Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Quiet Night Before Spring

"Looks like slim pickings tonight," Alan commented on Wednesday night.  Professor came in, but he didn't stay long.  Amy, Sarah, and Tommy were there.  Jacob came in the gym a little bit after Professor had left.  Art came in for a minute and looked around. 

The crowd is always low right before a new session starts. The Spring session begins on Monday. I keep hearing that people can't sign up online because it's full. But that doesn't necessarily mean there's going be a full house next week. Alan told everyone on Monday that he's going to have to get tough on people who come in and out but never sign up for the session.

The video clip above features Alan and Jacob during their first round of sparring.  In one of the later rounds, I thought both men were going to flip over the ropes.  Jacob and Alan were locked in a clinch, and both of them leaned on the top ropes. 

I was in the ring with Jacob before Alan was.  Alan kept telling me to go for Jacob's head.  Afterwards, I asked Jacob, "How tall are you?"  "About 5'11," he answered.  "Alan, how am I going to hit someone who's 5'11 in the head?" I said.  Alan told me something I hadn't noticed before.  When I go in to do the body shots -- and I got a lot in on Jacob -- I don't protect my head.  That would explain a lot, especially when I had those three fights with Meg, and I took all those head shots. 

Amy told me earlier that Sarah, who arrived later in the evening, probably wouldn't spar because she's wants to give her nose a chance to heal.  My nose still feels a little sore, too.  However, Sarah is working with a lot more common sense than I do when it comes to sparring.  I did tell Amy that there are times, rare as they are, when I don't spar: a) if I had been knocked out during a previous sparring session or bout and b) if I really feel out of sorts that particular day.  Feeling out of sorts includes having a bad cold or flu (although I've made exceptions for those sometimes), but more often, it's just a rundown feeling, a sign that my body has had enough for the moment.

I was telling Alan about the time my mother threatened to put a beat down on my Dad's third wife.  After I told it, I thought, "He must be thinking, ah ha!  That's where she gets that fighting drive from!"  My late dad had a temper, but Ma's temper wasn't fun to deal with, either.  Most of the time, she'd do a slow burn.  The late comedic actor Paul Lynde was a master at the slow burn, usually accompanied by grumbling insults.  That's what Ma does.  But when she really got fired up about something. . .sigh.  All I have to say is, Dad's third wife should have thanked me for being in-between her and Ma that day, and if something had gone down, I would have put my bets on my mother.

Alan said that his eye took a hit during sparring on Monday, and he couldn't remember if it had been his boss Paul who did the deed or me.  "Me?  It couldn't have been me!  Little old me?" I joked.  Alan smiled, "Well, it is what it is." 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Twice In The Kidneys

Brandy had said she would probably take a little time off from the gym, and she wasn't there Monday night.  The only other woman in attendance besides me was Amy who normally doesn't spar.  Professor, both guys named Paul, Art, and Igor was in attendance.  I had barely started dialing the combination of the lock on my locker when Igor started bugging me about putting his watch inside.  Once again, I grumbled, asking him why doesn't he just leave the watch at home.  I don't know why I bothered wasting my breath.

Young Paul and Alan sparred for a few rounds, and it looked like a wrestling match.  I kept saying, "Break!  Break!"  Alan later explained to Paul: "You kept pushing me back, but I kept holding on.  It was just using up energy."  Alan caught Paul with some shots that caused the younger man to double over a couple of times.  Paul also took a knee at one point.  Paul came out, and I got in.  Igor was mumbling about his watch because he wanted to go.  I made him wait for it.

I'd been used to sparring Brandy, Melinda and Sarah for so long that I forgot how to approach Alan.  I threw some wild punches that turned me around and had me falling up against the ropes.  I got him with an overhand right once, but that was about the only good punch I was able to get in.  Alan backed me up into a corner with a series of straight punches and uppercuts.  I grabbed his arms to stop the onslaught. 

Alan got up against ropes at another moment and got me with a kidney shot.  I fell to the canvas, going, "Ohh!"  Alan helped me back up, and we continued with the round.  Another kidney shot a few minutes later caught me off guard.  Thankfully, the bell rang not too long after that.

