Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One To Three

On Monday evening, Alan told me he talked to Jake (Jacob).  Jake said he'll return to the gym when the Fall session begins in a few weeks.  Professor, who was in the gym, smiled, "That's what's up!"  He had just been talking to Andre about Jake.

I was a little delayed in leaving my house for the gym because I was watching the Olympics.  I got home from work just in time to catch the tail end of the boxing competition.  It's unfortunate that boxing is shown early in the morning and in the afternoons during the weekdays.  I'm thinking about watching some of tomorrow's matches on the computer at work.  Over the weekend, I was able to watch a majority of the matches.  I had to agree with analyst Teddy Atlas that the current computerized scoring system is a problem.  Fortunately, that system will be gone when the Summer Olympics take place again in 2016. 

Andres was MIA last week due to work, but he was back in the gym, taking on all comers.  In the photo above, Alex and Andres mixed it up during what was another entertaining sparring session between them.  The two are a year apart in age; Alex is 19 years old and Andres is 20 years old.  Andres popped Alex several times with some hooks.  The impact looked as if Andres was throwing bricks instead of his fists.  Alex rebounded to catch Andres with some solid straight lefts and rights. 

Jason (in the black top) was iffy about stepping into the ring with Andres.  Andres got him with something -- I can't remember what punch it was -- and Jason stopped for a minute to get right before continuing.  They are both about the same height, but Andres is bigger than Jason in weight. 

Andre (in the blue jersey) was more successful in keeping Andres away and off of him.  Andres appears to be grinning in the above photo.  He's always encouraging people to hit him harder.  Andres had Andre up in the corner, but Andre threw some quick inside shots and spun out of the situation. 

I sparred with Andre, which was another exercise in frustration.  For every one punch I threw, Andre would come back with three fast ones.  Alan kept telling me to block his jab with my right, but I couldn't block most of the punches he threw.  A couple of times, Andre did give me a chance to work on offense, but then it was back to him zipping in and out, and me missing him with most of my punches. 

Alan said that anyone who signs up for a boxing class at one Chicago Park District field house can train at any Park District boxing gym during the session for which they are signed up.  That got the attention of most of us.  Jason told me that he doesn't work out elsewhere, so he might try out one of the other gyms to get an extra day of exercise in.  Bill at Hamlin has told me several times that I could come over there and get some sparring in.  I need to do that; perhaps I could spar with Meg if she's still training there.  Professor suggested that Andre go up to Seward Park on the near north side and check them out.

Later, I was telling Alan how I was ticked when I read boxing promoter Bob Arum's comments about women's boxing in the latest issue of The Ring magazine.  "Women's boxing will be laughed out of the Olympics," he said.  Really?  Three of those women boxing in the Olympics will take home medals.  It may not be Queen, Marlen, and Clarissa, who are all from the USA, but it'll be someone.  When the women get the gold, silver and bronze medals around their necks, I'd like to see if Arum will laugh then.  If the man is smart, he'll sign them all up to box professionally. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Respect The Women

A friend of mine from high school stated he wasn't going to watch the women's boxing events at this year's Olympics.  A lot of men -- and some women, as well -- don't believe female athletes competing in sports that were formerly the exclusive domain of men can bring the heat.

In the case of boxing, some don't want to see women trading blows.  "Women are delicate, women should be frilly, fighting is not ladylike," and other tired, played out statements are uttered.

There are still male coaches who like Frank, Clint Eastwood's character in the move Million Dollar Baby, who growl, "I don't train girls."  Some like Frank, eventually see the light.  I've heard male coaches, including the one I have now and the one I had before him, say that females are easier to work with because they listen better.  Females don't appear to come into boxing gyms with the ego problems that a lot of males -- regardless of their experience or lack of  it -- seem to have. 

The first boxing matches between women took place in 1720, in London, where the 2012 Olympics are being held right now.  Those women had to be rough, because they were allowed to maul, scratch, kick, and use their knees in order to get a win. 

This year's Olympics is the first time women's boxing has been included officially.  But during the 1904 Olympics held in St. Louis, women's boxing matches were included as a featured event. 

