Friday, April 27, 2012

More Lessons from Art and Andre


Jake and Andre Two (in the photo above) sparred again on Wednesday, but Alan suggested that they not repeat the war they had on Monday.  They worked together for three rounds. 


Andre and I sparred for three rounds.  I may have gotten a couple of punches in, but that was it.  He slipped half of what I put out there, and danced away from the other half.


Alan told me the same thing he's told me when I sparred with Oscar: "He's your height, so get him!"  But being almost the same height doesn't mean much when one of us is younger and faster, and that person isn't me. 


Andre and I worked the pads later, which further pointed out how slow my reflexes are these days.  But I like working the pads with Andre.  Pads is something I don't get to do often, either holding them or being the person throwing the punches, so I appreciate it when I do. 


Art (in the photo above) is more martial arts orientated.  "I don't know how these guys throw punches with the gloves on.  I can't use those," he told me.  He sometimes wears MMA gloves, which are not padded like boxing gloves are.  Otherwise, he doesn't wear any protection on his hands.  Art feels his punches don't feel effective when he's wearing boxing gloves.  He showed me some self-defense moves which involved using one's hands like hammers, as well as throwing elbows like punches.  I really liked the elbow moves. 

He noticed that I have a kubotan, which is another of those non-lethal self-defense weapons that I like.  Art showed me some other ways of using it against an attacker, including using it like a hammer to the face and eyes. 


No word yet about the boxing coach job at Simons Park.  I've been thinking about it every day, and the longer the wait about what's up, the more concerned I become. 

Gina and Elena came in again, but they plan to never spar.    Between me talking about the injuries and knockouts I've seen happen during sparring sessions, and them watching the sparring that has gone on so far since they've been in the gym. . . .well, that's not something they want to do.  Alan's usually good about convincing most of the women who come to the gym to try it, but Gina and Elena don't want to take it that far, which is fine.  They'll get a good workout, regardless.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Jacob and Andre's War


A lot of women in the gym prompted Alan to repeat again, "This place looks like Curves!"  But eventually, the guys came trickling in.  A new guy, who I will refer to as Andre Two (there's already another Andre in the gym), was introduced to me by Alan when I first walked in. 


Sparring first took place between Jacob and myself.  Afterwards, Alan said, "Jake covers up very well." It was very hard for me to get uppercuts in on him.  I opted for hooks to the side instead.  When the second round came in, Jacob got in a lot of pops to my face, because my hands were down, and I was unfocused. 


In between the first and second rounds that Jacob sparred with Andre, he told me, "He keeps switching on me."  I watched closely during the next round, and sure enough, Andre kept changing in between southpaw and regular stances.  Andre would tell me, "That's how I keep my face pretty by changing my stance.  Now you know my secret!"  Both of us fell out laughing. 


Andre Two told Alan he trained at Evanston Boxing Gym.  He also told Alan, "I've never really sparred."  But yet he had his own headgear and mouthpiece when he stepped into the ring with Jacob.  The first couple of rounds went easy enough.  Andre Two had his hands down too often, and Jacob caught him in the middle of the face with punches.  Near the end of round three, Andre Two threw some heavy power punches.  Jacob answered with strong hits of his own, one of which knocked Andre Two's headgear clean off.


Andre Two indicated that he wanted to go another round.  I put his headgear back on, and sent him back out onto the canvas as the bell rang.  Round four was a battle.  Andre Two had Jacob up against the ropes, banging punches off of his head.  Jacob fired back with tough shots that knocked Andre Two's headgear off a second and a third time, as well.  After the third time, I put one of the gym's headgear on Andre Two, in the hopes that it would stay on.  The action continued, even more intense than before.  Both men were taking some hard, hard punches to their heads.  Practically the whole gym stopped to see what would happen next.


Jacob's upper arms were covered with red after the sparring was done.  It wasn't blood; Alan and Jacob figured it had either rubbed off from Andre Two's headgear, or it was rope burn.


I heard Paul ask Alan, "You want a piece of me?"  Alan replied, "Come on man.  I'm sixty years old," but he put the gloves on.  Those two were wrestling against the ropes all around the ring.  Andre, myself, and even Amy kept telling them, "Break!"  They stayed clinched up so long at one point that Andre commented, "They don't want to break!"  Paul did catch Alan with some well timed punches to his head.  But then Alan popped Paul in the mid-section.  Paul bent over while Alan gloated, " See, youngblood?" 

