Wednesday, July 18, 2012

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. 

No comments: