Monday, March 31, 2014
It was the first day of the Spring session, and Alan, as seen in the photo above, came right in and began coaching the new people.
From left to right: Naomi, Stephanie, Janiece, Annette and Katie.
Colonel and Andres work the bag in this picture. Alan commented about Andres looking tired. Andres admitted he had been up since 6:30 AM, and he had gone running. The plan is to lift weights tomorrow. "I used to bench about 400 pounds", he told me. "I wish. I would have to work for a long time to get back up to what I used to lift," I sighed.
Keith returned for the spring session, and he and Andres sparred. Keith looked good in the ring for someone who had been off for awhile. A cut and swollen hand had kept Keith from exercising, but it's okay now.
Alan and Andres sparred next. Andres caught Alan in the side with a brutal right hook. The coach backed up quickly after the blow. Andres asked if he was okay, and the two touched gloves, a sign that everything was cool and the sparring could continue. "I wasn't trying to hit him that hard," Andres told me afterwards, perhaps remembering how Alan was scolding him for doing so one the last times they sparred. The sparring session ended prematurely when Alan bent one of his wrists. Alan then held the punch shield for Andres.
He also held the punch shield for Naomi, one of the newcomers. Naomi reminds me of Lan, a woman who used to attend the gym years ago. Both Naomi and Lan are about the same height and petite build. Alan was impressed by her punches.
Stephanie and Weisz, two other newcomers, share the Roger bag. Unfortunately, Igor is also in the picture. I have noticed that when new people come in, Igor roams all over the room, more than usual, like a canine marking spots. Igor was knocking into people and rudely squeezing by people to not only warm up but to do a workout as well. Did I also mention that Igor mutters to himself as well?
Professor works the punch mitts with Keith, and was very sweaty afterwards. Vachel, who had also returned to the gym said to him, "Wow, why did you get your good clothes like that?" "I've sweated my pants, too. Oh, well. . . .it's laundry day," Professor said.
Stephanie, as well as Sarah, another newcomer, may be up for sparring. I complimented Stephanie on her form, and she said it was due to be raised with a lot of boys. Sarah came prepared with her own hand wraps and gloves; she had previously trained at a gym out south. My hip felt a whole heck of a lot better today. I might get back in the ring soon.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Alan thought that Andres wasn't going to be at the gym this evening, but he did arrive. No sooner than he got there it was time for sparring, and Andres got into the ring with Martin.
They seemed to be in there for a long time. But then Martin stopped in the middle of a round and took his gloves off. Later he told me he needs to move around more to build up stamina. Martin is trying hard. I think he's not much younger than I am, and it's a struggle to work up to an acceptable level of fitness.
Immediately, Alan got the punch shield, and he and Andres worked for a few more rounds. Colonel learned that Andres hadn't been running lately. Later, Alan had Andres run on the beach outside the field house for a mile. It appeared to be tough for Andres, but he got it done.
Alicia (standing) and Renee (near the coat rack) were both in the gym. Alicia pushes herself through her workout. Renee hadn't been in the gym for awhile, and it's been a struggle for her to come in.
Colonel (seen here with Andres) has been struggling to keep up with his workouts. It's a combination of health problems and old age. But he keeps pressing on.
I was dealing with lower back pain, both knees hurting, and the usual hip pain that has been bugging me since mid-December. Ongoing unemployment woes keep 'effing with my mindset during workouts, too. I have six businesses going, but no major money coming in. A friend who was laid off late last year wants to meet with me so we can put our heads together regarding getting jobs. But I'm getting to the point of being tired of going around begging for a job from people who aren't interested in giving me a job. "That situation has got to be depressing," Alan told me. Yes, it is. Everybody has some sort of struggle going on.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Professor told me he didn't feel like sparring and probably shouldn't spar. Tommy and Professor had done ten rounds of sparring earlier at Seward Park. But he sparred with Andres anyway, because Andres needs the extra training for the 2014 Chicago Golden Gloves.
Alan also gave Andres work in the ring. Their session got a little wild, with some hard hooks and powerful straight punches, and scuffles in the corners.
