Thursday, August 30, 2012

Igor's Ways vs. My Attitude

I got down to the field house on Wednesday evening, and there was no sign of Jilberto.  Two female staff persons were at the front desk, one of whom I recognized.  The other, I learned later was a new attendant.  Jilberto hadn't left his job, there was just another person hired to help out. 

Igor was hanging around at the front desk.  As soon as he saw me, he came to life, and started in with "the mouth" as Officer Schnauser was fond of saying on "Car 54, Where Are You?"  "Is open today?" Igor said.  He probably already asked the staff persons.  They may have told him they didn't know, considering the summer session is over.  The boxing gym is open even during breaks between sessions, but often, staff is unaware that the coach will come in anyway.  Regardless of what answer the staff may have given Igor, I'm never in the mood for his questions.  Obviously, since I was there, I believed the gym would be open.  Why would I be there if I knew for sure it wouldn't be open? "He'll be here when he gets here," I irritably answered Igor, and I went back to scrolling through the music on my MP3 player.

Igor retreated a bit, but I couldn't let it go.  "Seriously, Igor, did Alan call and say otherwise to you?  So just figure that it's open!" I snapped.  I promptly ignored Igor the rest of night like I usually do.  But as time passed, I wondered why was I such a bitch to Igor.  You know, the older I've become, I have displayed more of "the mouth" as well.  Maybe it's the menopause talking.  No, I can't completely dismiss Igor's rudeness and inane questions and comments.  That's not going to happen.  But I can't keep running off at the mouth just because I can, either, because it doesn't always make me look bright.  It's like arguing with my late father; he never changed, and Igor isn't going to either. I need to learn to change my reactions to some people. 

I sparred with Gene, and realized that Gene moves around a whole lot.  I planned my punches, but Gene would move in a different way, and the punch would get lost.  Gene likes to clinch just when I'm beginning to throw something.  Every time we clinched, I caught a whiff of cologne.  "Whatever that scent is, it's nice," I thought.  He and I were in the ring for a couple of rounds, then Marcus stepped in.
I've never sparred with Marcus before.  He was punching a little harder than Gene was.  Not knowing what to expect, I did my usual charging bull routine.  Later, Alan told me, "You really got Marcus good."  I never think my punches are doing much damage on most of the guys.  "No", Alan said, "Marcus was backed up a lot of times."  Marcus had commented after our sparring, "You and that right hook!"  I told him the story of my maternal grandfather, who had been an amateur boxer at one time.  "Well, you've got skills," he said.
Marcus, in the white shirt in the photo above, got in some good head shots on Gene when they sparred. 

But Gene got in some good ones, too.  One sneaky uppercut Gene executed really impressed Alan and myself. 

Alan took pictures while Sarah and I were in the ring.  Yes, that is me taking a jab right in my face.  Once in awhile, I figure out how to get around Sarah's long arms.  Wednesday night was not one of those nights. 

"Dig, dig into the body!" Alan ordered from the sidelines.  I stopped and said, "But I thought Sarah and I were supposed to be going light?"  "Yeah, yeah, but you need to get those punches in," he said.

Gene told the coach "I don't want to go all out," in regards to working the heavy bags.  Alan told him that he had to keep his form up, however, so he'd remember to do so in the ring.  He then talked to both Marcus and Gene about what takes place at the Park District boxing shows.  "Hillari's had four fights.  I stopped one of them and she got mad at me," he explained.  "That's true," I laughed, "but I was taking too many hits."  "There was more time in the round, but I stopped it when I saw there was a possibility that she could have gotten hurt," Alan continued.  "Oh, so those are exhibition matches," Gene said, when he learned he didn't need an amateur boxing license to participate in those shows.  Gene talked like he might sign on, but I wasn't sure how Marcus felt about the possibility of being in a boxing show.