Alan and Young Paul got in another round, but with less wrestling this time.  But Paul was hit on the back of his neck, and that round ended quickly.  Alan told him, "I didn't hit you that hard."  I was watching from ringside, holding my side and giving Alan a dubious look.  He always says he doesn't hit hard.  Sometimes, I think Alan doesn't know his own strength.  I know I don't have the time, even when I think I'm pulling punches.  I still remember being surprised after seeing how Ben's face was battered and bruised after he and I sparred several years ago.  I couldn't believe that I had hurt him like that.  My niece Jalissa came with me to the gym not long after that happened.  Mort, who was still going there at the time, told her, "Your aunt kicked that guy's ass!"

Speaking of Mort, I ran into him sometime late last week.  He's doing well, working and finishing up his degree in graphic design.  Mort was proud to hear how JJ had dropped a guy with a left hook during his most recent professional fight.  Mort showed me a picture of his daughter, a cute little three-year-old.

The photo above is of my old Master's boxing license.  There are no fights recorded in it.  I got it back in 2003, several months after I started going to the Loyola Park gym.  Steve, the former coach, tried to get fights for me, but none happened, not even a Park District fight.  While at the Golden Gloves last Friday, Mary turned to me and asked, "Don't you wish you had a fight here?"  "I wish every year," I sighed. When I first got that license, Master's Boxing matches were still included in the Chicago Golden Gloves.  They're not anymore.

I always tell people, "Medical issues don't prevent me from being a coach."  The photo above is of my latest coach's license.  It's time for me to attend another clinic, but they're not held often enough or close to where I can get to them easily.  I really enjoyed the last clinic I attended out in Harvey, Illinois.

Boxing lost another legend, this time Bert Randolph Sugar.  As I write this, the TV is on in the background, tuned to ESPN Classic's "Ringside".  The episode is "Mike Tyson's Greatest Hits, Pt. 2", and Brian Kenny, Teddy Atlas, and Mr. Sugar are analyzing Tyson's career.  I liked Sugar, because he was so knowledgeable about the sport.  I had a chance to meet him once when he came to Chicago to sit at an amateur match.  I believe JJ participated in that event.  It was late spring/early summer, but I was laid up at home with a cold.  My former boss, Les, was always too hard-headed to just stay at home when he got sick.  You know, one of those people who think the whole damn office will fall apart because they're not there.  Les would come to work and infect the whole office.  It never failed; I would catch whatever he had, then I'd be out on my back for two to three days.  Then a few years later, I missed out on still having a full-time job because Les decided to resign, which caused a restructuring of the department we were in.  Instead of being irritated with Les, perhaps I should thank him the next time I see him.  He provided me with a lot of motivation over the years to go hard on the heavy bags after having to spend a lot of eight hour (and more) days with him. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday Night's Best Fight

The photo above is of Brandy and her dad.  He and Brandy's boyfriend Nick were in attendance at the Golden Gloves.

I got to the tournament at Gordon Tech High School early on Friday, around 5:30 PM.  I finally caught up with Rita and got a sticker placed in my coach's passbook.   I was very appreciative of her doing that for me. Before that took place, Rita talked with a young lady who was wearing a pink sweatsuit.  She looked familiar.  Later, I learned that she was Brandy's opponent.

Barry was there early also with Eric, who had won his prelim match previously.  Eric was going to face an opponent in the semi-finals.  Eric's fight was the eighth one of the evening, and Brandy's fight took place after his.

A couple of rounds before, Alan held the pads for Brandy.  I asked if he was going to be okay doing that since his hand is still on the mend.  "I might start off with the pads, and have you finish up with them," he told me.  In the end, Alan held the pads the entire time, catching Brandy on the right side of her face a few times.  "Keep your hands up," I said.  Alan had her doing hooks.  "If you hit with those hooks, you'll knock her out," Alan said. 

The picture above is another taken during the time Alan was warming up Brandy.  The guy in the shot is Bill, who is the boxing coach at Hamlin.  "Meg's got several women down there to spar with," Bill told me.  Meg is the woman I fought and lost to three times.  He also told me that there's a woman who's a plus-size model sparring down at his gym.  "You should come down there and get some sparring in," Bill said.  I need to go, because I need the practice and the exercise.  I told Bill that I would try to make it down to his gym soon.

Percy was working the glove table, as usual.  He made jokes with both Brandy and Alan when they went to have her wraps checked.  Alan picked up a pair of gloves.  "If you pick up some gloves again, you and I are going to get into it," Percy said.  Alan said, "I got Hillari here for backup."  "Oops, I forgot," Percy said, laughing.  Brandy couldn't use her own headgear because it wasn't regulation.  Fortunately, other headgear was available.  Alan and I tucked her hair underneath the headgear. 