Andres delivered some deep punches when Alan held the punch shield for him. "That's what I want!" Alan said when Andres landed the punches.
Alan was even more vocal when he held the punch shield for Jason. "Come on, punch! Sh#@! Keep going, don't stop! The round is not over!"
Colonel was grumbling. His doctor said he could exercise, but to take it easy. "I'll be 67 years old in July. Believe that? Three years from being seventy! This getting old sucks!" Colonel said. His son Kenny is still working on his book and putting in extra hours at his job. I heard Colonel tell Alan that 21 people were laid off at Kenny's job. People keep saying the job outlook is getting better. Doesn't seem that way. I spend most of my days working on building my own businesses. Seems to be a waste of my time to send my resume into cyberspace where it disappears.
I'm surprised I was awake enough to do a workout. I was watching an episode of "The Saint", an old TV show starring Roger Moore (who would go on be one of many actors who played James Bond). "The Saint" was on at 3:00 AM, and the episode involved a boxer who died under mysterious circumstances. So instead of forcing myself to go to sleep, I watched the show. I finally nodded off in the middle of "Wanted: Dead or Alive" starring Steve McQueen, another actor who went on to bigger and better things. My sleep patterns have been way off for months.
Andres was talking about being a heavy sleeper earlier. Colonel and Alan suggested that Andres get up early to run. "It should be easy for young people to wake up early," the older men said. But that depends. Some people are morning people, some are not. I was a very heavy sleeper when I was younger, but a few years of going through menopause and just getting older in general seems to have ended that (and seems to have ended me having quality sleep as well). But I've never been a morning person, not even when I was a little girl. If I was doing roadwork, I'd be running later in the day.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Alan opened up the gym this afternoon so Andres could get some extra training in. Andres got there about ten minutes after Alan and I arrived, wiping his eyes. "Sounded like you had just woke up when I called," Alan said. "Yeah. . .I went out last night and didn't get home until 3:00 AM. I woke up at 11:00 AM and set the alarm to go off a little later, but I still got up late," Andres said, sounding groggy.
Andres tried out two jump ropes, but neither of them were long enough. "We've got to buy some new ones in here," I commented. Andres used a rope that Alan had, and that worked. After the brief warm up, Alan and Andres sparred for a few rounds. I stood on the apron, ready with the bucket and water. "Remember, I'm not 280 pounds," Alan joked to Andres as he stepped through the ropes.
Alan attempted to throw an overhand right on Andres during the second round, but the coach stumbled when the punch didn't reach the target. Andres had stepped back because he saw it coming. Alan was able to reach Andres with some well-placed jabs to the face, and Andres returned a few of his own. The two men became tangled up a few times, but I didn't have to call "Break!" because they either shoved or punched their way out of it.
When sparring was over, Alan held the punch shield for Andres. I went down the hall to fill up one of the water bottles. A guy at the front desk saw me and said, "I didn't know boxing was on Saturday." I explained why the coach had opened the gym. The guy asked Andres' name, and then asked, "Is he good?" We walked down the hall to the gym so the guy could see for himself. Turns out that he knows a kid who trained in the Chicago Park District as an amateur who is now a professional fighter. The guy also had pictures on his phone of J.J., taken at one of the last fights J.J. won at the UIC Pavillion. Alan joked that the guy was going to be Andres' next sparring partner. "Where's your gear?" Alan asked him.
Andres and I did a couple of burn outs on the "Roger" bag. Alan reminded Andres to back up off of the bag to give himself room to punch. "Hillari, don't you think that Andres' punches are harder when he's close up on the bag or a little distance from it?" Alan asked. "The punches are harder when Andres is not as close to the bag," I answered. I could feel those punches as I held the bag as Andres lit into it.
