Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Activity in the gym was pumped up tonight. Colonel brought more of his old school music in, and this time, he brought a great sounding boombox with him, the type that you plug an iPod into. Leon was impressed so much by the music that he asked Colonel to download the songs on his iPod. In between rounds of practice, I was stepping to a lot of the tunes. Ray came in, heard the music and said, "Colonel got the dusties on?" Colonel told me he had about 70 to 80 songs on there, but more were at home. But he didn't want to download much of what his son had. "My son likes all that rap, and I don't understand that. Why is it that every MF on the stage in a rap concert has a microphone? Back in the day there were only two mics -- one for the lead singer and one for the rest of the group!" he said. "Like The Temptations, for example," I said while imitating the moves of David Ruffin on one mic, and of the other group members on the other mic. "You are telling your age!" Colonel laughed. "I'm Your Puppet" by James and Bobby Purify was one of the songs that came on. As many times as I've heard that song -- I believe I was five or six when it was first released -- it never occurred to me that it's a good song to which to step. Each time Reggie would catch me dancing, he'd laugh. "Hillari, teach me how to step!" he said, so I showed him the basic six count that was taught to me by Willie.
The sparring action involved Reggie, Ray, Oscar, Leon, and Kevin. Something happened between Kevin and Oscar while my back was turned. Oscar was laying on the canvas, then he sat up and took his gear off. Several of us gathered around the ropes to see what was going on. From what I gathered, Kevin had been pressuring Oscar the whole round, then Oscar ended up being pushed down.
Again, I was working on throwing my right correctly. Ever since I was hit by a car back last winter, I've had an aversion to turning my right side into the punch and putting my full weight into it. Several months ago, I couldn't turn properly because my left knee -- which took the brunt of the hit -- was so painful and unstable that I couldn't do it. Now that it's healed (as much as it's going to be healed), I've developed a bad habit of not executing that punch the way it's supposed to be. I'll be working on that for awhile.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Colonel (in the photo above) came in with several of his CDs. He had been threatening to bring in some oldies for weeks, and he brought in some good ones. The greatest hits of Rare Earth, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, and Sly and the Family Stone were played. Alan said to me, "I like this music better than what is usually played." Nate Jr. and Tall Kenny came to the gym to work out, and they had initially cut on the radio which is perpetually stuck on the hip-hop/dance/house music channel. Colonel's old school stuff was a welcome change from that.
Ralphie came in later. Alan had been hoping that Ralphie would come in earlier to spar with Reggie. Instead, Reggie sparred with Kevin. Kevin did not hang back on the ropes as much, but he was talking about how hard Reggie hits.
I was on the bags, then shadowboxing a lot on the ring. I think that I don't throw my right hand as nearly as much as I throw my jab. I concentrated on my right hand and executing hooks and upper cuts. Colonel showed me how to bend my knees a little then come up as I throw uppercuts to put a little more force behind them.
Two Chicago cops came in to observe what was going on. One cop had been in there before, but his partner looked new to me. Colonel and Alan always engage the cops in conversations when they come in.
I've been skipping Tuesdays on my exercise schedule; this week was no exception. I have to make up that day tomorrow, so I guess whenever I get up, I'll pop a DVD in and do a quick workout. Hopefully, it'll counteract the pounds I'm sure to gain. My stepmother is a good cook, and I'll be having dinner with her sometime later.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Leon came in tonight, and he ended up sparring with Kenny. Not Kenny, Colonel's son, but Kenny who's in high school and who trains with Barry. I hadn't seen Kenny for awhile. He's become even taller than the last time I saw him. I prayed that Leon wouldn't hurt Kenny, and he didn't. They had a couple of rounds before Leon was tired out.
Kevin sparred with Oscar. Kevin's not bad -- he just has to break the habits of a) keeping his hands down, b) crouching next to the ropes and waiting on his opponent to throw punches, and c) watching the time clock. Oscar starts off slow, but when he gets going, he's gone. Oscar got Kevin in the face several times. "He really hits hard," Kevin commented afterwards. Oscar was hunting Kevin down all over the ring.
Sarah and I sparred, but we agreed to go light. However, there was one uppercut that shook my upper teeth. Good thing my mouth was closed, and I was wearing a mouthpiece. I was surprised that I wasn't exhausted at the end of the second round, but my energy was spent by the middle of the third round. My chin was down like it was supposed to be, and for once, I kept my eyes on my opponent instead of closing my eyes and dropping my head. Alan kept telling me to work my way in with the jab, and I did to decent effect. But my throwing hooks wasn't effective at all. Sarah's too tall, and I didn't time any of the hooks properly. I went back to throwing jabs and hooks to the body, but not putting full force behind them.