Art has been very helpful in showing me technique.  He showed me how to catch punches, and tried to get me not to anticipate them coming in, thus jumping the gun early in responding to them.

Over the past weekend, I got a notice from Classmates, an application that's found via Facebook.  They let me know that the yearbook from my senior year at Whitney Young was online.  Out of curiosity, I looked up the year my mother graduated from Marshall High School (1951), but that yearbook was not available.  In the yearbook from the same school two years later, I found a picture of one of my aunts, taken while she was in a cooking class.

Then I remembered Alan telling me that he graduated from high school in 1970.  I found his senior year picture, and I called him.  Alan had a mustache, and he was wearing a suit, grinning as if to say, "I know I look good today!"  He told me to look for his wife's picture, too; they had attended the same school.  She was pretty with long hair.  Their yearbook was 1968 was online, too.  If I placed a picture of Alan's son next to Alan's picture from that yearbook, people would swear they were twins.

While driving me home, Alan called his wife on his cell phone.  "Hillari, I want you to whip Alan's ass," she said.  "Why?" I asked, laughing.  "The man has just been getting on my nerves lately.  Don't even punch him, just shoot him," she said.  His wife said that she planned to come down to the gym again and hang out.  "I've been trying to get at him, but I can't, so I'd like to see someone else get him in the ring," she said.  "They do, you just don't see it when it happens," Alan grinned.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Andre Works the Punch Mitts


I stood at the front entrance of the field house, waiting for Alan to arrive.  I had already spotted Igor standing down the hall at the boxing gym door, and I decided not to walk down there until the coach came in.  Jacob (seen on the right in the above picture), Andre (who's on the left in the picture), and Professor came in while I was standing there.  Several minutes passed, and Jacob came back down the hall from the gym to tell me that Alan had entered through the back door. 

Amy was the only other woman in the gym besides me; I'm guessing her sister Sarah had to work late or take care of something involving Sarah's daughter.  I had a feeling that neither Helen, Melinda, or Kelly would come in that evening, and I was right.  When it came time to spar, I was paired with Jacob.

As Alan put the gloves on me, he showed me his finger, which is still healing from surgery he had awhile ago.  There was what looked like an open wound on his finger.  "It's taking so long to heal," Alan said.  I meant to advise him to cover that with a bandage.  Men are so funny about medical stuff. . .it's like pulling teeth to get them to go to the doctor in the first place, then another challenge to get them to look after themselves.  I still remember my father cussing about a doctor having told him to stop smoking cigars, to cut down on the alcohol, and to eat right.  Dad couldn't see that the doctor was giving him advice to make his life longer.

I caught Jacob in the face with a straight punch - a right, I believe - and he backed up.  "Nice," he said.  I had him backed into corners a few times, while Alan said, "Dig to the body!" This time, my hooks didn't land on Jacob's hips.  But it didn't seem like the few uppercuts I managed to get in were strong enough.  After we sparred for three rounds, I got on the body snatcher bag to practice uppercuts.

Ray came in and looked at my hair.  "I see you need to come down to the shop," he said.  "I have to carve out some time to get there," I said, rubbing my hair.  "I see you haven't been cheating on me," Ray grinned, referring to the fact that my hair hadn't been cut in awhile.  "I wouldn't do that," I chuckled.

Andre worked with me on the punch mitts.  He showed me how to roll with incoming hooks to the body, then come back with inside punches.  Andre also had me practice on tapping down incoming jabs and rights.  My problem is that I anticipate punches and react too soon.  It's one of many bad habits I have in boxing that I've been trying to correct for the longest.  While sparring with Jacob, I noticed that I was throwing my jab incorrectly.  "I do it right on the bags and in the mirrors, but do it wrong when I get into the ring," I told Alan.  "I'll have to watch you on the bags to see what you do with the jab.  But you do throw it correctly early on in sparring, but then revert back to the other way," he said.