The first official women's boxing match was held in 1876 in New York City.  I could keep going on with other historical facts about women's boxing, but the point is, women's participation in the sport has been going on for awhile.  It's not going away despite the disrespect that continually is hurled at it. 

I'm concerned that if none of the American women on the boxing team come home with medals -- doesn't matter if they are gold or not -- critics will use that as justification to continue to not raise the profile of women's professional boxing, but to downgrade women's participation at the amateur level, too.  Women have fought too hard, both literally and figuratively, to be put back in a corner. 

I will be cheering on all of the female boxers from every country who's participating in this year's Olympics.  I'm especially proud of the young women from America who worked hard to get to London.  All of deserving of respect for reaching for excellence in the toughest sport in the world. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hungry For Sparring

Something is up with the phone service at home again, because I had a delay on getting some bad news:  my late dad's older sister passed away.  My stepmother went up to the funeral, and had left a voice mail offering to drive me up to it as well.  But I didn't get that message until today.  Even worse about getting that news was the fact that I probably could not have gone to the funeral.  I would probably have had to left earlier in the day, which would have meant having to leave work early -- or not go to work at all.  Unfortunately, for a lot of us, the new American Dream consists of working for way less money with no benefits.  I'm always allowed the opportunity to make up for lost time at church.  However, I'm not always able to do so, and lost time means lost wages. 

Tommy (in the red above) faced Jason in the ring.  Professor, who came in Wednesday evening, did a little coaching of both of them before they sparred. 

In this shot, Professor (at ringside, wearing black and leaning on the ropes) watches the action between Tommy and Jason. 

In between rounds, Alan gave Jason some advice as Sara (the woman in white on the left) listened in. 

Meanwhile, Professor gave Tommy some advice.  I could have sworn I heard Professor say to Tommy during the previous round, "Keep your hands up!  Don't hit Jason in his d&*%!" 

I'm not sure exactly what happened in this shot.  It looks as if Jason was covering up after taking a shot from Tommy.  They did have some good exchanges.  Near the end of their last round, Tommy had Jason against the ropes on the far side of the ring.  Alan joked, "Leave all of the hate in the ring!"

I wish I could remember to set the camera out again so Alan or someone could take pictures when I spar. I forget half of the time.  I sparred two rounds with Sara.  She's good about keeping her hands up, but she still has to learn about clinching.  I kept coming forward with punches, and Sara would back up most times instead of grabbing my arms to slow me down.  Personally, I don't like to use clinches much because I know that referees, especially during amateur matches, don't appreciate clinches.  Judges of amateur matches don't seem to care for clinches, either, so I don't make a habit of doing them.  But sometimes it is necessary to employ them. 

During the two rounds I sparred with Sara, I took it easy.  Alan said, "Okay, who's next?  Hillari's hungry for more."  I failed to come completely out of the easy mode when DJ stepped in the ring. It's really hard for me to land very many body punches on DJ.  I usually go for hooks to the head, but then she's taller than I, and it's easier for her to block those incoming punches. 

I managed to get Gene with some hooks to the head when he and I sparred.  Once again, that was not an easy task as he is taller than I.  Gene likes to clinch a lot, too.  Alan kept calling out, "Break!"  After Gene and I did one round, Alan took me out of the ring after discovering I had done four rounds in total.  Andy sparred with Gene as seen in the photo below.

I didn't catch a shot of him, but Igor was watching the sparring between Andy and Gene with a lot of interest.  Alan figured it was probably because Igor learned that Gene is Russian. 

Gene had a good idea.  "Why don't you set up a Facebook page about the boxing gym, and put all of the pictures and videos on there?" he said to me.  I don't know how well that would go over with the Chicago Park District since they already have official pages up on Facebook.  Perhaps I could share some pictures and videos on their existing pages, but I'd probably have to check with the page administrators to see if that was possible. 

The heat was a factor in me feeling lethargic.  I like hot weather, but when the high temps drag on like they have, I have a hard time getting motivated to do anything.  After the sparring and taking photos, I worked out a little on the bags, but the energy wasn't totally there.  A lot of people left early, most likely due to the heat in the gym.  At the end of the night, there was just myself, Alan and Amy.

Earlier, Alan joked that both Andy and I were responsible for injuring his left eye on Monday night.  "Oh, you're gonna put that on us!" I laughed.  Alan's eye was bloodshot, so he did have a valid complaint. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sparring Between Husband and Wife

In the photo above, DJ (in the blue) squares off against her husband, Jason.  Before the gym door opened, Jason had just been telling Andy how Alan talked him into sparring last week.  Jason hadn't been keen on doing it that day, but Alan convinced him otherwise.  "That's Alan for you," Andy chuckled.  "He loves boxing." 

Alan talked DJ into getting into the ring with Jason, even though both were a little reluctant about it.  Those of us who were watching from behind the ropes were making jokes.  Somebody said something to Jason about, "that's the last time you'll tell her that dress doesn't look good on her!" 

DJ popped her husband good with some rights and lefts.  Then Jason fired back with some shots that caught his wife in her head. 

I was going "ooh!" every time she connected with something on him.  "Get him!" I called out.  Then Jason hit DJ harder, and she stopped to collect herself.  "Come on, DJ!  You've got thirty seconds left on the clock," Alan said. 

Jason caught her again, and she stopped.  He looked very concerned, and he asked if she was okay.  She shook her head yes.  They finished the round out, and that was it.  After they stepped out of the ring, they hugged each other near the lockers.  "Girl, you've got a good right!" Jason told DJ. 

Jason also sparred with Gene, and it was a fairly good match up.  Jason is new to the game, and Gene is trying to get back into it.  They worked together well as they practiced technique.

Alan said to me, "Don't tell my doctor," as he put on gloves and headgear.  "I'll just tell Riva," I said, referring to his wife.  Andy was already suited up and waiting in the ring when he saw than Alan was going in with him.  "Aw, hell no!" Andy said.  "You have to watch Alan," I told Andy.  "People just give me a bad rep," the coach said.  "Uh-huh," I commented.  Andy was still fighting off a summer cold, so they didn't spar for long.

Alan kept throwing short punches (all of which connected) and dancing around while I sparred with him.  He was too far away most of the time when I threw punches; I didn't time any of them right.  Maybe I shouldn't have sparred.  Both of my feet were bothering me earlier.  My feet felt better by the time I got to the gym, but my right knee felt swollen, and I was feeling sore everywhere else.  I couldn't move very well.  Alan backed me into one of the corners near the end of the round, hit me with a right, and I fell to the canvas. 

Gene, who jumped into the ring after that round ended, helped me up.  He and I sparred for a round, but I was not at my best. 

Alan had also got me with a punch that landed below my nose and above my upper lip."I didn't hit you that hard," Alan protested.  I put my hands on my hips and stared at him.  "It was enough to knock me down!" I said.    He repeated it again as he dropped me off at my apartment later.  I wasn't knocked out, just knocked down.  "Well, my knee was bothering me, and I was tired," I had to admit. It just wasn't my night. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sparring In a Sauna

Jason came in without his wife DJ; she was getting their car fixed.  "I don't think I want to spar tonight", he said.  But Alan convinced him to get into the ring with Alex.  I sensed that Alex was taking it easy on Jason, allowing him to get some shots in.  They worked together for about three rounds.

Alan wanted to give Alex more work, so he sent Tommy in.  Sometime during the second round, Alex caught Tommy with something; I didn't catch what punch was used.  But it caught Tommy right on his chin.  Tommy had to stop and lean over the ropes for awhile.  "Walk it off," Alan told him.  "Wow, Tommy almost got knocked out.  I don't want to get knocked out," Jason commented. 

Tommy (on the left in the photo above) rallied back to challenge Alex for another round.  Andre (formerly known here as Andre One) came in while they were still sparring.  "I've been working out with my trainer up at Evanston Boxing Gym, but I'll be back in here on Monday," he said.  Alan told me to get suited up to spar.  "Who are you going to spar with?" Andre asked.  "I guess whoever is available," I answered, thinking I was going to spar with Jason. 

I ended up sparring with Alex, and I made up my mind early not to chase him because I couldn't.  Alex was too fast.  The first time I caught him with a hook, he backed up and told Alan in surprise, "Wow, she really hits."  "Yeah, she hits hard," Alan said.  The coach told Alex that he could throw some hard punches back, but Alex didn't throw any as hard as he could have.  I kept throwing hooks to his head and body.  I got some half-baked uppercuts in, but the punches weren't effective.  My overhand rights weren't executed well either. 

