Thursday, June 30, 2011

Two Shiners

Alan was sporting the trace of a black eye he received last week, courtesy of Jacob.  Today, Sarah showed up with a bit of a shiner that had also been doled out by Jacob.  I'm surprised that I haven't had one, as many times as I've been hit in both eyes over the past two years.  Maybe I shouldn't talk so loud. . . .

I ran into Kyra -- whom I had wrongly named J here -- on the bus over the weekend.  She would like to come back to the gym, and plans to do so at some point.  But she lives out on the south side, and it's a haul traveling way up north to get to the gym.

Professor sparred with his brother Miles.  Alan noted that they are good together because they know each others' moves.  I laughed, "If I was sparring with any of my sisters, that would turn into a war."  In particular, I imagined my late younger sister taking people on in sparring sessions.  I can hear it now: "Damn. . .Hillari's sister is vicious!"   I make an effort to be nice while I'm sparring because the goal is not to overpower someone.  My younger sister would have beat someone until the coach pulled her off of them. 

Sarah, Renee, and myself had a round robin session of sparring.  As usual, I had to focus on the body with Sarah -- it's practically impossible for me to reach her head most of the time.  I noticed when she was sparring with Jacob last week that Sarah loves to keep her left hand high up close to her head for protection.  There's no way I can get a right hook to her head because of that; I've tried. Usually, I'm just trying to survive when I'm in the ring with her.

Renee had her hands down a lot, and I was able to get in a lot of punches to her head.  She surprised me by rocking a combination of punches straight to my stomach when I wasn't covering up.  Believe me, I felt those punches.  I had to back up to get some air.  Right now, I feel fine.  But tomorrow or Friday, the pain will return, and I'll go around wondering, "What did I do?" until the reason why comes back to me.

Jimmy and Alan sparred, and I told Jimmy as they got ready, "You have to watch Alan, because Alan is slick."  Jimmy said, "Is he going to be rough on me?"  Alan said, "No, we're just going to move around."  "That's what he always says," I told Jimmy.  Jimmy gave Alan some good hooks to the head, and he kept moving around.  I called out instructions, sounding like the boxing referees on cable TV:  "Break!"  "Box!"  "Hands up!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jacob Does His Rounds

Alan worked Jacob Monday night.  I believe Jacob did about nine rounds with several of us: myself, Sarah, Nate, and Nathaniel.  "Poor Jacob is going to get worked to death!" I told Alan. 

In the photo above, Nate wards off an attack from Jacob as Alan looks on.  I believe that was Nate's first time sparring at the gym.  He did a good job hanging in with Jacob.

Sarah and Jacob are featured in the above video clip.  Alan pointed out to Sarah that she throws wild, which I know all too well.  Jacob had his hands down a few times, and she beaned him with some hooks.  Alan suggested that Sarah slow down and pick her shots.  She got tired late in the second round, and she was tired throughout the entire third round, but Sarah gamely hung on.  Jacob said he liked being in the ring with someone who wouldn't let up; it pointed out that he needs to work on his defense.

I was exhausted after going my three rounds with Jacob.  Alan told me later that the last two rounds I did were very good.  I was aiming at Jacob's head, and got him there a few times.  It was the body shots that worked better.  Finally, I thought to execute a punch from the side and avoid someone else's long arms.  I stepped around Jacob and got him in the side of his torso with a left hook. 

A little boy came in with a girl whom I assumed was his sister.  I heard him ask the girl, "They fight in here?"  before I walked over to them.  The girl said she had been going to the field house for awhile, but she had never seen the boxing gym.  I told the boy about the kids' boxing program and asked him how old he was.  "I'm five," he replied.  The boy was quite tall for his age.  "Sorry, you have to be eight years old to sign up.  You look strong, however" I told him.  "I'm stronger than my sister," he asserted.  He explained that the girl with him was not his sister, but a 17 year old who was his older brother's girlfriend.  Considering that some boys learn how to box at age three, I thought it was a shame the kid would have to wait three years. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coaching and Recording

While taking my usual stroll to the gym by way of the lakefront, I ran into Mathieu and Erica.  Both of them assured me their fingers were fine:  Erica had slammed one of her in a car door, and Mathieu hurt his the last time he sparred with big Leon.  Mathieu knew I had a blog, but Erica didn't.  I emailed them copies of pictures I took of them in the gym.