Someone at the Chicago Golden Gloves told Andres that his opponent at the finals, a guy named Rodriguez I believe, has had nine fights in another state. "What difference does that make? The other guy has two arms and two legs like you do. The guy that wins the fight is the one who's going to have the more 'oomph'," Alan told Andres. "Also, you have to consider whether or not what they told you was true," I added. People say all kinds of stuff to mess with fighters' heads before a fight. Most times it's best to let things go into one ear and out the other.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
This shot is of the Pink Line approaching at the State/Lake elevated train station. It's a long ride out to Cicero, IL to get to the 2014 Golden Gloves.
When I got there, I immediately looked at the roster. I've been impressed this year with how quickly the roster has been posted each day of the tournament. Andres name was not listed. Confused, I pulled out my cell phone, which I seldom use, and I called Alan. "Andres not on the list," I said. "I know. Wait. . .are you down there?" he asked. "Yeah, I just got here," I answered. "I was on my way there earlier, when I got a call from Andres -- he got a bye," Alan said. Alan had called the house to let me know, but I was long gone.
That was great news, because that means that Andres is automatically in the finals. It also gives him extra time to train. Alan plans to open up the gym on Saturday so Andres can get some extra work in.
I didn't stay long after Alan and I talked. There was going to be a long ride back, and I was getting hungry. I spoke to Geoff, Rita, and Percy, and I talked with Bill. I told Bill that I was still nursing an injury and not sparring much. He told me that Meg had an injury, too, something with her shoulder. "She hasn't been training recently," Bill said.
A conversation Alan and I had the last time we were in Cicero about Burger King, prompted me to stop at the nearest one before getting back on the train. On the way back, I was reading about a boxer named Jelena Mrdjenovich who is the current WBC featherweight champion. She was talking about getting reading for a fight. I thought that she probably eats correctly all the time, yet there I was, just rolling out of Burger King. I couldn't really justify eating a Whopper Jr. simply because it was a little less calories and carbs that the regular size Whopper. It was a still a burger. And I had onion rings and a fruit punch pop, too. Sigh. Well, I was only able to have that because I received some extra cash from a job that a friend tried to hook me up with. My friend's bosses changed their mind (long story), but they owed me money for some training time they gave me. Luckily, I currently don't have the ability to eat out all the time right now. But summer is coming, and with it, hopefully more opportunities to work out outside.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Victor and Alan watch as Andres spars. Victor is a friend of Andres; I thought Victor was his brother at first because they resembled each other. Alan didn't want Andres to overextend himself, but he wanted him to get some work in before the next bout at the Chicago Golden Gloves.
Martin sparred with Andres first. Previously when Martin sparred with Andres, he didn't finish the rounds. But this time, Martin hung in there with him. "Andres hits very hard," Martin said afterwards.
Victor sparred with Andres. "Now I'm going to get beat up, but that's okay," Victor joked as I put the gloves on him. I had noticed how Victor was throwing punches on the bags earlier, and it wasn't bad. He kept up with his friend, even after Andres caught him with a good shot.
Alan got in the ring last with Andres. Alan got hit with a hard right. The coach came back with a flurry of punches and said, "Do you think I'm 280 pounds?" Then Alan surprised Andres with an overhand right. The look on Andres' face was priceless.
I noticed that Jason was doing back spinning fists on the bags a la Shonie Carter. "There's no back fists in boxing, you know," I told Jason. "I know," he grinned, "but I love MMA, and I like that move."
The other day, I was going to ask Alicia about getting hand wraps. She usually wears little white gloves, especially when hitting the speed bag. Today, she had a pair of hand wraps, and I showed her how to wrap her hands. The ones she had weren't very long, so we had to modify the method, but it worked.
I was shadow boxing and doing some work on the bags, including a burn out later with Andres. I keep talking about my leg hurting, but it's not really my leg. The pain is centered up in my hip area. It just travels down my left leg sometimes, but not as often as it used to do. It bothered me a little, and I had to sit down a couple of times. "It's just taking longer than usual to heal. Also, because I have diabetes, I take extra long to heal up," I told Alan later. "Yeah, keep telling yourself that, Hillari," Alan grinned.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Martin, Alicia, Professor, and Jason were in the gym. Igor was there briefly (thankfully). Igor's patience seems to be growing smaller. Alan was a little late. We were waiting by the gym door when Igor directed the usual inane questions about Alan's whereabouts to Martin and Alicia. "You keep asking the same questions each time," I said in a voice mocking Igor's. "If Alan wasn't going to be here, he would have called me, and then I might not have been here." Igor walked away, and I thought he decided to wait up by the front counter. Alan came in about two minutes later, but Igor did not return. It was the third time Igor decided to leave instead of waiting a little longer for Alan to show up.