A lot of people were out again on Wednesday, probably due to the heat.  It was about 89 or 90 degrees today, but of course, that means the temperatures are more like 100 inside the gym.  I felt like I was inside of a sauna. 

Alan and I were at the front desk at the end of the evening, as he had to fill out the attendance sheet.  There was a girl at the desk talking to Jilberto.  I assumed because of the way she carried herself that she was in her mid-twenties.  Actually, Cora is 16 years old.  She asked about the boxing class, and I told her that because of her age, she could go to Barry's class for free.  Cora seemed to really have herself together, and I enjoyed talking with her.  She works in construction, and she wants to be an artist (she writes, paints, does clay animation, and she sings).  Cora told me she wants to finish her high school education online, then go to community college to save money before transferring to a four-year college.

This photo is a publicity shot of JJ that's on the wall near the coach's desk.  It's a nice photo.  I keep hoping that he'll get some TV time soon, perhaps on ESPN.

Suddenly Gone

I was just thinking about Ralphie (in the photo above on the left) the other day.  This photo was taken late in the summer of 2010.  The last time I remembered Ralphie being in the gym was late December of last year.  A few hours before I went to the gym on Monday, Alan left me a voice mail announcing that Ralphie had passed away on Sunday.

It still trips me out to think about it.  Ralphie was in his early 30s, and he and his wife had a baby boy.  He was proud of his son, and Ralphie always had new pictures on the cell phone of the baby to show off.

Ralphie sparred with Alan in the photo above.  I sparred with Ralphie a few times.  He was good, very hard to catch in the ring.  Alan was always trying to convince him to sign up for a match, but Ralphie would turn it down.  I knew that Ralphie injured his back in a car accident some time ago.  He was concerned about his back being re-injured.  I would wince every time I'd accidently hit Ralphie there when we'd spar, but he'd smile it off. 

He was a good guy.  Ralphie drove me home a couple of times on nights when Alan wasn't at the gym.  We had a conversation about gang banging once.  Ralphie told me how when he was younger he'd get into dustups with guys who were trying to recruit him into one or who thought he was in a rival gang.  I told stories about run-ins my late sister and I had with gang members back in the day.  We laughed and shook our head at the situations.  I'm very sorry that Ralphie left us so young.

On Monday night, the gym was sweltering due to the heat outside.  The sparring went on as usual.  Andres and Alex had another exciting sparring session, full of good exchanges.  Tommy, the southpaw, traded blows with Andres next for a couple of rounds. 

I did three good rounds with Andres, catching him with both left and right hoods.  "Nice!" Alan kept saying from the sidelines.  I did straight punches to Andres' middle and threw hooks there, too, but once again, I couldn't not do the uppercuts right.  Maybe it's because he's so much taller than I, but then, I don't get them in on someone who's closer to my height -- like Sara, for example -- either. 

Gene, the guy hitting the speed bag in the photo above, stepped in the ring for a couple of rounds with Andres.  Alan asked him if he could talk to Igor the next time he comes in.  Gene is Russian, and Igor is supposedly Russian.  That's what he told Alan. "I heard him talking to himself while he worked out," Gene said, "but I don't think Igor is speaking Russian."  I could have sworn that years ago, Igor said he was from a different Slavic country, but I don't remember which one.  Anyway, Igor did his usual of working out quick and leaving before 8:30 PM routine on Monday.

I tried to take a picture of Alex (in the photo above holding the hand wrap) on the sly, but he looked up just as the flash went off on the camera.

I had energy while sparring with Andres earlier, but I could have used an energy drink to get through the rest of the evening.  It was probably a combination of being worn out from cleaning the church (which is not an easy job) and the relentless heat wave that has settled over the city again. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Canceled Due To Rain

The young lady in this photo is Clarissa Shields, who is currently in London as part of the US Olympic boxing team.  While in the gym on Wednesday, Sara gave me a copy of the New Yorker magazine, which featured an article about the Flint, Michigan native.  On ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights", she was shown in an interview segment with other members of that boxing team.