Not only are the ring ropes still in need of repair, but the double end bag was found laying on the floor.  One of the kids probably hit it too hard yesterday and it fell; it happens.  Alan climbed up on a ladder to fix it, but it was still not high enough for most people to use.  It was perfect for me, but outside of Oscar, I'm the only vertically challenged person in the gym.  "They'll have to punch down," Alan said.  But then Jimmy, one of the new people, climbed up to adjust the height again until it was okay.

In the above video is just one round of sparring between lanky guys Jacob and Alan.  They did five rounds in total.  I heard someone behind me, may have been Tommy, commenting, "The old guy looks pretty good in the ring", referring to Alan.  "He must have been boxing for a long time," Nathaniel (another new person) said.  The two men kept going like Energizer Batteries.  I shadow boxed near the ring to watch them during the other four rounds.  In between one of the rounds, I said to some others standing nearby, "Alan does good for a guy of a certain age."  Alan grinned, and said, "Thanks, Hillari", in a joking sarcastic manner.

There were three full rounds between Sarah, who's at least 5 foot 8, and Oscar, who's my height (5 foot 1).  I noticed that when Oscar got in head shots, he reached up to Sarah using angles.  "Ah-ha!  So that's how it's done!" I thought to myself. 

I sparred with Ursula again who asked beforehand, "Are you going to be nice to me?" I pulled as many punches as I could, but the harder ones kept slipping in.  I thought we had done three rounds, until Alan put on a set of gloves -- but put on no headgear -- and stepped inside the squared circle.  "You have to do three rounds," he said.  I was tired out, but managed to make it through that last round, trying to catch Alan as best as I could.  I got him in the face with a right, but that was the only significant punch I made. 

I showed Jimmy how to use the double bag, and showed Ray (not muscular Ray, but a new guy in the gym) how to stand and how to pivot.  Ray told me that he can't hold a baseball bat the normal way.  "One eye is weaker than the other one, so in order to see the ball better, I have to stand the other way," he said.  I hold a baseball bat in the opposite way as well, something that other kids would curse me out about when I was in grade school.  One of my eyes is weaker than the other, too, but I didn't hold the bat the "wrong" way because of that.  It was because I felt I had more power to swing it from that position. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Double Sparring For Me

It was a full house in the gym tonight.  Nate returned with a woman whom I believed he introduced to Alan as his wife.  She said she missed the first week of the summer session.  Cynthia asked me if Ray had come in.  He didn't, and he was one of only a few who were not in attendance. 

A guy who used to box at Clarendon Park came by to see Alan.  The man had his two children with him, a boy, aged 10 and a girl 11-going-on-12.  The boy put on headgear and got into the ring for a mock fight with Alan.  Alan got down on his knees in order to even the playing field.  The man told me that his son was interested in taking up the sport, and that his daughter showed interest, too.

Below are images of two different sparring sessions that took place.  The one I didn't videotape was the sparring session between Oscar and Jacob.  Jacob is way taller than Oscar, but the shorter man handled his business.  He did a very nice job at one point using his jab to confound Jacob.   Jacob can been seen in a couple of clips here going up against Marcus.  It was the first time that Marcus had sparred.  While the two men sparred, I turned the camera around to show what else is usually going on in the gym while there is action taking place inside the ring.

The clips with the two women?  The little short dark complexioned woman is me; I finally remembered to have someone tape me while I sparred (Alan did the honors).  The dark-haired woman is Ursula, who can throw some good hits.  She caught me in the mouth and face a few times.  I kept landing jabs to her face and hooks to her head.  "Easy!" Alan warned me at one point when I was hitting a little too hard.  I inherited my late father's heavy hands, and sometimes, I don't realize that I'm going too hard on someone.  That was the first times in months that I was able to get so many head shots in. 

I had a few rounds rests in-between Ursula and Sarah, but the rest period didn't help me much with Sarah.  I tried the relaxed and easy stance that I did with Ursula, but I got dusted, as my late Uncle Fred used to say.  Sarah popped me in my right eye several times, simply because I was too slow to move my head and protect my face.  One such shot had me seeing double out of that eye for a few moments.  Remember, that was the eye I had to have checked last summer because I thought the retina was torn.  All in all, I did four rounds this evening, one more round than I have done in a long time. 

Alan wanted to keep the fact that tomorrow is his 60th birthday under the radar.  I didn't mention anything about it until the end of the evening when we were walking to his car. Guys don't usually make a big deal out of their birthdays, even if it's a milestone one, while women spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact they are getting older.  It's funny.   "It's a blessing, but I can hardly believe I got to this point.  Time goes so fast," he said. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ring Without Borders

The post that was barely holding up one corner of the gym was laying down on the canvas when we got into the gym.  It was totally shot; half of the ring was down.  Oscar and I sparred, and we had to be very mindful of where we were moving around.