Professor came in a little later, but Andres didn't. Alan called Andres who let him know his next fight at the Chicago Golden Gloves will be on Thursday. So what I wrote in the last post about Andres being in the finals wasn't correct. Andres has a semi-final fight he has to win before advancing on to the finals. Alan was worried because the last two guys Andres fought were about his height and size, but the next set of guys in the super heavyweight category will probably be bigger. I heard Alan tell Andres during the call to do some running as part of his workout.
Professor had promised to work with Jason the last time he was in the gym, and he made good on his promise. First, Professor held pads for Jason. He noticed that Jason was not watching when punches were coming back at him. "I'm gonna solve that," Professor said, and he asked me if he could use the cage headgear that's in my locker.
Professor gave Jason the cage headgear to wear, and he chose some headgear for himself. I kept hearing Jason giving out a bunch of excuses, including, "I don't have a mouthpiece." "You don't need it. I promise that I'm not going to hit you hard," Professor said. Jason's remarks indicated that he wasn't too sure about that. They did some very light sparring, but Jason was flinching a lot, and still not keeping his eye on incoming punches. The sparring ended quickly, and Professor made Jason do burpees. Jason was struggling after only doing a few. Professor gently but firmly kept pressing Jason to do more. Then Professor had Jason running up and down the stairs leading up to the second floor just outside the gym entrance. Jason was huffing and puffing. Professor correctly pointed out Jason needs to work on having stamina.
The gym seemed kind of dull today. The winter session, which is coming to an end, had a lot of people disappear early on, cutting down on the energy that usually fills the room. Not a lot of people usually sign up for the spring session, so attendance may not go up for the near future. The upside of that will be more personal attention for Andres if he wins his next fight at the Gloves, and is able to come into the gym more hours to train.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Alan and Andres react to something that happened during one of the fights at the Chicago Golden Gloves out in Cicero. I think a super heavyweight fight was going on when this photo was taken. That fight ended with a fighter being knocked clean out.
The first fight of the night ended prematurely as well, ending when a fighter was knocked down, and the referee stopped the action. Alan helped Jack, the coach from Brooks, in the corner with that one. But the fights didn't zip along at the fast pace they did the other night when we were at the Gloves. Most went the distance. The best fight of the night was between two women in the 114 pound category, a Latina and a white woman. The Latina had great form, and she was throwing some hard punches. She won the fight.
The coach from Simons Park was sitting behind Andres, Alan, and myself. He also admired the fighting skills of the Latina and sighed, "I wish I had a woman down at my gym. I could teach her to fight like that." He echoed the same thing that I have been saying and writing about for years -- the women show up, but they don't stay. "As soon as a woman asks me if there are other women in the gym, I know she's not going to stay long. It's not like the guys are disrespectful of a woman in the gym, but a lot of women don't feel comfortable in a gym full of guys. I guess that's just something the women have to learn to get over," the Simons Park coach told me.
I also learned more about the drama that's been going on behind the scenes of this year's Golden Gloves. Some people had been removed from leadership positions, and the tournament was in danger of losing its non-profit status. It seems some paperwork had not been filled out properly. Rumors were going around that the tournament almost didn't happen this year because of internal issues. I understand that those issues are being worked on, and some have been resolved. But it would have been something else if the Chicago tournament -- which began in 1923 -- would have not happened this year.
