Thursday, May 26, 2011

"She's Got Hands!"

Paul stopped into the gym yesterday.  He comes around from time to time to talk to Alan, talk to me, and comment on what he observes in the gym.  Usually, he's there for a few minutes then he goes.  This time, he stayed the entire time.  Alan challenged Paul to hit one of the heavy bags.  We all cheered Paul on when he wanted to give up punching the bag after a few moments.  Paul was tired after one round.  "See?  It's not as easy as it looks," Alan smiled. 

Reggie returned to the gym, and he sparred with Jacob.  He had won his preliminary match in the Golden Gloves a couple of months ago, but was beaten during the semi-finals.  The guy who won went on to win the championship in that weight class.  "I could have won that fight if I had been able to get a week's rest beforehand.  The guy I fought was well rested because he had a couple of weeks off before he got to me," Reggie said.  He and Jacob worked well together as sparring partners.

Sarah didn't come in again, so Jacob and I went two and a half rounds (we started in the middle of the first round).  Paul was impressed.  "That guy has to be at least six feet or six foot one, but you were handling him!" he smiled at me.  Ray, who was sitting nearby, commented, "She's got hands, believe that!"  Jacob told me, "You got me good with one body shot."  I was mostly doing all body shots, because it was easier than trying to reach for his head and face.  Jacob got me good in the upper lip during the third round.  That punch proved to me the importance of keeping my mouth closed while boxing and wearing a mouthpiece.  Adult teeth don't grow back if they get knocked out, you know.

Alan got in next with Jacob.  The video above only shows the first of the three rounds they did.  You may be wondering why there aren't more pictures and/or videos of me sparring.  It doesn't occur to me to ask someone to videotape or snap photos half the time when I'm in the gym.  Alan would be the most logical person to ask to do that, but he has to pay attention enough to the action to give instructions.  That's kind of hard to do if one is holding a camera. 

Oscar came back to the gym, and brought a friend of his along. The plan was for me to spar with him, but he told Alan, "My conditioning isn't that good right now," so that was that. 

The gym is going to enter another "no man's land zone" as Alan calls the period between one session ending and other starting.  Spring session ends June 1st, and the summer session begins on June 13th.  Summer usually means low attendance as well.  People don't want to be in a hot, sweltering gym when it's nice outside.  Well, some people don't. 

Speaking of heat, it was early in the evening when I turned the fan on in the gym.  It was not warm outside, as it had rained all day, and the temperature was cool.  It wasn't stuffy in the gym.  I felt sweat on my face, and I had hardly started my workout.  I was wiping my face, and Alan asked, "Are you okay?"  "It's either hot in here, or I'm having hot flashes," I answered.  None of the guys agreed that the temperature in the room was up.  "I must be having a hot flash," I concluded, and the guys chuckled. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

That Familiar Smell

Carolyn opened the gym up last night, and the funk of the place hit me in the nose.  I hadn't noticed it for a long time.  I've mentioned here before that I've become immune to the smell because I've been training there for so long.  I was happy to open my locker and experience the scent of the air freshener I had placed inside it. 

Sarah didn't come in last night, but her sister Amy was there.  Alan suggested that she move around in the gym with me, but that was a no-go.  "My sister said if I spar without her being here, she would kill me," Amy smiled.  Since Sarah was out, I ended up sparring with Jacob.

I took a pop to my right eye, thinking that if there was a little more power behind Jacob's punch, my eye would have been closed for awhile.  Did I mention that Jacob is 28 years old?  There were bursts of action where I would get in hooks to his mid-section and some dead on jabs to his face.  But I was sluggish; a couple of hours before, I took some allergy medicine.  My sinuses had been bothering me all day.  I didn't want to take the pills, but I was tired of sniffling.  Unfortunately, the brand of pills I have make me very tired. 

Alan got into the ring with Jacob next, but he was unsure of how much his sore shoulder was going to take.  "Don't throw any overhand rights," I suggested.  He didn't, but he got Jacob during the second round by bringing his left hand up and under the younger man's chin.  "What kind of punch was that?" I asked Alan in-between rounds.  "I used that all the time when I competed as a young man.  It doesn't hurt the other guy, it just makes them mad," he explained.

Colonel and Ray were at the gym last night, too.  I learned that Ray works two jobs and is going to barber school.  He plans to teach others how to cut and style hair when he graduates. 

