Thursday, June 27, 2013
Earlier in the day, I thought to myself that I wouldn't be surprised if Igor showed up at the gym. Sure enough, Igor came in with a receipt in hand proving he signed up for the session. John was really working the tear drop bag, even between rounds. Igor was standing behind John, staring at him. John didn't notice how close Igor was. I wondered why Igor was so interested in John's activity.
Luckily, there were paper towels in the gym. Gabriel sparred with Matthew. Matthew was knocked to the canvas once. The second time Matthew took a rough hit, he stopped sparring with thirty seconds to go. Matthew's nose and mouth were bloody. "Was I going too hard?" Gabriel asked me. "A little," I answered.
Tony and John sparred, and Tony kept turning his head away from John. Alan figured Tony must have taken a good punch the last time he sparred and became gun shy. "I've never seen him turn his head away like that before," the coach said.
Alan was doing his usual moves, especially with constantly moving his hands. However, Gabriel just waited on him, and planned what punches to throw back. Alan backed Gabriel in the corners a few times, but Gabriel kept his cool. A few times, he spun out to avoid Alan's onslaught.
I had another rough sparring session with Alan. The coach always has troubles with the hockey mask-like headgear. Near the end of the first round, I hit Alan with a couple of right hooks, and the headgear flew off. Alan got right back into action, with his guard up, telling me to keep going. I didn't want to hit him without the headgear, because truthfully, Alan shouldn't be sparring without the type that he had on. Fortunately, we only kept fighting for a few seconds before the bell rang, Alan put the headgear back on for the second round, and banged me up with a series of punches that left me against the ropes. The coach got me in a clinch, and said, "Breathe." I was okay, but I was overwhelmed there for a few moments.
In the above photo, Tenzin and Yadria work on the red heavy bag. Franco is the guy to the left, and John is on the right.
I commented that several people were missing. "It's only the second week of the session, and people are already out," Alan said. Colonel came by briefly to show off the gorgeous new custom-made BMW he brought. Kenny's still working on his book, so he didn't come in.
Gabriel and Franco asked me about the upcoming Chicago Park District boxing shows. "Will I get my a#% kicked?" Gabriel laughed. I explained how fighters just have to show up an hour before the shows start in order to try and get matched up for a fight. I assured him that there are usually plenty of guys who show up to Hamlin's boxing show who are tall and lanky like Gabriel is. Both Franco and Gabriel were concerned about the fighters at Hamlin because they heard about the reputation they have. I told them that Garfield Park has some good fighters, too. "Hamlin is a pro/amateur gym; lots of pros hang out there," Alan told them.
"I don't want to have a fight stopped on me. That situation would be embarrassing," Gabriel said. "I know. I've had a few fights stopped on me," I said. "I'm sorry to hear that," Gabriel said.
The problems with my knees keeps me wondering if I will be able to take a fight. In addition to feeling a little nauseous and out of sorts at work earlier in the day, both of my knees did not want to cooperate while I was walking. My knees usually hurt every day. Maybe I'd better stock up on Epsom salt and use it a lot.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Can you see the bruise on Kim Kardashian? This photo showed up online after she participated in a celebrity charity boxing match a few years ago. I remember watching it on an episode of one of the many Kardashian reality shows on cable. The woman she fought looked like she had some experience in the ring. I don't believe the woman beat Kardashian like she could have beaten her.
Yep, I forgot to bring the camera to the gym again, but I seem to keep posting the same type of sparring photos all the time, so I guess it's okay to take a break from that this time. I need to start taking more shots of other things going on in the gym for more variety.
Franco and Ren sparred, and later, Alan commented that Franco was going a little bit too hard on Ren. Ren is shorter than Franco and several pounds lighter. Tony and Gabriel faced each other in the ring, with Gabriel giving Tony some tips. Tony was better at throwing hooks this time, and Gabriel let him get in the practice.
Danny Bonaduce ("The Partridge Family") and Barry Williams ("The Brady Bunch") had celebrity boxing matches that were televised, too. Bonaduce won his match, if I remember correctly. Williams took a beat down during the match he was in, and ol' Greg Brady was really tired out afterwards.
