Friday, September 28, 2012
The crowd was not as big this year. I kept hearing how bad traffic was from people who fought through it to get to the field house. Andre showed up, but he didn't want a fight. He's still nursing the rib that got cracked by Andres. Gene, Adam, and Rich all weighed in, hoping to get fights, but alas, there were no opponents available for them at that show. Willie called all the people who had fights into the gym, prayed with us, and gave us a pep talk.
An acquaintance of mine who sings professionally (and very well at that), KT, came out to the show. "This is the first time I've ever seen a live boxing show!" she told me. KT takes martial arts. I tried to get back around to talk to her after my fight, but I kept getting stopped by others who wanted to talk about my fight. I sent her an email saying I appreciated that she attended. Alex, who is a member of my church, attended the fight, too. Pastor Roger and Virginia were no-shows. I know Pastor's back had been bothering him all week. Maybe that's why they stayed home.
Instead of singing "The Star Spangled Banner", I sang "My Country, Tis' of Thee". Recently, I've been thinking a lot about my early years in grade school, and how we used to sing that song every morning after saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Of course, that isn't done in Chicago Public Schools anymore. That's too bad because it was a good way to start the day.
Just like last year, I didn't get to see all of the fights in their entirety. I was running back and forth and talking to people so I missed a lot. I do know that most of the guys in the youth boxing program did very well. One of the smaller boys lost, and he grumbled about to me afterwards. "The other boy hit me and knocked my head gear loose. But I came back and gave the boy a knockdown, but the referee didn't count it that way," he said. I had seen his fight, and he was right. "Don't worry about it. You did a good job, and the next time, you will use what you've learned in this fight to win your next fight," I advised him.
Sarah and Amy along. Meg's three kids were in attendance, along with her husband, whom I finally got to meet.
As Alan got me ready to go into the ring, he leaned over and whispered, "You can take that girl. You have trained for awhile and have the experience. Hillari, you're 50 years old. She's seventeen." I did a double take. Damn. . .she's in high school? I thought. "Hit her like you're a woman. Fight her like a woman," Alan said.
I wasn't wearing my usual Loyola Park tank top -- all of them are in the dirty clothes hamper, waiting to be washed. The referee told me I couldn't wear the Loyola Boxing shirt I had on because it had sleeves. "This is ridiculous," Alan grumbled. I agreed, especially since I had seen several of the boys wearing T-shirts. I had another T-shirt on under that, and Alan had to roll up the sleeves. It was said from the announcers' table that my match would be an exhibition match. No winners, no losers.
After that first hit I took from Edith, a Latina teenager who was about my height, I made up my mind that I'd better come with something. The thing about those one minute rounds is that there's no time to feel someone out or figure out their style. Punches have to be thrown quickly, and a lot of them need to be doled out. I gave Edith shots to the face, but she worked on my body. I was changing into my bed clothes about a half-hour ago, and my left side went "ping". I don't remember taking a shot in that spot, but I must have.
The referee had to keep telling us to "Break!" Either she was grabbing my arms to keep me from punching, or I was grabbing her. I stepped back during a moment in the second round to avoid an incoming body shot. I slipped, fell, and rolled over. When I got up, the referee gave me an eight-count. I could hear Alan outside the ropes fussing about the ref's call. I didn't argue with the ref, like so many boxers would have, but I gave him a look. "Are you able to continue?" he asked. "Yes, I am," I curtly answered.
After the fight was over, I thought, if I won, fine, if I didn't, I just have to take the loss. But then I remembered it had been an exhibition match. I tried to find out why mine and Edith's bout was designated that way, but I didn't get any answers. But it might have been because I gave up thirty-three years to Edith in that fight. She was good. She's only been boxing for a year. I told her to keep on boxing. Her stance was very good, and her punches were dead-on for the most part. The girl was no joke.
