Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oldest People In The Gym

Alan was the only person inside the gym when I got there.  We figured that probably no one else was coming in due to the holidays.  He and I were talking while shadow boxing,.  I told him that I saw the photo his son Matt had put up of himself and Alan on Facebook.  "One of Matt's female friends saw the picture and said that the both of us were studs.  That made me feel good!" Alan smiled. 

When Ralphie got there about 45 minutes later, Alan and I were in the middle of four rounds of sparring.  The two oldest folks in the place were swinging on each other.  "Did Alan beat up everyone else and scare them off?" Ralphie joked.  Once again, Alan caught me not protecting my middle.  Five times he got me in the gut.  I got in a straight right, and he commented, "Nice."  Then I did an overhand right, which also caught him. 

Afterwards, I worked on the other heavy bag (Ralphie was working on the red bag, as seen in the photo above).  "This bag feels lighter than usual," I thought. A check of the floor below didn't reveal any sand laying around.  Then I noticed no duct tape was on the bag.  The old bag was in the corner, so I guessed Barry must have changed it out the last time he was in the gym.  Despite the lightness, the bag still felt good, especially when I threw my hooks. 

Pastor Roger shared on Facebook that his one year old son is now walking.  I sent him a note stating that I was going to be looking for boxing equipment that fits a toddler so we can start the boy's boxing lessons.  I haven't heard a response yet. . .heh, heh. The pastor's son is in the picture below that was taken some time ago.  Trust me, the kid is bigger than that now.  "All boy", like his mother says.  You can also see from the boy's shirt what sport his dad is more interested in.

 Ralphie showed Alan and I pictures of his child, who is about a year and half old.  "He's trying to walk.  Almost there," he said proudly as he showed us the photos on his cell phone.

The last time I exercised at home, I got on the scale at home and it told me that I lost four pounds.  I wonder if that was real weight or water weight.  I also wonder if it's an indicator that the pounds will finally start moving.  Once I lay off the eggnog when the holidays are over, maybe they'll move faster.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Four and a Half Rounds

You may be wondering why there is a photo of comedian Lou Costello on here.  Believe it or not, Mr. Costello boxed for awhile before going into comedy.  

Amy, Sarah and myself were waiting at the gym door when Alan arrived.  Before he got there, Sarah said, "I hope he's not disappointed because only the three of us are here.  We could just have the masters boxing women's class tonight!"  As Alan unlocked the door, Sarah told him, "We're having the over 35 years of age women's boxing class today."  "As far as I can see, all of you look good to me," Alan smiled.

Initially, Sarah didn't want to spar.  It looked like I was going to spar with Alan, who already said, "I'm going to get you!"  He also said that I should go four rounds.  "I'll push myself to do it," I said.  "That's why I like you, Hillari.  You never say no," Alan said.  Then Sarah decided that she would spar, but we'd have to go light. Her and I were in the ring for four and a half rounds with.  We went light, but it was still an aerobic workout.  I was dancing around the ring more than I usually do. 

 Now you're asking, "Why is Martin Lawrence's picture on here?"  Mr. Lawrence boxed when he was a teenager.  He made a joke about it during one of his live concerts.  I read somewhere that he was a Golden Gloves contender. 

 Ray was the only other guy in the gym, and he arrived later.  Ray and Alan had a good sparring session.  Ray was throwing some wicked uppercuts that the caught the coach with several times.  Then Alan tried to sneak in a right, and Ray quickly blocked it.  Ray was in his Philly Shell stance.  I named Alan's stance the Skokie Skate.  "Coach is the shit!  I love sparring with him!" Ray exclaimed in-between rounds. "That's what light sparring is supposed to be!"  

While I was watching Ray and Alan spar, there was a twinge in my back on the lower left side.  Alan thought I had been hit there, but Sarah didn't do that.  I didn't remember Alan hitting me there on Monday.  The pain went away as quickly as it came.  I figured it was another sign of middle-age-sliding-into-old-age.