Colonel, a Vietnam War veteran, was complaining about his aches and pains.  His hip was really acting up.  "Maybe you shouldn't be here tonight," Alan said, which is something he's told me a few times when I've shown up injured.  "I could be in pain at home or in pain here," Colonel said.  Alan joked about Colonel not being able to get around being 64 years of age, regardless of how much he exercises.  Colonel insisted that it is better for him to work out than to sit down somewhere.  I feel the same way.  I might not be in any less pain afterwards, but moving around is better than atrophying. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Exchanges In The Ring

I was a little late to the gym because I was too busy watching the beginning of a movie called "In & Out".  I saw it a few years ago at the movie theater, and I hadn't seen it since then.  It stars Kevin Cline, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, and Tom Selleck.  Funny movie, but I should have left the house earlier.  I took a couple of my old free weights with me to donate to the gym.

Leon sparred with Jacob.  This time, Alan didn't get inside the ropes to referee.  The coach wasn't feeling too well and didn't bother to change into his workout clothes.  Leon and Jacob were up against the ropes a lot  whenever I looked up to check out the action. 

Leon and Alan were making jokes earlier about prostrate exams which I will not repeat here.  Trust me, they were funny.  Alan said he was going in for a checkup this Friday.  "I wish Kenny Sr. (Colonel) was here.  When he complains about his aches and pains, it makes mine not seem so bad," Alan grinned.

Sarah and I sparred.  Alan commented that we had a lot of good exchanges during each of the three rounds were in the squared circle.  First of all, I took Alan's advice and kept my hands up and close as possible to my face.  Sarah wasn't able to get a lot of punches to my head when I did that.  She did bean me on the top of my head, however, with what seemed like an overhand right.  Twice, due to Sarah's punches and me not watching my balance, I fell to the canvas.  I stayed on the inside as much as I could by throwing hooks to her body.  Sarah said afterwards, "I think I'm going to have a lot of bruises on my mid-section tomorrow."  I staggered over to a nearby stool, plopped down, and attempted to fan away a hot flash.

Sooner or later, I will have to replace a couple pieces of my personal equipment.  Before sparring, I noticed my mouthpiece had a crack in it on one side.  Both of my bag gloves have tears in them.  I do have a newer mouthpiece, but it's one of those that covers both the upper and lower teeth.  I never got used to it, so I will eventually buy a mouthpiece that only covers the upper teeth.  Bag gloves will have to picked carefully, too.  I still remember the sprain my right wrist sustained several years ago because I was using a pair of bag gloves that were ridiculously thin.  I wonder if the current pain in my right wrist is related to that former injury.

Tommy, shown on the speed bag near the tear drop bag in the photo above, comically vowed to master the speed bag.

I'm finished with my paralegal studies; just waiting to receive my certificate.  I may go down to Hamlin this weekend to get some extra sparring in.  Bill told me a long time ago that I could come to his gym, but school started and I couldn't take him up on his offer.  I have to plan extra workouts, also, and that may include working out in the church's gym again.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Feeling Off On Monday

Maybe it was because the day got off to a bad start.  I was on my way to work, and I was hungry.  I didn't want to stop at McDonald's, but it was the closest place.  The cashier behind the counter was so busy chatting with a co-worker that she got my order wrong.  Then she had the nerve to get an attitude when I made her correct it.

It was cold outside instead of being warm like it is supposed to be this time of year.  However, this is Chicago, and the weather does what it wants.  I was freezing even though I was wearing my late sister's old winter coat.  Just as I got up to work, I see a guy who's waiting at another entrance door for the food pantry to open.  Last week, the guy told the volunteers I was "mean".  I won't let the guy run games on me which is why he made the comment.  I glared at him, and entered church through another door. 

By the time afternoon came, I was feeling a little tired and sluggish.  My right wrist had also been bothering me since early in the day.  I hope that doesn't mean arthritis or carpal tunnel. "I'm feeling a little off tonight," I told Alan when he asked me about sparring with Sarah.  Something just didn't feel right, so for once, I listened to my body.  Sarah sparred with Derek instead.