I wasn't paying close attention to the sparring because I was helping Dianna (I will get the name straight) who just started in the class. Franco joked that she should spar with me, but Dianne said, "Nope! I'm just here for the exercise. I'm not trying to get hit!" Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut about the time I got knocked out by Ieisha and about the sparring sessions that left some badly bruised and bloody. Franco told Dianne, "My nose has been broken three times," which didn't motivate her to want to get into the ring, either. Dianne asked me if I had ever cried behind being hit in the gym. I remember crying after I got home after my first real fight with Meg, not because I lost, but because I wished my late younger sister and brother could have been there to see it. But crying from sparring? Nah. I just take those hits and deal with it.
Just like I took some hits from Alan -- again -- when we sparred at the end of the evening. Alan kept calling me out. "I'm gonna get you," he told me, and Dianne laughed. "You see how Alan is always threatening me?" I grinned. He easily got in all kinds of uppercuts on me, but I couldn't return them, even when I was in close range. I kept finding myself backed into corners and backed into the ropes. Then came the "oof!" body shots, one of which I'm still feeling at the moment. I'm convinced that none of the body shots nor hooks to Alan's head I threw had any effect on him. I was plodding around, and I got tired very fast.
Former ice skater Tonya Harding -- remember her? -- had a very brief pro boxing career. Amy Johnson beat Harding in the last one the skater had. Harding protested the outcome of the match to no avail. Sort of similar to her protesting during one of her last skating competitions. Harding didn't win there, either.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The new people take a big interest in a sparring session between John and Ren in the photo above. Just about the entire gym stopped to watch. Alan gave everybody the opportunity to spar, but of the newcomers, only John, Ren, and Tony decided to participate. Pedro told me that he would love to do it (and I was thinking he'd be a good match up with Andres), but he wanted to wait awhile before stepping into the gym.
Franco was very eager to get into the ring, and he started with Robert, one of the newcomers. Robert took some hard pops, but he stayed in with Franco. "Easy, easy," Alan kept warning Franco whenever he threw a hard punch at Robert.
Franco's brother, Tony, took on Gabriel. Tony was throwing both hands out at Gabriel. Gabriel covered up very tight, and picked his shots.
Alan and Tony's sparring session was rough and tumble with a lot of punches going on during the clinches. Tony seemed to be hitting Alan harder than he did Franco. Alan ended up falling back into the ropes after one hit, but each hard hit just motivated the coach to return even harder hits back. Alan grabbed Tony's arms to slow him down, and then turned to Franco and said, "See?"
Another three hard rounds were done by Alan and I. I got him with a right and a left hook to the head. "Uh-huh, so that's how it's going to be," he grinned, before pummeling me with some body shots. I went "oof!" a few times, and Alan laughed, "That's how I know when I've hurt you." "Oh, alright! I see how this is going," I said, before answering his punches with more hooks to his sides, and uppercuts to his body.
We kept needling each other like Spider Man trash talking Dr. Ock during one of their many confrontations.
Alan's going to be sixty-two years old this Friday, but apparently age is nothing but a number to him when he's in the ring. I know I'll be feeling those punches I took tomorrow. Especially that one I took to the gut.
Monday, June 17, 2013
About thirteen people showed up at the gym for the start of the Summer session. I think that's the largest amount of people that have signed up for that particular session in a long time. When Alan came in, he commented that I was the only familiar face among the crowd. I was for a moment until Amy, Sarah, and Franco came in. Franco hadn't been there in some time, and he had his brother Tony with him. Taheerah, who hadn't been there in about two years, signed up again. I saw another familiar name on the list, Sara, whom I had knocked out awhile back during a sparring session. But Sara did not come in that evening. Also, Marcus came in. "If all the regulars had come in tonight, this place would have been very packed," Alan said.