Speaking of "Friday Night Fights", it was broadcast from the UIC Pavillion here in Chicago.  There were two main events, Juan Castillo vs. Ivan Popoca, and Andrzei Fonfara vs. Glen Johnson.  I would have went in person and tried to meet boxing analyst Teddy Atlas (like I did last year when he was here), but finances wouldn't allow me to buy a general admission ticket. JJ and Paul were fighting there that night, too.  Instead, I planned to see Andres fight at Garfield Park's boxing show, which was also happening that evening.  I set the DVD player to record the fights.

I met Alan downtown at the Cultural Center on Michigan Avenue.  Traffic was bad, and the traffic cops had no patience with any of the drivers.  The Taste of Chicago was going on, and it seemed that everyone in the area was going to that.  Andres was stuck in traffic out in the 'burbs; he was on his way to Garfield from a job interview he had that afternoon.  A torrential rain had fell earlier in the afternoon, and I got caught in it just as I was leaving work for the day.  It had begun to rain again, but not as hard.

Alan called Garfield Park via his cell, only to find out that the boxing show had been canceled due to the rain.  That park always has their show on the outside.  But Alan and I wondered why the ring wasn't set up on the inside of the field house in light of the weather.  Andres was called to let him know not to make the trip to the west side.  The boxing show was rescheduled for next Friday.  "Hillari, let's go get a beer," Alan said.  Actually, Alan had the beer.  I had rum and Coke.

The coach and I had a pleasant conversation for awhile, then he dropped me off at home.  I got in before "Friday Night Fights" began, so I recorded it in person, cutting out the commercials. 
Popoca had a hard time of it, getting cut open.  The ringside doctor pronounced Popca's face to be "a bloody mess", but he allowed the fighter to continue.  Finally, Pete, a referee who I've seen at the Chicago Golden Gloves many times, stopped the fight, claiming Popoca was too cut up and didn't have a chance of winning.

Johnson went the distance with home town favorite Fonfara, but the 43-year-old didn't get the win.  In fact, he announced his retirement after the fight was over.  I was hoping that JJ and Paul would get airtime, but neither of the main event bouts ended early for that to happen.  But both of them won their bouts:  JJ stopped his guy in the first round, and Paul stopped his guy in the second round.

JJ is on the left in the photo above (posted originally on Facebook), standing next to Glen Johnson.

This photo shows JJ standing with Teddy Atlas.  If JJ and Paul stay on their respective undefeated streaks,  Mr. Atlas may be commenting on their fights soon on "Friday Night Fights".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Leading Up To Garfield Park

It must be my week. . .first a male CTA bus driver irritates me off, then Pastor Roger ticks me off , all on Monday (a two-fer!), then I get to the gym, and lo and behold, Igor is there.  "Who will win for President?" Igor asked Alan.  "I don't know, that's why you've got to vote," the coach answered.  Igor kept going on to Alan about, "Russians love Obama!  He good guy!"  Alan, who's more politically conservative, smiled at me and said, "See, you've got a fan!"  "Uh-huh," I deadpanned, not wishing to get into a political conversation with Igor. 

Paul gloved up and stepped into the ring with Andres.  I had my back to the action most of the time, as I was working out.  I turned around at one point to see Paul bent over.  He came out of the ring, and said, "Hitting Andres is like hitting an 'effing wall!  There's no give!"  I felt the same way one of the last times I was in with Andres, with Alan off on the sides telling me to dig into Andres. 

Jason (in the photo above) got in the ring with Andres.  I think it's cute how his wife, DJ, takes care of him by spraying Lysol on his headgear (Jason uses the community headgear in the gym) before he puts it on.  Paul and I noticed that Jason wasn't throwing his jab all the way out; in-between rounds, I pointed this out to Jason.  He did better in the next round.

When Sara (the woman on the left in the photo above) came in, Alan smiled and said, "Give me a high five!" which she did.  Tommy, who arrived later, bet Alan that Sara would drop out before the end of the month.  Alan didn't think she would.  He was even more pleased when she showed him that she had brought a mouthpiece. 