Leon said that he had recently been in a motorcycle accident. His wrist was fractured when his bike flipped over. Luckily for him, the accident wasn't worse than that. "There's been a lot of hand injuries going on lately," I told him, thinking about Ray and Jacob's thumbs.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
I was surprised to see a different speed bag hanging up (in the photo above) when I got inside the gym Wednesday evening. I like it a lot better than the other black, somewhat funny shaped speed bag that was there before. I worked it for three rounds, and I liked the feel of it.
Not many people in the gym tonight: Jacob, Amy, Sarah, Igor, Reggie, and Kevin. Josh showed up at 8:45 PM. "You don't think you're going to get much of a workout," Alan told him as he checked the time. Josh replied, "I can get a couple of rounds." He may have gotten one in, as it took time for him to wrap his hands. Plus, he was talking to Alan for a few minutes.
"Do you mind if you don't spar tonight? There's not many people here," Alan said to me. "No, I don't care. I've been feeling old this week anyway," I said, and both Alan and I grinned. He's been complaining about his back, and today he was talking about dragging around. My lower back has been bothering me lately, and my knees, well. . .the both of them hurt every day, the right one worse than the left one. Alan was talking about him maybe not sparring anymore if he keeps feeling stiff and sore. I've been groaning since October about my various aches and pains. I think both Alan and I (we're ten years apart in age) are showing our years.
Jacob no longer has to wear the little cast he had on his thumb, but his thumb still feels sore. He didn't ask his doctor if he could spar. Alan figured his doctor would most likely tell Jacob not to do it.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I was waiting in one corner of the ring for the bell to ring. Oscar was in the other corner. "I want you to stay on his ass like you did the last time," Alan told me. I nodded. I did okay, but I have a bad habit of letting the other person get two or more punches in before I respond. Bursts of energy take place, but I don't keep going with them. They are allowed to dissipate, and it takes too long for me to build back the energy again. Meanwhile, Oscar -- who's about 25 years younger than I -- zipped around and away from me easily. After the three rounds were done, Alan asked me to help him put on sparring gloves. I was struggling to stand up straight while trying to help him. Sparring with Oscar is no joke. Luckily, that happened near the end of the evening, so I could sit down for a long rest.
Kevin basically does the same thing. Earlier, he was in the ring with Paul, Alan's boss at his day job, and Kevin kept close to the ropes. He waited and waited for Paul to get tired. When he thought he did, Kevin came flying off of the ropes throwing bunches of punches. Paul wasn't sure how to handle Kevin when the latter kept leaning on the ropes. I kept wishing Paul would work his jab more.
Oscar got into the ring a second time with Alan. Alan did not wear any headgear. I was half paying attention during the first round they were in the ring. When I looked up during one of the later rounds, Oscar's headgear was off. I thought maybe Alan knocked it off. Ray confirmed that Oscar had pulled it off during the action. "I kept trying to get a piece of Oscar, but I couldn't," Alan said later. Oscar did get a hit in on Alan's back, which wasn't good. It was in the same spot where Alan had been hit during a sparring session over a week ago, and it's still sore.
Reggie and Ray sparred. Ray had his thumb on his left hand taped up. Like Jacob, Ray had injured it during a sparring session some time ago. It's not broken, like Jacob's thumb is, but it is badly bruised. It bothered Ray a lot during the sparring session. Someone, maybe Reggie, suggested aspirin, but Ray said, "I don't do medicine, man. I take vitamins. You know what I take for pain? A shot of whisky. . .seriously!"
While talking with Pastor Roger in his office earlier this morning, I kept rubbing my lower back. "Not as young as you used to be, eh?" the pastor smiled. I told him about sparring with Oscar. "You should do like Tyson and watch the other person's rhythm, then throw a punch in the middle of that," Pastor Roger suggested. I'm so busy trying to land something that I seldom pay attention to the other person's rhythm. I don't believe I have much of a rhythm while I'm boxing. While dancing, it's perfect, but boxing, not so much. I just keep coming forward, as Alan has pointed out.
Kenny was tentatively scheduled to fight at the Standard Club downtown this Thursday, but that doesn't look like it'll happen. Kenny's been ill, and he's been busy at work. No one else was really available, either. . .Jacob's thumb is still on the mend, and I don't have an amateur boxing license (and most likely, no available opponent), so that was that.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The guy didn't seem to have a good command of the English language. He gave Jilberto and I the name of a guy who told him to come and see the gym. Neither Jilberto or I recognized the name. Jilberto spoke to the guy in Spanish, then told me that Mary wasn't happy about the guy and his kids hanging around in the hallway. She had said as such to the guy earlier, but he decided to keep waiting until the gym was open. Colonel came in, and he also spoke to the man in his native tongue. Information was given to him about when the gym was open, and the days his kids could train, if they wanted to learn how to box. That satisfied the man, and he and his kids went on their way.