"Come on now.  What does Dean Martin have to do with boxing?" you might be asking.  A few years ago, PBS ran a special about Martin's 1960's TV variety show.  The guy who produced the variety show, Greg Garrison, pointed out that Martin had a certain way of holding his hands.  Garrison explained it was a holdover from when Mr. Martin was a boxer.  I looked it up, and sure enough, the singer had boxed for a time.  There are a lot of entertainers who boxed, either as amateurs or professionals.  Oh, here's one more guy:

Robert Conrad was the star of one of my favorite 1960s TV shows, "The Wild, Wild West".  I watched it every week when I was a little girl.  Conrad, who's from the south side of Chicago, had several matches before he became an actor.  Word is that Conrad was a very tough fighter.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The "Oof!" Factor

A woman named Stephanie stopped by to talk to Alan.  I figured that she knew something about boxing; it was just a feeling I had.  Sure enough, I heard her tell Alan that she had taken up the sport at the Ultimate Fit Club in Evanston, which also houses the Evanston Boxing Club.  She stayed around to observe the action for awhile before leaving.  I hope that she plans to sign up for the winter session in January.

Jacob had both of his thumbs wrapped up with tape.  He said that the tape helped protect his thumbs, especially the one that was fractured.  I might do that myself.  My right thumb still hurts a little from when it connected with Kevin's head last week.

Ray and Professor sparred several rounds, as seen in the photo above.  Collette taped the action as she stood on the side of the ring.  The two men had a good session, as they worked with each other as they traded punches.  That's what sparring is supposed to be -- practice, as well as an exchange of information via movement. 

Paul, Alan's boss, said that he was still hurting somewhat from the last time he and Alan sparred.  They went around again.  Afterwards, Alan asked me, "It's true that Paul goes after me hard, right?"  I told Paul, "You start out hard in the beginning, then Alan starts going hard."  It's always true that even when everybody agrees to "go light", all it takes is for one person to throw a few hard punches.  Then the other person feels they have to respond in kind.  But it's not about people being angry because somebody put more force in (but sometimes, it is, depending on who's sparring).   It's about keeping up with the pace of the other opponent. 

Alan kidded Renee about sparring to give me some work.  Amy didn't want to spar, so I ended up in the ring with Alan.  I threw overhand rights, even got him with some straight rights.  But I kept getting crowded into the corners, and several times, I could neither punch or turn my way out of them.  I tried to get shots to his mid-section, but Alan's long arms protected his torso well.  Mine was wide open too many times.  Alan hit me in the middle about three or four times.  I went "Oof!" each time.  "I got her!" Alan said each time he landed a shot there.  I could hear some of the guys making comments.  Ray said, "Good overhand", during one of the few times that I actually caught Alan with that particular punch. Reggie said, "Hillari, put Alan in a body bag!" 

Paul took pictures of the sparring.

 "Hillari, you were moving so fast, you were a blur!"  Paul said.  One of the pictures he took is above.  I thought I was struggling and bumbling around at various points.  "You did good work, and you hit hard" Alan told me.  He noted that I always come at him harder during sparring than I do anyone else. After thinking about it, I had to admit that I do pound on Alan more than I do others during sparring.  It's probably because, of all the guys in the gym -- with maybe the exception of Kenny -- Alan pushes me to do more when we are sparring.  He doesn't let up, that's for sure.  I have to remain focused or take some rough hits.

During the last round we sparred, Alan had me on the ropes.  "I'm not hitting you that hard," he said, after I took another hit to the stomach.  "Yes, you are," I gasped.  "No, you just breathed in air as I threw the punch," Alan said, as I tried to move out of his reach. My nose took a hit, and I was stunned for a second.  Another crack to my head rocked me on my feet, too, but I had to shake it off.  The photo above is also courtesy of Paul. 

Alan thinks that I'm ready to do four rounds of sparring instead of the usual three.  I want to try to do four rounds.  There was a time I could do five rounds, but I wasn't as old or as heavy as I am now.  I'll push myself to do an extra round.

The coach joked that I don't seem to show much love to Pastor Roger on this blog.  I'll have to re-read some of my posts. . .eh, I don't doubt that I have been hard on the pastor here sometimes (and on Facebook, etc., etc.).  Believe me, I hear about it from Pastor Roger.  The protest usually start with, "But Hillari, you've made a wrong assumption about me."  The pastor met Steve, the former coach, a long time ago, but one day, I'll have to introduce him and Alan to each other in person.  Pastor will probably ask Alan like he asked Steve a few years ago, "Is she any good in the ring?"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Decision