Neither Sarah nor her sister Amy were going to spar. It wouldn't look good for either of them to have bruises or black eyes as they had to look good for Amy's wedding photos. It was Amy's last time in the gym as her nuptials are approaching very soon. Her husband-to-be is Canadian, and she will be moving to his country after the ceremony. She and her sister did something very nice. They gave both Alan and I coach's jackets as gifts. The name of the gym is on the back of them, and on the front is "Coach". They are very sharp! I had been thinking about getting a coach's jacket for the longest, so that gift was very appreciated. I will include a picture of my jacket in a later post. I will miss seeing Amy at the gym.
Alan and I thought it would a good idea to show the new people what sparring looks like. He wore Kevin's old headgear, and I used my own. It was three hard rounds. Alan popped me dead in the face during one round when both my hands were down. My left eye took a beating when another punch came in. I caught him several times with right hooks, and managed to get one left hook in to Alan's head. Then I got him in the side with more right hooks. Alan banged me with an overhand right once, and I took a blow to the body that took some of the wind out of me. We were in the corner during another moment, and Alan was pelting me with blows until I thought to spin out of the corner. I fell twice, slipping once, and the other fall due to a body punch. The first time Alan tried to help me up off of the canvas took some doing. Then I realized that I needed to help him by making more of an effort to push myself up. It wasn't easy to do because my knees didn't want to do the work.
Later in the evening, Alan grinned that the "two old people" sparred to show people how it's done, yet we were "huffing and puffing", which was true. I told Alan we both were probably going to need Epsom salt and rubbing alcohol later on.
Hopefully, Kenny will come in on Wednesday. One of the new guys (the guy in the foreground of the above photo), whose name escapes me at the moment, has Thai boxing experience. He was working the bags pretty well. Kenny and the guy are about the same weight, so it'll be a good match up.
Amanda (in the above photo) was wearing a shirt that advertised a south suburban boxing club. I think she was the only new woman who showed up with a pair of her own gloves. She also appeared to be the only one among the new women in the session who has some experience with the sport.
In this photo, Alan gives some advice to Pedro, another new person. Some of the names of the other new people are Matt and John. Eventually, I will remember names of everybody.
I was telling Alan that I read about a fight between comedians Jack Benny and Fred Allen in the 1940's. Benny and Allen had a running gag going on their respective radio shows that involved the two men hurling insults at each other. They were so good at "playing the dozens" that audiences thought the guys were enemies for real, but in real life, they were friends. But the "feud" demanded a climax, so the comedians had a real boxing match that was done for the benefit of Army War Relief. It lasted three rounds and was declared a draw. Benny said in his biography, "I do not think that either Fred Allen or myself had the strength or technical skill to knock out a bee, even a common ordinary worker bee."
Saturday, June 15, 2013
A couple of years ago, the coach gave some sparring choices to a guy who trains at the gym on and off. One of the choices was me. ”I’d rather not spar with a woman,” the guy replied.
If I was younger and more of a hothead, I would have taken offense. I had been told, especially in martial arts classes, that “an opponent, is an opponent, is an opponent”. No distinctions were to be made about someone coming at me with the intention of hurting me based on gender. Now that I’m older, and I don’t fly off of the handle as much (well, some of the time), and I let it go. But before any woman who is confronted with a similar situation puts on one boxing glove out of anger, please know that some men are not refusing because of sexist notions.
Sometimes, it's like this: there are some guys in this world who were taught not to hit a woman. Thank God for that. Read the newspapers, watch the six o'clock news, and it’s clear that many guys are no longer taught at home about not roughing up women. Dig a little further on the Internet, and it won’t be hard to find videos and Twitter posts from guys who make light of assaulting women. We live in an ugly world.
The guys might want to really mix it up while in the ring, and they don’t feel comfortable about taking it hard to a woman. I’m always aware when a guy is not hitting as hard as he could when I’m in front of him. Then I see the guy in with another guy and they are going to town. Does it bother me? Sometimes, but I don't get all up in arms about it. I'll encourage a guy to go hard with me, but if they won’t, no amount of encouragement from me – or the coach — is going to make them do it. So I just take advantage of being able to practice my offense, which what happens because the guy will usually go light on defense. So don’t take it personally when a guy says he’d rather spar with another guy.
