Saturday, November 30, 2013

Inquiring Minds Want To Know About Females Who Box

Here are various comments and questions that I get most of the time:

1.  Why?
2.  Doesn't it hurt to get punched?
3.  Hillari, can't you find something else to do? (my late mother asked me that several years ago)
4.  I just don't have that kind of anger (aggression, toughness, etc.) to throw punches at another person.
5.  Hillari. . .you could get hurt!
6.  Hillari, you need to stop that.
7.  Hillari, be a lady!
8.  Ooh, I'd better not mess with you!
9.  Women shouldn't box! (usually said by males over the age of twelve)
10, When is the boxing season over?  (then I have to explain it's not like football, baseball, etc.)
11. When is your next fight?
12. And. . . .how OLD are you?
13. Do you spar with guys? (followed by a gasp when I answer affirmatively)
14. How many women are in the gym?
15. Girls don't box! (usually said by males who are under the age of twelve)
16. Hillari, have you been knocked out?  (followed by looks of horror when I answer yes)
17. What made you interested in boxing?
18. Work the jab! (my late Uncle Willard told me that)
19. People die from that! (my late younger sister told me that)
20. I'm glad to see women in boxing.  (once in awhile I get this one)

Have any to add to this list?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Day Before Thanksgiving. . .and Hanukkah

I learn something new every day.  Liam Neeson, an actor who appeared in such films as Darkman, Schindler's List, and Taken, began boxing lessons at age nine.  Neeson eventually became Ulster's amateur senior boxing champion.

I'm always watching old clips on YouTube of James Brown.  One of the clips was from "Soul Train", and Brown told host Don Cornelius something about having boxed in the past.  Sure enough, the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business", did have a brief boxing career.

In addition to Alan and myself, John and Igor came in.  That was it.  John played his iPod via the radio/CD/tape player in the back of the room.  Instead of Colonel's mix of 1950's, 60's, 70's, and early 80's tunes, we heard a mix of sports themes ("NBA on NBC"), TV themes ("The Streets of San Francisco") and classic and newer rap by Eric B. and Rakim, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Snoop, Lupe Fiasco, and others.  Alan usually says he doesn't listen to new music.  But he had John and I laughing when he said he did like Li'l Kim.  "My son had one of her CD's when he was younger, and I used to listen to it," Alan grinned.

Igor begged off sparring again with the same excuse that was always given to the previous coach: "Next week!"  No surprise there.  I really wanted to spar with Teacher John after he and Alan did a few rounds with the punch shield.  My mouthpiece was choking me again, so I took it out.  But I kept coughing.  Finally, I threw up in the spit bucket.  I had some spicy Jamaican beef patties for lunch; hadn't eaten those for months. I believe my stomach gave me a hint that is another food that needs to come off of my diet. Unfortunately, I had to take the gloves and headgear off.

John wished that Matthew had come in so he could get some sparring with him.  There's a park district fight in early December -- I think it's at Brooks Park -- and John wants to get a trophy that he can take with him to South Korea.  John will leave after that to go back and teach there for six months, and to reunite with his wife, who is currently teaching there now.  It'll be for bragging rights.  John trains at a gym overseas, and he'd like to put a trophy up alongside the other ones that are there.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tapping Punches

The poster in the photo above for an upcoming boxing movie, Grudge Match, was on the wall when we walked in the gym.  I don't know. . .it seems kind of odd for Sylvester Stallone to do yet another boxing story even though he's not playing the Rocky character.  Robert DeNiro did the classic film Raging Bull back in the day.  It will be interesting to see him playing another, yet older, fighter.

 John and Keith did three rounds of sparring.  The first round was defense, as Keith spent the time warding off John's incoming punches.  The second round was offense practice, and the third round was open sparring.  Keith did very well in protecting himself.

 Alan grabbed the punch shield and worked with Seth in the ring.  Afterwards, he told John and Keith,  "Seth is tired, but I don't want this guy to rest."  So John and Keith took turns sparring with Seth.

But they had to be careful. . . .Seth punches hard.  The punch shield was singing after Seth tore into it. That's probably why Alan was acting as referee in the ring, as seen in the photo above.

I sparred with John for two rounds.  During the second round, John encouraged me to throw a lot of combinations.  "I'm just going to keep tapping your hands down.  But throw as many punches as you can; some of them will get in," he said.  And they did.  We would have done a third round, but it was time for the gym to close.

