Thursday, October 31, 2013
Once again, Gabriel was the man of the evening when it came to sparring. In this photo, he spars with Keith.
Gabriel also took on Orrest. Orrest was reaching up a lot, and connecting often, but I told Orrest to go under Gabriel's long reach and go for the mid-section. This sparring session was stopped quickly because Gabriel's nose began to gush blood. It wasn't Orrest's fault; Gabriel's nose tends to do that each time he's in the ring. Alan got towels from the washroom to wipe Gabriel off. I used some of the other towels to wipe blood up from the canvas. Gabriel's shirt had a lot of blood on it, too. "My nose bleeding ain't nothin'," Gabriel said, but Alan made him stop sparring for awhile. Orrest stayed in, and Matthew sparred with him.
Later, Phil sparred with Gabriel.
I didn't spar. My stomach had been acting funny since mid-afternoon. Alan told me he thinks it's nerves, and he's probably right. Once again, I hadn't eaten much. Plus, I'm still burned up about being fired last month, and that has had a negative effect on my health as well. I wish I didn't hold grudges and stay angry for weeks and months on end, but I am my mother's child in that way. Ma held on to stuff for decades. They say that carrying anger shortens the lifespan, but Ma was close to 80 years of age when she passed on last year. At the rate I'm going, I'll live to be 100 years old.
Look closely, and you'll see that Alan's left eye is very, very, red. Nope, it's not the result of him sparring with anybody this time. Yesterday, Alan had an operation on his eye. He walked in the gym with that eye practically shut. I expected him to have a patch on, but the doctors removed it hours later. He said it didn't hurt badly, but light bothered it. He actually drove -- very carefully -- to and from the gym.
A rerun of "Community" was on when I got home. It was a Halloween themed episode, and the lead actor was dressed as a boxer. If I still celebrated Halloween, that would probably be my costume. But then, people would say I wasn't being original enough.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
This morning, I woke up angry with knots in my stomach. Another day was spent at home when I could have been working and should have been working. But thanks to certain individuals at my former job, the rug has been pulled out from under me. I don't care if they are still reading this blog; they know who they are, and they've already did damage to my life. If they have got a problem with what I write, that's too bad. This blog not only covers boxing, but other aspects of life that are influenced and affected by it.
Earlier, a friend of my ex-boss got online and told me that I was being "mean", and that I should be forgiving towards the ex-boss instead. I politely set that friend straight, which didn't help my mood. It was another one of those days when I was glad to go to the gym and let off some steam. I didn't feel like sparring, but I got a good workout in on all of the heavy bags.
Andre Two was waiting when I got to the gym. He told me he's been training at a gym up on Cicero and Peterson. "They have a women's conditioning class. Hillari, you're advanced, so the class probably wouldn't be too hard for you. It would just push you to the next level," he said. Andre Two is helping to teach the class, so I may go down there and check it out.
Next, Gabriel took on Keith. Keith got crowded many times, but redeemed himself by throwing a lot of body shots.
Then Gabriel got in the ring with Seth. Seth kept getting backed up into the corners, but he would eventually move and punch his way out. Seth also got Gabriel a couple of times in the face. Gabriel complimented him on that.
I have to say a prayer for Alan tonight. He's got to have some surgery on his eye tomorrow. "I hope it goes well," I told him. "I hope so, too, otherwise, I'll be One-Eye", he joked.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
A guy named Sean came in just to check out the gym. Jilberto had opened the door for Igor and myself, and I was glad to talk to Sean if only to avoid the usual incoherent questions and statements that come from Igor. I explained how the gym runs to Sean. Sean hadn't boxed in about four years; he had been at Clarendon for awhile, then bounced around various private gyms. He plans to come back on Monday to pay the fee.
Matthew, Orrest, Teacher John, Phil, and Marcus (in the photo above) made up the rest of the people who came in. First up for sparring should have been John and I, but my stomach lurched again. I sat on the sidelines, but I was determined to spar since I had skipped it the other day.