In this photo, I'm blocking against Sara's right during sparring.  Sara's punches have become a bit stronger since the last time we were in the ring.  Alan told her to be a little more loose, and to grab me whenever I came dashing in on her with punches (something I tend to do with everyone I spar or fight with). 

DJ was ready for me, as you can see from this photo (her husband, Jason, is the guy in the back observing the action).  I was real clumsy during our first round.  I tripped over my own feet, fell, and rolled backwards on the canvas.  I was leaning and reaching too far to try and get a body shot in when I tripped.

In the middle of our second round, I dashed in with a bunch of punches.  DJ grabbed my arms to slow me down, pushed back, and I was down on the canvas again.  Tommy exclaimed, "It's wrestling!  WWE!"  I kept trying to get some uppercuts in, but I couldn't figure out how to do that.  So it was back to relying mostly on throwing hooks.

"You're always doing sky hooks," Marcus said after I finished sparring.  "I'm so used to everyone being taller than me, so I throw the hooks high," I told him.  "But even when you're in there with someone your height, the hooks are still up in the air," Marcus smiles.  He told me he attempted to get some hooks in on Andres when they sparred, but it was hard to get the right angle to execute them.

Big Andres will probably have an opponent at Garfield Park this Friday.  Alan talked to George, who told him he had a couple of heavyweights at that gym. 

I had energy for days Wednesday night, and I couldn't figure out why.  I suspect that I'm quickly losing cartilage in my left knee (it's been slipping on me a lot lately), but even so, neither of my knees were bothering me very much.  I had spent all of the afternoon going up and down steps in church, cleaning several rooms and mopping up hallways and stairs.  "I bet you're getting your work out in going up and down the stairs," Pastor Roger chuckled.  "Yeah," I answered, but I wasn't in the mood for his jokes, mainly because I was still salty about our Monday morning conversation.  I expected to be dead tired coming to the gym like I was back on Monday, but I felt up, which was a good thing. 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Where Is Triumph When I Need Him?

Yesterday, I spent a very pleasant day with my stepmother and my niece, Jalissa.  Then Monday came around again.

You know that feeling when you realize the whole day has just been shot to hell, and there's no saving it?  That moment happened around 11:00 AM.  But let me back up to around 8:30 AM when I knocked on the side of a departing CTA bus that was pulling off.  The smart ass bus driver says to me that I can't be "sashaying", and that I needed to step up.  "Uh, you need to look out of the side window to see if anybody is running to catch the bus before pulling off," I snapped before adding some other choice words for his ears to hear.  The driver just had to be heard, so he popped off something else.  "Whatever (expleted deleted)", I grumbled at the driver before grabbing a seat.

While at work sometime later, I copy statement about bashing exes who want to be friends after ending a relationship or marriage from a Facebook page to my Facebook page.  There was a curse word in the message that rhymes with "cluck".  Before I posted it to my page, as a public service, I alerted people to the word.  "Pardon the 'French', but this is a true statement," I typed.  Pastor comes into my office, "You used the church computer to put something up on Facebook with profane language."  I apologized, but I also thought, "I put it on my page, but people have the option to delete it if they don't want to see it on theirs."  

"Don't make me have to take action," he says.  Now I was already ticked off from the earlier encounter with one man that morning, and there I was, in conflict with yet another one.  I could have used the help of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog today.  "But the statement in the post is true," I said, as Pastor got up to leave the office.  "Don't push it, Hillari," he says.  "I'm just sayin'," I retorted. Am I supposed to be intimidated or impressed, because I'm neither at this moment," I sarcastically thought.  That was the 11:00 AM moment.  I never so happy to clean washrooms in the afternoon in my life.  A lot of times, when I get pissed off, I get quiet.  I kept busy cleaning, and basically said nothing to Pastor until it was time for me to leave. 

Fortunately, I'm able to go to a gym where there are heavy bags to beat on, and regular sparring. 

I didn't realize that DJ was taller than I until tonight.  I started out going light then I caught her with a right hook that stopped her for a minute.  "Easy!" Alan warned from the sidelines.  "Are you okay?" I said, genuinely worried that I might had seriously hurt her.  DJ shook it off and continued on.  Alan told her, "Now you have to get Hillari back for that," and I agreed.  DJ caught me in the jaw with a good right that backed me up. 