Professor (standing in this photo with a hat on) told us that Seward Park was looking for a new coach.  "Again?" I asked.  Oscar just started there not too long ago.  But Professor explained that Oscar had an injury.  Alan told me, "Seward Park is looking for someone to be there all the time."  I can do that.  I believe I'll look into it this week.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sleep Before Boxing

I didn't know that actor Robert Karvelas was a Golden Gloves champion.  He won while serving in the Marines during World War II.  Don't know who he is?  Karvelas played Larambee, a CONTROL agent on the 1960's TV spy spoof series "Get Smart".  The star of that show, comedian Don Adams, was his cousin in real life.

I've been up since about 5:15 AM.  I didn't get to sleep until around 1:30 AM.  My sleep patterns have been off for a few weeks.  I was grumbling because when Antennae TV revealed their new fall schedule, "The Jack Benny Program" had been moved to 3:00 AM (CST).  "I guess I won't be seeing that for awhile," I thought to myself.  Today was the first time I was asleep before old Jack came on.  After a few times I found myself watching reruns of "Bachelor Father", a sitcom starring a pre-"Dynasty" John Forsythe, which follows back-to-back episodes of Benny's show at 4:00 AM, I figured maybe I should force myself to go to bed earlier.

In a sport like boxing where a person's focus has to be laser sharp as possible, getting enough sleep is very important.  Being drowsy in the ring is not cool.  But it is so hard to get the required eight hours that doctors say everyone should have.  Personally, I've been operating on four to six hours of slumber for years.  My excuse is that I've always been a night owl.  But lack of proper rest over a long period of time does take a toll.

Getting into a mindset of "it's time to go to bed" helps.  At least 30 minutes ahead of time, start winding down.  Have some tea or hot chocolate (not coffee, for obvious reasons).  Eat something, if a snack is necessary, but not a heavy meal.  Doesn't pay to lay down after a heavy meal; it tends to overwork the digestive system.  Heavy meals before sleep time can also lead to some disturbing dreams, which may lead to waking up in the middle of the night, putting us right back at square one in trying to get to sleep.  Do some quiet activity, like reading a book or even meditation.  But don't read the newspaper, because it's better to process bad news throughout the day than to have it on the mind at night.

I have a bad habit of leaving the TV on.  Sometimes I remember to set the timer so it turns itself off, but sometimes I fall asleep only to wake up and find that the "TV was watching me" as people used to say when I was a kid.  The room should be dark and quiet.  Flickering lights from the TV or computer makes it hard to fall asleep easily and interferes with having deep sleep.  Having the radio on has the same effect at bedtime. However, one of those devices -- that can be set by timer to turn off after 30 minutes or so -- that plays nature sounds can be helpful.  Turning a fan on may work as well, because of the "white noise" effect.

The temperature in the bedroom is a matter of personal preference.  Some like the room to be very warm and cozy.  Others prefer cooler air.  Of course, there's also the matter of considering the other person in bed, if there is one, so compromises may have to be made.

Getting proper rest leads to better alertness which leads to heightened focus in the ring.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Taking A Stunning Punch

I was watching "The Arsenio Hall Show" last night, and Eddie Murphy (in the photo above, which is a scene from the movie "I Spy") admitted to being a big boxing fan.  Murphy used to box when he was younger.
Murphy brought up that Bernard Hopkins is a champ at 49 years of age, and is schooling his younger opponents.  Murphy and Hall both laughed about old men watching someone like Hopkins, and thinking, "I can go and get in the ring with younger guys!"

Alan and his boss at his day job, Paul, went from light sparring to wrestling on the canvas.  Alan had Paul in a wrestling hold.  Teacher John and I were on the side talking about, "WWE!  MMA!  Tap out!"  My camera was in my pocket, but I didn't think to get a picture.  But trust me, it was funny to see.  "It's something how these old men think they can take someone down," I told Paul while I giggled.  Alan grinned, pointed to his head and said, "But we still got it up here to know what to do."

John sparred with Matthew, and he was happy to do so with someone who was his height.

Matthew waits in a corner of the ring before the first round began.

John likes to throw flurries, and he caught Matthew with one.  Matthew bounced against the ropes, and looked like he was going to fall.  But he recovered and continued.

I sparred with John for three rounds after he took a short rest.  I kept giving right hooks to John's back.  It was hard to try and get them into his left side, but John covers up like a turtle.  It was a little easier to get left hooks into John's mid-section.  The overhand rights I threw were so ineffective.  Later, John told me he felt my wrist against the back of my head.  He suggested that when I'm on the inside, I should tighten up the distance on those punches.