Eric hung in there with his opponent, but the hand of the other guy - Javier from Rumi Maki Gym -was raised in victory.  No sooner than Eric came out of the ring, Alan, Brandy, and myself walked up to the ring.  Dr. Dave, the referee, came over to our corner and gave Brandy a list of instructions.  Rita was in the other corner with Vanessa, who fought out of DLG. 

It was all action from the ringing of the first bell.  Basically, Brandy never let up on Vanessa.  But that's not to say that Vanessa was just taking the punches.  She was firing back.  Vanessa would back Brandy up on the ropes; Brandy would rally back and set loose a series of punches on her.  Brandy caught Vanessa with a straight jab to her face.  Vanessa had a grimace on her face, and took a moment to answer Brandy's punch.  Every time it looked like Vanessa was getting the best of the situation, Brandy would push herself to keep swinging. 

Alan was yelling, "Stay on her!" each time Brandy would overwhelm Vanessa with punches.  I was going to be quiet, like I usually am when I work someone's corner.  But after awhile, I was yelling, "Go! Go! Go!" The crowd was really into their match.  They were clapping and cheering, and a big roar would go up at the end of each round. Nick later told us that the crowd was on the edge of their seats.  "The people sitting near her dad and I were cheering Brandy on.  They were really surprised to learn that was her first fight," he said.

Before the beginning of the third round, Alan told Brandy, "This is your fucking fight!  You can do this!"  Later, Brandy said she was surprised at Alan cursing in the corner.  I've heard him say similar stuff to Professor, Kenny, Carlos, John, and myself in-between rounds of fights.  Both Brandy and Vanessa were tired in the third round, but that did not stop either of them from continuing to throw punches.  Brandy showed a lot of heart as she kept advancing towards Vanessa.  At one point, she had Vanessa in the corner and was pounding on her.  The crowd was going wild.

When the fight ended, the crowd gave both women a standing ovation.  I gave Vanessa a hug when she came over to our corner.  "Great fight!" I said to her.  Rita gave a thumbs up when I looked in her direction, and I waved to her.  I also waved to Alan R. who was judging from the other side of the ring.  The fight was close.  The winner was Vanessa.

Brandy had no hard feelings.  But she was amazed at the damage she took.  There was a scratch on her shoulder, probably from Vanessa's glove rubbing across it.  Brandy also slipped and fell during the second round, so there were bruises on her other arm.  Under her chin was a bruise, and her bottom lip suffered damaged too. 

 Johnny the promoter shook Alan's hand and declared, "That was the best fight of the night."  He wasn't the only one who said that.  Most of the people who I talked to and who congratulated Brandy thought she should have won. Alan said Brandy might be declared to be the fighter of the night.  We didn't stick around to see if that came true.  Alan went home, and the rest of us went out to eat.
Nick, Brandy, Gerry (Brandy's dad), myself and Sarah went to a bar a few miles away.  It was the first time I'd had a beer in about ten years.  I'm allergic to beer (the wheat hops mess with my sinuses), but I felt the occasion called for a beer.  It had been on my mind for some time to have one, anyway.  I had a shot of whiskey, and I was amazed how smoothly it went down.  I hadn't had a shot since. . .wow, it must have been nearly thirty years ago.  I've never been that much of a drinker. 

We talked about the match, and about boxing in general.  Then we left the bar and went to a Mexican restaurant down the street for something to eat.  Brandy's father said he was a little concerned about her being in the ring, but when he saw how she was taking care of business, he felt better.  Both he and Nick were proud of Brandy's performance.  So was I.  Now I can't wait for the park district tournaments to begin this summer.  Brandy could get a lot of fights.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Before Friday's Bout

Alan had something to do at his day job, so he didn't get to the gym until after 8:00 PM.  In the meantime, Professor gave Brandy extra pointers on how to handle herself against her opponent this Friday.  He worked with her in the ring.

Neither Leon nor Emmanuel came in the gym Wednesday night.  Emmanuel had a legit excuse -- he had to work late.  I don't know what happened with Leon.  I had my camera ready to take video of their sparring session, too.  None of the other guys in the gym, including Art, Tommy and Ray, sparred. 