John sparred with others while I got myself together. I told Alan, "I've got an idea. I'll spar without headgear. John and I will go light and work on defense." Alan gave me a look. "Okay, if that's what you want to do," he said. While getting gloves, I tripped over one of the step blocks that I use to stand on to reach the speed bag. I had also tripped stepping out of the ring earlier when I initially begged off sparring with John. Alan waved his hands. "No, forget it. You're not sparring," he said. "I just tripped over the step. I'm clumsy today," I protested as Marcus helped up from the floor.
It was different without the headgear. I wasn't wearing a mouthpiece, either, which was a no-no. It was extremely important to keep my hands up and protect my head and face. I got popped a couple of times (once in the eye), but John wasn't hitting as hard as he could have. He showed me how to throw a couple of jabs, follow with a right, then follow up with a left hook to the head. The way John was leaning in put him in a good position for me to follow up with a hook. It was a good combination. I practiced it further when I got on the heavy bag.
I would like to spar without headgear again; however, it seems unfair if the other person is wearing theirs. Also, there's always the possibility of me really getting clocked by an incoming punch. But then, I like to live dangerously at times.
Like Matthew in the photo above, I took a turn on the speed bag. I just imagined the bag was the face of an ex-boss. I have several difficult bosses to choose from, so I kept rotating the faces as I was hitting the bag. Boxing is good therapy, and I have needed that over these past couple of months.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I was going to spar with Keith. Just as I reached up to pull my headgear out of my locker, my stomach flipped flopped. My stomach had acted up a little before I left the house, but I ignored it. Teacher John first noticed my discomfort. "Are you okay?" he asked. I sat down on a nearby folding chair. "Ehh, my stomach," I sighed. Keith and Alan looked at me. "Why were you going to spar?" Alan asked. "It just started now," I answered.
Keith and John sparred and I sat and watched them, my arms wrapped around my stomach. I didn't eat much -- a peanut butter sandwich in the morning, and watermelon chunks for lunch. I haven't been eating a lot since early September. I'm still able to buy food at the moment. That's not the issue. My appetite has disappeared. I think this is the longest time I've not been in the mood to eat.
When the sparring was over, Alan checked on me again. "How do you feel?" he asked. "A little better," I said. "Pregnant?" Alan said. I fell out laughing.
In this photo, Alan shadow boxes as he watches Keith and John spar.
John and Alan compared notes about their sons, who are close in age. John asked me, "Hillari, I don't remember. . . .you've never been married?" "Nope, and I never had kids," I answered. "You're probably better off," John laughed.
Friday, October 18, 2013
This time, I was all the way at the train station when I realized I left my camera at home. No time to turn back, so I just went on to Hamlin Park's boxing show. The photo above is from last October.
Barry was there, and he was disappointed that all of his fighters couldn't show up. I think he had one kid in the show; everybody else had called and told Barry they couldn't make it. "We're gonna have to have a meeting about that," Barry told me.
I ran into Meg, who told me she was back in action at the gym after an illness that kept her out for a long time. She told me that people often get on her for boxing at all (I know the feeling), and it seemed they were complaining even more about her participation when she became ill. But Meg is tough. She had been cleared health-wise, and she won the fight she had.
Gary was there, also. I hadn't seen him a long time. He told Big Andre, who was the only guy from Loyola's adult boxing gym who was at the show, that he could come to the Chicago Fight Club and get some work in. "Just tell them that Gary sent you," he told Andre. Chicago Fight Club is owned by a guy who loves boxing, but has never been a boxer. Fearless Fernando, Antonio, and Boban train there.
Johnny, a local promoter, took it upon himself to sing the National Anthem. Johnny didn't do a bad job. He also had the announcing duties.
Alan, Andre, and myself were all prepared to relax for a little bit. Andre's fight was to be the eighth one of the night. But when Andre went to the table to get his gloves, we learned that his fight had been bumped up to being the third one of the evening. We had to scramble to get Andre ready because by that time, the second fight was in progress. While Alan was using the punch pads to warm up Andre, an announcement came over the speakers that Andre should come to the glove table. I went to check what was going on. "Andre has his gloves already," I told the people manning the table. "He still has to be over here," a beefy guy told me without giving further explanation. Andre found out the reason was they wanted the fighters to sit and stay in an area that was set up near the glove table. Alan shook his head at the request, Andre was irritated, and I wondered what difference did it make where Andre sat? We've always sat out in the audience before our fights.