It was a few minutes to nine o'clock when Alan announced, "One more round guys and girls!"  "Don't you mean women?" I jokingly said.  "Okay, guys and ladies," Alan said before returning to using the exercise wheel.  Then he looked up and said, "But a lady doesn't throw punches."  Marcus got up and asked him to repeat what he said.  "I said we only have one more round, guys and girls, and Hillari made a comment about using the word ladies instead, so I said ladies don't throw punches like that and hurt people," Alan grinned.  Marcus said, "They sure don't!" and we all laughed.  "Hillari, I need you to be an animal in here.  Be a lady on the outside," Alan continued.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Can't Hit Him While His Arms Are Down?"

In the above photo, Alan lifts a 25 pound kettlebell over his head as he watches Andres and Sarah spar on Monday night. 

Before Sarah got into the ring with Andres, he sparred with Gene.  Igor was watching with interest as usual.  I heard Alan ask Igor about sparring, since Igor had asked about doing so last week.  "Next week," Igor told Alan.  "It is next week," I thought to myself.  Just a repeat of what he used to tell Steve.  I was going to go back through the blog entries to check whether or not Igor ever sparred with anyone.  I thought he might have gotten into the ring with JJ once and did only one round.  The blog was started in September of 2005, three years after I first started going to Loyola Gym.  By that time, Igor was no longer a regular attendee. 

I sparred with Andres (forgot to ask Alan to take pictures again), and the best shots I got in were to his mid-section.  But I didn't pace myself, and I burned out quickly.  Andres was leaving himself open at one point so I could practice offense, but I was lagging.  "What, you can't hit him when his arms are down?" Alan said to me.  I mustered up what little strength I had to finish, but after the third round, I felt like I had gone through torture.

Sarah's energy was better than mine when she took on Andres. 

She kept getting him with some good shots to the head.  Then she backed him up on the ropes several times and kept digging to the body.  Andres was encouraging her to keep going.

Andres met a promoter who's talking about having him fight in an amateur boxing show at a club out in the south suburbs.  At first, the guy thought Andres had too much experience, even as Andres explained that he's only had a few fights.  I believe the fight will take place sometime this week.  Andres will let us know if he gets on the card.

Alan then ran some boxing drills with Gene.  When I saw the coach put a pair of gloves on, I gave him a look.  "Be careful about your eyes," I said.  "He's not gonna hit me," Alan smiled. 

Just remembered that I meant to ask Alan to take another picture of me so I can change out the small one of me on Facebook, but I forgot.  Facebook has that Timeline deal, which I'm not crazy about, but I usally change the bigger cover photo out with a picture that I've taken in the gym the day before. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fingers and Hands

I have one of these at home.  It's a Gripmaster, and it's purpose is to strengthen the fingers.  They come in light, medium, and heavy tension.  I brought mine several years ago, and didn't notice that is was heavy tension.  The workout for my fingers is very tough using the one I have.  But it's not only just to help with boxing.  I type also, and it helps keep my fingers strong.  It can help with any other sport, and musicians use them too. 

As seen in an article by Joshua McCarron on "You can perform several different exercises on the Gripmaster to work your fingers, hands and forearms. For overall grip strength, place the palm bar across your palm and fingers all across the buttons and squeeze. You can curl your fingers to rest your fingertips on each button with the bar on your palm and squeeze. You can place the Gripmaster sideways with your thumb on the end button and bent fingers under the palm bar to squeeze in a key pinch exercise. You can also place your thumb tip under the bar and a fingertip on one of the buttons to squeeze. Alternate through each finger."

Read more:

I have two pair of these fixed resistance grip exercisers.  Some say these aren't as good for the hands as say, the Gripmaster type of hand exerciser, because it's more for building wrist and forearm strength.  These are just squeezed in the hand for so many repetitions.  I use them when I think about them and happen to notice them on the end table in my apartment.  I don't have carpal tunnel like a lot of typists seem to have -- and I don't remember as many cases of carpal tunnel when there were only typewriters, but there have been a lot of cases since computers were introduced into the workplace.  I like to think that the fixed resistance grip exercisers helped with keeping that at bay.