Bill told me, "I'll see you at Hamlin!" They have a show coming up soon, and I'd like to fight at that one. I found out that Andrea, another Hamlin boxer whom I fought and won against a few years ago, got married, had a child, then moved overseas. Her husband's employer transferred him to Singapore. I told Meg that I wondered what had happened to Andrea. Life certainly takes people in different directions.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
"I missed out on getting some big money," he told me. Colonel was going to take a temporary consulting job in Afghanistan. He had been in the military during the Vietnam War, and sometimes, he's asked by the military to come in on projects and lend his expertise. But health issues interfered, and Colonel couldn't pass the physical. I could tell that he had lost some weight, but for a 65 year old guy, Colonel looked good. He also helped Charlene with her stance, punches, and wrapping her hands while he was there.
Matt saw Colonel with Charlene and assumed correctly that he was a coach. "He doesn't coach for the Park District, but Colonel has coached elsewhere," I explained to Matt. Matt introduced Pedro, who had missed the first day of the Fall session. Pedro said he hadn't boxed in a long while, and needed refresher lessons. "Hillari knows what she's doing, and you can also get help from most anyone else in her," he told Pedro.
The first sparring match of the evening involved Sarah and I. We were going at a slower pace. Alan liked that, and told us to keep it up. My objective was to give Sarah more work, not so much to practice myself. I'm not sure how well I'll do this Friday. I felt sluggish and sore when I woke up Wednesday, and I didn't go in to work. I rested most of the day (well, if you call playing on the computer resting), and tried not to move around much. I felt somewhat okay to go down to the gym, but I was still dragging. Sarah and I did two rounds and a half (we started the first round in the middle).
Throughout the rest of the evening, I helped Charlene. Outside of sparring, I didn't do much of a workout. Lately, I've been really, really feeling like the middle-aged woman that I am. My mother's recent death was a bit of a wake up call. Ma's stroke was caused by high blood pressure. I didn't know she had it, and I don't think she did, either. Twenty years ago, Ma told me that her blood pressure had tested high a few times when she'd gone to the doctor. She gave the impression that the doctors had said something to her about the results, but Ma dismissed their concerns. She never trusted doctors completely, insisting that her home remedies were better. Dad, who also had high blood pressure, cursed about what doctors would tell him, too. Maybe they both would have lived a little longer if they had listened to advice. I've been looking at my diet recently and making changes so that it is more low-carb and low-salt than it has been.
Alan had all the newcomers in the ring for group instruction like he always does at the beginning of each session. Roman asked me if he and the woman should go into the ring. I thought it was obvious that's what they should do since they saw and heard Alan giving instructions. Instead I said, "Yes, all the new people should if they've had no prior experience with boxing." Later, I saw them hanging outside the gym door, watching everyone else, then I looked up again, and they had gone. There have been many who've come through that gym, unsure of what to do. But most of them would eventually ask others for help. I don't think that happened in this case.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Some former gym attendees were among the new people including Nate and Matt (who used to come to the gym with his friend Cindy). Bean, a trainer himself, joined the gym; he had been there a year before to check out the place. He remembered me from that time. He gave me some good tips about doing push ups. My arms should be closer together, not straight out with the elbows going out. "Start doing push ups on your knees first if you can't put your legs straight out," he told me.
I was pleased to see Sasha, who had said the week before that she would be signing up. There were a few other unfamiliar female names on the list, but they weren't there. Renee was back, as promised. Amy was there, but her sister Sarah had to attend a meeting at work. Alan was trying to figure out who to pair me up with for sparring. When Renee begged off, he tried to convince her. "Come on. . .Hillari's got a fight this week and she needs the work," Alan said, but I ended up being in the ring with Gene.