The female fights seemed rather intense to me. One girl who looked to be 18 or 20 years old took a strong right from her opponent near the end of their match. It looked as if she may have been cut open. In another fight, an even younger girl was knocked to the canvas.
Oscar, the coach over at Seward, saw me and asked where Gabriel was. Alan thought that Gabriel, Professor, and perhaps Matthew would have come to the show, but they didn't. Oscar took a look at Andre's opponent. "Didn't he fight that dude before?" he asked. "Yes. . . .it's a rematch," I answered. I noticed that Alan and I didn't match as far as our corner person's jackets. I was wearing my Loyola jacket, but Alan had on his old Clarendon jacket.
During the first two rounds, Andre was tagging the heck out of his opponent. The match was similar to when they fought during Loyola's boxing show last month. The other boxer hung in there with Andre, but took a lot of hits. The crowd got lit up when during the third round, the other boxer got several hits in Andre and backed him up a little. But Andre went right back to work, throwing hooks and body shots. Andre won the fight.
We stuck around to see another fight which involved a much smaller boy, William Perez, and a tall boy. Perez worked to get punches in, but couldn't quite get close enough to throw body shots. I told Alan, "That boy reminds me of me when I'm sparring with people taller than me!" Alan agreed. Andre and I were really rooting for the smaller kid, but in the end, the other kid -- one of Hamlin's own -- got the victory.
Oscar said there may be a match for Andre at Seward Park's show, which is next month. Andre's had about four or five fights; Oscar's guy is 27 years old with no fights. But Oscar is confident he can train the guy to take on Andre.
I may get a fight at Seward since I missed out on getting one at Hamlin. But that may depend on my left leg and knee. "Why are you limping, Hillari?" Alan asked. "This has been happening a lot lately. It comes and goes," I sighed. I was just at the doctor earlier that day, too, but I said nothing about it. I guess I wasn't in the mood to be poked at some more and getting yet another medication prescribed to me.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Alan, wearing the hockey-mask type headgear (Tall John referred to it as being like a catcher's mitt), throws a punch at Tall John. Not many people were in the gym; in addition to Tall John -- who will now be known as Teacher John (that's his job) -- were Seth, Phil, and Keith.
John threw something. I couldn't see the punch clearly because Alan had his back to me as I watched the sparring at that moment. Alan fell on his back and flipped over. "Damn, that was a ninja move," John said, and we both laughed as Alan quickly got back on his feet.
Alan said something about having a steel rod in his back. "Oh, wow, do you have one?" John asked. "No, I don't, but sometimes my back feels that stiff," Alan replied.
Alan sparred with Keith, also. I was calling out "Break!" a lot of times when they became tangled up. But Keith, as Colonel pointed out the other day, shows some good form while he's in the ring. I was advising Keith to throw shots at Alan's body, especially when the coach had Keith jammed up in the corners.
Phil is basically an all-around athlete. His favorite sport to participate in is wrestling. Phil has also played soccer, and he boxed a little before coming to Loyola Park. Phil is in the Navy ROTC at Loyola University. I told him that my late dad was in the Air Force during the Korean War. However, Dad didn't get to go to Korea, but he was stationed in Europe for a time. "Maybe that was a good thing that he didn't get sent to Korea," Phil said. Honestly, I had never thought about it like that before, but Phil was right. I've known other vets who served during wars and were directly in the action. A lot of them had the scars to prove it.
Teacher John and I sparred again. We didn't work on anything in particular. John couldn't do much with his right hand because it was hurting, so he was mostly throwing left jabs, left hooks, and left uppercuts. One of the uppercuts caught me with my mouth partially open. The jabs did a number on my right eye.
Hmm. . . .I'm trying to figure out what happened here (Alan took the pictures of John and I). John does a lot of twists and turns when he's in the ring. Most times when he covers up, I can hardly get any punches in to the middle. It looks like John exposed himself enough for me to come in with a right hook. Or maybe it was one of those times I caught John with a right hook to the head.
