Thursday, October 28, 2010

Menopause and Boxing

I sparred with Jamil last night, and I had to keep remembering that he's a southpaw.  I didn't use my left hand enough to tap down his incoming rights.  Afterwards, Jamil told me that I got him good with shots to the stomach.  He did stop me a few times by grabbing my arms. 

Jamil expressed doubts about taking a fight at Seward next month.  I hope that he changes his mind.  He has wanted to get a fight for awhile at the Park District shows, and hasn't been able to get one. 

It was quiet again last night, because the crowd was small.  J didn't come in, and neither did the other women who signed up for the Fall session.  Outside of Jamil, Jamelle and Danny were on hand.  I'm beginning to believe that the adult boxing program does make some money.  But participants often put down their money then show up on and off or not at all.

I was not feeling that well on Monday due to menopause.  I try to work through them, especially in terms of exercise.  However, the hormones were seriously out of whack, and nothing seemed to work.  It started at work when as usual, one of two annoying people who regularly show up on Monday morning for the food pantry tried to throw their non-existent weight around.  I often hear that person trying to enforce their opinions on the other food pantry patrons.  That particular individual has rubbed me the wrong way for two years now.  They act like that I should acknowledge them whenever I see them.  But here's what they don't get:  Heather, who was the church secretary before me, is a very nice person.  She was also very tolerant of that particular person.  I'm not that accommodating. I've snapped on that person once, and I pointedly ignore them every time I see them.  Yet, they continue to say inane things in the hopes that I will validate their existance, which will never happen.

I told Pastor Roger that if he hears me snapping on that individual -- again -- it'll probably be mostly due to menopausal irritability.  That person just missed being blasted by my tongue on Monday.  Pastor told me that I should rely on God to help control my responses to people; that person as well as the other clueless wonder who shows up on Monday (whose crime is always trying to scam the pantry) is not my enemy, and so on.  I'm guessing that the Pastor is not totally knowledgeable about menopause, and that a woman's anger/rage/irritability is very real and heightened during that time.  I felt my fists forming into balls when confronted with that smart aleck individual who attends the food pantry.  The only reason I didn't cut them down was that I kept reminding myself that I was at work as well as at church.  But there's always a wrong day, a wrong hour, and a wrong second for some character to approach me, and I might not be able to hold back my hormones the next time. 

The hormonal attack definately slowed me down in the gym on Monday, and I'm glad I didn't have an opportunity to spar that night.  I doubt that it would have turned out that well.  I do believe that boxing, because it's such a complete workout, helps keep a lid on some of my menopause symptoms.  But it's still early in the game.  I might have anywhere from a year to ten years to have to live with it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Things Are The Way They Are

Last night, Alan told me that Mary asked him why the numbers of people in the adult boxing program were down.  Over the past few weeks, there has been a noticeable drop off in people coming to the gym.  It seems to be that way in the youth boxing program, too.  I have my own theories.

1.  Boxing vs. MMA
Since the rise of mixed martial arts began a few years ago, boxing has been derided as "the sport that old people like".  MMA's fans are mostly younger, under the age of 35 years.  They cite that MMA matches are quicker and more exciting than boxing matches.  Indeed, boxing used to be on the same level as baseball, football, and basketball.  Matches were shown regularly on network television back in the day.  Now unless one has cable, one can't see boxing often, and even some of the cable outlets don't broadcast as many matches as they used to do.  Also, there doesn't seem to be as much of the confusion and underhandedness in MMA that has characterized professional boxing for the past decade or so.  When there are matches to be made in MMA, they are usually done.  People are still going 'round and 'round about a Mayweather-Pacquiao match that now looks to be dead in the water, among other boxing matches that should be made, but haven't been.  There are a lot of people who are frustrated with the state of boxing, and I can't blame them.

2.  People Are Uneducated About Boxing
As I've noted on this blog many times, too many people walk up in a boxing gym all hyped up without having done their homework.  Some think they know all there is to know about boxing since they've seen a few matches on HBO, Showtime and ESPN.  Too many think their street fighting skills will translate to the ring easily.  A lot of women in particular expect a boxing gym to operate like Women's Workout World or the East Bank Club, and are surprised to find that they don't work like that.  The lack of knowledge leads many to drop out of the sport before they get into it well enough.

3.  The Cost
I've wondered why boxing program fees vary across the Chicago Park District.  It appears that Loyola Park has one of the highest fees among the Park District gyms (but I could be wrong).  The average age of people who come into Loyola Park Boxing is around 25 years of age, and they are predominately male.  From what I've observed, most of the young men that have come through are struggling to make it.  They either are looking for jobs, working temporary gigs here and there or trying to stretch the short money they receive from the jobs they have.  Some have responsibilities, such as their own young children to take care of, or older parents/guardians whom they are trying to help out.  Quite a few are attending school, and that's another bill to deal with.  Forty dollars every two months or so is a lot of money to someone who's already on a tight budget.