I was moving like an old elephant, and Oscar was whipping me up.  I did manage to ward off most of his right hooks by keeping my hands up.  His straight on jabs and rights were impossible to avoid, and just as hard to ward off.  "Come on, Hillari!  Pop that jab out there," Alan barked from his position outside the ring.  A few pops backed Oscar up to the side of the ring where the ropes were not up to support him falling back.  But the guy came back extra strong behind that.  I slipped and fell to the canvas; afterwards, my left shoulder was hurting.  Oscar got close and directed a jab to my mid-section.  I covered up, but too late to stop the damage.  The beating went on for three rounds.  After the final bell, I took a seat in front of the fan in the gym for a couple of rounds.

Renee and Ursula agreed to go light for a couple of rounds.  Neither had head gear nor mouthpieces, but they were giving out some pretty vicious hooks to each others' stomachs and heads.  Alan got into the ring to monitor their progress more closely. Ursula dashed off to the women's washroom after the second round, stating that she felt nauseous.  When she returned to the gym, she said she didn't get sick, but felt like she was about to do so.

We did burn-outs at the end.  Amy and I were on one bag, and Renee and Ursula were on the other heavy bag for a couple of rounds.  Then Oscar, his friend (whose name I still don't know), and Marcus did the burn out on the red heavy bag that Amy and I had been on.

The above photo is of Renee, myself, and Alan.  Notice how sweaty I am.  It wasn't that hot inside the gym, but the combination of Oscar's beat down and the burn out really had the water going. 

I told Alan that the underside of my upper lip felt like it had been cut.  A check in my bathroom mirror when I got home showed that it had been seriously bruised.  One of Oscar's punches had landed in my mouth, and I didn't even remember it had. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Barry Runs It

The gym was scheduled not to be open tonight.  Alan had to call off, and Mary didn't want me to have to deal with the newbies -- Amanda, Ray, Nate, Ursula, and Renee -- on my own.  However, Mary was able to convince Barry to come and open the gym.  Professor, his brother, and Marcus were also in attendance.

Professor and his brother Miles had a very good sparring session that went on for a few rounds.  Barry was concerned that the ring was going to fall down.  The ropes and a few of the poles need to be tightened up.  It always takes awhile before that gets done.

Barry went over a lot of stuff with the newbies, including working the pads.  I held pads for Ursula, and in turn, she held pads for me.  Renee and Amanda worked with Barry on the pads.  I got in a good workout doing that, as well as going in-between the bags. 

Tonight was the first time that I remember all the newbies staying until the end of the night.  Normally, most of them leave early on the first night, but they all seemed satisfied with what they learned throughout the evening. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Hot Time In The Gym. . . Literally

Above is one of the rounds of sparring that Ray and Leon did.  None of the trash talking that was evident on Monday; just two guys working with each other in the ring.

In the above picture, Amy works the heavy bag.  Alan is on the speed bag in the background.  See that fan next to him on the floor?  I donated that fan a couple of years ago, and it was needed tonight.

Oscar and I sparred right before Ray and Leon did.  "I give you credit for hanging in there with him, because Oscar is quick," Ray told me later.  "Yes, he is.  I couldn't chase him around the ring," I replied.  I didn't think I did so well.  My hands were down at the wrong times, and I waited on Oscar too much when I should have thrown the first punches.  For some reason, I couldn't get in any left hooks to Oscar's head, but I could get in right hooks to his midsection. He likes to throw right hooks, and I remained mindful of that.  A few did connect, however. 

The second video is a continuation of Ray and Leon sparring.  They only did two rounds.  The heat in the gym didn't help either.  I was too drained after sparring to do a few more rounds on the bags.  Most everybody else was feeling the effects, too. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Sparring Debate

It was so hot in the gym.  It was 90 degrees outside. As soon as Carolyn opened the door, I turned on the fan, but it didn't help much. 

In the clip below, Derek and Oscar spar.  Alan and I can be heard having a conversation as the action rolls on.  I sparred with Oscar after Derek's time was up, and I can tell you that Oscar has improved greatly.  One of his punches caught me in the mouth and nearly had me stretched out on the canvas.  Alan kept saying, "You can get him!  He's the same height as you!"  But Oscar is faster and hits harder.  I made one good combination: a left to his face and a right hook that sent him back into the ropes.  After that, it was all Oscar's show.