I've started exercising again at home, mostly because I seem to have discovered another side effect of growing older. My left leg drags a lot, and my balance is off most times when I walk. This concerns me because I'm one of those persons who likes to walk long distances. My lower back on my left side has been hurting a lot, but I'm not sure if that has anything to do with my leg. Maybe the extra exercise will help. I need to do it anyway, so it couldn't hurt.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
In this photo, Anthony (on the left) spars with Matthew. I believe it was Anthony's first time sparring. "I'm glad I did that. Sparring is intense," Anthony said afterwards. I almost didn't recognize him when he first walked into the field house; Anthony was wearing a pair of glasses.
Anthony told me he'd been an athlete in high school, taking up all kinds of sports including football and wrestling. An injury -- one of his fingers was pulled backwards -- cut down on the football, but Anthony continued to participate in everything else. Matthew displayed more of his growing confidence in the ring against Anthony while they sparred. However, after much prompting from Alan, Anthony threw straight punches and landed a few of then effectively.
Tall John and Keith sparred. I have to come up with new nicknames for both of the guys named John who are currently in the gym so to distinguish between them. Bearded John shaved his beard off (Tall John showed up clean shaven as well).
Colonel came in, but had to leave early. "My knee is killing me. I should have known something was up earlier. When I was out walking my pets, my knee buckled on me three times," he told me as he rubbed it. My right knee hasn't done that to me in awhile, but I know that is not a good feeling. Colonel said he'll go swimming tomorrow; it helps his joints because there's no pressure on them. I wish I knew how to the swim because I'd be working out my knees in the pool every day.
Tall John and I sparred, even though I didn't really give Alan an answer about whether I would spar or not. I haven't been much in a sparring mood since early last month, but I need to spar because it clears some of the clouds that have been hanging over my head.
Alan told me he had talked to Bill over at Hamlin Park. There's no fight available for me. A list of Hamlin fighters that is in the gym has three females listed on it. All of the female fighters are younger than I and lighter in weight. It figures, since I'm experiencing a "when it rains it pours" situation in my life at the moment. I'm disappointed on one hand, but on the other hand I'm figuring it's just as well. It's always better for a boxer to go into a fight with a cool head than with a heart full of rage. My focus in the gym has been off ever since I lost my job, and my anger about the loss of income and how unjustly that situation went down is going to continue to boil inside me for a long, long time. Maybe it will have lifted enough for me to take the next fight opportunity that comes up.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Alan wondered where everyone was not long after he opened the gym door. Outside of myself, the only other people there were Matt and Heather. "It's not quite the middle of the session, yet people are already gone," I commented. But not long afterwards, people started trickling in. Marcus is in the picture above.
A guy named Jeff stopped in. "I really want to get back in shape and maybe spar a little," Jeff said. Jeff used to box at Welles Park years ago. There's no longer a boxing program over there. Alan and I talked to him a little more, then Jeff said he would come back on Monday to sign up. Jeff mentioned that his girlfriend was interested in boxing, too. "Bring her in," I told Jeff.
The only sparring done was between 5 ft. 1 me and 6 ft. 4 Matthew. I dodged his long reach for a time, but not often enough. I really made an effort to be an inside fighter, but my head got cracked more than once. As usual, I went in to throw the body shots, but neglected to protect my head. Finally, Alan reminded me to keep my hands up.
I wasn't moving my head enough either. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get that straight. I never seem to be able to coordinate moving my head and throwing punches. Twice I got Matthew with overhand rights, but while they landed, I knew I hadn't quite thrown them correctly as I should.
Afterwards, Matthew apologized for hitting hard at times, but I told him not to worry about it. Colonel was watching from ringside. He told me that I looked more "polished" and Alan agreed with him. I might get a fight at Hamlin, but that all depends on whom Bill has available over there for me to box. Matthew may get a fight at that show as well.
Later, I was throwing some crisp hooks on the heavy bag. Alan told me I should hit like that during sparring as well as regular bouts. "I was visualizing people that I'm angry with while I was throwing the hooks," I told Alan, and he grinned. If I would channel that anger into my next fight, I would probably win.
