Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reygie and Five Rounds

"I had two Whoppers today," Alan said.  If it isn't hot dogs from SuperDawg, it's something else.  "Where are you putting all that food?" I asked.  Alan is not overweight.  "I would have brought my workout clothes in, but that food is still sitting on my stomach," he said. 

Reygie came in groaning about being tired and getting old.  "I lifted weights yesterday, and I still feel it," he explained.  He and I agreed to do a couple of rounds of sparring.  We ended up doing three rounds.

It was one of those nights when I had picked up some energy from somewhere.  I moved around the bags easily, then when I got into the ring, I was moving quicker than I usually do.  Reggie switched to southpaw a few times.  I made the mistake of moving to his right to avoid the incoming punches, instead of moving to the left, but I corrected that quickly. 

Reygie ended up doing five rounds total, as he gave a round a piece to a couple of guys who came in looking for some sparring action. 

One of the guys took a serious pop in the face from Reygie, but they shook it off and got right back to business.  Another guy had a long reach, and he used it well. 

We keep half-joking around about having a Christmas/Hanukkah in the gym.  "Pot luck!" Reygie suggested with a grin.  Now it's turned into an interfaith party.  Have to cover everybody, you know.  It's a good idea, and it could happen, but without alcohol added.  Strong drinks aren't allowed on Chicago Park District property.
Owen revealed that he's part of a company that created an app for cell phones.  He's currently going to college, but he'll be going back to England for a little awhile to work at the company.  "I've invested in the company, and I want to see a return on it," he told me.  I wish I was that smart to be able to create apps for phones.  That's a lucrative business to be in these days. 

Of course, I wouldn't hit a heavy bag without gloves on my hands, so obviously, the photos above were staged.  Alan took the pictures.  They'll also turn up at some point on my web site,

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Whole Tooth Of The Matter

In the above photo, sisters Sarah and Amy get their crunches in.  I need to get back to doing those, and work my way back up to doing fifty of them at a time.

Victoria and Isabella were talking to Sarah and Amy in the hallway when I got down to the field house.   I also answered a lot of their questions.  Victoria is very interested in joining the class. Victoria thinks boxing is "cool", but is not so sure about sparring.  But she might go for it later on down the line. 

Kevin, who hasn't been in the gym for months, came in to get a workout.  He ended up sparring with Reggie.

They were going along at a good pace, getting in some good punches.  Then Reggie had to stop because one of his contacts went out of place.  I never knew he wore them until tonight.  Reggie was also bleeding; Kevin had bloodied up his nose.  Kevin said, "I'm out of condition because I haven't done this for a long time."  But Kevin took some direct hard shots from Reggie, and stood up under them.

Before they got into the ring, Sarah and I sparred.  Alan kept telling me to protect my head and face with one hand, and uppercut Sarah with the other.  I managed to do it once, but Sarah hopped back and out of harm's way when I tried it again.  At first, I wasn't too keen on sparring tonight because of a dental emergency that happened on Thanksgiving.

That little white thing on the back of my hand is half of my back tooth.  I was flossing on Thanksgiving morning when I heard a crack.  For a second, I thought the flosser I was using had broken.  Then I felt something hard on my tongue.  There was no pain, just the shock of looking at the broken tooth in my hand for several minutes. 

Of course, there was no dentist to be found on the holiday, and I was ticked off because I wouldn't be able to eat the delicious food that my aunts had cooked.  I called Alan on Friday, and he recommended several dentists.  I choose one whom I had seen over a decade ago when I needed a wisdom tooth pulled.  "I thought you looked familiar!  I never forget a mouth!" the dentist said cheerfully.  A temporary crown was put on, but that will have to be replaced with a permanent crown.

After sparring with Sarah, I'm happy to report that the temporary crown is still there, even though my mouth piece wasn't covering it.  I had cut the mouth piece down some time ago because I was tired of choking on it.  But I still have to be careful.  Alan told me the flossing didn't cause my tooth to break because it was probably going to happen anyway.  I thought the way may have been set for the tooth to break because of a hit to the jaw I had taken from Reggie earlier last week.  Truth be told, that tooth had been bothering me on and off for awhile. It had to be due to having a cavity, but I ignored it. Whoever heard of an adult with cavities? It's not like I'm eating candy, ice cream and cake all the time (because of diabetes, I can't eat those items all the time anyway). 