See the little girl in the photo above?  That was me when I was in sixth grade.  I was eleven when this picture was taken.  Yeah, okay. . .it's a bad picture. Dig the modified Afro puffs (my mother pressed my hair out back then; she didn't allow my younger sister and I to have perms).  I was not and have never been, a beauty pageant contestant.  I know that.  That school year was the only one I had during my entire grade school career where I wasn't involved in constant fist fights with other kids.  Maybe it was because I had a tough but fair teacher, Mr. Marwick (God rest his soul).  Maybe it was because I had a different attitude that school term or was hanging around kids who weren't picking on me all the time (which was the main reason why I fought in the first place).  I'm not sure, but it was nice to have a breather from being punched and kicked every day.  Of course, it was back to the business during the brief time I was in 7th grade (I got promoted to the next grade in December of that year), and the rest of my time in 8th grade. 

After a week of getting used to being 50 years old, I had to ask myself a question:  What I am fighting about these days and who am I fighting?  There are still bullies in my way.  Prospective employers who look at my graying hair, ignore the accomplishments on my resume and decide I'm too old to be hired; smart-asses on the Internet who don't like my opinions, and verbally beat me down, often anonymously; and men who want to date me, but have a problem with me not being dumb enough for them to manipulate, are some of them.  I still have to fight some people -- not always using my fists -- and continue to do so probably until the casket is closed on me.

But in terms of boxing, why do I keep going to the gym, why do I keep sparring, and why am I eager to participate in bouts?

Well, as far as exercise goes, it's not a matter of whether or not I feel like doing it anymore.  It's come down to I have to exercise.  There were a lot of things I got away with regarding my health before I turned 40 and was diagnosed with high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes practically back-to-back.  I have family members who suffer with those conditions.  Some are dead now because they didn't take their health concerns seriously.  A friend of mine has diabetes, and they are on disability now because of it.  Menopause has slipped into the mix for me, too, and that has its own set of problems.  If exercise, as well as eating better will help put a few seconds extra on my clock, as well as make me feel better, I need to do it.  I like boxing because it's not girly-girl aerobic-type exercise, which I never got into, not even way back in sixth grade.

I believe boxing is a valuable skill for a woman, especially in a world where women and girls continue to be thought of as weak and gullible, and in some places in the world, disposable.  I stopped growing when I was thirteen years old.  At five foot one, I'm not exactly looked upon by most as a threat.  Now I don't like going around being a b&%$#, but there are times when I've had to do that.  There may be times in the future where I will have to come hard, because somebody will think "she'll be an easy mark to take".  It might be on a dark corner at night, or on a busy street in broad daylight.  No, I can't move as fast as I used to do.  But just because I'm old, that doesn't mean my hands (and feet) have lost the capacity to hurt an perp.  I may not win, but I want the other person to at least feel the pain of messing with me.

I like the thrill of being in the ring.  That's not to say that it is not nerve-racking, even if I'm just sparring as opposed to having an actual fight.  I'm still learning how to harness the nervousness into energy to use.  I also like the feeling of having accomplished something, even if I took a bad loss.  My only regret is not taking up the sport earlier.  Maybe I could have been like Laila Ali.

Part of it also had to do with quieting the naysayers.  I've chronicled in this blog many times over the years how people have tried to convince me that I should not box.  When the admonishing started back in 2001, it was coming from only a few individuals.  The only person whose comments I took seriously was that of my doctor's, and even then, I just made the necessary adjustments to keep going.  Everybody else, I laughed their opinions off.  But my group of protestors grew over the years.  "Oh, you're telling me that I shouldn't do something, that I can't do something, women shouldn't do this and that, that maybe I'm getting too old, etc.? Watch me," I thought as I dug my heels in further.  The other day, I saw an old match featuring Archie Moore.  He was well up into his 50s before he retired from competing.  I have aches and pains, but I'm not decrepit. 

Besides. . .I still want to fight. I was a good roller skater from the time I was fourteen up until I was in my late thirties.  Then the closest roller rink to me shut down, and that, along with the arthritis that showed up a few years later, sort of closed the door on me doing that regularly.  I love to ride my bike, but arthritis was also a factor as to why I didn't ride much this past summer.  I was a fair ice skater.  The last time I was on the ice was back in 2004; I scheduled an skating outing for the church's singles group.  Only I and Pastor Roger were in attendance, and he didn't skate, but he watched me zipping around the rink.  I haven't practiced martial arts much since 2001, and I was involved with that for only eight months of that year.  I've loved a lot of sports activities, but my admiration and respect for boxing has continued to grow strong over the years. 