DJ and I went for two rounds.  Prior to that, I sparred with Sara.  When she arrived at the gym, Alan smiled and gave her a high five.  Tommy had bet Alan that Sara wouldn't return to the gym before the end of July.  So now Tommy owes Alan some Corona.

I kept coming in with flurries of punches.  Alan told Sara to grab me when I got in too close.  I kept pressing in to give Sara the chance to do that, and she did a couple of times. 

Sara's quite game.  She hung in there for a couple of rounds, and she got some good jabs in on me.  My practicing with the Maize ball has been helping; I was slipping some of both DJ and Sara's punches.

Andres and Alex had a very good sparring session; they usually do.  I saw Andres get a sharp right hook on Alex's side.  Then Alex got off a lot of clean, short punches on Andres.  Alex often gets backed into the corners by Andres, but he spins out of them fast. 

Jason (in the red shirt in the photo below) sparred for a couple with Andres.  Jason was a little hesitant with throwing punches, but he stayed in with Andres. 

At the end of the evening, Alan asked me where in the world did my power hand come from.  Marcus had commented on the hook I threw at DJ, too.  "Somebody tick you off today?" Alan asked.  "Yeah, a CTA bus driver and the pastor of my church," I answered.  "So you took it out on DJ and Sara," Alan smiled, and Marcus, Andres and Alex laughed.  I had no intention of hurting them, believe me.  In fact, I hit the black heavy bag harder.  As I've said before, a heavy bag is a pissed off woman's best friend.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Being Short In The Ring

The young lady in the above picture is Marlen Esparza; she's on the women's boxing team in this year's Olympic Games.  I first became aware of her via a news documentary on CNN which ran under the "Latino In America" series.  She appears to be very tough.  She also doesn't look to be very tall.

I remember seeing a picture of my maternal grandmother, Aida Mae.  She passed away three or four years before I was born.  My mother once described her to me as, "She was short, like you."  Actually, Aida Mae was shorter than I am, 4'9 to my 5'1.  Ma also said that my grandmother was quick to fight, and some of those fights were with my grandfather, who stood about 6'2. 

My father's mother gave the impression that she was quiet and polite, but being 4'11 didn't stop her from giving out beat downs when she was younger.  I have told the story here before about her taking down a woman who was 6' tall.

I've been thinking about height in terms of boxing lately.  It has always felt to me that being short was somewhat of a disadvantage in the ring unless the other fighter is the same height.  When I spar, usually the other person is towering over me.  I've often expressed frustrations about not being able to get around someone else's long arms and not being to catch someone whose legs are longer than mine. 

But there are advantages to being short in the ring and there are ways to make up for being height challenged during fights:

1) Don't keep aiming for the other person's head.  A little over a decade ago, while training at another gym, I sparred with a guy who was 6'5.  People standing around the gym watching kept yelling to me, "Knock the guy out!" My arms kept flailing in the air, but there was no way I was going to land anything near the guy's head.  It uses up a lot of energy to go head-hunting, so the alternative tactic to do is. . .

2) Break down the body.  Shorter fighters have to learn how to be inside fighters by default.  Fighters have to work their way in with the jab, then go for the sides, the stomach, and the ribs.  Lots of fighters can shake off cracks to the head.  But body shots aren't so easy to bounce back from if they're done right. 

3)  Get in and get out.  "Stick and move!" we've heard coaches say.  It's valid advice.  Shorter fighters can and should be able to move in fast, do damage, then get out of reach before the taller fighters can react. 

4) Don't chase the other person.  Early one New Year's Day in the late 1990's, I was walking as fast as I could next to my then-boyfriend, trying to navigate the ice and snow downtown while wearing a pair of dress shoes.  He laughed, noting that I had to take several steps to keep pace with his long ones.  The ex (and now deceased) boyfriend was 6'3.  During a few sparring sessions I've had recently, the coach kept telling me not to chase the other person in the ring.  Just like always aiming for the head, chasing someone will zap energy from a fighter, too.  Make the other person step to you. 

5) Be mindful of your stance.  Shorter people have a lower center of gravity, which can make them more stable in the ring.  In other words, it's a little harder to knock me down because I'm already closer to the ground.