Monday, January 30, 2012
I still needed to write a Monday blog entry, but I couldn't think of what to put in this space. Then I remembered Alan saying something last week about, "Hillari used to be the queen bee in the gym until these other women started coming in." Yeah, I was. I don't state that in a egotistical way. I'm not stomping into the gym ready to start something like Aunt Esther.
Nor am I making grand entrances and airly announcing, "Look at me and be dazzled," like the fabulous Nene Leakes.
I think of being a queen bee partially because I've been there for so long. It'll be ten years come this August. I started out regularly showing up like everyone else, then I became a volunteer in 2006 (been a volunteer in the gym for six years as of this spring).
I'm also a queen bee sort of like Honey West. A bit of TV history: "Honey West" was a detective series in 1965 on ABC, and the first show of its type to feature a woman chasing down criminals. Honey was a tough cookie. In just about every episode of that short-lived series, she was giving out beat downs. But she wasn't so hard that she turned people off, and she was very helpful to everyone who sought out her assistance. I like to think that I'm helpful in showing people that boxing is enjoyable.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Jacob and Leroy sparred, and they were good matches for each other. Jacob was really working his jab, and Leroy was answering punches very well. Ray was giving extra instructions from the side.
Alan told me to get ready because I had a line of women wanting to spar with me. Abby and I sparred for one round and we went light. She was pawing most of the time, and Alan encouraged her to put her punches all the way out.
Brandy and I sparred for three rounds and her punches seemed to be harder than the last time we were in the ring. A few times I had my hands down, but I quickly remembered to put them back up once I was rocked with some hits. I caught a right fist to my left eye, and several punches reached my mid-section. I kept trying to deliver hooks, but Brandy was very good at backing up and avoiding most of them. I got her with a jab, and her right eye blinked furiously. "Are you okay?" Alan and I asked. "It's just my contact moving around," she said. Afterwards, Brandy said that it was very easy to telegraph my overhand right. She dodged it each time. I'm either going to practice and get it right or stop doing it altogether.
Melinda sparred with Sarah, and she immediately threw hard punches. Sarah returned the same, and Melinda became tired quickly. Alan told Melinda, "If you start throwing bombs, Sarah has no choice but to defend herself and hit hard back." Then he put Sarah in with Jacob. Alan was saying that perhaps he should put Sarah in with guys more because of her punching power, and several others in the gym -- including me -- agreed.
Alan had his finger surgery the day before, so he had a cast on. That made it difficult for him to help people suit up, so I was doing those duties. It's going to be six weeks before his hand is back to normal.
Today, Pastor Roger asked if I had thought about being paid to coach boxing. I'm often offered to coach individuals for free when asked. Amateur boxing coaches do get paid, like the ones in the Chicago Park District system (Alan, George, Jack, Bill, etc.). But I didn't think most who were not associated with a gym did. "Why don't you coach both amateurs and professionals?" the pastor asked. "I'd have to be licensed as a professional coach to work with pros," I said. I told him I want to have one more fight, but I don't get as many fights as the guys do. Pastor wondered if I could be a professional boxer, but I explained that the same health issues that keep me out of sanctioned amateur matches would also keep me from getting a professional boxing license.
"What about doing MMA?" Pastor Roger inquired. "I'm tough enough to take the knocks that I get in boxing, but I'm not sturdy enough for the take downs that happen in that sport. If I was 20 years younger, I'd be all over that."
Monday, January 23, 2012
I sparred with Brandy and Melinda. Alan pointed out that Brandy executes her punches well. She got me with a few solid bops to my stomach. I was so busy keeping my hands up to protect my face that I forgot to cover my mid-section. Before when I was shadow boxing, I was throwing my jabs very fast. While sparring, I reverted back to having a slow hand. Then a light bulb went on. "I can throw them fast, so why don't I?" I thought. Brandy was overwhelmed for a minute. Alan told her to grab me by the arms to slow down the assault.
Before I sparred with Melinda, Alan told me, "She's a bigger girl, so she'll probably hit harder." Melinda does have strong punches, but she kept switching between southpaw and traditional stances. "You've got to pick one stance and stay with it. We'll work on that," Alan told her. "I kept switching sides because I was getting tired," she explained. During our last round, Melinda dug down and came out throwing a flurry of punches. She knows how to block very well. "My dad didn't teach any of my siblings and I how to fight, but he did teach us how to block punches," Melinda said later.
Friday, January 20, 2012
The gym was open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Mike, a new guy, came in. "I missed the first few times," he said, and I told him I was glad he came in that night. The attendance list had expanded, reflecting all of the people who had signed up, but some people did not appear that night. They might have thought the field house was closed.
Because I did not have my camera on Monday, I missed taking photos of the action between Alan and Jacob, who sparred four to five rounds. Ray noticed how Alan adjusts his fighting style to different opponents. I also missed having pictures taken of myself sparring with tall Sarah and Brandy (blond Sarah would have taken the photos if I had the camera). Tall Sarah and I went light the first round. My main problem was that I was not focused enough. The ring is no place for daydreaming, and I paid for my inattention a few times.
The second round I did was with Brandy. She popped me in both of my eyes when I forgot to keep my chin down. I got her with some right hooks, one of which turned her around a little. She kept her jab going the entire time.
The third round was with tall Sarah again, and that turned into our usual war. Brandy was watching from the sidelines, and she commented, "You all went hard!" I grabbed Sarah's arms a few times to slow her down, but I still took cracks to my head.