My warm-up routine in the gym consists of shadow boxing for three rounds, then stretching.  I roll my wrists in circles to loosen them up for the rest of the workout.  Ever since I sprained my right wrist several years ago as the result of using a pair of poorly padded bag gloves I used to own, I've been mindful of my wrists and hands in general. 

I remember watching a documentary about "The Dean Martin Show" a few years ago.  For those not as old as me, here's a brief history.  Dean Martin was a singer and an actor.  He was once part of a comedy team with comedian Jerry Lewis, and Martin was a member of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack.  From the mid-1960's to the early 1970's, Martin headlined his own variety show on NBC.  I watched it every week.  My mother would grumble that Martin couldn't sing, but I digress.  The guy who produced the TV show was interviewed during the documentary.  He commented that Martin held his hands in a certain way and was always careful about his hands.  Martin had been a boxer for a brief time when he was a young man, and that was most likely a habit he carried over from that time.

All boxers need to be careful about their hands because without them, well. . . .there's no participating in the sport.  I mentioned two exercisers here.  I will post other hand exercises as I find them. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ladies' Time on Wednesday

Had to put another picture up of Olympic boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields.  I keep seeing Gabby Douglas, the gymnast who won Olympic gold, popping up on magazine covers and on news programs.  But the press about Claressa Shields, as well as Marlen Esparza who won a bronze medal in boxing, seems to be scant.  I know that one reason for that is the emphasis has been put on how none of the male boxers of Team USA came home with medals, and there is high criticism aimed at AIBA and USA Boxing.  But Shields and Esparza should still be getting their props for the great job they did.

I ran into Matthieu on the way to the gym.  His ankle is fine, but his right hip is acting up.  Matthieu plays a lot of soccer.  Unfortunately, he can't come to the gym as much because he travels a lot for his work.  I encouraged him to come to the gym sometime during this long break period we've having before the Fall session begins. 

Wednesday night marked the return of Sarah, who arrived with her sister Amy.  Sarah and I sparred for four rounds, but we went very light.  Alan suggested that since we weren't going all out like we usually do, it would a good time to practice technique.  Sarah practiced catching jabs and responding with her right.  I practiced head movement, left hooks, and tapping down incoming rights. 

I overheard Igor telling Alan he would spar on Monday.  Like the Chief would do on "Get Smart" when Maxwell Smart said something really dumb, I rolled my eyes.  Before I stepped in the ring with Sarah, Alan told me, "Igor may be ready for you on Monday," to which I responded, "Good!"  Alan gave me a knowing grin. Apparently he'd read previous blog posts where I stated I would like nothing better but to get Igor into a sparring session.  I know that's mean of me. But Igor made similar promises when Steve was the coach and never followed through.  When Igor left early that evening like he always does, Alan was the only male left in the gym.

Sarah mentioned that she had run into Brandy recently.  Brandy is thinking that she should return to Loyola Park, but she doesn't want to do another match.  Both Sarah and I remembered how bruised up Brandy was after her fight at the Golden Gloves Tournament earlier this year.  Alan said, "People often get banged up more during sparring than they do during matches," which is true.  But I can understand Brandy not wanting to willingly take bumps and bruises again.  Sometimes, I wonder why, at my age, that I'm always game to get jacked up.

Alan brought in a 25 pound kettlebell, and he worked out with it.  I did a few cleans and snatches with it.  It was heavier than the ones I have at home, but I was able to lift it above my head.  But then I did a few squats with it, pulling some muscles that I hadn't used in awhile.  I made a note to see if I had any Icy Hot, Ben Gay, or Epsom salts at home later on. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beginning Of A Long Break

I ran into Danny on my way to the gym.  He's been living in Florida, going to school studying Business Management.  Danny is now 26 years old.  He's only in Chicago for the summer.  I told him about the gym still being open with Alan (in the photo above) at the helm.  He told me he'd try to stop in, but he didn't make it in Monday evening.