Alan kept telling me, "Come on, Hillari, jab your way in."  My hands weren't high enough or in the right position.  John got me with several light left uppercuts.  Then John came in with a right, caught me between my upper lip and my nose, and I got stunned.  I fell back into the ropes, then slipped down to the canvas.  My peripheral vision caught sight of Alan looked very concerned.  John apologized, and helped me to my feet.

After having not sparred for a minute, I did feel good afterwards.  John was laughing about how I kept hitting him in the back.  "I lay down at night, feel the bruises and think to myself, 'Dammit, Hillari!'" he said.  Alan told him to watch out about getting hit like that in a regular match.  John plans to fight at Portage Park in a couple of weeks along with Matthew and Keith.

John asked if I was going to fight at Portage Park, but Alan said I hadn't been training enough, which is true. I have begging off from sparring too much, and being unfocused in general.  It wouldn't be a good idea for me to try and get in on that boxing show.

I took a good look at my headgear; like my battered bag gloves, that is going to have to be replaced soon, too.  I've had a good run with that headgear, but the next one I buy, I'll be more diligent about taking care of it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Burn Outs On Monday

In this photo, Keith has John backed into a corner during their sparring session.  Kenny, who returned to the gym, was impressed with how Keith held his hands and how he delivered his punches.

"I'm out of shape," Kenny said when Alan suggested that everyone do a burn out.  "I'm 170 pounds!" Kenny continued.  Kenny did look a little full in the chest, but he can carry that weight better than I can.  For me, that weight settles around my mid-section, in my hips and backside, and loads up on my thighs.  The burn-out was done, but Teacher John begged off when Alan suggested we wait a few minutes then do it again. John was still feeling the after effects from being sick a few weeks ago.

I didn't spar -- again.  Just when I feel like I'm getting focus back, I end up having to climb out of a pit again.  "You are going through a lot of sh*&", Alan said, in reference to me being unemployed.  "You need to get that extra exercise in."  He was right, and as usual, beating non-stop on the heavy bags worked to lift my mood.

Seth, shown in the photo above, brought in a friend with him who observed the action in the gym.  Seth is quiet, but focused whenever he's at the gym.

Kenny worked with his dad, Colonel, on the pads.  Colonel is always complaining about various aches and pains, but the man is in better shape than most his age.  Staying active is the key.

Colonel had the foresight to call around about that coach's clinic that took place in Milwaukee, WI.  He asked when another one will be held in Illinois, and Colonel was told that one will be planned in the future.  "That will be awhile," I thought to myself, knowing how last-minute most clinics have happened.  Colonel didn't go to Wisconsin, which is just as well.  The people organizing these clinics have to, as my paternal grandmother used to say, "get on some time."

I was telling Alan that me having a bout this year is probably not going to happen.  My focus is still not completely there.  In another two to three weeks, the Park District boxing show season will be over until next spring.  The show fights take place throughout the year, but I've never had a fight at one of those events, so it's just a long wait until the boxing show season comes around again.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On Anger and Boxing

The guy standing next to me in this picture is my former boss.  I have mentioned Pastor Roger here a few times, and featured pictures of him, his wife, and his oldest kid here in past posts.  The photo is from June of 2006.  We were at a cookout that was held at the house of the head of the administrative board, who is in the photo below wearing the blue shirt.

There were all smiles back then, but not now.  I'm still a member of the church, but my relationship with these two men is extremely frosty, and that's putting it mildly.  Remember, this is a family blog.

I had to have somewhere to let my anger and vengeful feelings out regarding that situation.  Thank God for the fact that I could go to a boxing gym.  I was thinking today about a lot of young people are drawn into boxing gyms and encouraged to work out their anger on the gym equipment.  There's a story about a young Cassius Clay -- who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali -- involving a bike that was stolen from him.  I believe the young man knew who had taken his property, and plans to give out a beat down to get it back was told to an adult.  The adult steered the young man to a boxing gym as an alternative to the young man taking justice into his own hands.

It's not just pre-teen and teenage males (and a few twenty-somethings, too) who need to be put in the direction of something positive, especially these days.  Many young girls have moved up into getting into the same dicey situations that were once the sole domain of young guys.

My late younger sister, seen here in a glamour shot she had done at a photography studio about 25 years ago, observed a group of teen girls in a restaurant she was in.  While my sister waited for her order to come up, she happened to notice that one of the girls was showing off a gun.  "The girl started loading the gun with bullets.  As soon as I got my order, I got up outta there," my sister said.