Jacob's back.  He's no longer taking his online classes.  It's not that he couldn't do it - Jacob's a smart guy - but it was a lot of work to master the terminology he had to know.  So he's able to train again in the gym.

Brandy sparred with Sarah for a few rounds.  I took a picture, and seeing how it didn't look right, I deleted it.  Unfortunately, I accidently deleted several other pictures and some videos.  I should have taken the camera in to the drug store to download the pictures on CD awhile ago, but I decided to wait.  Fortunately, some of the pictures made onto prior blog entries, so I'll just copy them from there.

I also sparred with Brandy.  As usual, both Sarah and I took our lumps from Brandy.  Sarah's nose was bloodied up a little, and I took a few shots in the mouth.  Brandy threw a left, and instead of slipping right to avoid it, I slipped to the left.  Her fist caught me in the chest.  That quickly taught me the importance of knowing which way to move.

Sarah, Brandy and I did a burn out on the heavy bag afterwards.  When I get tired of throwing straight punches when it's my turn on the bag, I throw hooks instead.  I sure wish I could throw hooks in the ring as good as people say I throw them onto the bag.  Ray was telling the guys, "Hillari is really throwing those hooks.  It's all in how she uses her hips."  The guys encouraged Brandy to hit the bag as hard as she could.  Indeed, they all were giving Brandy a lot of advice to use during her upcoming bout.

Alan mentioned me bringing along my chest protector on Friday to the Gloves.  "But I don't want to wear it," Brandy said.  Alan told her she may need it just in case.  I was thinking about the wild punches I saw her opponent throw on that YouTube video.  Perhaps the chest protector will help ward off the effects of some of those punches. 

Looks like my coach's license problem will be solved.  When I show up at the Gloves on Friday, Rita told me to find her and she'll take care of it.  I'm glad because I didn't want to not be able to work Brandy's corner because I didn't have the license in hand. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another Sparring Debate

There was a nice crowd in the gym on Monday: Professor, Brandy, Amy, Sarah, Emmanuel, Israel, the two Pauls (Alan's boss at his day job and the other Paul who's been in a few sessions before), Ray and Leon. 

It took me awhile to get focused and get into the workout.  A helpful government worker told me today that since I'm single and childfree, I can't expect any help in the way of resources.  If you've been reading this for awhile, you know I was laid off four years ago this month, and have been underemployed every since.  Fortunately, I was raised mostly by a woman who was a kid during the Great Depression, and I learned a little about making dollars stretch.  But stretching only goes so far before things start to fray and break.  I forced myself to tone down my sarcasm this morning while talking to the government worker.  Having worked a few decades ago in government office, I know sarcasm doesn't work with government employees, neither does screaming and yelling.  I could have gone to work this morning instead of wasting my time answering a bunch of questions that wasn't going to help me get anywhere. I had to keep my mind on the fact that I would be in the gym later in the day, and I could take out my frustrations on the equipment.

The ladies were at it again as Brandy, Sarah, and myself took turns sparring each other.  I sparred one round with Sarah, and two rounds with Brandy.  Emmanuel was watching Brandy closely.  "She's got to get in there and mix it up with Sarah," he said, and I agreed.  Then Brandy threw punches that backed Sarah up in the corner a few times.  Alan was waiting ringside with a towel, because Sarah's nose was bloodied up again. 

Ray was impressed with Brandy.  "I remember when she first came in here, and I was showing her footwork in the corner. Now she's in the Gloves, man," he was telling some of the other guys.  "I'm proud of her.  It's like I'm sending a niece off to college!"

Leon arrived in the middle of the evening.  But good natured joking around turned into an argument after Leon sparred with Emmanuel.  Leon accused Emmanuel of taking advantage in the ring and sucker punching him.  I didn't see what happened at the end of their sparring session.  Israel was holding the heavy bag for me, and I was concentrating on getting shots off.  But I heard some uproar coming out of the ring.