We learned that Valdez is a teacher in an alternative high school on the west side of the city.  Valdez shook his head about frequent disrespect he's had to deal with from the students.  It sounded like a rough environment.  "We have to pat down the kids every day when they arrive at school," he told us.  Some of the kids have threatened to jump him.  Valdez is tall and built like a football player.  When I expressed disbelief that some kids would be foolish enough to challenge him, he said, "Those kids don't care about that, and some of them who do the talking are skinny."  Professor remarked, "It's usually the skinniest kids making threats."  "And some are also the shortest ones, too," I said.  "Most of the kids at the school are gang-affiliated," Valdez said.  "Gang bangers are cowards outside of the gang.  Catch one of them alone, and they're talking about, 'Hey man, come on, it's cool, be cool,'", Professor pointed out, and he was right.  In my youth, I had rolled up on a few gang members, who while with their crew, had talked trash either to myself, my youngest sister, or my oldest niece, or all three.  My, my, how quiet they were when it just myself and them alone in the park, or on a street corner, or in an alley.

Alan was curious about what was an alternative school.  "It's for kids who have been kicked out of the regular public schools for a variety of things.  It's the last chance for them to finish their education in a classroom.  If they do something else, and we kick them out, that's it," Valdez explained.  When I was going to school, my mother felt that kids weren't given enough physical education classes.  I only had gym two or three times a week when I was in grade school, but I had gym classes every day in high school.  "Kids were too tired to go out and get in trouble after school when I was going because we were being worked out in gym class," Ma said. 


Maybe if boxing was offered as a gym activity in school, that would cut down on some of the aggression that most kids and teens seem to have nowadays.  But I could see some parents or school board members raising sand about how "violent" boxing is.  Yet football is still promoted heavily in schools, and soccer and basketball have their tense physical moments as well.  Go figure.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No Sparring and Odd Eating


Valdez and Andre, who had come in the gym the week before to check it out, returned on Monday.  They had signed up and they were ready to go.  The gym door didn't open until later, because Alan was late.  He talked to Caroline over the phone to convince her to open the door for those of us who were already there.

Earlier in the day, Alan had called me to at church to say he would be late.  I was in the Pastor's office when the phone rang.  Pastor answered, then handed the receiver to me, saying, "It's for you."  When I got on the line, Alan said, "Was that the pastor?  I'm surprised he didn't witness to me!"  I got a good laugh out of that.  After we ended the call, I told Pastor Roger what Alan said.  "I was nice to him.  That's being a witness," Pastor smiled. 

Before Alan arrived, I couldn't make my mind up whether or not I would spar or not.  I've been a little stiff lately, and sore in the usual spots.  But it wasn't enough to rule out sparring all together.  After the coach got there, I decided to spar, but alas, there was no one available to spar.  Sarah decided not to step in the ring, and mostly everyone else was brand new or not enough of a somewhat even match for me.  Most coaches usually make an attempt to match up people for sparring as they would match people up for regular bouts.  Once in awhile, some exceptions are made.  But if there are too many difference between sparring partners in weight, height, experience or age, it's usually better to be safe than sorry.

I have another new friend on Facebook; his name is Phil, and he was one of the two guys who had a Master's bout during the Golden Gloves finals this past Saturday.  He sent me an email detailing how the Golden Gloves came to include the Masters' Division in this year's competition.  It got me to thinking about how I might be able to compete in that division during next year's competition.  My only stumbling block would be getting approval from my doctor to participate.  I should go to the doctor armed with a copy of the book The Diabetic Athlete.  I hear that's a good book that makes an arguement that people should not stop competing in sports just because they've been diagnosed with diabetes. 

Stephanie, one of the volunteers at church who helps in the food pantry, told me that I look like I had lost some weight.  "I'm trying to," I told her.  I've been eating a lot lately, but not going to restaurants much.  I've been limiting myself to having one meal out a day (usually lunch), and eating the other two meals and any snacks at home.  Recently, I went through another period of time when I just don't feel like eating much at all.  It usually lasts for several days.  I couldn't tell you what brings it on.  I'll eat very little for breakfast, skip lunch, nibble on something late in the afternoon, then eat very little or nothing for dinner. 

When that quasi-fast ends, I either go back to eating normally -- which for me is eating about four small meals a day to keep the blood sugar regulated -- or I'm eating all the time, which is what has been happening recently.  Luckily, unlike other places I've worked in the past, food is not on constant display at church.  I can go in the food pantry sometimes or in the refrigerator to get a little snack.  I'm surprised a lot more people don't get carried out on stretchers from most offices because of the overload of leftover bagels and sweet rolls in conference rooms, cakes being brought in to celebrate employees' birthdays, and overflowing candy dishes in every cubicle. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Finals Night at the High School


Why is there a picture of Tony Danza (of "Taxi" and "Who's The Boss" fame) here?  In addition to titles on resume such as actor and teacher, Mr. Danza was once a professional boxer.  He also hosted a season of the sports competition show, "The Contender".