4.  The Sparring Issue
If one plans to compete, sparring is essential.  When Steve was the coach, we'd often go to other Park District gyms to get in extra sparring practice.  The coaches and boxers from the other gyms would come up to Loyola Park in return.  This would happen a lot around the time fights were on the horizon, like the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament, for example.  That has not been the case since the gym re-opened under Alan's watch in late 2008.  The rules have tightened, and Mary does not want anyone in the gym who hasn't paid to be there.  I understand; it's a liability issue.  I don't dig people just showing up looking for a freebie workout, either, especially where security in the gym is concerned.  But a boxer and their coach is not going to pay a full term fee just to come to another field house occasionally to get some sparring in.  There should be a reciprocal agreement among Park District boxing gyms in terms of sparring.  The way to keep down conflicts and confusion is to always make sure that the field house manager is aware that a coach and their boxers know in advance that they are coming by to spar. Coaches shouldn't just make arrangements between themselves and leave the field house manager out of the loop. Boxers from one field house shouldn't just show up to another field house on their own. Their coach should be with them, so that both coaches can monitor the sparring that takes place.  Word gets around that there is good sparring to be had, then that may prompt some to want to sign up for boxing.

5.  The Audience Has Changed and Become Smaller
The last professional fight I went to, there were a lot of empty seats in the stadium.  If you saw it on cable, the cameras made it look like the crowd was bigger than it actually was.  Boxing, unfortunately, has become a niche sport over the past couple of decades.  I noticed that the spectators were largely Hispanic, and much of the advertising was geared toward that ethnic group.  Many Hispanics are still strong supporters of the sport, and there is a major Hispanic presence in boxing these days.  However, whites and African-Americans don't seem to be as enthusiastic about boxing like they used to be.

The Possibility of Hurt

Ed B. came in Monday night and announced that he plans to go pro soon.  I encouraged him to go for it.  He's young, and he's hungry.  Ed B. might as well do it now and see where it goes.  I want to see both his and JJ's debut pro fights when they happen.  Ed B. also goes to school with plans to be a social worker.

I talked to Yale yesterday about getting a fight in November at a boxing event that he's involved with.  He's going to try and get in touch with Andrea, whom I fought in the Loyola Boxing show back in September, and see if she wants a rematch.  Alan told me that I might need a license to participate in that.  Uh-oh.  I'll never have a problem updating my coach's license.  Getting another boxing license with my health issues is another story.  Oh well.  Ed B. told me, "You should have been in the Olympics by now.  For real!"  "I have fantasies about going pro, but they're just that -- fantasies," I said. 

I picked up the DVD copy I had made of the tape recording that Barry made of September's boxing show Sunday afternoon. The first fight was missing the first two rounds, and the tape cut off before the end of the last fight.  Other than that, all the other bouts were on tape.  What Professor and Willie told me about my match with Andrea was true:  at the beginning of one round, I threw punches right after we touched gloves, and I didn't throw many left jabs.  I'm not a natural southpaw, so I don't know why I was favoring my right cross. 

J came in after being missing for a minute.  Alan asked what happened, and she replied that she'd had headaches for days after the last time she sparred.  Guess who she was sparring with?  I swear that sometimes, I don't realize how hard I'm hitting.  I was alarmed when I heard that news.  "The doctors gave me Tylenol," J said.  "Did they do any tests?" I asked.  "No, but the headaches went away.  I'm fine now," she said. 

Yes, boxing can be a dangerous sport.  The object of the game is orchestrate punches like a chess game in order to best your opponent.  Sometimes, great damage is inflicted on both participants in the ring.  I've had ribs bruised, lips busted, numerous bruises and have showed up to work glassy-eyed after getting a concussion.  Things happen.  But it is never my intention to hurt someone so badly that they can't function for awhile, or God forbid, they can't function period.  I would probably have to sit down for a long time if I ever seriously hurt somebody.  Yet in this sport, there's always the possibility of a hurt.  You just have to try to avoid it if you can, and deal with it if it comes to that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another Fall Night In The Gym

It was very quiet in the gym, when I realized the radio wasn't on.  I turned it on before Jamil and Ralphie sparred.  Even with people in the gym, the place can seem very silent at times.