Derek wasn't throwing his punches all the way out in the beginning.  Sarah kept backing him up into the ropes and the corners.  Both Alan and I told Derek to throw in some body shots.  He did get a few in to Sarah's mid-section.
They did three good rounds.  Derek told Sarah that she throws good punches.  "She hits hard," he told me in-between the second and third rounds.  I nodded my head in agreement.  It looked as if she had hit Derek in the eye a few times, and I winced, thinking about the times she caught me in my eye. 

As I was hitting the heavy bag later, I wondered why I didn't pick up any of my dad's football skills.  I played the game a couple of times when I was in my late teens.  I couldn't catch the ball well, and I wasn't running quick enough to avoid being tackled.  During the last game I played, some girl blindsided me so hard that I ended up with a concussion.  My mother's father was an amateur boxer, so I guess I picked up some of the skills he had.  It was probably for the better.  I was never that good at playing any team sport. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm Still Not Moving My Head

Erin contacted me today via email, stating that she was interested in coming back to the gym.  Her uncle John was a professional boxer back in the day; now he coaches.  I gave her the information about the gym hours and fees.  It'll be good to see her in the gym if she comes back.  She had to leave boxing alone for awhile because she went to school.

Leon was in the gym, but again, he didn't stay for the entire session.  He put on headgear, and Alan asked who he was going to spar with.  "Any guy who's available," he answered.  But Derek and Tommy, the only other men in the gym on Wednesday, weren't interested.  Alan wasn't about to do it.  He's still waiting for his torn rotator cuff to heal.  "How about his guy?" Alan joked, pointing to me.  "I don't have any energy for her," Leon smiled.

Sarah and I sparred for three rounds.  Alan told me later that he was trying to get me to dig into her body more with uppercuts. It made sense to me, because I can't get uppercuts to her head. I tried for the body, but I found myself too close too many times, so I didn't give myself room to make them effective.  I did get in body hooks, but those did little to slow Sarah down.  I wasn't moving my head at all, so it got knocked around until the second and third rounds, when I kept my hands up more.  I overheard Alan ask Amy if she would spar her sister.  "I don't think so. . . she beat me up enough when we were kids," Amy grinned.

Sarah mentioned that she had a toddler, a little girl.  "I didn't know you had a child," I said.  "That's why I took off from boxing for awhile," Sarah explained.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Matthieu and Leon

Matthieu came in without Erica tonight.  "She hurt her finger when the car door slammed," he explained.  "Were you the one who closed the door?" Amy laughed.  Matthieu grinned, and assured her that he wasn't the culprit.

He sparred with Leon.  Leon brought a couple of friends along, a man and a woman, but did not come into the gym.  They watched the action from outside the door.  Alan got into the ring to referee them.  Leon caught Matthieu with some tough body shots, but Matthieu hung in there with him.

I always worry when Leon spars with someone, mainly because he's so much bigger than anyone else in the gym.  I heard Matthieu say at one point, "I'm tired," but Alan encouraged him to keep going.

I sparred with Sarah again.  I said, "We'll go light," but we didn't do much in terms of taking it easy, especially during the third round.  After it was done, Alan told me that he was trying to get me to bob and weave and come up with hooks.  I would execute hooks to her body, but I wasn't getting in any to her head.  She got me with an overhand right that knocked my headgear about.  I guess I didn't have it on as securely as I thought.  But then, headgear only protects to an extent anyway.  I was happy that I wasn't dazed and confused when the final bell rang.

Didn't see the Pacquiao-Mosley fight, and at $55.00 for pay-per-view, I'm glad I didn't.  Several Internet reports said that Mosley didn't give much of a fight, even though Pacquiao was going for a KO in the later rounds.  Mosley was looking good during the weigh-in, which was shown on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.  Teddy Atlas talked to Mosley after the weigh-in, and the boxer's confidence was high.  "Sugar" Shane was asked about Pac-Man's fast hands, and he commented, "I have fast hands, too."  But from what I read, Mosley's hands weren't moving that fast. 

On our way out of the gym, I asked Alan was it easier to train women to box or to train men.  He told me he hadn't trained many women at all, and few had been in attendance when Clarendon Park's boxing program was still in operation.  "Most just wanted to get in shape and stay in shape.  Of the women that I've trained, only you and Evangelina were serious about competing.  But Sarah may be interested in doing that, too. . .I don't know," Alan said.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Vertigo, Or The Shakest Fist In The (Mid)West

"Why are you here?" Alan asked me.  "Because I'm hard-headed," I answered, while shrugging my shoulders.  Sometime later, I fell up against the door of my locker, and Alan gave me a suspicious look.  "You thought I was going to collapse, didn't you?" I said.  "Yeah," Alan said with concern.  Now some of you are thinking: didn't this chick just say in an earlier post that she was suffering from what sounds like a bad case of vertigo?  Didn't she not go to work or the gym the other day because of it?  Then why was she at the gym on Wednesday?  In fact, why does she go down there when she knows she sick and/or injured?