I remembered my late sister telling me to take care of my teeth not long before she passed away from oral cancer.  Drills and needles don't scare me.  It's the price of going to the dentist that gives me the shakes.  No matter what has to be done, even if it's just having the teeth cleaned, it costs big money. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Boxing Before Thanksgiving

I thought that just Alan and I might be the only ones at the gym Wednesday night.  Not too many others came in.  Matt and Reygie (how he correctly spells his name) were in attendance, and Nate Sr. and Nate Jr. came in to get some extra practice.  Reygie and I talked about sparring, but we didn't.

Both knees were creaking and shaking.  It didn't help that another round of menopause insomnia had kept me up until almost four o'clock in the morning.  I was slow, but I kept pushing through to work the heavy bags and do shadow boxing.  I sat down a lot in-between rounds.  I wasn't the only one whose energy wasn't up.  Reygie complained about being tired.  "How old are you, Reygie?" I asked.  "I'm 28," he said.  "Uh-huh," I commented with a smile. 


The person with the most energy was Nate Jr., who was hitting the bags with a lot of intensity.  Matt, in particular, was impressed with Nate Jr.'s style.  "Nate's been working like that ever since Nate was shorter than me," I told Matt.   These days, I have to look up at Nate Jr. who is nearly as tall as his dad.

The major news story that was discussed was the shooting of Hector "Macho" Comacho.  The driver of Comacho's car was also shot; the driver died.  As of this writing, Comacho is reportedly holding on by a thin thread.  I didn't catch why the bullets were fired.  It seems a lot of boxers have been in some bad situations throughout this year.

I forgot to mention that Rich lost the fight he had last week.  According to Alan, Rich did a good job.  But the guy Rich fought had more experience and was more aggressive. 

I didn't realize until later that Matt and Alan were actually looking at the camera when I took this shot.  I thought I had caught them off guard.  Cynthia, who originally used to attend the gym with Matt, stopped in for a few moments. 

The gym closed up about fifteen minutes early.  Everyone had that pre-holiday tiredness going on.  Alan said he was going to try and get to a nearby barber shop that gives five dollar haircuts.  "Does it take long for the barber to cut it?" Matt asked.  "What hair?  The barber only has three hairs to cut," Alan joked. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weights and Washboard Abs

A small group was in the gym on Monday night: Reggie (in the above photo), Owen, Amy, Franco, and Matt.  I think it was Reggie who wondered why the numbers were so small.  I told him it was probably because Thanksgiving is this Thursday, and most people probably have left town. 

I warmed up by doing three rounds of shadow boxing in the ring.  Both of my knees were hurting and I moved around the ring like a turtle.  This may be a light workout day, I thought.

Reggie kept begging to get some action in the ring, so Alan agreed to do some light sparring with him.  "You can hit me in the head, coach," Reggie said.  "No, I'm not gonna hit you in the head," Alan said.  "Come on, coach!  You can hit me," Reggie insisted.  Alan didn't want to because he didn't want their moving around to turn into a war.  Besides, Alan was not wearing headgear, and he has to be careful about his eyes. 

The coach accidentally got Reggie in the head a few times, and he apologized.  The younger man pinned Alan up against the ropes, getting some quick body shots.  Alan got off the ropes, popped Reggie, and danced away from him.  "Alan's rather slick for an older man, isn't he?" I told Reggie.  They went for four rounds.

I sparred with Reggie for three rounds.  Just like Franco, Reggie switches from regular stance to southpaw, and back again.  I did my best to have my hands glued to my head to avoid being clocked by Reggie's hooks.  "Use straight punches. . .walk in using the jab then work on the inside," Alan told me.  Reggie was throwing some of his punches from angles I couldn't avoid.  I attempted to do a shoeshine (continuous uppercuts) a few times when I did get on the inside, but Reggie locked me up so I couldn't do that much. 

I asked Reggie had he been lifting weights.  His arms looked good.  "I lift between 350 and 400 pounds," he told Alan and I.  He and I did a burn out on one of the heavy bags, then Matt did a burn out with Reggie.  "That's hard, but I would like to try that again," Matt said. 