Gene came in, wondering where everybody was.  Outside of Alan and I, Amy and Igor were in attendance.  "We always tell people the gym is open even though the session is officially over, but that never seems to be communicated well," I said.  "Looks like Gene is going to be your sparring partner today," Alan said, and Gene smiled.

During sparring, I thought to myself, "What would Claressa Shields do?"  The night before, I discovered a podcast -- Women Box on iTunes -- that chronicled Shields, Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood, and several other female boxers' journeys through the Olympic trials.  Shields said, "I ain't afraid of no man, I ain't afraid of no girl," when questioned about if she got nervous before fights.  I tried to be fearless like her in the face of Gene's long arms.  Alan pointed out that Gene often leaves his right hand down, and it's easy to get a left hook in.  I couldn't get the left one in, but I did get one right hook in that surprised Gene. 

Gene covered up a lot, giving me a chance to get some other punches in, but often we were in clinches, forcing Alan to call "Break!" each time.  Later, Alan showed him how to get in on someone but block incoming punches at the same time. 

As usual, Igor took an interest in watching Gene while the sparring was going on.  After Igor left, Gene told Alan that Igor had asked him about sparring.  I shook my head.  "Igor always asks, but he never does it.  I gave him the option of either sparring with you or Hillari, but he didn't take it," Alan said. 

Amy kept up her routine of jumping rope, hitting the uppercut bag behind the ring, and doing crunches.  Gene (in the photo above), Alan and I were working the heavy bags.  I was popping the black heavy bag with left and right hooks during one round.  When the bell rang to end the round, I commented, "Now if I could only throw left hooks in the ring like I do on the bag!"  Alan agreed.  "Keep your hands up, stay relaxed, and just throw the hooks.  Have to take some of the punches to get some in.  If people keep covering up in anticipation of the incoming punches, they'll never get their punches in," he said.

Eckhart Park's boxing show is this Thursday, but no one in the adult boxing gym has plans to go.  Loyola Park's boxing show is late next month, and as far as I know, I'm the only one looking to get a fight at that event.  The Fall session starts three days before that show, and there's no way any newbies starting then will be prepared to compete there -- unless they've been boxing awhile elsewhere. 

Alan joked about having a salami sandwich for lunch along with ice cream from Dairy Queen.  Gene laughed, "It shows!", and Alan patted his stomach.  I had the nerve to have two hot dogs, a large order of fries, and a Hawaiian Punch for lunch.  The hot dogs upset my stomach for a minute later on that afternoon.  Bad food habits are hard to break.  I thought about having a slice of bread with peanut butter and a banana for dinner.  The George Foreman grill was pulled out, and I made two grilled cheese sandwiches, drank blueberry Mio, and had two sugar free fudge Popsicles.  Next time I go grocery shopping, I will stock up more on healthier options, preferably ones that I don't have to cook, of course.

Alan and I were talking about Krav Maga, a self-defense method.  The coach knows a guy who teaches it. "I haven't taken a self-defense class in a long time.  I'd like to take another one," I said.  "You box in here.  Do you really need to take one?" Alan said.  "I took one way back in high school," I told him.  I think I got an 'A', if I remember correctly. "Would you say that you're better at self-defense now?" Alan asked.  "Yeah, I know more about it than I did when I was sixteen years old," I said.  "If you do stuff like boxing, then you know self-defense methods," the coach said. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fight Me Like A Man

Not a big crowd on Wednesday night, which marked the end of the summer session.  Gene, Tommy, Marcus and Amy were in attendance.  Alan came in much later, having been delayed by a meeting he had to attend way out in the suburbs. 