Paul, Alan's boss at his day job, held pads for me before I sparred. "The hooks are your power shots," he told me after I had thrown a few. I got tired in the middle of the round, and it worried me. Sometimes my stamina is very good, and other days, it's just not there. I hope it's there on Friday. Alan told me I won't be fighting Meg from Hamlin Park; she'll take on Sarah. Another person is set for me, but I have no idea who it is.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
The gym opened on time, but Alan didn't arrive until way after eight due to a meeting he had at his day job. Anthony came in, looking for Gene who didn't come in Wednesday night. "I need to get some work in," Anthony kept saying. He wants to fight in the boxing show next Friday. Andre decided not to attempt sparring due to his broken rib.
Prior to that, Sarah and I sparred. My mind wasn't totally focused on the gym, and initially, I wasn't too keen on sparring that night. The day before, I informed the hospital in California that I would not pay to have Ma's body shipped back to Chicago, nor was I going to have a funeral. The cost was too high, and I wasn't about to put that financial burden on my aunts, either. None of us are rich, and besides that, a couple of my aunts are dealing with health issues. The social worker I talked to at the hospital seemed taken aback at my attitude. I guess he doesn't know many people who had contentious relationships with their parents. Maybe that social worker should get around more. Pastor Roger seemed a little surprised as well. He kept offering suggestions for a funeral or memorial service. "It's a done deal. The state of California will cremate my mother's body on their dime," I told him.
I forced myself to pay attention in the ring. Alan told me to catch Sarah's jabs with my right hand. In between rounds, I told him, "It feels easier to catch her jabs with my left hand." "It's better to catch them with your right, so you can throw a jab back," Alan explained. For the next three rounds, I did just that.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Andre came in a few minutes later, followed by Amy, Sarah, and Anthony, who gave me a big hug. I hadn't seen him in a long while. I had just went through some old entries last night and saw that I had mentioned him several times. Marcus and Gene came in also. Alan was out because Monday was Rosh Hashanah.
Andre and Anthony wanted to spar, but the rules are, when the coach's not in, no sparring takes place. But they got into the ring, promising to do some sparring drills. Anthony did not wear a mouth piece. I watched carefully so he didn't hit Andre in the ribs. Andre has a cracked rib due to sparring with Andres the other week.
Gene got in with Andre. I kept reminding Gene to keep his right hand up, as well as throw his jab out completely. Andre's rib didn't keep him from dancing around Gene and throwing quick punches. Andre came out, and Anthony got in, coaching Gene the whole time as they moved around. Gene had gotten tired, but Anthony encouraged him to keep punching during the last 30 seconds of the round.
Sarah and Amy did sparring drills, too, but unlike the guys, they wore no headgear or mouth pieces. Sarah threw punches while Amy caught them during the first round they were in the ring. The second time around, Amy threw hooks while Sarah defended against them.
I didn't do much of a workout. My mind was distracted by the fact my mother's body is still in San Francisco. I showed up to work this morning, and Virginia, the pastor's wife, was there to tell me her husband was ill and wouldn't be in. She had to leave briefly to pick up some bread for this morning's food pantry, so I watched her little boy, Isaac. Isaac and I spent a pleasant time watching Elmo videos on YouTube until his mother returned.
Everybody, including Vera and Stephanie, two of the food pantry volunteers, were surprised I had come to work. When my dad died eight years ago, I came to work that Monday because I had to take care of some work related duties. I was off the rest of the week after that, but things were different back then. I was working at a full-time job that provided benefits, and I could afford to take the time off. These days, I work two part-time jobs (albeit in the same place), I don't get benefits, and any time lost at work is lost wages. The main job of dealing with Dad's funeral arrangements fell to my stepmother, but he had insurance to cover things. As far as I know, Ma had no insurance or money, and as her only living child, everything falls on me.
So I half-heartedly shadow boxed, and I barely hit the bags. The rest of the time was spent watching everybody else run drills. I was the last one out of the gym. I walked home alone in the rain, my mind still distracted.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Ma was a little woman, but she packed a very hard punch. Unlike today's kids, my siblings and I, our cousins, kids in the neighborhood, our schoolmates, and most kids in general got spankings when we got out of line. Believe me, it was better when she came at me with a belt or her shoe than with her fists. I've knocked a couple of people out during sparring with my right hand. But I still don't believe that my right is as potent as Ma's right hand was. I've got to practice more to get up to her level.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Amy had only sparred once before, and that was with her sister Sarah. Sarah convinced her to get in the ring to move around with her so she could work on defense. Turns out that Amy, although she rarely spars, has a good jab.