Monday, October 07, 2013
Unfortunately, a meeting I had last week revealed some very ugly facts about some individuals whom I used to respect and had considered them friends. That kangaroo court meeting, as well as the week, ended badly. I was happy to go to the gym today. I'm always been assured, with some very rare exceptions, that the people I find in the boxing gym are real and genuine. None of this stabbing me like Brutus did Julius Cesar, then whispering as the knives are being slowly pulled out of me, "But I still love you."
Alan, the wise man that he is, saw that the effects of last week, as well as all of last month, was still hanging heavily over me. Tall John talked about sparring with me, but I was non-committal. "I think you should spar," Alan said sometime later, so I suited up. Tall John and I took things light, mainly because Tall John wasn't wearing headgear, and we were running drills more than we were sparring. We alternated working on defense and offense. Tall John's got long arms, and when he threw non-stop punches, I had a hard time patting his hands down. I looked like Curly trying to fend off Moe's hands. Both Tall John and I had to laugh at that.
"Don't you feel better?" Alan asked me after Tall John and I had completed three rounds. Moving around in the gym always makes me feel better no matter what kind of day I've had. I displayed a little more energy as I worked the heavy bags, throwing punches as if I were throwing them at the situations and people who have been vexing me for the past few weeks.
Not many people were in the gym. Andre was waiting outside the gym door when I arrived, but didn't stay long after the door was opened. Igor came in and did his usual hour and left. Tall Matthew, Tall John, myself, Ben, and Alan were there until the end.
John and Matthew did drills in the ring, and Alan admonished them a bit. "Wear headgear next time. Wear it for me," he said. "Guys don't wear it in Korea," John said. He had taught there for awhile. Alan pointed out that headgear protects against cauliflower ears and cuts. "That's why I didn't want to hit John very hard," I told Alan, "because John wasn't wearing headgear." I keep toying with the idea of sparring without it, but the more I think about that, the more I think I should do more to protect my brain cells.
John noticed a photo of JJ on the wall. "I thought he looked familiar. . . ", John said. "JJ used to train in here," I said. "Didn't JJ go pro?" John asked. "Yep, and JJ is undefeated so far," I replied. "Wait. . .remember another guy that used to come in here, a guy who had problems with his back?" John asked. "Oh, you mean Ralphie," I said. "Yeah, that guy was good! Ralphie whipped me a few times during sparring," John smiled. "Me too. You know, Ralphie passed away," I said. John was floored. "Wow! Really? What happened?" "Cancer," Alan said. It's been a little over a year since that happened. I've been thinking about Ralphie lately. He was a good, genuine guy. I miss him.
If only the world of the boxing gym was like the rest of the world. I learned a hard lesson last week about people elsewhere not being whom they seem, that I won't soon forget or get over.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Colonel and Phil both work on one of the heavy bags in this photo. It was quiet in the gym. Alan was out due to a meeting he had to attend for his day job, and a few people didn't show up. Colonel's MP3 player wasn't charged up, so we had to resort to turning the radio on.
A guy named Eduardo came in to check out the gym. He was hoping to see some sparring, but of course, none took place because Alan was away. I answered the questions he had about how the gym is run, what equipment he would need, etc. I let Eduardo know that he could still sign up because only about three weeks have passed since this session started. If people show up after a month has passed, I usually suggest that they wait until the next session. Why? Because just about half of the session is gone, those who sign up in the middle seem to not be able to catch up, and they will have to pay the full price regardless.
I learned from Mary that a young man named Xavier sang the National Anthem before the boxing show began last Friday. She said he did a great job, and I was glad. Mary sent an email to the principal of Sullivan, a high school in the neighborhood, and the principal suggested Xavier. I think it's a good idea to change up the person who sings the National Anthem each time. I think I've done that for at least eight years; giving someone else a chance to do it is fine with me. At many of the boxing shows, I hear kids or teens singing the song. I think it would be a nice idea to give youths a chance to do that often. I also agreed with Mary that if someone is available to sing that song live that is better than playing a tape or CD of the song.
Everyone was looking for the speed bag. The best I could figure was that Barry took it down before the boxing show, locked it away, but forgot to put it back up. Matt said, "I was just getting comfortable with it and now it's gone!" Colonel had a bag with him, but the hardware he had to hang it up wouldn't fit on the speed bag platform.
