Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Candid Camera Moment

Alan, Michael (with glasses), and myself were at the gym door.  Alan was opening the door up.  Alan noticed a petite woman standing behind Michael.  "Are you here for boxing?" he asked her.  "Yes. Who is the coach?" the woman asked.  "I'm the coach," Alan answered.  She looked him up and down.  "Oh.  I was hoping for someone younger.  You don't look like you're in shape," she said, as Alan opened the door.

We all followed Alan inside the gym.  "Is there somebody else I could work with?" the woman asked.  Alan pointed to me.  "There's Hillari.  Hillari, would you want to go into the ring with her?" he said.  "Sure," I said, feeling a little uncomfortable.  "That's fine," the woman said, looking disappointed.  Alan gave her a look.  "I'm not happy with your attitude right now," he said in a stern voice to her. "Well, no offense, but I expected a younger boxing coach," the woman said, clearing standing her ground.  Michael and I looked from her to him, wondering where the tension was going to end.  It became quiet in the gym for a few moments.

Then Alan grinned.  "This is my wife, Riva," he said.  He and his wife laughed, and so did Michael and I.  "You got us good!  That was a Candid Camera moment!" Michael said.  They really had Michael and I fooled.  I came over to introduce myself to his wife, who gave me a hug.  "I feel like I know you already because Alan always talks about you," she said.  Alan had told me that he and Riva first started dating when they were in high school.  Riva told me that she and her husband actually have known each other since they were twelve years old.  "We had a few break ups, then we got back together and stayed together," she smiled. 

Deep-voiced Michael and Jamil came in a little later.  Jamil recently had a birthday; he's now 22 years old.  Deep-voiced Michael has had a few fights at a martial arts center. 

I sparred with Michael for three rounds.  My mouthpiece was making me feel nauseous.  My stomach was acting funny, too, which didn't help.  I took it out, and I sparred without it.  I made very sure to keep my mouth closed.  Michael was throwing some good punches.  He got me in my chest and stomach a few times.  I kept thinking that I should learn to wear my chest protector.  Another time, he caught me with something, I slipped, and fell head over heels onto the canvas.  "Come on, hit hard!  Pretend like you're hitting me!" Alan to me said from the sidelines.

Josh surprised Alan and I by showing up earlier than he usually does.  He sparred about two rounds with Deep Voiced Michael.  Michael did not hit Josh like he could have; the point was for the both of them to just move around in the ring.  Michael wasn't even wearing headgear.

Jamil sparred with Professor, who was also in attendance.  Jamil stopped at one point, and I was afraid he was going to be sick.  He did say later that his stomach was acting funny. 

Before Jamil and Professor sparred, I went down the hall to fill up a couple of the water bottles.  Some young man who looked to be in his mid-teens, passed me, rapping to himself.  Maybe he was wearing an MP3 player, but I didn't see one.  I noticed that he went into the gym, then came out after a few moments.  He passed me as I stood at the water fountain on his way to the basketball gym, still rapping.  I had an uneasy feeling.  Rob was standing behind the service desk, watching the kid, too.  When the kid went on by, Rob said, "I thought group homes had a curfew."  "I used to work at one where the kids weren't allowed to go out alone at all," I said.  There is a youth group home in the neighborhood, and from what I've heard and read, there have been problems.  It appeared the kid didn't cause any problems during the brief time he was in the gym, because Alan didn't say anything about him when I returned with the water.

Michael with glasses gave me some Christmas presents for keeping the shoes he forgot the other week in my locker.  I got some granola bars (good stuff) and a Walgreens' gift card.  I told Michael he didn't have to buy me anything, but he insisted because he was grateful that I had found his shoes.  I was appreciative.

As we were leaving at the end of the night, I told Riva, "I figured that Alan tells you when he spars with the guys, but I didn't think he dared to tell you he was sparring with the women."  "He told Matthew and I how he was sparring with you.  I asked Alan, 'Are you crazy?'  He said that you all were just moving around in the ring but. . . .it's just that he's so much bigger than you, and he hits hard," she said.  "I know, and he's always claiming that he doesn't," I laughed.  "Yeah," Alan confirmed with a grin, "my wife screamed at me when she heard about the sparring."  Riva told me that their son, Matthew, got on Alan about that as well.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Reason To Skip The Gym

Instead of going to the gym on Monday, I went to a second annual alumni gathering of my old high school classmates.  Instead of being limited to the first two classes that ever graduated out of the high school (the place hadn't been open long when I started attending there), the gathering was open to all alumni.  It was held at pub in the West Loop.