When Sarah sparred with Tommy, she took some good shots to the head and face, but she kept right on going. Alan and I were impressed. Whoever they put Sarah up against at the upcoming boxing show is going to have another thought coming if they think they're going to give her a hard blow and stop her. It's not going to happen.
I do have videos of the sparring action, but I will put them in another entry later on. Luckily, there's no video of me sparring last night; I told Alan that I felt very clumsy. I have a bad habit of getting out of form. I'll put my right leg forward when throwing a right punch, when all I'm supposed to do is turn the back foot. While executing some punches, I end up turning all the way around. A lot of times, I'm out of balance, even when I'm practicing on the bags. There's always something to work and improve on, and balance is another of those things.
There's always entertainment to be had in the gym, and Alan, one of the many comedians on the premises, provided some. It was reported here in a previous post that Igor has a habit of changing out of his pants in full view of everyone into his boxing shorts. Alan normally goes out of the room to change into his shorts, but he decided to take a page from Igor. I'll put it like this: Alan's boxers aren't as ugly as the ones I've seen Igor wearing. But my late dad still holds the crown for wearing the ugliest boxers I've ever seen in my life.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Monday evening's crowd consisted of Alan, Sarah, Amy, Renee, Gene, Igor and myself. The coach's desk above was the cleanest that Alan or I had seen it in awhile. "Barry must have did it," I said. "Just as well, because most of the stuff was his," Alan said. He found a big picture featuring Barry and Gary when they were younger. In the photo, Barry has a full head of hair. These days, Barry keeps his head bald. "Barry should have put this up somewhere. This is a classic photo," Alan commented before he found a spot in the gym for it.
Of course, Igor did not spar twelve rounds as he promised. He stuck around for a little bit to watch Gene and I spar, but he left earlier than usual. Gene and I did three rounds and a half. He moves quickly, and after awhile, I couldn't find the strength to catch up with him. Gene ducks punches very quickly. I get trying to get hooks in, and I was not successful most of the time. I'm beginning to rely too much on hooks, I think, instead of putting extra time in to make sure I'm doing the straight punches correctly. Gene kept dropping his right hand. In between a round, Alan told him, "I wish I could spar, because I'd get you for that. Keep that hand up to your head like Velcro."
Sarah was in next with Gene. I felt Sarah and Gene were a good match because they both have long reaches. "Don't take any of your gear off because you're going back in," Alan told me. A hot flash was making my head feel very hot, but I left the headgear on. After standing in front of the fan for a moment, the heat went down a little. Their time ended early when debris from Sarah's gloves got behind one of Gene's contact lenses.
Sarah and I had sort of a war going on, but it didn't go as far as it could. I was too busy worrying about my shorts falling down. Maybe that's a sign that I'm losing weight. I haven't been eating out nearly as much as I used to do, and I've been cooking -- more or less -- at home. The shorts kept slipping, and I thought I was going to be showing that day's panties for real. I asked Alan a couple of times to pull them up, as I couldn't because of the gloves on my hands. He laughed, "Hillari, you're showing a prison move." I guess if they had fallen, I would have just had to be embarrassed.
Antoine, who usually trains with Barry, came in for a minute. "Who's fighting in the boxing show?" he asked. "Sarah and I plan to get fights, but I don't know about the guys. Most of them haven't been in for awhile," I answered. Time is getting short. Sarah and Amy commented that there were only two weeks left before that show takes place.