This is why I can't let it go.  That day will come.  It is going to come.  One day, I will have to join the other old folks that sit along the walls in the boxing gyms and who bark out orders to young fighters.  But not now.  Continue to wring your hands and admonish me if you must, but that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Let The Fighting. . .Rather, Cussing Begin

"Everybody seems kind of down," Amy commented as she looked at Alan, Professor, and Professor's fiancee, Kelly.  "I'm tired," Alan said, after admitting to have eaten a large pizza by himself.  We were really waiting for Kevin to arrive, so the show between Professor and him could begin. Those two planned to spar after they had a disagreement on Monday. 

When Kevin arrived, he had headgear that was designed to fully cover the face.  It reminded me of a hockey mask.  "Is that what you're going to use?" Professor asked him.  "Yeah.  You disapprove?"  Kevin sneered.  Professor made a comment about it not being proper headgear to use.  Kevin snapped that he needed to wear it to protect his broken nose, and another spat took place.   Ever the gentleman, Alan told both men, "Watch your language; there are women in here.  Just chill." 

After some more bickering, Professor and Kevin stepped into the ring.  "Get your camera," Alan told me.  "I almost forgot," I said, as I scooted to my locker to get it.  But before I could take any pictures, the sparring session ended.  Kevin had leaned into the ropes and settled there.  Professor could have took advantage of the situation, but he thought better of it.  "If he's not going to hit back, there's no use in us sparring.  It's not competitive enough," Professor said.  This set Kevin off, who snatched his gloves and headgear off in anger.  He yelled at Professor, "If you're going to quit now, you'll quit again.  F&%$ it!"  Professor decided not to respond to Kevin's comments. 

Jacob came in right after that exchange, and Professor was glad to see him.  "Here's my guy," Professor smiled.  They sparred instead.

Alan put me in with Kevin.  We did two rounds.  Kevin was answering punches, but he wasn't throwing hard ones.  He didn't lean on the ropes at all, either, basically keeping me near the center of the ring and near the corners.  Kevin encouraged me to hit him.  I didn't want to target his face because of his nose.  I had visions of me accidentally causing even worse injury.  For the most part, Kevin was wide open.  I got in uppercuts, and numerous shots to the body.  Each time I hit him in in the sides and stomach, he went, "Oof!" very loudly.  "Beautiful!" Alan commented from the side.

I landed a good number of hooks, too.  Kevin had his head way down, so it was easy to get them in.  But I executed one of my right hooks wrong.  My thumb bumped up against his head, and Kevin has a very hard head.  My thumb is still hurting as I type this. Pastor just told me back on Monday to try and not hurt anybody when I joked about going to the gym and showing everyone "what a 50 year old can do". Maybe I'll be the third person in the gym -- behind Jacob and Ray -- with a thumb injury. 

Professor and Kelly engaged in some boxing drills in the ring.  I didn't get a shot of them kissing at the end.  Ray laughed as he asked Alan, "Is that what happens at the end of rounds?  Should I expect to get some sugar from a woman, too?"  Alan shook his head, "No, not then. Not in boxing!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fights and Frustrations

Ryan (in the headgear) and Gilbert (on the right) came in for a little sparring Monday evening.  Professor (in the middle) gave the young men some instruction.  He has a pair of my punch mitts on.  Professor was showing Ryan how to punch and pivot, and Gilbert jumped in the ring to help show how the technique is done.

I was a real witch (change the first letter to a 'b') to Igor today.  He started in with his usual repeating questions over and over.  Igor must have asked me four times how I was doing.  "The answer is still the same as it was before, Igor--fine," I snapped.  I came back from filling the water bottles up, and for the umpteenth time, he's walking behind me going, "Excuse me, excuse me."  "What is it?" I hissed.  "Water, water," he says. "It's over there," I replied in frustration.  This is why Steve stayed irritated with him all the time, I thought.  I wanted to really tell Igor off, and it took a Herculean effort on my part to bite my tongue.  Alan grinned at me and said, "Your tolerance is low today."  "My father's temper is coming out in me," I said. 

Ray learned that his thumb had been fractured.  "It would have healed up earlier, but I kept re-injuring it," he told me.  Jacob's thumb is still on the mend, but he said he felt some twinges of pain while sparring with Kevin.