Boxing is a good sport for a lot of  people if only for this reason:  it helps to curb being reactive in certain situations.  I have also noticed this in people who take martial arts.  There's a big difference in how people respond to slights and insults when they have the knowledge of "I could seriously hurt someone".  I'll yell at the top of my voice, but once I've said what I had to say, I'm taking a walk.  Perhaps I will give a cold shoulder afterwards for days, weeks, or months at a time.  Maybe I'll forgive, and maybe I won't (I'm certainly not going to forget).  But unless I'm truly being physically threatened, most situations aren't worth getting my hands dirty.  I know a lot of young people and some adults as well, who've been saved from consequences because they remembered they knew how to throw punches and considered that maybe the people they were arguing with did not.

Besides, like I mentioned in an earlier post, it's easier to hit the heavy and light bags in the gym and pretend the people whom one is upset with are the bags themselves.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Another Quiet Workout

"I've never seen it this quiet in here," Alan told Matthew.  We were the only three in the gym.  Later, Alan asked if it had ever been that quiet when Steve was the coach.  It was, from time to time.  Boxing is not only a tough sport.  Some people find the sport repetitive during the training process.  At least that's what I've heard from those who think MMA is more exciting.

No sparring again.  Matthew may have been willing, but Alan asked me first when Matthew was out of the room for a moment.  It's been hard to try to get over the current lack of motivation I have about sparring and competing.  But I may be coming out from under the fog I've been in since early September.  Today, I felt a little more energized than I have been for the last couple of months.

Alan's eye still looked a little swollen, but he wasn't complaining about any pain or trouble seeing, so that was a good sign.  He and I did a burn-out on the black heavy bag, and then Matthew and I did a burn-out.

Alan brought a box of hangers in.  The coach is always taking some home because he hangs his street clothes on them, but he brings them back.  This time, a neighbor of his had thrown out a lot of hangers, so Alan figured they would be useful down at the gym.  I have to remember to tell the new people who'll be in for the winter session in January to think twice before putting their belongings on that rack, however.  I still remember when Sadiq's book bag was stolen a few years ago.

Here I am, fanning myself with one of my bag gloves shortly after doing one of the burn outs.  Jilberto checked the radiators in the gym, and it appears they need to be fixed.  I was sweating, but there was no heat on.  Moving around during the workout helps generate some heat, but not enough when there's none coming from the radiators during the cold weather months.

I don't know why I though a white T-shirt hanging out from under the shorter, darker T-shirt I had on over it was a good look.  Maybe the fact that I'm running out of clean clothes and the laundry needing to be done had something to do with that.  Well, the clothes served the purpose of being workout material, so I guess that's all that matters.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Whoomp, There It Is

Teacher John had his iPod on.  He gave me a listen through his headphones, and the song "Whoomp! (There It Is)" was playing.  Alan said, "I used to go around the house saying that all the time!" and he repeated the song title. It was funny how he said it.

Outside of John, only Keith and Matthew came to the gym.  Probably some didn't come in because it was Veterans' Day, and they assumed the field house wasn't open.  John was still coughing even though he said he wasn't feeling sick anymore.

Keith (in the white shirt) sparred with John.  They were the only two that sparred.  Afterwards, John was coughing again.  "I can't breath.  My nostrils are stuffed up," he said.  "That's too much information," Alan grinned.

Colonel got in contact with Alan, and he told him about the coaches' clinic in Milwaukee.  "I'm not going up to Wisconsin.  The last time I went to a clinic was when Colonel and I attended that one in the western suburbs.  They can hold clinics here," Alan said.  That's how I feel.  Illinois is under Wisconsin's authority when it comes to amateur boxing; however, this state doesn't just have coaches in Chicago only.  There are many cities: Aurora, Springfield, Waukegan, Rockford, Elgin, Peoria, etc., where clinics could be held to make it convenient for coaches near those towns to attend.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A Few For Fighting

It was awhile before I realized how quiet it was in the gym.  I turned the radio on for background noise after about 40 minutes.  There weren't that many of us in the gym that evening, only myself, Orest, Phil, and Alan.

I've been noticing that lately, when people stop in to check the gym out, they usually find it a little empty. It's a concern to those who've had some boxing experience and to those who are used to training in gyms that are always busy.  For others, the lack of crowds they see on that particular day is a relief, particularly if they give a hint that they are looking for personal attention if they sign up.