Alan and Ray tried to be the voices of reason.  "Come on, man, show sportsmanship!" Ray kept saying to Leon.  Emmanuel didn't really lose his cool much, but Leon was going on and on.  Roland, an 8th grader I'm acquainted with, and a friend of his came in the gym before the sparring ended, and they stuck around for the debate that followed.  Leon told Emmanuel he would be back in on Wednesday to show who's the better man in the ring.  "Hillari, are you going to bring your camera?  Good, because I want you to record it," Leon said to me.  The situation reminded me of Leon fussing with Ray a few months ago over whether or not Leon had been hit or slipped during their sparring session. Ray shook his head after Leon left.  "He always does this," he said.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Sparring

I had the TV on this morning to check the weather, and I landed on the Antennae TV channel.  I was surprised to catch a "Mr. Magoo" short.  I hadn't seen that cartoon in years.  As I was laughing at the character's antics, I thought, "I'm going to stop complaining about how nearsighted I am."  The running joke of that cartoon was that Mr. Magoo is extremely nearsighted and not aware that he badly needed glasses.  Because of his eyesight, the fellow was not aware of whom he was really around and where he was at, which at times was very dangerous.  The short I saw had Mr. Magoo thinking he was at Rutgers for a college reunion, but he was actually at a zoo. 

Speaking of eyesight, this morning Brandy said she would not wear her contacts while competing.  Alan told her that she needs to get used to not wearing them in the gym, so she can learn how to gauge the distance of her opponent.  I can see well enough without my glasses to see an opponent in front of me, as well as see the incoming punches.  But everything's still blurry, so I have to pay close attention. 

Alan sparred with Brandy for a couple of rounds.  He told her that she had to "get mean" with her opponents.  He got her several times with shots to the stomach.  She got in a few good jabs and straight rights on him.  I noticed that he was getting her with a lot of rights to her head because Brandy wasn't protecting her head enough on that side.  After their last round, Alan joked to me that he had softened her up for me.

If he did, it wasn't by much.  I took some rough jabs on my mouth a couple of times.  The second time could have easily been a knockout.  I backed up stunned and stumbling, but I managed to shake the effects off to keep going.  Brandy's hooks are very good; a right hook got me in my left temple, and my brain whirled around for a moment before I regained composure.  We sparred for three rounds.

"Do you like Saturday morning workouts?" he asked me after all the sparring was over.  "Yes, I do.  If I don't have much to do on Saturdays, I'll lay in the bed until noon or one o'clock.  Then I'll fuss at myself because I didn't get a lot done.  This helps me get out of bed," I told him. 

Brandy and I did a burn-out on the bags, but I could only do one round.  Last week, my right arm was bothering me. This week, my left arm was acting funny.  Alan, as seen in the picture above, held the bag for Brandy as she did a second round of burn-out.

Basically, we have Monday and Wednesday to practice before the Gloves this upcoming Friday.  I still don't have my coach's license.  Maybe I should have signed up online instead of renewing it in person.  But I don't think it would have made much of a difference.  I believe Alan signed up online, and he was delayed in receiving his.  But at least he got it.  Mine is floating somewhere.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Sleeping Boxer

My allergies were bugging me big time on Wednesday.  Paulette dropped me off at Walgreens, and I picked up some allergy meds that worked a little too well.  Before I went inside the apartment, I talked with Ginny, a neighbor of mine from across the street.  "Hillari, you're nuts," she laughed, when I told her about the hit I had taken from Brandy on Monday.  In a more concerned tone, she told me that I  shouldn't spar on that evening.  Ginny's old enough to be my mother.  "Remember," she grinned, "I'm your elder, so you have to listen to me!" 

I dropped off to sleep when I got home, and when I woke up, it was way after the time I should have left for the gym.  I hustled down there and arrived ten minutes late.  "There she is," Alan said when I stumbled in.  "We were worried about you," Brandy said. 

I warmed up on the speed bag, and knew instantly that I was in no shape to spar Wednesday evening.  The allergy meds left me groggy, null, and void.  I wasn't focusing well.  Fortunately, Professor worked with Brandy.

Next, Sarah and Brandy sparred.  I was moving very slow, and not doing much of a workout, so I stayed close to ringside to watch. 

The still photo below is from Brandy and Sarah's sparring session.  Alan kept telling Brandy to stay on Sarah each time she got on the inside.  Brandy has to do that against her opponent next Friday, because from the clips we saw on her, Brandy's opponent is a bit aggressive. 

Alan asked Tommy again if he wanted to get in on the sparring with the girls.  He grinned as he told Alan, "Give me five months!"  Sarah and Brandy had just finished sparring, and Tommy told Professor and Israel, "See why I don't get into the ring with the women?  They're rough!"  Alan added, "Yeah, they bang each other when they're in there." 