An ex-boss of Alan's named Kevin, and his son Tom came in the gym.  Father and son, shown in the picture below, tried some sparring with Alan in the ring acting as referee.  Kevin popped his son with a right.  The whole gym went, "Ooh!"  Alan joked to Tom, "That's for when you do something wrong the next time."  "That's right!" Ray agreed as he was grinning.

 Leon came in later in the evening.  He couldn't convince Oscar to spar with him, and Leon jokingly told me, "You're next!"  Ray agreed to put on the gear and step inside the ring with him.  Leon got in a couple of good shots, and Ray, who knows how to slip punches very well, caught Leon with a couple of good ones.  Leon backed Ray up into a corner, and Ray slipped and fell.  Leon swore that it was a punch that knocked Ray down.  Ray, in the red shirt in the photo below, said it wasn't, and the debate started.

The two men got loud with each other, and Alan looked at Leon and asked, "What does it matter?"  "It matters to me!" Leon exclaimed.  Leon commented about how Ray's punches didn't hurt him, then accused Ray of trying to bang with him.  "Bang?  Brother, I wasn't trying to do that!  You've got an 80 inch reach and many pounds over me!" Ray protested.  Alan suggested that they settle things in the ring on Wednesday.  Leon didn't want to wait, and he kept bugging Ray to put his gear back on, but Ray wouldn't.

For another several minutes, Ray and Leon went on about their difference of opinion as to how the sparring went down.  Alan and I watched in amusement.  Leon started bragging about his skills, and Ray refuted  Leon's statements.  "I can't wait until Wednesday, man, then I'll show you!" Leon said.  "Yeah, right man.  Show up early next time," Ray said. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Take It Out On The Bags

The gym was closed for Memorial Day, then vertigo sneaked up on me again on Tuesday.  I woke up dizzy again this morning, but after moving slowly to sit up, the dizziness disappeared. Pastor Roger joked that it may be because of the hits that I've taken in the gym, but seriously, it's diabetes, high blood pressure, menopause or all three.  I haven't figured out which one is the main culprit yet.  It still a bit disturbing that before the last bout I had, the doctor had given me a clean bill of health. 

As a precaution, I did not spar on Wednesday evening. Instead, I targeted the 150 pound heavy bag, the speed bag and the double end bag.  Normally, I'd do three rounds of shadow boxing, but I only did two.  The focus was on throwing uppercuts correctly, and as usual, reminding myself to move my head.  Kenny and Alan were commenting on how I throw hooks while I was on the heavy bag.  They both have said previously that I'm good at throwing them.  However, I don't throw enough of them when I'm in the ring.  "Joe Frazier's body stayed in one spot, but his head was always moving," Kenny said to Alan and I.  "She's been doing three rounds while sparring, but moving the head takes a lot of wind which she doesn't have," Alan said.  "I have to build up my stamina," I told them, which reminded me again that I need to make use of the gym at church.  Last summer, I ran around the church gym for three to four rounds, two times a week in order to get my wind up.  But my knees weren't as bad as they are now.

I learned that a guy whom I had a falling out with late last year came up to church recently to see Pastor Roger.  I try to practice "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to some people, especially those who have disrespected me and ticked me off.  Pastor noticed that I bristled at the mention of the guy's name, and proceeded to give me a sermon about forgiving and forgetting.  Pastor likens the guy to the prodigal son.  Yeah, right.  "Mighty funny he's always coming up here to be friendly with you, but he can't apologize to me," I grumbled.  I noticed the guy made sure that I wasn't around when he paid his visit.  I pretended the heavy bag was the guy's head and body as I threw a lot of heavy hooks, making sure that each one connected. 

In the video above, Kenny and Professor sparred.  You can hear Alan (and see him near the end) giving instructions.  They were working while inside the ring.  See, this is why Mary doesn't want anyone sparring when Alan is not present.  . .there's always the chance that the guys will really take it to each other.  But, you know, they have to fight that way when they are in an actual match.  The boxers should work together to shore up each others' skills during sparring, but at the same time, people can't afford to play pitty-pat during training.  Especially if they are serious about competing.

Alan sparred with Kenny.  After they finished, Amy crossed the ring as a shortcut.  Alan still had his gear on, so he acted as if he was going to catch her with some punches.  She smiled and scooted past him out of the ring.  He's still trying to convince her to spar. 

Leon came in about fifteen minutes before closing time and got in a very abbreviated workout.  Otherwise, the place was kind of quiet.  We're still in the limbo period before the next session begins.  I heard Alan telling Professor about the once-a-month amateur fights at the Sabre Room out in Hickory Hills.  I'm still trying to get a schedule for the Park District boxing tournaments that start this summer.