Ralphie had about seven rounds of sparring.  He was in with Jamil about four times, and in the ring with me twice.  Jamil is very good at throwing double jabs with his right hand (he's a southpaw), but Ralphie didn't get caught very often.  He's very good at slipping and ducking. 

Jamelle, Danny and Eric did not spar.  Eric told me his wife's date to give birth to their son was yesterday, but no baby yet.  They'll be seeing the doctor tomorrow to make a decision about whether to induce labor or not.  Meanwhile, Heather and Johan, members of my church, finally had their baby daughter yesterday. 

Yale stopped in with news of a boxing match to take place in November.  He asked to make an event page for it on Facebook, and I did.  Fres Oquendo and "King David" Estrada are scheduled to meet and greet fans at the event.

As I was packing up to go at the end of the evening, I thought to myself that even if I could not compete and/or do the workout anymore, I would still be involved in boxing for the rest of my life.  I just enjoy the atmosphere and comraderie so much that I could not see myself not having it in my life.  Where this is most apparent is if I've had a rough day or a so-so day before arriving at the gym.   Boxing just seems to make things better. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Smell of Varnish

Tonight was the second time I was greeted by the strong smell of varnish when I entered the field house.  Maintenance laid it on heavy in the gym last week, and I had the fan on full blast to air it out.  "They put a second coat on, and my eyes were watering," staff member Carolyn told me.  I had the fan on again tonight, but it got too cold in the gym, and I had to turn it back off.

Only Jamelle, Danny, Mike L., Charlene, and Jamil were in the gym tonight.  "Where is everybody?" Charlene asked.  "It thins out when it gets cold outside.  But in January, it'll get crowded because of people training for the Golden Gloves," Alan answered. 

Charlene and I sparred, and Alan kept telling me to roll and come up with a hook.  But Charlene has very long arms, and I had to figure out how to get past those first.  I was able to get in a hook here and there, but I took more hits than I gave.  I tried to focus on being an inside fighter, but once again, it was a challenge avoiding her arms.  My chin was up too often, and I ate a lot of punches.  Afterwards, I watched Jamelle and Jamil.  Jamil got three rights in succession on Jamelle (Jamil is a southpaw), and he caught Jamelle more times in the face.  Alan told Jamelle during a break, "If you catch him with a good punch, you could send him flying to outer space."  Jamelle got a few in, but I don't think he hurt Jamil much.  Jamelle's form was very good. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Taking It To The Canvas

There was a lot of sparring activity in the gym on Wednesday.  A lot of guys on hand, and as usual, I found myself to be the only female on the premises.  "You wanna spar today?" Alan asked.  "Yeah, depending on who's available.  Otherwise, don't worry about it," I told him.  I ended up in the ring with Ralphie.  I have a habit of smothering someone against the ropes and in corners.  "If you smother him," Alan said from behind the ropes, "he can't throw any punches."  In other words, I had to give the man some room to breathe.  Ralphie grabbed my arms at one point to cut my punches.

Carlos returned to Energizer Bunny mode, as he was in with Jamil and Ralphie.  I wish I hadn't left my camera at home.  I could have gotten a good shot of Carlos' son Justin, watching his father spar with great interest.  Professor sparred with Jamil, I think.  I had my back turned while I worked on the bags.

Barry left a message last night to say he didn't see anyone from Loyola at Hamlin's boxing show.  Maybe I should have gone, regardless of the fact that I didn't have a fight.  I like Hamlin's boxing shows; there are a lot of good fighters at that field house.  I was busy fussing with an extra credit assignment that I needed to turn in to my Business Law instructor.  I took the video of Loyola's boxing show up to Evanston earlier yesterday to have it converted to DVD, but I forgot that the Wolf Camera location there is gone.  I'll have to go elsewhere, either later today or over the weekend to get it done.

I had told Pastor Roger about the religious conversations that I have often with Alan.  Pastor had suggested that I come to Sunday School on Missions Sunday later this month.  There will be a teaching on how to talk to Jewish people about Jesus.  My thing is this: most know that I'm a Christian.  I do mention it from time to time, depending on the conversation.  But I don't believe in beating people over the head with the Bible.  It annoys me when other Christians come to me like that.  If someone else is dead-set in their beliefs, then there is not much that I or anyone else can say to change their minds.  At that point, it's best to respect their viewpoint and stop trying to do a military-style conversion.

Alan laughed as he was driving me home, "Your pastor thinks I'm trying to convert you."  I had to laugh at that thought, too.  "I find it interesting to know," I told him.  I know some things about Judaism, but not a lot, and I suspect that a lot of Christians, unless they've spent time in theology school, don't know a lot about it either.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Alan and the Little Boy

Deep voiced Mike came in last night with a five-year-old boy whom he introduced as his cousin.  The boy put on some sparring gloves, and Alan attempted to show him how to keep his hands up and throw punches.  The little boy was very shy.  Several of us in the gym encouraged the little guy on. 