When Alan arrived, he matched up opponents for sparring.  Tommy and Gene started things off.  Tommy was getting in a lot of pops on Gene.  "Come on, hit him back!  Don't let him just walk in on you!" Alan told Gene.  Gene began answering Tommy's punches, and Tommy nodded his approval. 

I wasn't planning to spar because of lack of opponents, and I was a bit tired.  Cleaning at church had taken somewhat of a toll on me today.  My left foot was hurting, and so was my right side.  I got a piece of chocolate candy from Pastor when it felt like my blood sugar was low.  Tommy had just finished sparring with Gene when Alan volunteered him to spar with me.  "Give me a minute," Tommy said, as he headed for the chairs in front of the lockers.

After we suited up for battle and got into the ring, Tommy said, "I'm going to get my ass kicked, but it's okay!"  I laughed.  Soon as the bell rang, Tommy came out ready.  Most of the hits I took were in my face.  "Move your head," Alan told me, which was easier said than done.  I would work my way in with the jab, and throw overhand rights, but Tommy zapped me in the face each time. 

Finally, it occurred to me to concentrate more on getting body shots in rather than aiming for Tommy's head.  I got him a couple of times with some hooks to the head that didn't have a lot of power, but I was more successful when I aimed for his ribs.  After taking particularly hard shots, including me falling into the ropes, and nearly being knocked down another time, Tommy and I kept asking each other, "Are you okay?  Are you good?"

Earlier, I had told Pastor Roger about the TKO of Sara last week.  The pastor shook his head.  "Why do you have that look on your face?  What are you shaking your head about?" I asked.  "I can't have a look on my face?" Pastor answered.  He then went into a story about a guy who appeared to be the nicest football player in the NFL.  Instead of tackling guys on the opposite team, the athlete bear hugged them and fell backwards to the ground while holding on to them.  This allegedly prevented major injuries.  "That's a nicer way to confront someone on the opposite team than to come at them with rage.  I would teach my son to deal with confrontations in better ways, while playing sports or dealing with other people, in ways like that football player did," Pastor said.  "Boxers are always told not to fight angry but to have a cool head in order not to lose control and stay focused during a match," I told Pastor. 

Alan commented later, "Tommy was fighting you like you were a man, Hillari."  "Yes, he was," I said, thinking about the shots I took to my nose and mouth.  I was practically biting down on my mouth piece to force myself to keep my mouth closed.  "But you hung in there with him," Alan noted. I had to do that because in a regular match, I may come across some women who fight like men.  As far as I'm concerned, Meg fought hard like that during the three amateur bouts we had.  I wasn't prepared for that so much, and I needed to be better prepared.  I appreciate that Tommy didn't hold back; a lot of the guys I spar with do that.

Alan had my camera while I was in the ring with Tommy, so he must have taken this shot of Marcus near the tear drop bag. 

Andres didn't come in, and he had said he wanted to take a fight tomorrow which I believe is to take place at Fuller Park out on the south side.  Alan will call me if that takes place.  I need to start thinking about preparing for the fight I may have at Loyola Park late next month.  September is coming sooner than I think. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

No Sparring For The Coach

Alan arrived at the gym, spotted me and asked, "Are you the only one here?"  "No, Amy's here, too," I answered.  Andres and Paul came in but that was it for Monday evening. 

No sparring took place.  Paul told Alan he forgot his mouthpiece, which turned into a discussion of when and how often mouthpieces should be cleaned.  "I just rinse mine out," Alan said.  "I put mine in mouthwash.  Once in awhile, I take a toothbrush to it," I said.  "Why go through all that?  It's only going in my mouth," Alan said. 

There was a fight scheduled at Sheridan Park today, but it was rained out.  For some reason, it was going to be held outside.  The weather reports indicated rain all day, which was true.  I guess no one at Sheridan Park was watching the Weather Channel.  A rescheduled fight at Garfield Park did take place, but it was on a Thursday, and Andres wasn't able to participate in it because of the change of day.  Andres may get a fight at Fuller Park, which is coming up soon.