As you can see, I quickly found a real drink (sodas were supplied in the cost), then I went around the room.  Several people had seen my fight from September on Facebook.  "You whipped her!" Mario told me.  Rochelle said, "Keep doing your thing, girl!" 

I've said too many times on the blog that I don't like missing nights at the gym, but seeing old buddies and having a good time was worth missing a night. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Showing Up At The End

Alan and I mostly had the gym to ourselves again Wednesday night.  He and I sparred for three rounds.  Once again, the coach caught me in the nose with a punch.  My legs were wobbly during round two, but I managed to stay on my feet.  After we were done sparring,  Jamil came in with a friend of his named Rob.  They chatted with Alan and I briefly, then they left. 

Nine o'clock came and Alan and I were shutting the gym down.  Josh walked in.  "You've got to be kidding me!" Alan exclaimed.  "Can I get a round in?" Josh asked.  "We're closing up," I said, pointing to the timer which I had already turned off.  Alan let him work out for three rounds.  "I heard that you signed up, but it's a waste of time to show up ten or five minutes before closing time.  You don't get enough of a workout that way," Alan told Josh.  Josh promised to come in earlier. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On The Canvas and On The Ropes

Yet another quiet night at the gym. . .I walked in to find Alan already working out.  "You're the only one here?" I asked.  "Yeah", came the answer, and I didn't really expect anyone else.  However, Michael (with the glasses) came in, and so did Danny.

Alan doesn't seem to know his own strength sometimes.  He and I sparred for three round, and in the first one, a flick of his left hand caught me under the nose.  I stopped and went to my knees on the canvas.  "Aw, come on," Alan protested.  After a few seconds, I got back up to finish the round.  "My neck turned a funny way," I said, when asked if I was okay.  That's the second time that has happened over the last several days.  There's a reason why I always see myself in my 60s (if I live that long), walking on a cane, and constantly complaining the years of aches and pains I've built up. 

I got Alan a few times, including some punches on top of his head that were illegal.  We were in a clinch, I kept punching, and unfortunately, some of them landed in that spot.  He got me square in the face in the second round, and once again, I stopped.  That time, I just backed up instead of going down to the canvas.  "I didn't hit that hard," Alan said, like he always does.  "I'm fine; I was just stunned for a minute," I said.  I made the mistake of being near the ropes too often.  Alan was on me so much at one point, that I grabbed him by the arms so we could make the break.  At the end of the third round, he had me pinned on the ropes.

"I told my wife about hitting you in the nose during sparring.  She was screaming at me," Alan admitted in-between sparring rounds.  I figured he always tells his wife whenever he sparred with the guys, but I figured he didn't dare tell her that he sparred with any of the women.  I laughed and asked, "What did she say?"  "She called me a brute.  But you understand!" he said.  Yes, I do.  But I can also understand how his wife would feel.  If I had a husband who was a boxing coach, and near 60 years of age, I'd be concerned not only about what punches he was taking, but what punches he was giving while sparring, too.  I would admire the woman for stepping in the squared circle with my husband, but I'd wonder about what punishment she was taking.

After the sparring ended, Alan asked, "Was that the first time any guy has knocked you down?"  "No," I answered, thinking of the times I found myself on the floor due to blows from my late dad, and once from a now thankfully deceased ex-boyfriend.  "Good," Alan said, indicating that he didn't want to feel like a bad guy.  He continued, "You did really good.  You were not throwing those half-assed punches that you usually do. Now give me three rounds on the heavy bags."

Michael was happy that the shoes he'd left behind last week were found.  I had locked them up in my locker.  "I owe you a Christmas present," he smiled.  "Oh, you don't have to do that," I said.  I'm always finding stuff that the guys leave behind.  I'd rather not see it walk, so I take care of it.

It wasn't snowing that much when Alan and I went out to his car at the end of the night.  There was enough of the white stuff on his vehicle, though.  On the way to the lot, Alan joked, "So this was your night to beat on the Jew."  "No, Rabbi, that wasn't it!" I laughed.  I gotta get it together because there may be a fight at Seward next month.  It's not solid on the schedule as of yet, but it may come to fruition. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Wednesday

Alan had to attend a coaches' meeting last night.  Eric, Michael, and Leon came in, as well as Josh, who showed up at five minutes to nine.  Josh said he signed up for the winter session, which is a good thing.  The few minutes that he's usually there to work out is not enough to get the full experience. 