On the way home from buying frozen dinners at the grocery store -- anything to keep from cooking -- I remembered that I planned to attend the last night of the Golden Gloves tournament.  When I arrived, Barry and his wife Sari called to me.  They had their daughter, Laila, with them.  Nate Sr. and his son, Nate Jr. were sitting in front of us.  Further down in the bleachers, I noticed Johnny -- the guy who retired from the boxing coach position at Simons Park, the one I recently interviewed for -- sitting down.  Maybe that's a sign.

There were three boxers who received trophies due to walkovers -- their opponents didn't show up for whatever reason.  Sari wondered why would someone wouldn't show up to fight.  "This happens all the time.  Sometimes there's a legitimate reason, and sometimes there isn't," I explained. 

The decision giving Leonard Brady of Garfield Park a win over Matt Mannina of Leydon/Veteran's Park (senior novice 156 lbs.) was met with loud boos by the audience.  Mannina did get Brady with a low blow that the referee didn't comment on, but other than that, Mannina's punches were legal and on point.  Brady was stunned with an uppercut and body shot combination.  Mannina was the more aggressive person throughout most of that bout, but the judges saw it Brady's way.

Shelley Kahles of FLO MMA and Jaime Jacobson of Fist Law (female senior novice 139 lbs.) had a brawl for three rounds.  Jacobson was the victor in what must have been a very close decision. 


I sat up and took notice when a Masters' bout took place between Ralph Vara of Chicago Boxing Club and Phil Ranstrom of Degerberg Academy.  That was one of a couple of Masters' bouts that was scheduled during the finals.  I saw the list a few days ago at the gym.  I complained, "If I had known there were Masters' fights taking place at the Gloves, I would have got in on it!"  Alan said, "They would have made you take a bunch of medical tests before you could sign up."  Then realization set in that even if I could have found an opponent, diabetes and high blood pressure would have kept me out of the Gloves.  It was a nice dream, though.  Back to the Vara/Ranstrom match. . . Vara, 52 years old, won over 55-year-old Ranstrom.

The fight I was eager to see was between Vanessa Delgardo of Chicago Boxing Club and Hannah Easter of Go-Time Boxing (senior novice 132 lbs.).  She had beat Brandy during the prelims.  Delgardo came out of the corner, rushing at her opponent, but Easter was ready for her.  Easter punched in-between Delgardo's wilder punches.  Delgardo got backed into the corner a few times, and was pounded by Easter.  The referee gave Delgardo a couple of eight counts, which is never good during a fight.  In the end, Delgardo lost the championship.

I wasn't crazy about the last fight of the evening between Shawn Simpson of Chicago Fight Club and Christian Williams of Boxing 4 Boxers (open 114 lbs.).  Simpson was awarded the Boxer of the Tournament award, but Simpson's behavior during that fight was out-of-pocket.  Simpson pushed Williams to the canvas when they were in the corner.  The referee ruled it a slip.  Several spectators near me grumbled that Simpson should have been penalized, and I agreed.  Simpson also shoved Williams down during another point in the fight.  When Simpson won, he hugged Williams, who did not return the gesture.  Sportsmanship should be followed, but in that moment, I couldn't blame Williams, who looked very disgusted. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Matthieu Spars With Me


Another quiet night at the gym.  Unfortunately, as per usual, a lot of the new people were missing.  Kelly, a massage therapist, came in, however.  I think that was the first time I'd seen her there.  She wasn't sure if she could bring her son inside the boxing gym.  I saw the boy briefly; she sent him to the basketball gym.  Alan told her it would be all right to bring her child in.  I appreciated Kelly asking in advance.  Most of the parents who had attended the gym in the past assumed it was okay to just have their kids there.  They'd ask if it was okay after they'd already brought their kids there numerous times.