As reported here many times, Kevin spent most of the sparring session laying on the ropes.  He told Alan, "I'm waiting for him (Jacob) to punch himself out."  Alan turned away from the ropes, and looked at me, shaking his head.  "He doesn't listen," Alan said.  Professor sat off to the other side of the ring, watching Jacob and Kevin carefully.  "Please don't stay in the corner," he told Kevin. Kevin came back with, "Keep quiet!  If you want to do this, step into the ring.  I don't need mouth from the peanut gallery."  "Oh, wow," Professor said.

I would have sparred tonight, but I did something that I've not done before in nine years of going to Loyola:  I left my mouthpiece at home.  It was still in the other bag that I brought with me to Brooks Park last week.  My only sparring option would have been Alan, or maybe Jacob.  Amy and Renee were there, but they weren't going to spar.  I was on the black heavy bag for awhile, and I felt good about my punches.  Where is that confidence when I'm in an actual fight, or during sparring for that manner?  I bet that I won't be as fresh on Wednesday if I get a chance to spar. 

Later, Professor and Alan asked me when the winter session begins.  "So this is the no man's land period?  I can come in on Wednesday and kick his ass?" Professor said, pointing to Kevin.  Before Kevin left near the end of the night, he promised Professor that he would be in the gym on Wednesday.  "I'll be here, too," Professor gleefully told him.  "Yeah, bring your mouth, too," Kevin shot back.  Have mercy, I thought to myself.  I've heard of guys in gyms having beefs with each other and settling their differences when they came in the next time.  Alan may have to jump in and do some hard regulating if Kevin and Professor have a really rough meeting.

It may look like Paul really clocked Alan here, but this is a gag shot that the men asked me to take.  They did spar earlier in the evening, but did not go the distance.  Paul was throwing a lot of punches and got burned out quickly.  He's getting better at keeping his hands up, however. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Better To Walk Out Than To Be Carried Out

Another friend in the boxing world, Lisa Creech Bledsoe, who runs a blog called The Glowing Edge, posted the fight above on her blog and commented on it.  This was a fight between Holly Holm and Anne Sophie Mathis.  I agreed with Lisa's assessment of how badly this bout was handled by Holm's corner as well as the referee.

Francisco Rodriguez died in the ring around Thanksgiving in 2009, and the month before, Rita Figueroa suffered a near-fatal hit during a match.  Both of those professional fights happened near the tail end of the Chicago Park District's amateur boxing tournament season.  I remember a lot of fights I saw after that were stopped at the first hint of a boxer being in trouble.  I was in a fight with Meg in December of that year that was stopped because I was taking too many hits.  People complain about fights being stopped all the time, as the one between Holm and Mathis was, eventually.  Blood lust gets the best of some spectators, and they just want to see someone stomped down.

I like to see a good beat down as much as the next person.  I cheer on the antics of professional wrestlers, despite the fact that the outcomes of all those type of matches were planned long before the wrestlers came into the ring (but pro wrestlers can and do get hurt for real sometimes. . .some have even died due to injuries).  When my siblings and I were kids, we'd fall out laughing at the fisticuffs between roller derby players, some of which were fake, and some of which were real.  I appreciate the moves I see in MMA.  I only pay attention to mainstream sports when I've heard that a brawl broke out on the playing field. 

However, I'd rather see a boxer walk out of the ring after a match than be carried out.  I usually don't bat an eye at the brutality in some matches, but the Holm/Mathis had me wincing.

As I watched the post-fight interview, I felt bad for Holm.  I even got -- and this is something I seldom admit to, folks -- teary-eyed.  I know the feeling of being on the losing end of a match, feeling embarrassed, frustrated, and angry about "Damn, I wish I could have done better!", while still trying to exhibit good sportsmanship.  I know we should all be adults about losing, but I sometimes go back to being that little girl on the schoolyard who just took a beating from two or more kids (which I did on a near daily basis back in grade school).  The ref and/or Holm's corner should have never let that fight go on that long.  Holm shouldn't have had to be knocked through the ropes and her cheek cut open before people finally woke up and decided enough was enough.  She could have been seriously, maybe even permanently hurt.  I give Mathis credit for not gloating over Holm's prone position in the ring. 