In the photo above, Alan held the punch mitts for Paul.  That's as close to sparring as Alan is going to get from here on in.  His right eye was fixed, but now his left eye needs to be worked on.  "I'm done with sparring.  I don't want to be walking around with a cane.  I'll be blind next if I'm not careful," he said.  I can't blame him.  But I'll miss our sparring sessions, and none of the guys will be able to play the "let's get a piece of the old man" game with him anymore.

Alan did work the heavy bags, however.  I held the black bag for him for a minute while he threw some hard hooks at it. 

I got on the black bag after Paul.  Last week, I was standing in one spot in front of the mirror throwing punches.  Alan came over to me and asked, "Where's the dancing?" so this week, I decided to make a conscious effort to move around more.  My lower back was bothering me, and so was the bottom of my left foot, but I pushed myself to keep dancing around the bags. 

There was a woman on Clark Street this morning who looked a lot like Sara, but I wasn't sure if it was her.  I was walking to work when I saw a brunette kiss a sandy-haired guy before they went their separate ways.  She didn't come to the gym on Monday.  I wanted to know if Sara had recovered from that darned I-don't-know-my-own-strength TKO punch I gave her last week. 

Alan and Andres did a burn out on the black heavy bag after Paul and I had did one.  Paul was counting "0, 1, 2, 3, 4" then calling out "Switch!" so the men could change places.  The fast pace tired both Alan and Andres out, and both were throwing hard punches each time it was their turn. 

Later, Alan showed me a picture of his son Matthew, whom I hadn't seen in awhile.  "Wow, Matt is swole!" I exclaimed, using a slang term that means bulked up.  Matt has been lifting weights; his arms were big and he looked good.  "Matt can throw me around the room easily.  But I told him that I have one more good fight in me!" Alan smiled.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Claressa The Magnificent

We started off with three young women who were part of the Team USA Boxing team that went to the 2012 Olympics.

Queen Underwood was tough, but unfortunately, she lost a close fight in the lightweight category early on.

Marlen Esparza, who had been beating down everybody all her way up to the Olympics, tried her best.  But she ended up on the wrong side of a decision during the flyweight semifinals.  Esparza had to settle for a bronze medal. 

The American male boxers fell one by one, some due to bad decisions, some due to not bringing it when they were inside the ropes.  Then 17-year-old Claressa Shields, from Flint, MI, became America's last hope to bring home a gold in boxing. 

Claressa Shields fought a great fight, and now she is the youngest person and first woman to earn a gold medal in boxing at the Olympics.  She won in the middleweight category against Russian Nadezda Torlopova.  A great day for women's boxing!

All of the women made history, and all are champions!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Olympic Medals and a TKO

Alex sparred for the last time with Andres tonight.  He returns to college next week.  "I'm sorry to see him go," Alan said later.  "He's got it all.  He can give a punch, he can take a punch, he moves well."  "I hope he can train while he's at school," I replied.

Two guys showed up to observe the gym in action.  One was named Daniel.  He and I had connected previously on Every Block, a web site.  The other was named JR.  Daniel told me that he does Muay Thai, and that it's hard to find people to train with.  "I put ads on Craigslist, but I get a lot of odd replies," he said.

Professor and Andre arrived together at the gym.  Andre didn't spar, but Professor got into the ring with Andres, as he promised to do again this past Monday. 

Gene stepped into the ring with Tommy.  It is sometimes hard to maneuver around Tommy because he's a southpaw.  Alan was getting on Gene for pawing at Tommy instead of throwing straight punches. 

After they finished, Alan showed Gene how the pawing looked.  Sara and I, who were waiting to spar, were laughing at how Alan was imitating Gene.  "What are you laughing about?" he asked, and we told him.  "But that is not how you're supposed to throw punches.  It's like a cat throwing punches.  I don't know why people do that," he told us. 