If there is sexism behind a guy's refusal to spar with woman, most likely the woman will have picked up on the guy's attitude toward and about women long before the opportunity to spar came up. Believe me, it's better to know about any kind of "ism" up front than to have to deal with the covert practices of them.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
It was later in the day at work when Paulette left a message saying that she was coming by church to put up a sign that the Bible study class was canceled for the evening. She mentioned that the weather was going to get rough -- high winds and rain -- and that she could give me a ride home if I wanted.
On the way to my apartment, she asked if I was going to stay in the rest of the night. "No, I'm supposed to go to the gym," I replied. When I got in, I found no notification on the Chicago Park District web site that any of the field houses were closed. I called Loyola Park, but no one picked up the phone. Alan called to say that he did talk to Mary, who told him the field house was indeed open. However, it had started pouring outside, along with thunder and lightning. "I'm surprised it is open," I told Alan, "but judging by the weather reports, maybe I shouldn't go in."
It didn't occur to me until later that Alan had to go in because he had talked to Mary. He had previously passed the field house on his way home from work. He wouldn't have been able to give the weather as an excuse not to come back out from his home. Somehow, I got it into my mind that none would show up, so I got on the computer and again started my nightly quest to make some money online (a story that is appearing to be more complicated and frustrating as time goes by).
So I didn't go to the gym. Alan called again a little while ago. "You missed a good workout," he told me. Only Sarah, Amy, and Igor showed up. While I didn't care about Igor being there, I could have gotten in some sparring with Sarah and/or her sister. Now I'm ticked, because I should have gone down to the gym instead of listening to the weather reports. I'm not a weather wimp. When that blizzard hit two years ago, I would have gone to gym if it was open that day. I don't like to miss any time at the gym, and I'm irritated that I missed a day for nothing.
"I could go up to Hamlin Park this weekend to make up for the lost workout," I thought to myself. But my gear is locked up down at the field house. Normally, I bring my gear to the gym on the first day the gym is open during the week, and I take it home after the second day of being at the gym. I'm confident that Hamlin Park, like all the boxing gyms under the Chicago Park District banner, has headgear and sparring gloves I could use. However, I've gotten used to using my own stuff. Besides, the weekend is already booked up with street fairs, riding my bike (that is, if my left knee holds up), and more time spent online trying to get some businesses started up.
Sigh. . . .now I have to wait until next week to get my boxing fix. The sport is truly like a drug, at least with me.
Monday, June 10, 2013
I should have immediately gone to the washroom and got some paper towels not long after Nathaniel walked into the gym. Nathaniel is becoming more aggressive in the ring (note the punch he gives to Gabriel in the above photo), but still getting hurt during each sparring session it seems. It looked like Nathaniel also took some hits to his eye, which caused him to stop the sparring near the end of the third round that he and Gabriel were in the ring.
Gabriel was dancing around Nathaniel a lot and just popping hits out. Nathaniel took some hard punches to his face, but Gabriel was paid back with a few hits. It couldn't have been easy to get those in, because Gabriel has very long arms.
Kenny was complaining that his neck hurt. It was probably from hits he took the last few times he sparred. Some fighters have strong necks that can withstand punches that turn others' heads around backwards. For those who don't have such necks, they can be built up via exercises that specifically work those muscles. I have an neck exercise buried somewhere in my apartment, but when it was out where I could see it, I still wasn't using it as much as I should have.
Alan took this photo of Nathaniel and Gabriel shortly after they had finished sparring. Nathaniel was rubbing his eyes, trying to see straight.
Sarah and I sparred, and I tried to use my left hook more. But every time I tried to aim a left hook at Sarah's head, one of her long arms would block it. I got some left hooks in on the body, but I love the right hand too much, so I was using that more.
Instead of using my own headgear, I tried out the umpire's mask type headgear that Kevin left behind in my locker a few years ago. "You're not going to like that headgear," Alan told me as he put a pair of sparring gloves on me. He was right. The headgear made it impossible for me to talk because of the way it bumped up against my chin. My peripheral vision was blocked to an extent, and on top of that, the headgear kept slipping. It protected my face from a lot of Sarah's strong punches, but when she connected, the headgear got twisted around. When the first round ended, Alan took that headgear off of me, and put one on me from the community ones on the rack in the gym.