Reggie asked me why the boxing show at Seward was canceled for today. I remember Meg mentioning that several Park District shows had been canceled this season. "I have no idea, Reggie, but it's been happening a lot. Usually the canceled shows are rescheduled, but they haven't been," I said. Only one more show is left this year, and that will be at Brooks Park next month. If that is canceled, there won't be anymore Park District shows until next summer.
Last week, I didn't exercise as much as I should have. This week, I fooled around and forgot to exercise on Tuesday. I was so busy writing that I lost track of time. I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month, and I'm already behind in my word count. I believe people are supposed to write about 1,667 words a day. Ha! I know how my novel begins and how it is supposed to end. It's the scenes in-between the beginning and end that are hard to figure out. The novel is about a middle-aged woman who's an amateur boxer facing a milestone birthday (sound familiar?) whose life seems to have come to a dead stop on so many levels. The story line follows her as she tries to make sense of what's come before and struggles to make going forward better.
It's no problem if someone wants to come in and look around the gym to see if they might like to sign up for boxing. There's no charge for that. Alan and I are happy to answer questions of those who just want to check it out. But trying to get freebies is another thing altogether.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Alan was also in sparring with Reggie. At one point, it seemed like they were going on and on. Then Amy noticed the timer wasn't working. It seems that the timer -- which Alan brought in awhile ago -- has a short in it. I unplugged it, waited a few seconds, then plugged it back in. It began to work again.
Kevin sparred with Reggie. Alan kept telling Kevin to keep his hands up. Kevin did not do his crouching near the ropes business, and stayed upright.
Alan had been in the gym two hours before everyone else came in. His car had broken down, and he had to leave it at a mechanic in the suburbs. He took a bus down to the gym. Alan had put the radio on and left it on some station that sounded like it was playing a mix of 1960's pop and trance music. After about an hour, the station started playing what sounded like house music. Ray was going, "Yeah! I am a house-head!" Then I started doing footwork, a popular dance that is done much better by people way younger than I. I slipped and fell against the lockers. I had to laugh at myself. Then I got up and started stepping, a dance done better by people my age. "You know how to step?" Ray asked. "A little," I replied. Willie, whose grandson had fought in the Loyola Park boxing show last month, taught me how to do a basic six-step. "Teach me how to step!" Reggie smiled.
Earlier in the day, Pastor Roger was telling me that he played football briefly at school when he was a young man. A dislocated shoulder convinced him that he didn't want to deal with the fallout from other injuries down the line. He also noticed that guys in their 30s who had played sports during their high school and college days were already experiencing health problems. "I was playing a pickup basketball game, and saw that a lot of the guys were taping up their joints beforehand. A lot of them were younger than me and already had arthritis," Pastor said. I told him that I'm now feeling the effects not just from boxing, but from participating in roller skating, in-line skating, ice skating, and martial arts over the years.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
There were some guys in the gym whom I did not recognize. One was a coach who I learned trains fighters way out in Crete, IL. Another was Sosa, who was being trained by that coach. Sosa looked like he knew what he was doing. He told Alan he'd like to come in again.and get some sparring in.
Oscar and his friend Jesus returned to the gym. Oscar and I sparred twice; we did two separate rounds, and Kenny and I did one round together in-between that. It was easier to spar with Oscar, only because Oscar is my height. I got Oscar with some jabs and hooks. Alan was on the side saying, "Beautiful! Now keep it up!" Oscar seems to have become quicker each time I spar with him. I remembered to keep my chin down, and watch better for openings. But there were times when I goofed up. For example, I swung wildly at Oscar during our first round and ended up spinning in a circle. Alan chuckled about that one. Then Oscar popped me with a right, and I put my head down and closed my eyes, not seeing the jab that came behind it. Afterwards, Colonel told me, "You're tough for a church lady!" That's a new nickname for me.