Ray told me about a new gym that opened on Montrose and Western. His friend Chuck, who's a pro boxer, trains there. From what Ray told me, the place is dead serious. "Nobody speaks to you when you walk in. You might get a nod, but those guys are hungry. Most of them are planning to turn pro," he said. It's also a training ground for MMA fighters.
At the end of Monday evening, Ray was changing out of his shirt. "Don't admire my sexiness, Hil," he joked to me. "Well, I'm always sneaking looks when Alan has his shirt off," I said. "Of all people, you don't want to see me with my clothes off," Alan smiled.
Leroy and Matthieu sparred. Later, I heard Leroy telling Ray that he hadn't boxed since he was 22 years old (Leroy is 27).
No word yet about any coaches' clinics that will be held within Chicago city limits (for a change). It appears that I might just have to take my chances renewing my coach's license next month without having been to a clinic if one doesn't take place closer to me.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
"You're too short," Alan said, as I helped him put on sparring gloves to get in the ring with Matthieu . It's always a little hard to help put gloves on him because of that. He has to push his hands down into the gloves, and because I'm so close to the ground, it's not easy for him to do. "I know. I haven't grown since I was thirteen years old," I chuckled.
Matthieu caught Alan by surprise with a right (it had just happened before I shot the photo above). Alan later said, "I wondered where did that come from?" It looked as if Matthieu has become more confident in the ring. He did a great job of keeping his eyes on Alan and watching him.
Brandi gleefully announced that she had a mouthpiece and wanted to spar with me. "We'll go light," I said, which is my standard response to everyone who spars for the first time in the gym. Brandi had taken fitness boxing before, but tonight was her first time sparring ever. "What are the basic rules for sparring?" she asked after we had suited up. "The idea is not to kill one another, but to work with each other and practice technique," I answered. Ana and blond Sarah took ringside seats to watch the action, as well as several others in the gym. Brandi was quite good. She caught me with several shots to the body. She blocked a lot of my punches that were aimed at her mid-section and her head. "That was fun!" Brandi said afterwards.
Matthieu also sparred with Ian for a few rounds. Ian often had his hands down, but he hung in there with Matthieu.
Mary came in to remind Alan to make sure that there's no one working out in the gym who hasn't paid the fee. On Monday, Alan made that announcement to people several times. Both Alan and I noticed the gym was not as crowded as it had been the other day. I knew that Wayne hadn't paid, and I don't think Robert was signed up, either. A tall, lanky guy walked into the gym tonight wondering if the program was an open gym. I explained about the fee and directed him to Mary, who was at the front desk. He didn't return, so I'm assuming he either didn't pay, or he paid but decided to start next week.
I found the fan. I thought someone had walked with it. The gym was very hot on Monday, probably due to all the people who were packed inside it. It was hot again today, and on top of that, I kept having hot flashes. The fan was hiding behind a stand alone file cabinet. I turned it on, but it was still steamy in the room.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Robert and Ray sparred, and it was a good match up. Robert is a MMA fighter who's had a few bouts. He hung in there with Ray and got some great shots off. Ray was working Robert with hooks.
Sarah and I sparred as blonde Sarah (who I had met before at my church) and Brandi watched. I got one right in to Sarah's head, but the rest of the time, I went for hooks to the middle. Sarah got me with an uppercut that made me glad my mouth was closed, and that I was wearing a mouthpiece for protection. I was too worn out to go a fourth round. Luckily, I wasn't hit in the nose again. It's still hurting a little from last week when Alan popped me in it.
I asked Matthieu where was his girlfriend Erica. "She moved out," he told me, and I said I was sorry to hear that. Women problems seemed to be the norm that night, as Ray's wife was waiting around outside the gym door, and she didn't look happy.
Reggie joked with Jacob about entering the Golden Gloves. The schedule came out yesterday. I printed a copy and taped it up in the gym. It's uncertain at the point who among the guys will be interested in competing. They've got a little over two months to prepare for it, if they do. Jacob would be a good prospect, but that depends on how healed his thumb is. Ray's in the same situation. Reggie did well in the prelims the last time he was in; I believe he could go further this time. Wayne and Robert would be good picks too, if they're interested.
Thursday, January 05, 2012
Renee decided she wanted to spar, but she wanted to ease back into it. She and I only did one round, and we went light. I did some little movements and dancing around that I normally don't do while I was in the ring with her. Renee caught me good with some body shots, however. She kept asking if I was okay, and apologizing. Finally, Alan said, "Don't say you're sorry." I laughed and said, "That's what the former coach used to say to me all the time."
I stayed in the ring as Renee got out, and Alan stepped in. I had to change my game plan, and it wasn't always working. Renee and I are about the same height, more or less. I had to reach punches up to get Alan. As Ray pointed out (he sparred with Alan after I was done), Alan has quick feet. Alan got me in the nose. It still hurts a bit as I type this, but I can breathe well, so it's not broken. But it stunned me into paying more attention to covering up better.
Alan got another "oof!" out of me, but he thought it was a shot to my stomach that did it. It was a reaction to a punch I took to a sensitive spot on the left side of my chest. There's a spot on the right side of my chest that would be sensitive if hit, also. Think about it. Later when I told Alan, and he apologized up and down. "Don't worry about it. I'm a tough chick. Besides, I should have been wearing my chest protector," I smiled.
Renee was concerned about the amount of people who may show up next Monday. She said she took the last open spot when she signed up for the winter session online. "Don't worry. . .half of the people will be gone after two weeks," I said. Alan agreed, pointing out that some sign up and only show up once or twice. Some sign up and never come in at all. But Monday will be packed, as it usually is in January.