Alan commented that Sarah and I were banging on each other while in the ring. It did turn into another mini-war during the last round. Sarah clocked me with a slapping right punch, and I kept coming in and ducking down to get direct body shots in.
No Dante tonight. Alan told Kenny that Dante finally signed up for Barry's boxing class, which was a good thing. No one really minded Dante coming around, but Mary would have raised sand if he kept showing up in the adult class.
Currently, my back is bothering me a little, and both knees are sore. I slipped and fell while trying to catch Sarah with a right hook to the body during the last round of sparring we had. I laughed at my own clumsiness. But I'm paying for it now. There's not enough Epsom salt left because I used that the other night in an attempt to nurse my left knee (which is still acting up on and off). The Mineral Ice or Ben Gay will have to do in order for me to get a half-way decent night's sleep.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
Kenny and Gabriel started off the sparring action at the gym.
Gabriel and his brother Sebastian talk in-between rounds in this photo. Sebastian's finger still needs time to heal, so he's not sparring for awhile. Afterwards, Kenny told him that Gabriel hits hard. "Yeah, I know," Sebastian replied.
Dante, the young man on the right in this photo, came into the gym again today. Kenny and Alan explained that Dante has to come to the youth boxing class ran by Barry from here on in. Kenny told him he'll continue to work with him, however; Kenny has gym equipment at his house. But Dante was allowed to stay in the gym and train. I had his age wrong the other day. Dante is not 14, he's thirteen. Still the youngest person I've ever sparred with in the gym.
Zenia's punches seem to get more solid and harder each time we spar.
Zenia still gets tired easily, but that happens to everyone the first few times they spar. Anyone can get their wind up with exercises, but those exercises have to be consistent. Some try running, others jog. When I was still roller skating regularly, that helped with me having stamina in the ring.
Alan grinned as he put gloves on Dante. "I'm putting him in with 'the baby killer'," he said. I thought he was talking about Kenny, but Alan meant Sarah. In the photo above, Dante does get a jab in. He also got in a right to Sarah's face. Dante moved faster than Sarah, and slapped down a lot of her punches. But she used her arm reach to connect most of the time.
Kenny kept telling Dante, "Box right!" Dante was getting caught in the corners and against the ropes, but he was able to turn out and spin away most times.
Amy and Sarah were laughing a lot during their sparring session. They'd slap at each other's punches, then Sarah forced Amy up against the ropes a lot. Amy did put some light jabs and rights to her sister's face. Sarah had her fist in Amy's face, pushing her back. That's one of the things they were laughing about.
Josh came in late as usual, but he did get to spar with Gabriel. Josh was a little more controlled with his punches than usual.
Professor sent me a message asking me to let Andres know that he was going to be in the gym in three weeks. It seems that Professor wants to have another sparring session with Andres. I passed on the message to Andres who confirmed he'll be there.
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
It was a good crowd there: Amy, Sarah, Doug, Colonel, Kenny, Paul, Dylan, Zenia (pronounced ZAY-na), Nathaniel, and Dante. Colonel asked where Vachel was. Some mornings I see her on the bus during my commute to work, but I haven't seen her in awhile.
Colonel and Kenny sparred for about two rounds, with Kenny giving instructions to his dad. I kept hearing him say, "Stop leaning back." Colonel was coughing a lot after their last round, but he was okay.
Alan was going to put me in with Zenia, but Colonel was already suited up, so he and Kenny went first. After they were done, I was put in with Dante. Kenny had told Dante to come around the gym so that he could work with him. However, Alan told them both that Mary was not going to be happy about Dante hanging around in the gym, when Dante should be in Barry's boxing class. Dante is 14 years old. I thought about that as I was putting on my headgear. He's the second one this month who thought I was a grandmother. The gray in my hair must really be standing out these days. Dante was also the youngest person I've sparred with so far.
