Friday, September 28, 2012

Giving Up Thirty-Three Years

The picture above is of Alan warming up Sarah for her match against Meg at Loyola Park's annual Boxing Explosion show Friday night.  I gave Sarah some pointers based on the three times I fought Meg. 

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.

In this photo, Meg is in the corner as Bill, her coach, and the second corner guy give her advice.  Sarah towered over Meg.  However, Meg knew how to get punches in to Sarah's face and head.  Every time she got inside, Meg threw some bombs, several of which had Sarah's head snapping back.  But Sarah did use her long arms to an advantage.  Meg couldn't easily get next to her all the time because of it.  Sarah grabbed Meg's arms at times to slow down her punches.

I had planned to work Sarah's corner, but her fight was the fourth one, mine was the seventh, and there was a possibility that my fight could have come up sooner, based on what happened in the fifth and sixth fights.  Her sister Amy worked her corner instead.  I thought that was good that Sarah's sister should be in her corner.  I wish my younger sister was still living to see my fights, but she might not have worked my corner.  She probably would have stood in background shaking her head saying, "Ain't no way in hell I'd willingly let someone throw punches at me!"  The funny thing is, as vicious as my sister could fist fight people, she'd probably would have had more wins than I if she'd taken up boxing.   

Meg got the win, as you can see here in this photo.  She told me later that all of the women who box through the Park District should visit each other's field houses and spar with each other.  I agreed with Meg that it does make a difference when women train together.  I told her coach that I will do my best to come down to Hamlin in order to get some sparring in.  Meg said that I should also bring
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.

This photo was taken after the show had ended, and everyone had gone back into the gym to collect their things.  The man in the CTA uniform on the left is Gary.  Yale, a referee, is in the middle, and Alan is sitting on the desk in the gym.  Gary is a boxing official, too.  When Gary and Yale were younger, they participated in a lot of boxing matches. 

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.

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