Unfortunately, none of the staff had the key to the main boxing gym door, so we had to go through the basketball gym.  Several kids tried to get past Rob, who blocked their way into the gym.  "You can look at it, but you can't go inside," he told them.  Later, the most persistent of the ones who were bugging Rob tried to gain entrance again.  I've been patient with most of the kids who come around lately, but last night, I wasn't in an accommodating mood.  "Did you pay to be in here?" I asked, annoyed that the kid had interrupted me while I was shadow boxing.  "No.  I can't work on the speed bag?" the kid asked.  I caught myself before I really said something rude.  Instead,I came back with, "Did you pay to be in here?  Well, then you can't.  Those are not my rules; those are the rules of the park district."  The kid backed out of the doorway.

Earlier in the day, Pastor, Ken and myself stopped at Home Depot after lunch to get salt to put down on the walks around church.  I saw JJ, who works there, and we talked for a few minutes.  It was very good to see him.  He's planning on turning pro in February.  He'll let people know when that match takes place.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sort of Like Cinderella

Alan and I were the only two in the gym last night for almost an hour until Danny came in.  "Before I change my mind," Alan said to me, "get ready."  "Get ready for what?" I asked.  "I'll spar with you," he said.

Earlier, Alan said that he usually feels like he's 25 years old.  "I revert to being 21 years old when I'm in here," I said.  However, the next morning, the carriage turns back into a pumpkin.  I wake up, and I'm instantly reminded of my real age.  That was very true this morning, after the effects of sparring with the coach had set in.  I was putting extra pepper on the punches I gave Alan, and he noticed.  "You've hit me harder than you usually do anyone else," he commented.  "I always go easy on the women because most of them have never been in any kind of fight.  But I figure the guys can take it," I said.  "That's how you should hit all of the time," he said.

"Hillari the giant killer," Alan joked before we stepped into the ring, referring to when I sparred with Leon on my birthday last week.  Alan has a way of turning his body to avoid punches, and it's hard for me to land any when he does that.  It's especially hard to get in a right or a bolo (overhand right) punch on him.  Too many of them landed on his left shoulder.  I was better at aiming at his chest and stomach, and I got some hooks in when he bent over.  Alan suddenly gave me a left uppercut that went up my nose and rocked my head back.  Later, I told him, "If you had put more force on that punch, I would have been laid out on the canvas."  Stunned for a moment, I backed up to catch my breath before charging in again.

Another one of his punches caught me in the mouth.  My mouth was open, and the punch grazed one of my front teeth.  "Remember, Hillari, adult teeth don't grow back if they get knocked out," I thought.  Mouthpieces don't always protect from that, truth be told.  Stamina really began to run out in the third round.  I was taking too long to answer Alan's punches.  "Come on, you're tough," Alan said.  Another hit rocked my neck in the wrong direction.  I think Kevin was the last one to catch me like that in recent memory.  I was hanging over the ropes at the end of that round.

"It's all in your head.  You have to pace yourself, and once you get on the inside, go slow and throw the punches," Alan told me.  There is a mental block, and I need to work on that as much as I need to work on losing weight.  What I do on the bags doesn't always translate to sparring or to actual fights.  The hooks I want to throw don't get executed properly; the uppercuts seldom happen, and when they do, they're not strong enough.  Practice, practice, practice. . .there may be another chance for a fight.  Seward Park's boxing show was rescheduled to take place in January.

I keep rubbing my nose today.  It stung when Alan popped me there.  My back, my neck, my knees and my sides aren't doing so well either today.  Pastor Roger saw me rubbing my nose, and asked, "Are you sick?"  He's on guard, because he doesn't want to take any germs home to his newborn son.  "No, I really took a hit last night," I told him.   Today might be a good day to soak in a hot bath with rubbing alcohol added.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gidget v. Goliath In The Ring

It was a good birthday; usually the better ones I have are because I planned nothing.  The only thing that was on the menu was the fight I was going to have at Brooks Park Wednesday evening.  That didn't happen, so I just let the day flow.