Dante had youth and quickness on his side, so I gave up the idea of chasing him around the ring early on. He was slipping punches, similar to how Kenny had avoided the ones coming from Colonel, and later on, Doug (who sparred for the first time). After a couple of rounds, Dante said, "You're really good!"
I sparred with Sarah for two rounds, then I got in with Zenia. She only did one round. Her shoulder was bothering her. After the bell rang, she said, "I feel old." Colonel laughed, "I'm probably three times older than you!" I told her my age, and she said, "You don't fight like someone who's fifty-one!"
Sarah and Amy sparred for a couple of rounds. Alan was making jokes. "That's sibling rivalry," he said, as Sarah caught Amy lightly in the face with a right. "I bet she won't go in Sarah's closet again," he grinned.
Kenny continued working with his buddies, Paul and Dylan. "We're gonna keep coming in. I've got to lose this," Paul grinned as he patted his stomach.
Saturday, June 01, 2013
The gym was closed for Memorial Day, so we only had one day this past week to get our boxing on. In the above photo, Alan spars with Kenny. Alan has continued to use the headgear that Kevin left behind. He's always good about wiping it out and down before giving it back to me to put away in my locker. He asked if I wanted to wear it. Maybe the next time I spar, I will, even though that headgear seems to be more claustrophobic than the one I normally use.
Sebastian came back to the gym, and he told us that the hospital procedure on his finger was successful. But still, he has to be careful with it for the next several weeks. The finger was dislocated while Sebastian and Emmanuel were wrestling in the ring. Sebastian had Emmanuel in what looked like a rear naked choke, but Emmanuel knew how to get out of it. Unfortunately, Sebastian's finger was injured in the process.
Sebastian did some light sparring drills with his younger brother Gabriel, as seen in this photo here.
Kenny, the guy standing in the middle in the dark shirt, gave the brothers some tips as they worked on the drills. Kenny and I have yet to do the sparring drill where we only use our left jabs and hooks. Either we don't get to do it because time slips away quickly, or Kenny is not in the gym that day.
Kenny was moving rather quickly during his time in the ring with Alan. Both of them had to watch out for the middle of the canvas. That line on the canvas floor in this photo is actually duct tape that holding down the part of the canvas that is coming loose. The duct tape is not going to solve that issue for very long. People keep tripping over it every time they spar.
Alan kept noticing that while Sarah and I were in the ring, she held her hands down. Not all the way down at her sides, but down enough that her head wasn't protected most of the time. Alan told me to jab my way in, then let loose with hooks. That was easier said than done.
I took a hit to my right eye during one of the rounds. There's always that moment while my eye rolls around and tries to readjust to seeing clearly. Well, clearly enough without my glasses. I remembered to keep my hands up after that. Many of the hooks I threw missed Sarah completely. She had skipped away long before my punches got halfway to her location.
After two rounds with Sarah, Alan had me come out of the ring, and he put Lania in.
Lania has some solid punches, but she turns her head away when a punch is thrown back at her, as seen in this photo.
I got back in the ring to spar with Lania, and I seriously had to watch it. Lania's hard punches landed mostly in my face on my head. She continued to turn away every time I threw a punch whether it landed or not. Lania began to tire out, and her hands dropped. Both Alan and I encouraged Lania to finish out the round. I eased back on throwing punches.
Emmanuel came in with his adorable daughter Enjoli. She's sitting on the rail in the background of this picture. I was a little surprised to learn that she's nine years old. I remember when she was the cute baby that her father used to bring with him when he visited the gym. Emmanuel is giving a kickboxing class in June, and I'm planning to attend.
Speaking of cute babies, there was one such baby I remembered seeing 27 years ago while I stood with my late sister in an adoption agency. My sister had signed the papers, and as the years went by, my hopes of seeing the child again dimmed. But I never forgot about her. Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was reunited with her again via the magic of Facebook, and the help of my sister's other daughter (who had also been given up for adoption). One of the first things she noticed when I friended her on Facebook were the pictures I put up. "Wow, Auntie! You box? That's cool!" she wrote.