessed correctly, news about possible tearing in the retina in my right eye brought about shock and dismay among the church folks.  I announced the problem during the woman's fellowship gathering on Tuesday night.  Suggestions were made -- again -- for me to give up boxing.  The thought crossed my mind that I may just have to be satisfied with the workout only if I get some funky news from the eye doctor. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No Eye For Sparring

About two weeks ago, I began to notice white lights flashing in my right eye.  It doesn't seem to happen much during the day, but as the hours go on, the light show begins.  While at the gym on Monday, Alan said that he had noticed the same thing going on in one of his eyes.  Years ago, he'd had some damage to an eye repaired after a retina became detached. The lights had begun to show, indicating tearing in the retina, awhile before he went to a doctor. "You better have that checked out," he told me.

I wasn't much for sparring that night because I was feeling out of sorts.  I came home after work and spent most of the afternoon laying on the couch.  After Alan told me about his eye, I decided to forego sparring for awhile until I can get to an eye doctor.  I don't even remember getting hit in my right eye recently (the left has taken some shots, however).  Can't take a chance on making a potential condition worse, however. 

Once I tell the folks who've always discouraged me from boxing to begin with -- namely, a lot of folks at church -- I'll never hear the end of it.  "See?  We told you that you could get hurt!  Now, you could go blind!" they'll say.  Some will remind me of when Willie, who attends my church, got hit so hard once that he was seeing double for awhile.  "See?  You really need to stop that and do something else!" they'll say. 

It certainly puts the potential fight I have in September at Loyola Park in trouble.  Sigh. . .if I go to the eye doctor and they do find something wrong. . .every time I've gone to the doctor since this century began, something wrong has been found. 

LaShawn surprised me by coming in.  She was the one who sparred with Jamil her first night in the gym.  She also tore her knee up, too.  She figured she had stepped down wrong at some point while sparring.  Luckily, she only needs physical therapy and not surgery.  She said she would back in the gym soon. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Barry's Boys

Thankfully, my punch mitts were still in the gym today.  Barry was using them with Marquis when I walked in.  "These are great!  They are so light!" he smiled.  I'm glad he was the one who found them, and I didn't mind that he was using them. 

The great news was Kevin won the Junior Golden Gloves Championship in Nevada.  The bad news was that a lot of the younger guys haven't been coming around on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Diego's been gone since October, having suddenly gone with another trainer.  Only Marquis and Eric were in the gym when I got there.  Later, Jimmy and Sani, two older youngsters, came in. 

Barry and I also talked about the news that Rick, JJ's trainer, won the Master's belt at the Ringside Championship.  Rick is 55 years old.  When I first read about it elsewhere on the 'Net, I thought, "That's what I'm talkin' about!"  Rick had made a comment in the news article about just because men are 50 and over doesn't mean they have to lay down and expire.  That is so true. 

Monday and Randy and I

Evangelina and I sparred on Monday.  It didn't go well for me as I took more hits to the head.  The problem?  Not having my hands up high enough.  It is so easy for someone taller than me to punch down on me.  I never seem to anticipate that, and I get my head handed to me. 

Professor was giving out a lot of advice, and the guys were listening.  He later asked Alan about coaching professional boxers.  Just like Steve before him, Alan said he wanted no part of it.  The big thing is time.  A professional boxing coach has to also act as a manager to an extent.  That means watching tapes of possible opponents, making matches, being more available for training, etc. 

The mystery 190 pound guy who came in that day I missed gym last week was a no show again.  I wish he had showed up, based on the excitement that took place when he was there.

On Wednesday, soft-spoken Randy and I sparred.  He got me in the face several times, but afterwards he said that I successfully popped him in the middle many times.  I didn't think I had touched him at all.  In fact, I never think that I connect half the time I'm in the ring.

Right after Alan said it was time to go home at 9:00 PM, Josh decides he wants to do punch mitts for a minute.  I let him and Mike use my punch mitts, but I'm just now thinking that the punch mitts never made it back into my locker.  Sigh. . .I'll go in the gym to see Barry on Thursday.  I've left my bag gloves out on the gym floor before, and they were still there the next time I came in.  Hopefully, the punch mitts will still be there, too.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Wednesday Night and Friday Night Fights

I learned that I had missed some excitement in the gym this past Monday.  Some 190 pound guy came in and sparred with Ralphie.  Ralphie slipped and fell to the canvas, and the bigger guy hit him while he was down.  Professor was looking for the guy on Wednesday.  "I don't feel like sparring, but if that guy comes in, I'll spar with him," he said.  Nobody could remember the guy's name, and he didn't come in that night. 

I held pads for Professor, but that's something I don't do well.  I don't have enough practice with it.  Professor borrowed my pads to hold them for other people.  From what I could hear, Professor did well holding the punch pads.  He was giving a lot of advice to people.

ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" was in town to tape last night at the UIC Pavillion.  Antonio's fight wasn't taped for live broadcast, unfortunately, and his was the last of the evening.  It was quick.  His opponent, a guy named Bokhart, didn't have good balance.  Antonio clipped him a few times in the head, and Bokhart stumbled.  Antonio never stopped moving, and eventually he backed Bokhart into a corner in the second round.  Bokhart was in a fetal position when the referee stopped the contest.  Antonio got the win, which was great for his first professional boxing match.