Reggie saw Alan using the wheel and said "Work those washboard abs!  I bet I could wash my hand wraps on that stomach."  Alan admitted he had made a trip up to Superdawg, and ate a couple of their most delicious hot dogs.  "Hillari, get a picture of these washboard abs," Alan laughed.  Reggie grabbed a towel to show how laundry could be done on Alan's stomach. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Return of Reggie

In the photo above, Rich shows some technique to a friend of his whom he brought to the gym Wednesday evening.  Later, Jilberto commented about how athletic she looked.  She mentioned that she plays basketball.  I wished that I had her physique.  I often think about the days when I was a size five, and I was very petite.  But those days have passed by for me.

Mary opened the gym door because Alan called to say he would be late getting there.  As she put the key in the lock, Igor gets right next to me and asks, "Teacher not coming in tonight?"  As long as Igor has been going there, he should know Alan's name by now.  He had no problem remembering the name of the former coach, so I didn't get that.  "Igor, why is it each and every time you're here all these dumb questions get asked?  I'm sorry, but that's what happens," I replied.  The statement came out of my mouth before I knew what happened.  But there was no sarcasm involved, just me wanting to understand why Igor never appears to be observant about much.  Of course, he had no answer.

I was happy to see Reggie, who gave me a big hug.  Reggie's been out of commission for about a year due to a bad knee.  He still has to have another operation to fix it, but for the time being, Reggie is ready to rumble.  "Do you think the coach could get me a fight at Brooks Park in December?" he asked me.  "You've got a month, so it could be possible," I answered. 

Reggie sparred with Rich.  Rich has become very good at picking his shots.  He calmly caught Reggie with several good jabs and rights.  Reggie was very tired afterwards, but he was happy to be back in the ring. 

Matt brought a copy of my ebook, A Woman's Guide to Boxing Gyms, and he showed me what it looked like on his cell phone.  "I liked it.  It was very informative," he told me.  I was impressed to see my ebook on an electronic device.  I'm busy planning out the next few ebooks.  They won't all be about boxing, but now that I know how to format them and where to sell them, the sky is the limit.

Sarah (shown here on the heavy bag) has become very, very good at jabbing.  She and I sparred, and I could not avoid being banged up by her jab.  Alan kept telling me to keep walking in on her and let Sarah hit my gloves so I could get close enough to get on the inside to throw punches.  That technique worked for a minute.  I was bobbing and weaving to avoid her punches, too, but that didn't help either.  "Hillari, why are you so sluggish tonight?" Alan asked.  "I must be having an off night," I replied.  "It happens," Alan said.

As we left the gym at the end of the evening, Alan asked me if I had thought about quitting sparring or at least, cutting down on doing it.  Earlier in the day, I had been thinking about that very question.  "Maybe when I'm 55 years old, I'll stop.  That's four years away.  I'll see how good I feel in the meantime.  But I have a suspicion that I'll be on a cane when I'm 60 years old," I answered.  I can see myself sitting in a doctor's office ten years from now.  The doctor will admonish me for having boxed for so long in light of whatever health problems I'll have then. Franco popped me good several times Monday night, and I shook it off.  There's no doubt I can take the hits.  It's the recovery time that's becoming longer and longer.

"Why do you ask?" I said to Alan.  He admitted that when he watches everyone else sparring, Alan wishes he could, too.  "I miss that," he said.  When I finally have to stop sparring and competing, I'm going to miss those, too.  But we all are having constant boxing matches against these opponents -- time, age, and health issues.  In the end, they're going to win. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Franco Hits Hard

In the photo above, Matt and Owen watch sparring between Franco and Rich.  Attendance was light Monday night.  Colonel came in briefly; he was wearing a cast on his right leg because he pulled something.  It happened the last time he was in the gym.  Amy came in, but Sarah had a meeting at her job.

I kept hearing Alan admonishing Franco about hitting with both hands, and hanging too long in the corners. 

When Owen got in the ring with Rich, Alan was on Owen about keeping his hands and his head up.