Mary really doesn't want kids in the gym when the adults are there.  I agree with her on that to an extent.  If some one's kid is going to be there once in awhile, fine.  Parents deal with babysitting issues, and sometimes, schedules don't work out.  But when it becomes a habit, that may become an issue, especially in terms of safety.  An older kid may stay in one spot if directed to do so, but a toddler probably won't.  There are people moving around, heavy bags swinging, plus, loose hand weights around.  It wouldn't do for a kid to get hurt. 

I have a softer stance towards kids in the gym during the adults' time than I used to in the past.  If you've been reading this blog for the past seven years, you may be familiar with my rants against kids hanging around the gym.  Kids eight years and older do have an opportunity to train on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Barry.  If they are able to do that, they should.  I've helped out on occasion on those afternoons when it's the kids' turn in the gym, and it's been pleasant.  I've found there is something good about interacting with kids in boxing that I've not always found interacting with kids elsewhere, not even at church. 


Alan wondered out loud, "Who are we gonna get to spar with you, Hillari?"  Amy had recently told Alan, "I'm not going to spar with Hillari!"  Kelly just started last night, Victoria wasn't going to get in the ring, Grace was content to work the bags, and both Sarah and Melinda were absent.  Neither Art or Tommy wanted to spar.  Matthieu told me, "If you don't find anyone else, I'll go a round with you."

I told Matthieu we would go light, so he didn't get his mouthpiece.  I was also conscious of the fact that his ankle is still on the mend.  Matthieu has another appointment with the doctor before he can be cleared for activity.  Yet, there he was, in the ring with me.  Alan kept telling me to work my way in with jab, then dig to the sides, like he always does.  Matthieu put his long arms to good use, covering up so I couldn't get many shots to his torso.  Trying to reach his head?  Forget it.  Matthieu is over six feet tall.


We actually went two rounds.  I kept backing Matthieu up against the ropes, but he would grab my arms before I get too many flurries in. 


After the second round, Matthieu was done.  He told me that I did get a hit on the top half of his chest, which caught him off guard.  "Your long arms are an advantage.  All you have to do with someone short like me is to keep putting the jab out there so that they can't get in," I told him. 


I was grateful to Alan that he took pictures of Matthieu and I in the ring.  I often forget to ask him or someone else to snap photos or videotape when I spar.

A guy was in earlier, who said he was in the finals of the Golden Gloves this week.  He normally trains at the Evanston Boxing Club, and he knows JJ, who trains there sometimes.  "I just want another place to come and work out," he said, so I explained to him how the gym runs before Alan came in.  He plans to sign up and return next week. 

Victoria surprised Art and I when she revealed that she's 27 years old, and that she has an eight year old daughter.  Victoria looks like she just turned eighteen.  Alan was saying that she should shadow box in the mirrors to check her form and make sure she's throwing punches correctly.  "I don't do mirrors.  When I'm at home looking into mirrors, I see all the stuff I have to do around the house, like picking up my daughter's toys," she smile.  Sometimes, I'm not crazy about shadow boxing in the mirrors either, but for a different reason.  Last night, I kept noticing my protruding belly.  "Mighty funny I have a beer belly, but I haven't drank beer regularly for ten years," I grumbled to myself.  My legs were looking a little ashy, despite the fact that I had put lotion on them earlier.  The gray in my hair seemed to have increased, which is another sign that I need to go to Ray soon and let him cut it.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Interviewing and Uppercuts


This morning, I went downtown to the Chicago Park District's main office to interview for the boxing coach position at Simons Park.  I was surprised to find the offices inside the building where the Time-Life office used to be.  Way back in the mid-1980's, I was a temp sent on an assignment at the Time-Life.  It wasn't the most exciting assignment; I spent eight hours a day typing addresses on postcards.  Most of the regular employers and the boss there didn't hide their contempt for the temps.  I remember one temp ended the assignment early because she'd had enough of the boss' attitude.  I suffered through the rest of it because I couldn't afford to bail out.

My interview was with two people -- a pleasant woman named Esther, and Jimmy, who's the head of the park district's boxing program.  I hadn't seen Jimmy in a long time.  It was a short interview, but packed with a lot of questions that pertained to coaching a boxing program.  I thought I came across well, but I was aware that I was probably up against some good competition from other applicants.  Just before I went into the interview, I saw a neighbor of mine who works as an attendant with the park district.  "Getting one of those type jobs is hard because they require a lot, including having a degree," he told me. "A better way to get into the park district is to apply for a seasonal attendant job.  That way, you're already in, and you can apply from within for other positions as they come up."  I told him that I would keep that in mind.  It'll probably be several days before I hear the verdict about whether I got the job or not, so for now, it's a waiting game.