Kevin sparred with Ralphie. Alan must have told Kevin ten times to keep his hands up. "You're not listening to me," Alan told him during a break in the action. Then someone else ringside -- I think it was Kenny -- gave the same warning to Kevin. Alan told Kevin, "There's more than one person telling you the same thing -- do you think I'm lying?" Kevin went back to leaning on the ropes. Ralphie took advantage of the situation and kept popping him in the side. When Alan told Kevin not to stay in that one spot, Kevin replied, "I'm waiting for him to tire himself out." Several of us fell out laughing. "Oh, no! Ralphie's not going to get tired!" I told Kevin. Before the next round took place, Ralphie explained to Kevin that he will lose fights if he keeps waiting by the ropes and not answering punches properly.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Halloween. . ..eh, I don't celebrate it. It wasn't celebrated much in my house when I was growing up. Ma would snap at the kids who rang our bell for candy, especially if they kept ringing it after nine at night. As an adult, I saw a religious program that outlined the pagan origins of this "holiday", and I was done with it after that. Bad things usually happen because people -- both kids and adults -- do things they shouldn't do on Halloween. I walked to the gym watching for eggs being thrown, or other such stupid pranks going down. Thankfully, I arrived at the gym without having to take a detour to chase down anyone who attempted to get a laugh at my expense.
Colonel showed up wearing a fright mask with hands to match. I was laughing, as he was also wearing a nice suit. Brittany and Amber were waiting outside the gym along with Colonel, myself, Kenny, BK, and Igor. Brittany and Amber are journalism grad students at Northwestern University. They were there to film some of the action in the gym, and to do some interviews.
Jacob came in wearing a splint on his left hand. The diagnosis? A hairline fracture on his thumb. It happened the last time he sparred with Kenny. He's supposed to wear the splint 24 hours a day. It's going to take a few months before it is completely healed. He put a glove over his hand with the splint still on. "Be careful. You don't want to re-injure it," I told him. "I think it'll be okay if I hit the bags lightly and don't spar," he said.
Kenny sparred with Professor, Kevin, and Alan. He wants to fight during Seward's boxing show, which is ten days away. Things went well with Professor, but Kevin reverted back to some of the usual moves -- that everybody admonishes him about -- again. Professor and BK closely paid attention when Kevin was in the ring. Professor was telling Kenny to take advantage when Kevin made mistakes.
I got into the ring with Alan who joked, "I'm going to smack you down." "See? See? Everytime I get inside the ring with you Alan, you want to beat me down," I laughed. I was trying my best to take advantage of any and every opening. I noticed earlier that when Alan threw an overhand right at Kenny, he lingered a little too long. Kenny could have come in with a quick jab or hook to his ribs. I wanted to do that, but I forgot one thing. I have short arms and legs.
Well, actually I forgot another thing, too. Alan is cagey in the ring. He has this thing where he puts out his left fist on my forehead and just holds me off as I try to get closer to get in any punches. Kids would do that same thing to me during fights I had in grade school. "I'm a dirty fighter," he grinned through his mouthpiece. "I see," I replied, frustrated because I couldn't be as slick as I wanted to be. I tried to catch Alan during round two, and I tripped over my own feet, turning my ankle a little. That had been happening all day long. Twice it happened while I was at church this morning. The second fall was due to a direct hit I took. The coach had to help me back up to my feet.
The couple of times I made any progress involved hitting Alan in a spot where he had already been hurt. Before he got into the ring to spar Kenny, he told me that his back was still hurting from when Kevin popped there the last time they sparred. The first time I punched Alan in his back, he groaned and moved away. "Now I'm really going to get you," he said. "I'm sorry. . ..I didn't mean to hit there," I said, and I was telling the truth. We moved around some more and boom, I got him there again. "Whoops!" I thought to myself. Alan caught me against the ropes, and bang, bang, bang, I caught punches to both of my sides. Afterwards, Alan told me, "I saw red when you got me there." "Honestly, I didn't mean to do it," I apologized. "I know you didn't, but I thought back to when I first took a hit there. But I forced you to fight, didn't I?" he said. I agreed.
Brittany interviewed myself, Kenny, and Alan. I talked about always being a tomboy who liked rougher sports. Kenny talked about how boxing helps keep him on the straight and narrow. Alan revealed that he'd been boxing since he was 20 years old, forty years ago. "I was considered old for starting that late. The thought then was that boxers were about done when they became 28 years old. Today, you have boxers who are fighting way over the age of thirty-five, so that decline has been disproved." He spoke about Rudy Cisneros (12-3-0), a professor boxer whom Alan began training when Cisneros was ten years old. Cisneros was one of the boxers on season two of the TV reality competition, "The Contender". Cisneros was not the only boxer whom Alan trained who turned pro, but Alan considered him to be one of the best fighters he ever trained. "I won't keep sparring forever because the body does break down after awhile. But I'll keep coaching as long as I am able to walk into the gym. I love it. I would do this for free," Alan said.