Orest, who has had several fights, including one at the Golden Gloves, told Alan he'd like to get another fight. In the photo above, Alan holds the punch shield for Orest.

Phil and Orest are both of Ukrainian heritage; Phil explained to me that an annual debutante ball is a big event in the Ukrainian community.  Orest was grumbling about a girl who really wants him to take her to the debutante ball.  Both Phil and Orest know her, and they don't think she's a bad person.  But neither thinks she's a good match for Orest.  "Girls. . . .Hillari, you wouldn't understand," Phil joked.

Alan's left eye was blinking a lot.  He has to go to the doctor for a follow-up exam.  But it appeared that he's able to see more out of it than before, which is a good thing.  Earlier in the evening, Jilberto told Alan and I about a relative of his who had an eye replaced.  They were able to see out of it for a minute, but permanently lost sight in that eye because of not following the doctor's orders in regards to taking care of it. I told them about one of my uncles who lost an eye during a bar fight forty years ago.  My uncle had to have a glass eye put in because his lost eye wasn't found after the fight.  I have a feeling that my uncle's eye wouldn't have been able to be saved even if it had been found.  Medical technology was not as advanced back then as it is now.

I focused on practicing uppercuts, spending several rounds on the body snatcher bag.  I keep thinking that if I get a fight before year's end, it would be a good idea to work on that particular punch.  But I'm kind of doubting I'll be fighting this year at all for two reasons.  First of all, I usually get two or three fights during the last four months of the year, but there have been none available.  Second of all, I haven't had the focus I should have.  At the beginning of the time when I should have been concentrating on fights, I was locked in conflict with the pastor and administrative board members over being terminated from my former job.  Luckily, Steve, the former coach, taught me about working the fighters' corners, and taught me some things about coaching (just like Alan has, as well), so I can still participate in matches even if I'm not fighting.

Colonel sent me an email about a coaches' clinic taking place in Milwaukee, WI.  I already attended a coaches' clinic back in August to learn about the new rules that USA Boxing has.  Milwaukee is about two hours and a half from where I'm at (driving, that is), but I'd rather not have to go up there to renew my license for the year.  There's plenty of places in Illinois where clinics can be held that would be more accessible for me.  Sigh. . . .I'll have to investigate to find out more about it.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

November Punches

Keith backs Matthew up during sparring in this photo.

It's quite late.  The TV is on, and there's an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" featuring a young Cloris Leachman and John Forsythe.  The name of the episode is "Premonition", circa 1955, and I have the sound turned down so I can concentrate on what I'm typing.  Still trying to get used to the fact that Antennae TV has moved reruns of "The Jack Benny Program" to 3:00 AM.  If my insomnia keeps up, I just might see that show anyway.

But back to the gym.  Igor showed up, then got impatient when Alan wasn't right there at the time the gym usually opens.  He bid goodbye to Teacher John, Keith, and myself, and left.  A couple of minutes later, Alan did show up.  Matthew walked in a little bit after that.  Keith and Matthew sparred first.  John and I were iffy about sparring.  John was coming off of a bad cold he caught while on vacation, and my stomach was doing flip flops again.  But we pushed on through and sparred anyway.  We just went light.

John gave me a chance to practice the overhand right then left hook to the face combination, but I only attempted it a couple of times.  I did get a left hook in to John's midsection, however.

I wasn't wearing my mouthpiece because I kept choking on it.  It was as if I was wearing one for the first time instead of for several years.  I don't exactly know what that was about, but I can't keep sparring without it.  Adult teeth don't grow back once they've been knocked out.  I took the mouthpiece home.  I plan to wear it around the house tomorrow so I can get over the feeling of having it in my mouth.

I didn't do much on the equipment, but in order to get me more motivated during workouts, I've decided to give names of people who've ticked me off lately to the heavy bags.  It helps me to throw my punches harder.

Alan's left eye is still on the mend.  "I can barely make out John jumping rope over there," he said when I asked him how it was.  I was standing right in front of him, and I wasn't much more than a blur.

I forgot to tell Alan. . . .Professor wants to know when the next show fight will take place.  Also, Rudy, a professional boxer whom Alan trained years ago, wants to get in touch with him.  Both of them contacted me via Facebook.  I sent Alan an email when I got home, but I know that Alan doesn't always check that, so if he reads the blog, he'll learn that way.  Alan does have a Facebook page; I keep offering to teach him how to use it, but like a lot of people who aren't fans of technology, Alan always says, "Why do I have to know how to do that?"  The coach would never see the message if I sent it to Facebook.