At the gym later on, a couple of cousins came in to check out the place.  Alan and I gave the women information about how the gym runs.  From the way they were talking, it didn't sound like they were interested in sparring, but they would be happy to do the workout. 

Both Melinda and I had our chance to spar with Jacob.  I noticed that Melinda loves throwing her jab, but she holds her right back, letting it loose mainly to throw hooks.  Jacob worked on defense, allowing Melinda to back him up against the ropes and into the corners.

When I got in, Art asked, "Am I going to see the uppercut?"  He had showed me how to slip the jab and then come back up with an uppercut the last time we were in the gym.  I had been going over in my mind what Art had showed me ever since last week.  However, executing the movement was another story.  Jacob is very good at protecting his torso, and he has long arms.  When I couldn't get the uppercuts in, I tried hooks.  But my hooks were hitting his hips more than they were his sides.  Afterwards, Art gave me some more good pointers about how to get the punches in.  "If you focus on working on one punch, getting that one in, then it'll get easier to execute over time," he said.

Alan had a few of us doing burn outs on the bag.  Jacob was on one bag with a new guy who's name I didn't catch.  Alan noted that the new guy, who's over 6 feet tall and is about 280 pounds, would be a good match up for Leon.  Melinda was on the red bag with Sarah.  When that round was over, Max and I got on the red bag for one round.


The finals for the Chicago Golden Gloves are later this week.  I would like to see if the woman who won over Brandy will win the belt in her category, as well as view some other fights.  Due to the fact that my new apartment still needs to be put in order -- more books need to be given away/thrown out because there is simply no room -- I may not be able to go all three nights.  But I plan to go at least one night to check things out. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

A Coach's Job


The picture above was taken a short time after Jake and I sparred.  Take a good look at the photo.  See how much taller he is than I?  I came in low like I usually do when my sparring partner towers over me, and ran into a right that Jake threw.  Stunned, I stepped back.  "Are you okay?" Jake asked.  "I'm fine," I said, as I shook my head to make it clear.  "That was a good one!"

Afterwards, Jake said, "I thought you were going to duck as I threw that punch, but you came right in."  "Hillari always goes in with her head down," Alan commented, and he was right.  Too many times, I don't see the punches coming at me as I'm rushing in.  There are also too many times when my eyes are closed as punches come in, and I'm answering them in the dark. 

I heard Igor asking Alan about sparring.  "Here we go again," I thought to myself.  Alan suggested that he spar with me.  "I'd be glad to," I said, a little too gleefully.  But I knew that Igor wasn't going to spar with me or anyone else Wednesday evening.  Later, Igor asked Alan about entering the Golden Gloves.  I rolled my eyes.  The finals are happening next week, so Igor's a little late inquiring about signing up.  Alan pointed out that Igor was too old to compete in the Gloves; the Chicago version doesn't include a Masters' Boxing division.  That's something that both myself and Steve, the former coach, had told Igor a thousand and one times in the past. 

Matthieu came in with a friend of his named Steve.  Matthieu's ankle is better, but he hasn't been cleared yet for exercise by his doctor.  He kept his workout short, and so did Steve.  But before Steve left, I did show him some basic punches and moves. 

Paul, Alan's boss, impressed me by how he used the wheel, an exercise device that helps flatten the stomach.  Paul stretched out on the canvas, pushing the wheel in front of him, but when he pulled the wheel back, he got all the way up on his feet.  I have a wheel at home, but it's rare that I use it. Alan uses the wheel each time he's in the gym, but he couldn't raise back up on his feet.  I have to admit it appears that one has to have strong back muscles to pull that off. 

Earlier today, I was returning home from the grocery store, when I saw Barry at the end of the block.  He was out with the truck, on duty with Streets and Sanitation.  "I've got an interview with the park district next week for a boxing coach's job at Simons Park," I announced to him.  "That's great!  If you get that job, you and I will be partners in crime!" Barry smiled.