Alan told me that the other night he had Neapolitan sherbet -- a whole tub -- followed by a couple of small cups of Italian ice. "That was dinner," he smiled. "I wish I could eat all of that sugary stuff on a regular basis like I used to do," I sighed. I've cut down eating out to once on the weekends. I wanted to get some ice cream, but I didn't get around to it. Then Alan told me he'd gone to Superdawg for a couple of their very delicious hot dogs. "Now you've got me thinking about that! I'll have to take a trip up there this weekend," I said. That place is a long haul from the house on public transportation. It's up near the northwestern suburbs. But the food is worth the trip.
Sunday, September 09, 2012
Name doesn't ring a bell? Okay. For the benefit of those who aren't as old as me, or who have forgotten, Bernie Kopell is an actor who is known for his mastery of dialects. The first photo above of him on the phone was when he was on the 1960's TV comedy "Get Smart". Mr. Kopell played Sigfried, a German KAOS spy who often crossed paths with the hero of the show, Maxwell Smart. Sigfried's character didn't appear in many episodes, but the character is one of the most memorable from that show. "It seemed like I was on a lot because they've rerun that show so much," Mr. Kopell explained to me. He had been appearing on that show, and episodes of another sitcom, "That Girl", at the same time. Mr. Kopell went on to play cruise ship doctor Adam Bricker on "The Love Boat", a popular series that began in the late 1970's.
Why am I talking about Bernie Kopell on a boxing blog? He asked me what I did for a living. "I'm a church secretary by day, and an amateur boxer at night," I replied. He looked at me with surprise. "Really? Women's boxing and women's MMA are really popular. I love boxing. My dad used to take me to fights when I was a kid," he said.
We started talking about the Andre Ward-Chad Dawson fight that took place the night before. I didn't see the fight, but I had read the results online. Mr. Kopell had missed the initial broadcast, but was able to catch a repeat of the match this morning. "Ward is a fantastic fighter. Dawson is a great fighter too, but he wasn't a great fighter against Andre Ward last night," he said.
"I worked at an event years ago with the boxer who broke Ali's jaw," he told me. "Frazier? Foreman?" I asked, racking my brain. "No, not them. . .," Mr. Kopell said. "I know. Ken Norton!" I said. "That's who it was," he smiled.
I told him about sparring with men most of the time because most of the women who have come to the gym don't want to do that. "Wow, that is something else!" he commented. Bill Mumy, who was a cast member on the old science-fiction TV series, "Lost In Space" came over to bid goodbye to Mr. Kopell. "Watch out, she boxes! She might knock you out, Bill," Mr. Kopell joked. Mumy laughed, put his fingers up in a peace sign and said to me, "Peace! Peace!" I also met Barbara Feldon, who played Agent 99 on "Get Smart". She had a table next to Mr. Kopell.
Turns out that in addition to some celebrities who actually boxed when they were younger (Martin Lawrence, Robert Conrad, Jackie Gleason, for example), there appear to be a lot who are fight fans. It always surprising to me to hear of celebrities who like boxing, as it seems so many promote the usual -- football, baseball, and basketball. But it was very nice to meet another boxing fan who also happens to be one of my favorite actors.
Thursday, September 06, 2012
Igor told Alan that he's going to spar for 12 rounds on Monday. Seeing how Igor hasn't really sparred one round to completion, not even when Steve was the coach of the gym, I highly doubt the possibility of that happening. While I'm still on the subject, you know another thing that irritates me about Igor? He'll see someone shadow boxing in the mirror, then step right in front of them to look at himself in the mirror like the other person's not even there. The next time he does that to me, I'm going to snap, "I wear glasses for a reason, Igor. What's your excuse?" Or better yet, I'll use an expression that kids used to say when I was in grade school. If one kid was blocking another from seeing something, like the blackboard, for example, one kid would say, "Hey! Your daddy's not a glassmaker!"
On Tuesday, while I was on my way home from work, I ran into Matthieu. Yesterday, I saw Renee, who told me that she wasn't able to complete the summer session due to a lot going on at work. But she's signed up for the fall session, and she plans to come in before then to get back into the swing of things.