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.

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