I told Alan about it the night before.  "Good!  Now if you get that job, you can't walk in that gym and be intimidated," he told me.  "I know how to yell.  You know if I know how to sing, I know how to scream," I laughed, using a phrase that my mother used to say.  "You have to tell people, 'there's only one boss in the gym, and that's me'", Alan said.  I asked Alan what the interview process for him was like when he became a boxing coach over thirty years ago.  "I had been training at the gym for awhile.  The coach who was there left to do something else.  I was asked if I wanted the job, and I said yeah.  It was different back then.  I didn't have to go through a background check," he told me. 


I told Paulette about the upcoming interview earlier on Wednesday.  "Where is that gym located?"  She asked.  "It's near Humboldt Park," I answered.  She gasped.  "I'd like for you to get the job, but that's a rough side of town!" Paulette exclaimed.  Aaron, who was standing in my office told her, "What are you worried about?  She'll knock somebody out if they try something!"

I grew up in some rough areas on west side of Chicago (Rockwell Gardens, Garfield Park, K-Town, South Austin, South Lawndale), so I can handle Humboldt Park.  It won't be a hassle to get there on public transportation.  Location aside, it would be great to to get that job.  On my side, I've been boxing for eleven years (one at Degerberg Martial Arts Academy, ten at Loyola Park). I've been an official volunteer with the boxing program at Loyola Park for six years, first acting as an assistant coach to Steve, and now Alan.  I have four amateur fights under my belt, and I've worked fighter's corners at park district bouts, show fights, and at the Golden Gloves.  I have a USA Boxing Level 1 coach's license. 

But as I began to daydream about how I would run a gym, I had to remind myself to be prepared for stray punches that may come up during the interview.  Boxing is still predominately a boys' club, despite the fact that there are women who fight, judge matches, act as referees, and manage/promote fighters, and yes, do coaching.  I'll have to make a strong case that a 5 foot 1 woman can be in a gym that will probably be mostly populated with males and command respect on top of being able to teach boxing techniques. 

There's also the fact that my participation in boxing will do a shift.  I remember when I first started assisting Steve in the gym.  It was the first day of the Winter session.  There were several guys in the gym, including J.J., who were training for the Golden Gloves.  Steve was working hard to get them ready, but a lot of new people had come in.  He asked me to show them technique, so he could focus on the contenders.  At the end of the evening, I said, "I was so busy that I didn't get a workout in."  "That's one of the downsides of being a coach.  There's a lot of times when you won't get to do that," he told me.  I never forgot that.  That means I'll have to work harder to carve out other times to exercise.

Competing will be out for me as well, which I know will make a lot of people happy, like my stepmother, and most of the people at church, for example.  Sparring may still happen; Steve sparred occasionally, and Alan spars often. 

Another adjustment if I get the position - and it's a major one - is that I won't be at Loyola Park's boxing gym anymore.  That will be the hardest change to deal with since I've been there for so long.  But I'll have to cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Spring Sparring


There were a lot of new names on the roster list, but only three actually came in on the first day of the Spring session:  Patrick and Victoria, who are new, and Helen, who returned to gym after having not been there for several sessions.

After Alan gave the new people a lesson, it was time for sparring.  Paul and Alan were up first; they had been joking about sparring long before they got to the gym.  "Paul said he wanted a piece of me," Alan smiled.  Paul knows how to clinch very well.  I kept calling out, "Break!"  Paul and Alan got into one clinch where they exchanged hooks to the body while they were tangled up. 

Melinda came in.  "I've forgotten everything," she said, once her and I got into the ring.  Alan kept telling me to "jab your way in!" but when I got in, Melinda would let go with bombs.  It was very hard to get very close to get any real significant shots in.  I did get in an overhand right once, and a straight right another time.  Melinda cracked me in my right eye twice.  Another jab of hers landed on my right cheek.  She was blocking most of what I threw, and doing it very well. 


My neck has been stiff for awhile; I took a crack from Melinda that didn't make that any better.  While switching food items from the refrigerator in my old apartment to the refrigerator in my new apartment (I've moved into a renovated apartment across the hall), I found a jar of Mineral Ice.  It's not the first time I've put something into a refrigerator only to forget about it and find it months later.  The stuff is probably still good.  But now I'm too lazy and tired to get up and go across the hall and get it.  Internet service is still hooked up for the moment in the old apartment, the bed is still in the old apartment, and I need to go to sleep once I finish this entry.  Tomorrow is another day of tasks: moving the last of my stuff into the new apartment and attempting to get laundry done.  I'm really going to need that Mineral Ice then.