Alan and I were in Andres corner during his fight which was number fourteen on the roster. Andres fought a guy from McGarry's Gym. About two seconds before the bell rang for the first round, an official asks both Alan and I to show him our coach's passbooks. Luckily, we both were carrying them on our persons, and didn't have to run somewhere to get them. Near the end of the second round, I heard the 10 second warning, and I got up off the stool I was sitting on. I wanted to be ready to stick it in the corner for Andres to sit down. The same official told me, "Coach, please sit down until the bell rings." All this was new to me. Not wanting to jeopardize Andres, I complied, but I wished I had a little more warning about all these things long before the match started.
It was a tough fight. Andres threw some good body shots and backed the other guy up a lot. But the other guy was not going to go down easy, even after some hard jabs and rights that Andres doled out. By the time the third round was underway, both fighters were tired. Andres was throwing a lot of jabs at one point. "Use both hands!" Alan yelled out. Andres and the other guy started getting tangled up more and more, prompting Joe, the referee, to step in often to break them up. The other guy hit Andres with something, a left jab perhaps, that backed Andres up for a second. The crowd went, "Ooh!" in response. But when it was all over, Andres got the victory.
Alan and I left almost immediately because he had to go to temple (it's Purim), and he had to drop me off at the train station. We hoped that the official told Andres when his next fight is, which should be the final, since Andres is competing as a senior novice in the super heavyweight category.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
I try to time my walk to the gym so that I don't run into Igor on the way, but I'm not always successful. He passed me by, asked how I was doing, and I gave a dry "Okay", in reply. Alan couldn't come to the gym because of a business dinner. The last person I wanted to deal with was Igor. Alan is sort of a buffer between Igor and myself, keeping me from totally losing it when Igor acts up. Fortunately, Igor behaved.
Alicia, Nate, and Ozzie came in. I asked Alicia what happened to Lilliana. "She would have liked to keep coming in, but it's hard for her with the kids. She's going to try and find something else for all of them to do," Alicia explained. Edward is Lilliana's ten year old son, and she also has a younger son who is five years old. There have been other women in the gym who had young children, and it was always the same story. After awhile, it became too much to juggle. It's too bad because like Alicia, Lilliana was very interested in learning how to box.
The kid in this photo is one of Josh's five year old twin boys. Josh came in not long after Igor left, and he had the twins and his oldest son with him. "How's your daughter?" I asked. "She's fine. I wanted to bring her tonight, but she didn't want to go," Josh answered. "How do you tell the twins apart?" I asked. "I can tell them apart," Josh grinned.
Josh took his kids into the ring and did a little boxing with them. The oldest boy was tearing around, but the twins seemed to have a calmer nature. The twins were content at various times to sit on the apron and watch everyone else in the gym workout.
I was looking for Andres and Professor to come in, as Andres needs to get more sparring in before his next fight at the Chicago Golden Gloves this Saturday. They must have gone over to Seward Park instead.
My left leg felt a heck of a lot better today. I wasn't sitting down often. In fact, I think only sat down twice. But I still have to use the TENS, and stretch, and use various creams and gels to work on it. Maybe in another month or so, it'll be feeling even better.
Monday, March 10, 2014
It was like spring today, with temperatures in the 50s, and somewhat clear sidewalks. The melting snow and ice left a lot of puddles everywhere. But dodging water was way better than slipping and sliding all the way to the gym.
This photo is from last week at the Chicago Golden Gloves. From left to right is Arnold, me, Alan, and Andres. This was taken by Arnold's friend Jasmine right before Andres' fight.
This is a shot of the action between Andres and his opponent, Juan.
Here's another shot of the bout. . . Professor said that he noticed from the pictures that Cicero Stadium didn't look very crowded that night. "It wasn't, and that was the second night of the tournament. Usually, the event is packed," I told him. "That's probably because they moved it from the north side," Sam commented. "The crowd was small because it's too far for a lot of people to go," Professor said. I hadn't thought of it like that, but he was right. Despite the fact that a lot of people drove there, Cicero is a long way out for most, depending on how far away people are from there.
Andres sparred with Professor first. Alan told them to work. They were going at it. Professor slammed Andres with a good right, and Andres smiled and nodded.