I could see Rita and Tina in the VIP section talking to boxing analyst Teddy Atlas for several moments from where I was sitting.  "I wish I could meet him and Joe Tessitore," I thought to myself.  Shortly after the live broadcast was over, Tessitore was gone.  Atlas stayed around for while, and he was taking pictures and talking with other people.  I moved as close as I could down front to get a better look at Atlas.  He made his move to leave right before Antonio's fight began.  "Mr. Atlas!  Mr. Atlas!" I called out.  He began to walk my way, but another guy a row over had caught his attention.  Atlas glanced at me, then went to shake the hand of the other guy.

He then jogged back down to me and shook my hand.  "I really liked the book you wrote," I told him, referring to the biography he put out a couple of years ago.  "Thank you very much.  What's your name?" he asked.  I told him, and he thanked me again, then gave me a hug before leaving the arena.  The old cliche about, "they look and sound just like they do on TV" was true in that case.  Atlas is one of my boxing idols, and I was very pleased to have had a chance to get to talk to him. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Antonio and Boban

Pastor Roger arrived at work today with a severe hair cut.  He looked as if he was ready to join the Marines on a hard core mission.  "I didn't control how short they cut it," he explained.  I shook my fist at him jokingly about putting a jinx on me yesterday.  "I missed going to the gym," I said.  "You did that to yourself," he said in his defense.

After work today, I decided to finally go and check out the Chicago Fight Club.  I also had another purpose in mind: to purchase tickets for a fight card at the UIC Pavillion this Friday.  Antonio, who works as a trainer at the gym, has a fight scheduled that night.  He's fighting at junior welterweight.  Antonio used to come to Loyola Park on and off to shore up his boxing skills.  He's also a professional MMA fighter.

When I got to the gym, which is on the northwest side, a long, lanky young man greeted me at the door.  "Antonio's not here now, but he'll be back," I was told.  I had to go get cash for my ticket, so I went across the street to a nearby ATM.  A hot dog stand was over there, too, and I hadn't eaten lunch.  About twenty minutes later, I came back to find Fernando, another trainer there, working with a young lady who wore pink boxing gloves.  He called Antonio out from the back.

Antonio hugged me and said he was glad that I came down to the gym to get a ticket as opposed to waiting to buy one at UIC Pavillion's door.  He gave me a quick tour of the gym.  It's a nice space, with mats on the floor, a ring, and numerous heavy and light bags, and some exercise equipment (treadmills, weight machines).  The walls were lined with picture of the owner, a guy named Wasfi.  Wasfi apparently gets around, as most of the pictures showed him posing with the well-known, such as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Hilary Clinton, and D.L. Hughley. 

I was also surprised to see Boban (I'm finally spelling his name right), another professional MMA fighter who used to hang at Loyola Park.  Boban is a big guy, all muscle.  He told me he had a fight lined up with a UFC fighter who backed out at the last moment.  Allegedly, the UFC fighter said that fighting Boban would be an easy fight, and not worth the effort.  Boban was making a recording, calling out the fighter. 

Antonio noticed I was carrying my gear bag.  "You want to get a work out in?" he asked.  Fernando told him, "Hey, sign her up!"  "I just worked out in the gym at church," I regrettably told him.  "You have your stuff, and you're not going to work out?" Antonio smiled.  "I just ate, too," I said, laughing.  I want to come back down there at some point.  I liked the place.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Turning Into Dad

Maybe I should blame Pastor Roger for putting a jinx on me.  Earlier today, he noticed that I had made the mistake of omitting a date on the church's August calendar.  "If you'd go to bed before 3:00 AM, that would cut down on mistakes," he smiled.  While at home this afternoon, I dozed off.  When I woke up again, the old clock on the bookcase informed me that the gym had been open for over an hour.  There was no way I would have gotten there on time to get in any kind of workout.

When I was a teenager, I would see my dad taking naps, and I would be critical.  "How can he sleep so much?  And during the day on top of that?" I'd think.  His primary job with Cook County required that he had to be there extremely early in the morning.  His part-time job, driving a Checker Cab, often found him working at odd hours during the week and on the weekends.   It never occurred to me that the old man was actually tired, and those siestas would come upon him sometimes whether he wanted them or not. Dad was in his 40s then, and that type of schedule would be hard on anyone, let alone, a middle-aged man.

Of course, I wasn't happy when I figured out I had overslept.  Unless I'm sick or some emergency has happened, I seldom miss a night at the gym (the only other exception was when I worked briefly as an usher at the Lyric Opera and missed days here and there).  Like Dad, I have been dozing off more often during the day than usual.  This past Saturday, I dozed off late in the afternoon and didn't wake up again until 11:30 PM.  I was up all night because of that.  Most weekday afternoons, I find myself struggling to stay awake.  That is a major problem, considering that these days, I need to study for my paralegal classes. 

Whether this is due to age or menopause or both, this crap is got to stop.  Sometimes I do believe that sleep is overrated, but the only time I need to do that is at night, not at inopportune times during sunlight hours.