I called Bob again, as suggested by Alan, to see about getting my coach's license faster.  Bob told me that the licences had been given out at the time people signed up for them.  I told him that I had been told mine would be mailed before the start of the Golden Gloves.  To double check, just in case my mind had a senior moment (like it's been doing from time to time since menopause started), I looked in the place in my apartment where I usually keep my boxing licences.  It wasn't there.  Bob told me he would look into it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Taking It on the Chin

I laid in bed all day long on Sunday, missing church because I felt run down.  I didn't go to work Monday morning because I still didn't feel any better.  I laid in the bed for most of the day, got up to rant about various things on Facebook, and ate a little.  After awhile, I felt well enough to go to the gym.  But maybe I should have reconsidered.  I'll explain in a minute.

Professor brought a buddy of his named Israel to the gym with him.  Brandy came in not long afterwards, followed by Alan and his boss at his day job, Paul.  Amy and Sarah were also in attendance.  Joe, the guy whom Leon led to believe that Leon was a coach down at the gym, came in briefly.  He had his gloves, and he hit the speed bag for one round.  I overheard him asking Alan about signing up again he left.  I thought it was odd that Joe did such a brief workout.

Earlier, Brandy sent me a YouTube clip of the woman who'll be her opponent at the Gloves.  I was a bit concerned to learn that her opponent is a Muay Thai fighter.  The clip was of a bout she had out in Hoffman Estates.  Like a lot of Muay Thai, kickboxing, and MMA fighters, her punches were not very strong.  She was throwing a lot of wild punches, tiring out easily, and clinching a lot.  Her opponent knocked her down with kicks three or four times, indicating that the woman's balance may not be that great.  The woman lost that fight.  Alan saw the clip via Sarah's cell phone.  "Brandy's got to get in on her right away and dig with her punches," he said. 

Brandy and I suited up for sparring after a few rounds of loosening up by shadow boxing and bag work.  As soon as the bell rang, Brandy was on me like white on rice.  I tried to keep the action in the middle, but I got pushed back to the ropes several times.  I didn't time -- or throw -- my overhand rights correctly, and Brandy telegraphed them.  When I was inside a few times, I was able to get off a series of hooks to the body, but not for long, as Brandy danced out of the line of fire. 

I thought I was covering up well, even though I caught a few to my nose and left eye.  How wrong I was.  Brandy came in with a right.  Israel later said it was a right uppercut.  Bam!  Her fist got me on the chin.  I stepped back, thinking I would shake it off.  Instead, I fell face forward onto the canvas.  "I'm sorry!" I heard Brandy say from a distance.  "Are you okay?" Alan said from his spot ringside.  I put my hands under my head and rested on them.  "I'm fine," I said, as I closed my eyes.  "Just stay there," Alan ordered.

A moment later, Alan was helping me to my feet.  Brandy looked on in shock.  "That's how you have to fight when you're in the ring," he told her.  "That's exactly how you have to punch your opponent," I said, while trying to get my balance on shaky legs.  The round wasn't over yet, but Alan told me to come out of the ring for the rest of the evening.  I took my gear off and sat on a stool in front of my locker for a couple of rounds.  Alan kept asking me throughout the rest of the evening if I felt okay.  I wondered for a minute if the hit I took was payback for not going to church and not going to work.

Sarah suited up and got into the ring with Brandy next.  Brandy bloodied Sarah's nose up, not once but three times.  I forgot to mention that the last time they sparred, Sarah's nose was bleeding, too.  I was amazed because Sarah is much taller than both Brandy and I.  Brandy had to reach up to do that damage.  Alan was very pleased with both Brandy and Sarah's work in the ring.

Professor had Israel, Brandy, and Paul in the ring throwing around the medicine ball.  When someone missed catching it, they first had to do push ups in between.  Then Professor had them doing burpees which are much harder to do. 

We finished up doing burn outs on the heavy bags for two rounds.  Alan tried to get everybody to do a third round and everybody said, "No!"  Some of us were dead tired afterwards.