John asked Keith (the guy in this photo) if he planned to compete. "Eh. . .no dreams of glory in the ring for me," he grinned. "Keith is smarter than he looks," John laughed. "I don't mind doing light sparring in here, but I'm too old for the rest of it," Keith said. "How old are you?" I asked. "I'm forty," he replied. "That's not that old," I said. Keith pointed out that no, 40 is not that old, but it might be for some things. "Just might end up in a match with a nineteen year old. People can hit them with a board and they would just keep going," John said.
Mary mentioned to me that someone was coming in to sign up for the class. When I saw Orrest (shown here on the teardrop bag), I assumed that was to whom she was referring. I remember Orrest said he had some fighting experience, but it had been awhile since he'd had a match. Colonel said to him, "I detect a slight accent; where are you from?" Orrest explained his family was from the Ukraine. Colonel said something in Russian, a greeting, I believe, and Orrest was surprised. Colonel explained that he learned a few languages while serving in the Army.
I had planned to add extra exercise this week, but I haven't started yet. There's a lot going on: job interviews, still trying to resolve issues at my former job, the apartment needing to be cleaned, have to reschedule doctor's visits, etc. I'm going to have to get on a program, however. Whenever the clocks get turned back that will be my clue to step up my exercise game. It's so easy to pack on the extra pounds once the time changes heading into winter.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
What in the heck am I doing in this photo? I'm actually backing away from Keith, whom I was sparring with. More about that later.
Yes, it has been confirmed -- the pieces out in the hallway outside of the gym is the new ring. It will be a raised ring, meaning the ring will be slightly elevated off of the floor. The new ring will be a welcome change from the current ring. Barry mentioned this past Friday that the ring will be assembled soon.
I noticed that the speed bag was missing. "It was here on Friday," I told Alan. "I don't remember seeing it there on Friday. Barry put a lot of stuff away before the boxing show, so maybe that's been put away, too," Alan said. I hope so. It's not unusual for items to come up missing from the gym on occasion. "If I had noticed it wasn't up there, I would have brought one from home," Colonel said. I was glad that Colonel brought his double end bag in and hung it up. Tall John tried to pump air into the one that he's been bringing in, and so did I. But the air wouldn't stay in.
Alan gives tips to Keith in-between rounds in this photo. Keith was sparring with Tall John, who wanted to work on defense. Gabriel was watching from the sides. "Throw something, man," he told Tall John. When Tall John explained what he and Keith were working on, Gabriel smiled and said, "But at least throw some punches!"
Gabriel later got into the ring with Keith to run some drills with him.
Keith and I sparred for three rounds. I was trying to go easy, mainly because Keith and I had not sparred before. But then I got some quick reminders to keep my mouth closed, as several of Keith's punches got me right in the mouth. I kept throwing right hooks to Keith's head and body, but I couldn't get any left hooks in at all. Afterwards, Keith said that I had some hard hooks. All the guys I spar with seem to tell me that (smile).
Gabriel also sparred with Matthew. In this photo, Matthew has backed Gabriel up into a corner as Alan looks on.
Michael, a guy who used to live in my building, stopped in briefly. "I need to get this off of me," he told me as he rubbed his mid-section. "What helped me lose a little was. . . .," I started. "Don't tell me to give up sugar," Michael said, as he held a cup of coffee in his hands. "That's exactly what I was going to say," I grinned. Cutting down on that and watching my intake of carbohydrates has helped a lot with me taking off some weight. Currently, I am a little under 170 pounds, which is a good thing. But many times, I get tripped up when the fall season comes in. The cooler temperatures are often an excuse for me to eat heavier foods as well as sugary foods. But not this time. As much as I don't care for cooking, I have to admit that since I have been cooking more these days, it has helped me control what I'm eating.
Now I have to up the amount of exercise that I do outside of the ring. I have a lot of free time on my hands at the moment, so there's no reason why I couldn't do exercise in the morning to start off my day. Now, if I can only stop pressing the snooze button repeatedly, I'll be fine.