Sara told me to make her do one more round.  She usually does one.  I could have done three or more rounds because I was feeling energetic after having spent most of Tuesday and today in bed.  I caught a cold out of nowhere.  I was fine Monday night.  I woke up Tuesday morning to clogged sinuses, pain, and the feeling that my face was going to fall off.  Luckily, the worst of it passed by late today, and I was able to come to the gym. 

I was popped under my nose, and was very glad my mouth was closed at the time.  Sara and I moved around a lot during the first round.  Whenever I'd rush in with a flurry of punches, Alan would tell her to grab me.  She grabbed around my shoulders.  "Good," Alan said, "but next time, grab her arms."  During the second round, Andre was also giving instructions from the side, mainly to me.  "Where's that uppercut, Hillari?  Tap her hand down, then follow with a punch.  Always follow a couple of punches with one more," Andre said.

Near the end of the second round, Sara and I were near the ropes where onlookers were standing and watching.  She threw a punch and stepped to her right.  I stepped to my right, rared back and threw a right hook.  Sara slumped against the ropes.  If Alan and Andre hadn't caught her, she would have fallen to the canvas. 

Immediately, I tore my gloves off, then I took her headgear off.  "Are you okay?" I asked, while holding her shoulders.  "Yeah", she said faintly.  Marcus shook his head.  "It's that hook you throw that no one ever sees coming," he said to me.  Sara stood in the ring for awhile, trying to get her head clear, as Alan watched to make sure she was okay.  "It's part of the game," he told her.  I hadn't hit someone hard enough to cause a TKO in a long time.  Nice to know that I have the capacity to do that.  But it still worries me when someone is hurt badly because of a punch I threw. 

Before going to the gym, I saw more of the Olympic boxing matches.  Marlen Esparza tried her best against her opponent from China.  Teddy Atlas kept pointing out that Esparza was bouncing too much.  Her corner people must have told her during the break after the third round to slow that down, because she did.  But the girl from China had long figured out that all she had to do was to time Esparza to get her punches in.  Also, Esparza was shorter than her opponent and she was leaving too much space between them.  I recognized that because I have the same problems in the ring.  Esparza will get a bronze medal, but not the gold that she hoped to get.  Afterwards, she told a reporter that she was finished with boxing.  Her next move will be to go to college.  Esparza's eyes were red, and she was crying after the interview was over.  Tears came to my eyes, too, as I had been following her since she had been working her way up through the Olympic trials. 

Claressa Shields owned the ring during her match like a boss.  Her opponent was not busy enough.  It was just like Teddy Atlas commented, her opponent seemed to be waiting to throw big punches.  But a fighter can't base their whole game plan on knockout punches.  Shields fought like a tigress every time she was backed against the ropes and backed into corners.  After each round, Shields was always way ahead of her opponent on points.  Now Shields goes into the finals in an attempt to get a gold medal.

All of the American guys on the boxing team have been eliminated.  Even when Esparza collects her bronze medal, and if Shields get the gold, the guys are going to be talked down about for a long time.  Some of the losses were due to poor referees, bad judging, and that horrible computerized scoring system.  But some of it was also due to the fighters not being prepared to fight under the international amateur boxing rules.  This is the first time that no American male boxer has come back from the Olympics with a medal.  Team USA has got to be better and do better.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Eating Garbage

The close up above was the result of Alan and I playing around with my camera.  His eye was operated on last week, and he says he can see clearer out of it. 

A couple of guys came in, a tall one who told Professor, "I'm a Rasta", and a shorter one who told Alan he'd had some boxing experience while attending high school on the south side.  They both received information about the gym, and they appeared interested about signing up for the fall session.

Jason and Andres sparred for a couple of rounds.  It looked as if Andres was giving Jason a chance to practice offensive moves.  Jason got some good punches in; Andres encouraged him on.