When I got to the gym, I was the only there for awhile  Alan had to attend a sales meeting at his day job, so he was very late in arriving.  Before he got there, Leon came in.  If I remember correctly, Leon is signed up for the gym, but he doesn't come in often.  Alan showed up right after Leon did, and Danny came in a little later.  Alan said, "You can move around with Leon in the ring."  Remember, this is the same Leon who is six foot six, and well over 250 pounds.  This is the same Leon who broke Deo's eye socket during an ill-fated sparring match over a year ago.  But being the reckless middle-aged person that I am, I suited up and stepped into the ring anyway.

Leon did not hit me as hard as he could have.  That was a blessing, believe me.  I'm extremely sure that none of the punches that I landed on him affected him in the least.  Leon had more energy than I, because he was constantly moving, bobbing and weaving.  We went three rounds, and I was wore out.  "Next time, you can go four rounds," Alan told me.  "I used to do five rounds when I first started coming here.  But that was ten years ago," I said. 

After the sparring match, I worked on the heavy bags.  I had to push myself, as I felt my energy draining away.  I kept sitting down in-between matches.  "Are you done?" Alan asked.  "No, I'm just sitting down," I answered.  Usually I'm throwing punches up until the last round of the night, but during the last few minutes, I opted to stretch out instead. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Fight Stopped Before The Bell Rang

Both Professor and I crapped out when it came to getting fights tomorrow night at Brooks.  No opponents are available for either of us.  My opponent, whom I fought in September, is ill.  It's disappointing.  I'll have to wait a long, long time before another fight is available to me.  The guys have the option of show fights and various tournaments throughout the year. 

Professor and Jamil sparred.  He caught Jamil up against the ropes and popped him with a right hook.  Jamil's head nearly turned all the way around on his neck.  Alan, Kevin and myself were surprised the punch didn't stop him. 

Kevin and I fought, and I still couldn't get around him when he used his long arms to keep me at bay.  Fortunately, we only did two rounds and a half.  Just as with Professor the other week, I couldn't chase Kevin around the ring.  More effort was put into working the heavy bags.  I'm still trying to get the right distance to throw hooks.

I wish that fight was happening tomorrow.  I don't feel that I have enough meanness most of the time to get things done during a match.  However, I would have had a good focus point, because unfortunately, I'm still dealing with the fallout from the disagreement I had with a guy at church recently.  I could have visualized that guy standing in front of me in the ring.  I'm very sure that would have helped me win.  Pastor has a problem with the fact that I just won't take someone coming to me the wrong way.  I have a problem with logic that believes I should show up groveling with my hat in my hand when I wasn't the one who started the static.  There was a short window of time when I was younger when I put up with all kinds of mistreatment.  There was a point where I stopped doing that, and as old as I am, I'm not going back to being a doormat.  Nobody should make it their problem that others have chips on their shoulders and are clueless about stepping to the wrong people at the wrong time.  For the most part, I've stopped apologizing for having a temper and unleashing it when it is warranted on who is deserving of it wherever that may be.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Boxing With a Stuffy Nose and a Cough

Perhaps Alan was right.  I should have stayed home from the boxing gym on Wednesday night.  "If I get sick from you, I'm going to be angry," he joked -- I think.  A cold sneaked up on me Tuesday morning, and knocked me out by nightfall.  I didn't go to work at church Wednesday morning. 

I don't like leaving my gear down at Loyola Park over the weekend, and my hand wraps need a good washing.  Despite feeling like warmed over death, I crawled up to the gym in the cold.  My intent was to get my bag and go back home.  But no.  Boxers can't resist the lure of the gym.  As proof, Alan was hitting the bags even though he was still wearing his suit from work.  I opted not to spar, but I broke a sweat on the bags.

Danny, Eric and Professor were in the gym.  The latter two guys sparred, and Eric caught Professor in the face with a shot.  Professor can take a punch, because he remained on his feet.  I caught all the action using the camera on Professor's cell phone.

Michael, a tall guy with glasses who hadn't been in the gym in a year, came in.  "I thought today was the first day of the new session," he told me.  Actually, it was the last day of the fall session.  Michael signed up for the Winter session at Alan's prompting.  We both told him and everybody else that the gym would remain open during the "limbo" three week period until the new session starts in early January.  An ideal occurred to me: the three weeks could be promoted as a time for adults to come try out the gym before committing to a session.  Of course, they would still have to sign a waiver form.  But it would be a good idea, especially for those who are new to boxing, to get a feel for what the sport is.