I sparred with Franco.  Quickly, I made the decision to keep my mouth closed as well as my hands up.  Franco hits very hard.  A couple of shots caused my neck to turn funny ways.  Another shot got me in the nose and stunned me.  I did a rookie move and turned my back on Franco while I tried to get out of a corner.  After another shot rocked me on the top of my head, Alan stopped the action for a moment.  "Whoa, Franco.  I know she hits hard, but she's still a girl," the coach said.  I thought to myself, I have to keep going regarding how hard the hits are because in a real fight, no one's going to pull punches because I'm female.
In between the first and second round, Franco asked Alan to wipe away some blood on his nose.  I didn't do that, I thought.  It must have happened with he was in with Rich.
Franco apologized, and we continued.  He and I had some good exchanges.  Franco went southpaw on me.  I heard Alan continually advising, "Use your right hand."  I remained in the standard stance, trying to fend off his right jab.  I tried moving away from the jab, but I kept getting caught.  Finally, I used my right hand straight down the middle, and Alan approved. 
The ebook I wrote entitled A Woman's Guide to Boxing Gyms went live on Amazon today.  I was pleased to see that I had formatted it properly so it appears right on a Kindle.  Matt told me he was going to buy a copy.  "Even though it's for women, I think I can read it and get something out it," he said.  I have to promote it more so that people know about it. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

"Nobody's Sparring Tonight!"

Colonel told me that I appeared to be "dragging ass".  I was.  I had to push myself to get into the workout Wednesday night.  No one was using the ring at one point, so I stepped inside to do some shadow boxing.  Focus, I thought to myself, as I worked on my footwork.  Since I changed up my work schedule slightly (no more cleaning on Mondays and Wednesdays), I don't feel as dead tired, but I could still use a lot more energy than I've had lately.

Igor showed up after having been missing a number of times over the past couple of weeks.  I have to watch him whenever he's near the community water bottles.  Igor will put his lips on the bottles.  I've snapped a few times when I've caught him, but he keeps right on doing it.  I seriously considered pouring a full bottle of water over his head tonight in an attempt to get the message across.   But I would have come off looking like some old battleax, so I checked myself.  I said nothing, took the bottle to the washroom, and washed it. 

Matt (on the right) shown in this photo with Franco, told me he feels a lot better standing with his right foot forward and using his right as his jab.  He's not left handed, as some southpaws are.  "I was originally writing with my left hand when I was small, but I was forced to use my right hand instead by a teacher", Matt said.  I understood.  I remember being two years old with a pencil in my left hand.  My mother slapped my left hand, announced I was using the wrong hand, and put the pencil in my right hand.  Both Matt and I concluded that we were probably supposed to be left-handers. 

Later, Alan held the doughnut for Matt to practice his punches.

Amy said that she and her sister Sarah had gone to Hamlin Park over the weekend to get some practice in.  "Bill was asking about you," Amy told me.  I keep making promises to get over there, but I haven't gone yet.  Amy and Sarah were there mid-morning, and it wasn't that packed, even when they left a little over an hour later.  Hamlin Park is open more days than Loyola Park is.  Amy said Hamlin is closed on Tuesdays and Sundays, but is open for a good amount of hours the other days of the week.

Alan looked around to match up people for sparring, but there were no takers, except for me.  "Nobody's sparring tonight," he said.  That's an unusual occurrence, especially if there are enough people around that could spar.  Maybe it was just as well, considering how sluggish I was.

The boxing show at Seward Park was canceled for some reason.  Alan indicated it was the third time it had been canceled.  Those shows aren't easy to reschedule, and many times, they're not.  The shows have to be planned around other activities going on at the field houses where they happen, and there can't be conflicting dates with boxing shows at other field houses. 

I could have also been tired because I sat up watching President Obama's victory speech last night.  I'm glad Romney didn't win.  I kept seeing a future like the one depicted in the book The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood if Romney had got in.  Maybe that's a little too extreme of me, but I was sure glad that I could continue to live under a system where a woman could train at a boxing gym and not be forced into being a housewife or concubine.

The news came that Carmen Basilio, one of my all time favorite boxers, passed away this morning at age eighty-five.  If you get a chance, pull up his fights on YouTube, especially the first one he had against Sugar Ray Robinson.  Basilio was a tough, tough guy.  He would appear from time to time on "Ringside" a boxing history program that aired on ESPN Classic.  Basilio would tell great stories from when he was in the sport.  Basilio also was very opinionated.  I loved to hear what he had to say.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Day Before Election Day

I came in the back emergency door when I got to the field house Monday night.  That is a no-no, but I saw several guys standing around inside, and the door was open.  Adam brought in a guy whom he introduced to Alan as his brother-in-law, I believe.  His brother-in-law was giving him boxing pointers.