Alex sparred with Andres before Jason did, then after Jason was done, Professor stepped in the ring.  He caught Andres with several good straight rights and lefts to his face.  Andres would back Professor up in the corners and throw hard body shots until Professor pushed him off and slid out of that spot.

With just a few seconds before the bell rang during their last round sparring, Professor went to his knee in a corner.  Alan and I thought he had taken one of Andres' hard hits, but Professor said, "I'm just tired."  Later, he would say he learned a lesson not to step into a ring with the attitude of schooling somebody.  He and Andres plan to spar again on Wednesday.

I sparred with Andres for two rounds.  You can see in the picture above that I look like someone in a fairy tale trying to take on a giant.  Andres appeared a little tired because he had already sparred several times before I got to him.  But after the first round, I felt more worn out.  

Earlier this morning, I had gone to the doctor to get my medicine refilled.  The check up revealed three things that caused me to roll my eyes in frustration: my blood pressure is high again, my blood sugar is slightly up, and my weight is slowly creeping back up.  "You exercise in here all the time.  I don't get it," Alan said.  When I told him about my weight, he commented, "You must be eating a lot of garbage."  "You're right.  You know I don't cook," I told him.  Unfortunately, summer increases the times I'm eating ice cream (not the sugar free kind which I should be eating instead), as well as the times I'm eating out.  I was supposed to cut down on my food budget and eat at home more, but that hasn't exactly been successful.

Before going to the gym, I caught the last of the Olympic boxing broadcast for the day.  There was a fight between heavyweights, a British boxer and a Chinese boxer.  The British boxer won.  I had set the recorder at wrong time, so I missed Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shield's quarterfinals fights.  They both won.  They'll fight again on Wednesday, so hopefully, I'll get the time straight. 

Most of the guys were hugging me before they left the gym today.  Alan smiled, "What's with all the love?"  "My pastor had the nerve to say he thought I joined the gym to pick up guys," I laughed.  "If he saw all the hugs you're getting, he might think that!" Alan said. 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Queen Falls and More Olympic Problems

I was half-asleep this morning, with the TV on and the VCR/DVD player already recording the first women's boxing matches of the 2012 Olympics.  My fading in and out ended when Queen Underwood stepped into the ring against British boxer Natasha Jones.  Announcers Teddy Atlas and Bob Papa mentioned that Underwood had fought against Jones before and lost.

Now there have been some bad referee calls and judges' decisions all throughout the men's boxing matches (Errol Spence Jr.'s match really stands out).  But Queen Underwood's loss -- a close one, according to sports observers -- appeared to be justified.  The female fighters fought four, two-minute rounds.  It seemed that Queen Underwood didn't do enough the first three rounds, but rallied in the fourth round.  However, she couldn't make up the lost points that far into the match. 

Underwood did a mighty job of holding back her emotions as she answered a reporter's questions right after the match.  I felt so bad for her that I was wiping away tears.  Partially because she lost, but mostly because of all she went through to get to the Olympics.  I wasn't aware before today that she and her sister had been victims of abuse from their father.  Boxing helped save her life.  Gotta give her respect.  Today, she became the first American woman to have a boxing match at the Olympics.  Like Laila Ali who was commentating on the women's matches said, Queen Underwood is still a champion.

Elena Savelyeva (in red in the photo above), a Russian who became the first woman to win a boxing match at the Olympics, stated that there is no prejudice against women boxing in her home country.  If only that was the case every where else in the world!

There was a match where one woman held another woman by her arm up against the ropes (sorry, I can't remember their names at the moment).  The woman against the ropes was punched four or five times in the face.  The referee should have got on the other boxer about holding, but nothing was said.  In another match, a woman was knocked to the canvas with a right.  It should have been counted as a knockdown it wasn't.  Atlas and Papa were grumbling all morning about the bad calls and dubious judges' decisions.  I couldn't blame them, and I was agreeing with them.  It appears the women boxers are getting jacked just like most of the male boxers have been so far.