There is a trick to it.  The main thing to do is to not spar.  Also, it's a good idea to take it easy on the equipment, and take a lot of breaks.  I had gone to work in the morning, and stayed longer because none of my work had been done, and it had to get done.  But that might have been too much because when I got home, I was feeling run-down again.  The heavy head feeling hasn't gone away completely. But where common sense would tell someone to stay home, I was thinking, "I don't want to miss a second day of being at the gym this week."  However, to cut down on temptation to spar, I left my headgear and mouthpiece at home.

Alan asked Sarah if she would spar with one of the guys since I wasn't feeling up to it.  Sarah's expression said, "Oh, no!", but Alan assured her it would be okay.  She got in with Jacob, and he wasn't hitting her hard.  She got some good head and body shots on him, however. 

Tommy came in, and he plans to make it in every week.  "When I see Jermaine, I'm going to try to get him in here," he said. Tommy said Jermaine was the one who got him to start coming to the gym, so he feels Jermaine should be in there again, too.

I figured out that I was raising my arms were looking like chicken wings in terms of how I would raise them while throwing uppercuts.  I made a conscious effort to keep the opposite arm closer as I executed the uppercut with the other arm.  It felt better to do it that way. 

I need to slow down from a lot of things I normally do, so I'm going to take it very easy the rest of this week. I doubt that I will spar for awhile, as I'm not sure what brought the vertigo on.    I told Pastor Roger that I have allergies, and he suggested that my sinuses being blocked for a time may have brought the condition on.  It's a possibility. .  .my allergies were acting up for days before that happened.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Off Balance

I had a pleasant dream involving my late younger sister.  We were outside somewhere, and I had learned that she had turned down going to a school.  Can't remember if it was a high school or a college.  Before I could ask why, she told me she didn't think the school was right for her.  "Let's talk about it some more!" she said, then both her and I were laughing as we ran up to a house.  The dream made me happy, but it made me sad as well, as she and I can no longer talk and laugh together about anything.

The alarm went off, and I went into the bathroom.  Then I decided to lay down for another few minutes -- the "Strawberry Letter" portion of Steve Harvey's radio show was on, and I wanted to hear what today's letter topic would be.  I dozed back off.  When I got up about ten minutes later, I thought I was going to join my late sister. The room was spinning.  I rubbed my right eye and thought, "I wasn't drinking heavily last night, so why is the room spinning?"  In fact, I haven't got my drink on like that in nearly two decades.  I was stumbling and dizzy.  "Help me, Jesus", I moaned, as I held on to the wall in an attempt to stand straight.  I was standing there for a long time, until I decided to call Pastor Roger to say, "Uh, it doesn't look like I'm coming to work today."  I was down for the count for the rest of the day.  Needless to say, I didn't go to the gym, either.  Later in the day, I called Alan, who suggested that it was a good idea that I stay home.   

Pat, a friend of mine from high school, sent me a note on Facebook, asking if I might have vertigo.  I get that from playing first person video games (the kind of which I don't play anymore).  I avoid some rides at amusement parks these days because of the same reason.   However, I can't say if that is what it is.  As I type this, I'm still a little disorientated.  I haven't been able to keep any food down yet.  The thought that I was having a stroke crossed my mind this morning; one sneaked up on Dad back in 2000.  "Make sure you take your high blood pressure medicine every day," he warned me when he first learned I had that (Dad had that also).  But I probably wouldn't be breathing right now, so I guess that wasn't it.

I have no idea what brought today's illness on.  Not long ago, I was reading "The Fight Doctor" article in The Ring magazine.  The subject was brain injuries from boxing.  The article mentioned something about not letting fighters spar excessively.  Hmm. .  . .it occurred to me that I've been sparring practically every week for months.  I took several good cracks to my head last week while sparring.  Sigh. . . .it's something to think about.