I didn't look at my face before leaving the gym, so I checked it when I got home.  Didn't notice any damage.  My bottom lip was dry, and I thought I felt a lump on it.  As soon as I touched it, my lip bled.  That may have been a delayed reaction to the punch I took earlier.  I pressed a piece of toilet paper to the cut, then sighed, as I realized I would have to order in again because there's wasn't much food in the 'fridge. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Better Than Saturday Morning Cartoons

After Alan dropped me off near my apartment this morning, I went to get breakfast because I hadn't eaten yet.  While reading the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, I saw that "Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales", a cartoon I watched on Saturday mornings in 1963 (yes, I told my age again), has finally been released on DVD.  It was a struggle to crawl out of bed early this morning, something I had no problem doing when I was a kid.  The three major networks started the cartoons on Saturday at 6:00 AM.  I was planted in front of the TV in my pajamas with a bowl of cereal in my hands until noon.  I fought with my younger sister and brother about what we were going to watch.  I usually won.  I miss those days.  I still find it outrageous that NBC now runs an extra edition of the "Today" show on Saturdays in place of cartoons. 

If we were back in the 1960s and early 1970s, I would have been whining this morning, "But I'll miss my cartoons!" while on my way to the gym.  But truthfully, I needed the extra workout as much as Brandy needed the extra practice.  Brandy and I were outside the field house doors when Mary opened up.  Mary was surprised to see me.  "I usually don't see you here today," she said.  I explained that Alan was coming in to open the gym.  He had thought about doing a workout alongside us, but then he figured in that he had to go to temple afterwards.

Brandy had gone to the Golden Gloves this past Thursday to check out the scene.  She made some very good observations about the fighters who competed.  "Some were standing there slumped down in the middle of the first round.  I knew they had already lost.  Others were waiting to get one good punch in to end the fight instead of throwing enough punches," she said.  She enjoyed her time down there that night.  Brandy discovered that there are only four women signed up in her weight class.  All she has to do is win her first fight, then the second one will the one for the championship.  Alan smiled, "We're in!  They can give us the belt now."

We were in the gym for a little over an hour.  Brandy and I sparred for three good rounds.  I was popped in the stomach a few times.  The first time I took such a hit, I went "oof!", doubled over a little, and stepped back and away.  "When somebody has that reaction after taking that type of a hit," Alan told Brandy, "stay on them."  I rushed Brandy with a mix of punches, and twice she grabbed my arms to stop me.  "That was the first time I saw you grab someone twice," Alan told her.  There was a few times when I rushed forward, and Brandy let me get too close.  "It's based on points, so you can't let someone get too many hits in.  Grab her to stop them," Alan instructed.

After the second round, Alan asked who was sighing after the bell rang.  "It was probably the old woman," I said, referring to me.  Brandy and I worked the heavy bags after sparring, then we did a burn out for two rounds.  My right arm was crying after the first round of that, but I pushed on through the second round.

Still haven't received my new coach's passbook yet.  But I'm assuming the fire I lit under the post office yesterday worked because I did receive my other mail.  Late Thursday afternoon, a postal carrier had the nerve to tell another neighbor and I that she would not deliver mail on Friday, and maybe not Saturday either.  Workmen in my apartment building are remodeling the front lobby.  Conditions aren't dangerous enough to prevent anyone from walking through the lobby.  Plus, the mailboxes have now been moved right next to the front door.  The postal carrier doesn't have to come that far into the building anymore to deliver mail.  What, was she worried about dust getting on her clothes?  I resented the fact that the postal carrier felt they could make a judgement call about whether or not to deliver property that belongs to me.  I sent an email to the post office, put in a call to them, and informed the building's management company. 

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Ladies' Night

Amy, Brandy, myself, Melinda, and Sarah were in the gym Wednesday evening.  Outside of Alan, the only other guys were Igor (who left early as usual) and Tommy. 

A woman who planned to sign up for the Spring session in April was at the front desk when I came in.  Gilberto told me that he had showed her the gym the day before, probably when Barry and the youths were there.  She took another look and stayed around awhile to observe what went on.  Brandy and I gave her information about the class. I emphasized that sparring was an option, not a requirement.  I make a point of doing that especially when women come in, because most of them usually say they do not want to engage in contact.  She said she was only interested in the workout. Hopefully, she'll return in a few weeks. 

Alan sparred with Brandy for three rounds, and the coach was up to his usual tricks.  He backed her against the ropes and I called out to her, "Hold him!" so Brandy could slow down his momentum.  It's not easy, as Alan is taller (as are most of the men in the gym) than all of the women, and he has a longer reach.  He caught her with something, and one of her contacts fell out.  "Can you see without them?" I asked, and she shook her head no. 