That was especially true when Adam sparred with Rich.  I saw both the brother-in-law and Alan in the corner between rounds giving advice to Adam.  From what I saw of their pairing, Adam and Rich were feeling each other out, trying to figure out the best way to get in punches on each other. 

Matt told me to feel free to spar with him, but just not that night.  He wants a pair of boxing shoes.  "I'm tired of going around in the ring with street shoes on," he told me.   His pair of athletic shoes were messed up when he accidentally stepped into a pile of number two somewhere on the street.  Matt said the clean up was a lot of work.  His shoes were still recovering at home as they dry.

Colonel came in, but not Kenny.  Kenny was working on the two books he's writing, one about graffiti, and the other, a children's book.  Colonel's been having problems lately with his wrist because of arthritis.  A couple of knuckles on his other hand were swollen.  He thought that might have been due to some medication he's been taking.  "This stuff sucks," Colonel grumbled.  I always felt that I had to look out for Alan when he was still sparring with others.  Now I find myself looking out for Colonel, who despite health issues, still carries on with his training. 

I threw a medicine ball on Colonel's stomach as he laid down on the canvas in the ring.  He'd catch it, then throw it back up to me.  I threw the ball thirty times.  Alan told Colonel, "Hey, make sure your 'junk' is tucked in before that ball comes in."  I was worried about that too, to tell the truth.  I was watching very carefully how I was throwing that ball.  But it was fine. 

Sarah and I sparred, and I tried to take a different approach.  I wanted to focus a lot on defense.  Alan kept telling me to catch her jab with my right and return a jab of my own.  When I did that, he cracked, "All these years in here, and now you're finally doing it right."  I tagged Sarah in the face a couple of times -- not hard -- and even got in a right hook.  But I had to mostly revert back to going for the body.  In between rounds, Paul told me to give her right hooks to the head and body.  But Sarah always puts her long arms to good use.  I'm never able to double up on hooks like that with her, no matter how hard I try.

After I snapped this photo of Renee, she protested, "Aw!  You caught me looking all tired!"  She was watching Adam and Rich sparring.

Yesterday, I went to the condo Brandy shares with her boyfriend, Nick.  Nice, cozy place.  They have a dog named Biscuit, and a rabbit named Turkey.  I met a couple of their friends, David, who just got married about two weeks ago, and Todd, who plays guitar.  Brandy and Nick ran a 15K marathon that morning, and they invited people over afterwards for a gathering.  There was quiche, cheesecake, veggie sticks, and cookies.  I had a couple of mimosas.  Never had that drink before, and they were tasty.  Brandy said she'd like to return to the gym at some point.  She remembered how tough it was to lose weight before she fought in the Golden Gloves earlier this year.  She and Vanessa -- the woman she fought against -- are now buddies on Facebook. 

Franco, seen here rolling up his hand wraps, told me he had traveled to Italy back in April.  Turns out he a first generation Italian-American; his parents and grandparents are from a town in the old country.  He told me that Italy is very pretty, and the culture is way different from America.  Sigh. . .I wish I could do some traveling. There was a time when I was game to go everywhere, but I never had money to travel to places I really wanted to go like California and England.   I've never been on an airplane in my life, and I've only been to five states: Wisconsin (a few times when I was a baby, and twice as an adult), Mississippi when I was a toddler, Missouri with an ex (and now deceased) boyfriend, Michigan on a day trip with Pastor Roger and others to a Christian book store, and Indiana by mistake (an ex-boss accidentally drove us into Hammond).  I'll tell you a secret: in recent years, I haven't been big on being far away from home. It's a silly phobia I should have gotten over some time ago, but it keeps hanging on.