Boxing is a rough sport, but common sense among officials and corner people should never disappear once the bell to start the round begins.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Night At Brooks Park

Alan told me when I called him earlier, "You can bring your gear down to Brooks Park."  "But you told me there were no opponents for me," I said.  "Well, you never know.  But it's up to you," he answered.  Both of my knees had been hurting all day, my lower back had twinges of pain here and there, and my left shoulder was a bit stiff.  But I exhibited the natural hard-headed tendencies I inherited from my late dad, and I packed a bag with my gear.  All the while, the rational side of my brain was snapping, "Girl, please!  Where is your mind?"

I took two buses to get up to Brooks Park.  When I got there, Kevin was upstairs, ready to go, shadow boxing in preparation.  Willie and Nate Sr. had some of the kids with them: Gilbert, Tall Kenny, Nate Jr., and Eric.  Unfortunately, Barry had another engagement, so he couldn't come down with the kids.  Soon, Reggie came in, and he was ready to fight as well.  "I'm nervous," he said.  "Use that energy in the ring," I told him.

While picking out familiar faces in the crowd (Shifty, Jack, Sean, Gary),  I spotted Meg.  "Oh, snap," I thought, and reality knocked me upside my head.  Our guys were called in to weigh-in, and I went in the room because Alan hadn't arrived yet.  I wanted to make sure they all got in.  Pat, one of the Park District coaches, politely asked me to step out of the room during the weigh-ins.  "Because they're stripping, y'know?" he said.  Outside the room, I chuckled to myself, and thought, "Like a woman as old as I hasn't seen that before."  I was going to weigh-in, but after I saw Meg and took stock of my creaky body, a small, still voice said to me, "Don't do it," and I didn't.  Alan was glad when I told him of my decision later. 

Meg fought a woman named Maggie in the 145 pound division.  Alan told me, "Meg's opponent is 15 pounds lighter and she's 21 years old."  Maggie caught Meg up against the ropes during the second round, something that I was never able to do during the three times Meg and I fought.  I commented on that to Alan.  "The fights you had with her were close," he said.  Meg lost, and I was surprised because she's pretty tough.   

Tall Kenny used his long arms and legs to keep his opponent off of him to get a win, but Gilbert was overwhelmed too many times by his, so he took home the second place trophy.  None of the other young men got fights.

Reggie's opponent, Chris, was about the same build as he.  Reggie was rocking the guy with shots, and one of those shots put Chris on the canvas.  Chris recovered to continue, but Reggie remained dominant.  I was acting a fool on the side, yelling, "That's right.  Get him!  All day!" 

Kevin did not get a fight.  "I know you would have fought him.  But the guy they had was too tall for you, about 6 foot 2," Alan explained to him.  Honestly, I was a little glad that Kevin didn't get a match.  Kevin's nose is broken, and still in the process of healing.  He told me he's been having trouble breathing, and that he hasn't seen a doctor yet.  "It might also be a deviated septum," I told him, thinking about when I had mine fixed a few years ago.  I still don't know how my nose was injured in the first place.  It could have been that time I was three years old and was dashed to the sidewalk after I fell out of a baby swing.  Who knows.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and no, I still haven't made a decision about whether or not to continue competing.  My glee as I packed a gear bag before I went up to Brooks tonight is a sure sign that I ain't ready to let that go yet.  Right now, I think a) my body will have to give me a clear message, like one of my wobbly knees popping out of place or b) I'll have to take a real bad beat down to stop competing.  As I've said before, we boxers can be a stubborn, crazy lot of folks.  Just ask Evander Holyfield or Roy Jones Jr. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sand On The Floor

I had noticed last week that the floor under the 150 pound bag was slippery.  Last night, there was a good amount of sand on the floor.  Alan and I searched the bag looking for holes.  Finally, we found two where the sand was leaking from.  We got duct tape and patched them up.  I found a broom and dustbin to get the sand up.  Alan said, "I didn't know you were that domesticated," as he watched me sweep.  "I'm not, but we can't have anyone slipping," I said.

Jamil came in and sparred with Reggie.  Jamil was thrown into the ropes at one point, but he quickly recovered.  Kevin sparred as well.  He told Alan that his nose was better, but I wondered.  Kevin was hanging on the ropes again, and again, I heard Alan tell him that he will not be able to do that during an actual fight. 