I sparred with J (I had refered to her as Kyra, but I was incorrect), a very quiet young woman who started coming to the gym this fall.  Alan gave his usual instruction to me to throw punches downstairs and then go upstairs.  I did it a little too well, as I caught her in the ribs.  We both had to stop to give her time to regroup and catch her breath.  During both rounds, I got hooks in and dead-on punches to the face.

Later, Alan held the punch shield for me.  Mike's little cousin watched us with interest.  After Alan and I did a couple of rounds, the older man invited the little boy into the ring.  They got into a mock boxing match, with Alan on his knees to give Mike's cousin more of an advantage.  I was hanging over the ropes loudly saying to Mike's cousin: "Get him, get him!  There you go!  Body shots! Get him in the jaw!  Hooks!"  Alan pretended like he was being overwhelmed by the boy, and he fell out on the canvas.  "Don't you feel strong?" Mike asked his cousin.  "Yes!" the little boy said enthusiastically.  "I'm going to get you," Alan pointed to the boy in jest.  I couldn't help but think that Alan may have been remembering good times playing with his son like that when Matthew was small.

Eric came in after being out for a little while.  He said that he may not be back in again for a couple of weeks.  His wife is due to give birth to their second son any day now.

Looks like I won't have a fight at Hamlin this week.  Bill told Alan that the three women fighters he has are already matched up.  There are several more Chicago Park District boxing shows between now and early December; I may get another fight or two before Christmas. 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Punch Before The Bell

Erica and I were sparring Wednesday night.  She has a lot of power.  It is hard to push her back once she gets started.  We did a couple of rounds.  She and I were both really tired at the end of round one, but Alan told us both to walk around the ring and breath.  It helped, but it wasn't long into the second round where I began struggling with stamina again.  At the end of the round, a second before the bell rang, Erica caught me right in the nose.  I fell up against the ropes.  She hugged me.  "Are you okay?" Erica asked.  "I'm fine. That was a good one!" I said, and it was true. 

Jamelle (not Jamal as I had been spelling his name) sparred with Adam.  Both of them were worn out at the end of their couple of rounds.  Charlene and Erica sparred for one round before I got in the ring with Erica.  Other than that, it was kind of quiet in the gym with everybody doing their own thing.  Most of the new people were not in attendance.

I keep feeling my nose.  It's been punched in more times than usual.  Back in 2003, I had an operation to correct a deviated septum.  If I keep dropping my hands, I'll be back to have it fixed again.

A search around the gym for the T-shirts that were not given out during the boxing show didn't turn them up.  Barry was going to leave them somewhere for me, along with the videotape of the show so I could have it put on DVD.  The plan also included giving shirts to Professor and Evangelina as they participated in the show.  Maybe I wasn't looking in the right places.  I'll ask Barry again where the goods are. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Three In The Ring

Carlos returned last night with his son Justin in tow.  "You've gotten taller.  Soon, I'm going to have to look up to you," I told the boy, who's now in first grade.  "So am I," Carlos grinned.  He worked a little bit in the ring with his cousin Erica.  He was popping her -- lightly, however -- in her face and stomach.  "You're not wearing headgear?" I asked her.  "I'm okay," she said.  She had told me previously that her and Carlos wrestled each other a lot when they were kids. 

Earlier, Erica and I sparred.  She hit me in the nose twice.  The second nose hit came close to having me laid out on the canvas.  I also took some hard body shots.  Charlene and I sparred before that; she's 6 foot 1, a full foot taller than I.   I practiced on deflecting jabs by patting by swatting hers down. 

Adam, whom I sparred with last, was a surprise in regards to how hard he hits.  I bobbed and weaved to avoid his right, only to catch it on the top of my head.  Then he kept catching me with numerous body shots.  I'm surprised I don't feel any of them today.  But due to my delayed reaction to pain, tomorrow may be the day the pains show up.  

Shanice was another new person in the gym last night.  She and Charlene are about the same height.  Those two would make good sparring partners based on their height alone. 

Looks like the rematch between I and Andrea may be on.  I am free to go to Hamlin Park's boxing show next week.  Alan, however, wasn't sure about if anybody else was going to be able to go. Jamil didn't come in last night, and neither did Eric.  I'm not sure if Professor wants a fight at Hamlin.  Carlos just got back in the game, so it's a little too soon to talk about him getting a fight.