I sparred with Brandy, Sarah, and Melinda for a total of five rounds.  I hadn't sparred for that many rounds in a long time.  The last time was with Keith, and it's been a few years since he was attending the gym on a regular basis.  Melinda said that she doesn't block shots to her body well, but I didn't get many in.  She would leap away most times when I tried to get them in.  Sarah and I went light for the most part.

My last round with Brandy was the third one we had together that night.  Alan kept admonishing her to keep her hands up and to throw her punches fully out and with force.  I threw a right hook that connected hard.  I could hear Tommy going, "Whoa!"  Brandy answered my hook with several hard straight punches and hooks.  "Now you're fighting back!" Alan told her.  Then the round turned into a mini war that lasted practically up until the last bell rang.  I got backed up into the ropes by a barrage of punches from Brandy.  After overcoming being overwhelmed for a moment, I came back with another series of hard hooks and an overhand right that got another surprised reaction out of Tommy.  Brandy kept coming forward with a never-ending flurry of straight punches.  The more I spar with Brandy, the more I feel confident that she will effectively take on her opponents at the Golden Gloves.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Mostly Women, All The Time

It was just Brandy, Amy, myself, Tommy, and of course, Alan, in the gym last night.  A guy named Joe who knows Leon came in briefly to check the place out.  Joe said that Leon gave him the impression that he was a coach there.  Alan and I chuckled and shook our heads.

Brandy and I sparred for four rounds.  Whenever I stepped in and put pressure on by throwing flurries of punches, Alan would intruct her, "fight back!", which she did.  Brandy has to watch out for that, because that's exactly how many of the women she will face at the Golden Gloves will operate. 

I had to check myself for throwing too many right hooks to the body too often.  Brandy saw those punches coming, and nine times out of ten, she quickly avoided them.  I put too much energy into throwing those hooks, and I would turn myself around and get off balance.  I do that too much while throwing straight rights, as well.  Then I'm open, and it's easy for someone to step in, pop me, and step back out.

When I got home later, I noticed the same spots that Brandy usually catches me -- the sides and the ribs -- were hurting again.  They still feel that way today.  I groaned as I poured myself a cup of cider in the Pastor's office this morning.  I don't feel the effects of the punch she landed dead in the middle of my torso -- yet.  That was a good solid punch.  If she catches her opponents with that one, they will have no choice but to back up.  If Brandy really times that punch right, they'll be on one knee on the canvas.  I didn't go down, but I did fold over for a minute.

Brandy is now at her exact weight for the Golden Gloves.  She did admit to eating several donuts and some chocolate earlier in the day.  Donuts and sweet rolls were my breakfast of choice back in the day.  I often wish I could go back to that.  Alan suggested that she not eat that stuff.  "I had a Shamrock Shake during lunch," I confessed.  "Well, you're not trying to make weight for the Gloves," he said.  "But you should yell at me anyway for having a shake because of my diabetes," I said.  Alan gave me a look.  "Yeah, you have to watch out for that," he said. 

Alan brought up the conversation about me applying for a coach's job again last night.  I'll have to craft a good cover letter to plead my case to the Chicago Park District, as well as to private boxing gyms in the area. That would be a great job for me, even if it was only part-time.  I've been trying to figure out a way to make money in boxing for awhile.  Of course, I couldn't do it via being a fighter; I often wish I started boxing when I was sixteen, as opposed to being darn near 40 years old.  But there are other positions to be had in boxing, and coaching is one of them.  Running a web site about it is another, which is another angle I've been pursuing.

Some who read this blog have wondered, "You're always mentioning the church you attend/work at and the fact that the pastor's not exactly a fan of boxing. . .who is he and what does he look like?"  Earlier today, I tried to sneak and take a photo of Pastor Bolander, but he slipped out of the way.  Needless to say, that picture didn't look right.  "I don't want to take any pictures until I've lost some pounds," he said.  "Pastor, you sound just like some women who say they want to lose weight before they'll join a gym," I laughed.  "Amen, sister!" he chuckled (and he made sure I deleted that picture, LOL).  But he did tell me that I could use a Christmas portrait of him, his wife Virginia, and their bundle of energy, Isaac (otherwise known as Bam Bam), on the blog.