It took me a long time to become focused last night.  During the last fifteen to twenty minutes of gym time, I finally mustered up some energy.  Too many things on my mind, I guess. . . .yesterday was my mother's 79th birthday, and of course, she made no effort to reach out to me, the only one of her four kids who is still living.  It's a long, long story that doesn't really fit the scope of this blog.  Let's just say that Ma and I have not been fans of one another for a few decades.  I was also still a little ticked about some kid at church who nearly knocked me down because they were goofing off after services.  No apology was made to me; "I'm sorry" doesn't seem to be a phrase that's taught to kids at home these days.  Instead, I got "it wasn't my fault" when I complained.  The kid had also dropped a plate on the floor.  "Just get the food up off the floor," I snapped.  Of course, Pastor Roger defended the kid when I grumbled about it, but I wasn't in the mood for more excuses.  "That kid was lucky I didn't hit him," I told Pastor.

Anothet thing I was not in the mood for was Igor bugging me about when he was going to get the pictures I took of him.  "When I get the money to process them, and that won't be anytime soon," I said curtly before walking away.   It's not so much the money, because it doesn't cost that much to get it done at the drug store.  It is the time, as more often than not, something's usually wrong with the self-service film processors when I get to the store.  Besides, I'm still a little salty about how Igor pestered and demanded me to take several pictures of him.  That won't happen again, believe me.  Social grace is not something that Igor posseses, which is one of the reasons why Steve, the former coach, stayed irritated with Igor. 

So far, Reggie is only boxer in the gym whom Alan and I are reasonably sure will have a fight at Brooks Park on Wednesday.  Oscar said he wanted to fight, but he hasn't been in the gym lately.  Kenny hasn't been in much because of work.  Ray wants to fight, but work keeps him tied up a lot, too.  Jacob can't because his thumb is still healing.  I don't have an opponent, which is just as well, because frankly, I'm not prepared to fight at this time. 

While Alan drove me home, he called Colonel on his cell phone.  We had a chance to talk to him.  The poor guy is still in a lot of pain following his hip replacement surgery, but he was still able to crack jokes. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

The AARP Boxer

Oscar and I sparred, and at one point, Oscar was encouraging me to come at him.  I missed most of the hooks I threw, but I did get several body shots in.  We actually did three rounds and a half;  we started in the middle of a round, then Alan reset the bell so we'd start again from the beginning.  Oscar hit me in the mouth, which made me very happy that I a) remembered to keep my mouth clothes, and b) there are such things as mouthpieces.  In the middle of the second round, the thought "what in the hell am I doing?" went through my head.  I was dead tired when the rounds were over.  I've been slacking off on exercise outside of the gym, and it showed.

Ray told Reggie the same thing in-between the rounds of sparring they had.  "You've got to run more, man.  That's why the wind is gone," he said.  Both men were crouched down next to the ropes catching their breaths.  The two of them are young enough to go running.  My knees won't allow me to run for the buses, let alone run for exercise.  It bothers me that I can't run as well as used to do.

Colonel brought in his collection of dusties again, along with Leon's iPod.  Leon had asked Colonel to put some songs on it, but the big man didn't come in Wednesday night.  Colonel gave me the iPod to hold on to, because Colonel was going in for hip replacement surgery the next day.  I took it home because I didn't feel sure about leaving it in my locker.  Colonel was shaking his head at all the rap Leon already had on the iPod; so was I when I listened to the device later that evening.  It was all Li'l Wayne, Kanye, and a bunch of other current rappers whose talent is questionable.  Colonel did good by putting a lot of old school stuff on there.

Ray brought Colette in with him.  While sparring with Jacob (whose thumb is still hurting, too), Ray bumped his thumb again.  Both Colette and I went, "Ooh!" as Ray's hand connected with Jacob.  He had to stop for a moment.  "That really hurts," he said to Collete and I. Amazing how something so small can cause so much pain when it's injured.

"I can apply for AARP next week," I told Ray.  He gave me a quizzical look.  "No, seriously. . .as of my birthday next Thursday, I'll be eligible to be a member of AARP," I continued.  Ray and Reggie gave me high fives, and Jacob nodded in approval.  "For real?  Damn. . .and you're always in the ring for three rounds with people?  Wow, that just made me feel real old," he said.  Ray is in his late 30's; Reggie is about 27 years old.  Ray said to the coach, "So, Alan, you're about 50, right?"  Alan grinned and said, "Bless you."