Alan called Seward Park, inquiring about a boxing show that's on the schedule there for later this week.  The coach there told Alan he wasn't sure if the fights were going to take place.  There have been some boxing shows that were canceled this year, but not the high number of cancellations like there were a couple of years ago.  I thought that was odd that the coach at that field house wasn't sure about whether or not a boxing show was happening.  Hopefully by Wednesday, more details will surface.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ring Action on Halloween

As I approached the entrance to the field house on Halloween, I kept looking around and over my shoulder.  On the way home from work, I passed many kids doing the trick or treat business.  I just wanted to make sure that the same kids weren't outside the field house armed with eggs.

In the photo above, Kenny and Franco mix it up during sparring.  Kenny was yelling directions at Franco like he usually does whenever he's in the ring sparring with most everybody.  Franco did get some good hits in, but Kenny was tagging him more often.  I saw Alan lift up Franco's headgear in between rounds to wipe his nose with a towel.  The headgear Franco wears has a big bar across it to cover his nose.  Apparently, it still wasn't enough to prevent Kenny from popping Franco enough to cause a little bleeding. 

As Kenny and Franco started sparring, the song "It's A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" by the Intruders, began to play on Colonel's boom box.  I thought that was funny.

Kenny was asking his friend Harold -- who had also come in on Monday -- if he wanted to get some sparring in after Franco was finished.  Harold didn't answer right away, and I was suited up, so I got in with Kenny.  I like to spar, and some people offer up more of a challenge than others.  Once in awhile, I can get hits in on Kenny, but not often.  He's very quick on his feet and with his hands.  I learned early on that it was futile for me to chase him around the ring.  We would have continued, but Kenny's thumb -- the one he accidental cut the tip off of last week -- started bothering him, and we had to stop.

Then Harold -- the guy standing in this photo -- decided, what the heck.  He'd get into the ring with me.  Colonel told me, "Don't hurt the guy.  This is his first time boxing."  But Kenny whispered to me, "Tap him hard once!"  I got in a right hook, and a good straight right to Harold's stomach.  Otherwise, I went as easily as possible.  Harold kept turning his back on me, and Alan, Kenny, and Colonel kept warning him not to do that.  We only did one round.

Afterwards, Harold said, "I wasn't prepared for that.  That's a workout!" He didn't want to hit hard, because Harold said that's not what he's about.  He wants to learn the techniques.  He told me that I hit hard, and I gave my usual stock answer about having inherited my father's heavy hands.  Harold has known Kenny since they were both in 8th grade.

Rich is getting better each time he's at the gym.  Kenny asked me, "Who's that big dude who used to come in here and pick on everybody?"  "Oh. . .Leon," I answered.  "Rich could knock Leon out!  They would be a good match for each other," Kenny said.  I believe they would.  Rich really listens when Alan, or Kenny or Colonel give him instructions, and he learns fast.

Yet another picture that shows further proof that I'm very short.  Alan and I play around for the camera.

This double end bag really gives a good workout.  Colonel saw me working on it, and he said the bag was a good one for me because it's more of a reflex bag.  I gave tips to Owen how to use it.  "It works almost on the same principle as the speed bag," I told him.  "I've never used the speed bag -- yet," Owen admitted.  He tapped the double end bag a few times, but gave up on it for the moment. 

When not sparring or working with Kenny on technique, both Franco and Owen (pictured above) spend a lot of time in the hallway outside of the gym.  They jump rope, and they work a lot each other on the punch mitts.

Earlier in the evening, Alan was changing his clothes at the coach's desk.  I was watching, waiting for him to pull his pants off so I could say something smart.  I was in the ring shadow boxing.  Alan must have read my mind, because he smiled and gave me a sign to turn in the other direction.  So I smiled back and complied.  When I turned back around, he had his workout shorts on.  "I was going to make a remark as soon as you pulled those pants down," I laughed.  He pulled his shorts a bit just enough for me to catch a glimpse of the color of the boxer shorts he was wearing.  "See?  The shorts are nothing," he grinned.

Not long ago, I was riding on a bus to somewhere.  A woman got up to give me her seat because she thought I was pregnant.  Now looking at this photo, I really see how she believed that.  Eggnog season is around the corner. . . .sigh.  I really need to whittle my middle down. 

The plan is for those who want to get a fight to head up to Seward Park next week for their boxing show.  Alan is going to put in a call to see what possible match ups are available there.  I've fought at Loyola, Hamlin and Brooks, but never at Seward.  I don't remember any women who trained there, but it may be a different story this time.