Andres sparred with Ben second. Ben was bent over by one of Andres' body shots. "Was that a liver shot?" Ben inquired. "Yeah, man. . . .and that sh%t hurts," Professor answered.
Sam stepped into the ring with Andres next. Sam seemed a little worried about Andres' punches. Alan reminded Andres to go easy. Professor told Sam that if Andres had put full power on the punches, Sam would have been on the canvas.
Alicia and I were on the bags most of the time. She's still trying to get the hang of throwing hooks. I was doing a lot of uppercuts and hooks.
Colonel and Kenny came in, but they didn't stay long. Colonel just got out of the hospital recently, but health issues keep rolling on. Alan joked about both Colonel and I have problems with our legs. But the TENS unit that Alicia gave me last week is helping me somewhat. I noticed I was walking faster to the gym than I have been in a long time. As the weather eases into spring, I expect my leg will become better.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
The Chicago Golden Gloves are on, so I took a train ride out to Cicero Stadium. Andres was scheduled to have a super heavyweight match. His fight was number nine on the list, which was a little surprising to me. Usually, the heavyweight fights don't happen until further down the list. But Alan said, "No, they mix up the fights to keep things interesting." Another surprise was, even though it was the second night of the tournament, only thirteen fights had been scheduled for the evening. Normally, there are anywhere from twenty to twenty-five fights taking place in one evening.
The crowd wasn't very big, and people seemed to be subdued. I figured it was because of the hard winter we're still going through. It's March, but there are piles of snow everywhere, and the temperatures continue to be down in the basement.
Arnold and his friend Jasmine, a school teacher, was there. Andres had a friend with him, a guy whom I think he's brought to the gym before. The usual suspects were on hand -- Shifty, Gary, Yale, Alan R., George, Johnny, Rico, Metzger, Sam, Tina, Gentleman Gerald, etc., as well as former pro fighters like David Diaz. The guy who's always at the tournament telling people to "have a Corona!" wasn't there, but he'll probably appear at some point.
All of the fights moved along at a good clip. Several were stopped for various reasons. One guy took a rough shot to the body, fell down to the canvas, and stayed there for awhile. Another guy was taking too many hits that rocked his head backwards. Still another match was stopped because one guy kept getting backed up in the corners and not answering the punches thrown at him.
Andres' opponent was a hefty guy, but Andres hit first, and hit often. There was a minute or two where the guy caught Andres with some lefts and rights, but the punches Andres threw back were much harder. Both Alan and Arnold kept yelling for Andres to stay on the guy whenever Andres backed the guy up into the ropes or a corner. In the middle of the second round, it was clear that both Andres and his opponent were tired. But Andres kept coming like a bull. The referee stopped the fight because the other guy became overwhelmed, and Andres won. Andres next fight is two weeks from this Saturday.
I forgot my camera again, but Arnold and Jasmine took some pictures, as well as recorded a "post-fight interview" between myself and Andres. As soon as I get those, I will post them up here.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Here's our fearless leader Alan, in a photo taken a couple of days ago. No, he's not wiping away a tear because someone didn't keep their hands up again. I took the shot as he was shadow boxing.
"Where's your hair?" he asked me, grinning. "I got it cut," I smiled. After several months, I finally went to a barber. "You're getting rid of hair, and I'm trying to keep mine," Alan said.
Martin came in with another son of his named Danny. Turns out his older son changed his mind about taking up boxing, but Danny, a middle school student, seemed to be interested. He was watching closely as his dad sparred for two and a half rounds with Leo. Martin gave up in the middle of the third round. "Never stop in the middle of a round," Alan told him. Martin was going to put his gloves back on, but Alan said, "I'll let it go this time, but remember, always finish the round. People have to know their level of conditioning and work with it."
Leo looked surprised when Alan suggested that Leo and I spar for a few rounds. "It's okay. She's had five fights," Alan said. "Six", I corrected Alan. "Okay!" Leo said. Leo did not make it easy for me to land many punches, because he moved constantly. But I had success backing Leo up into the corners and into the ropes. I could have gone a third round, but at the end of the second round, I slipped and fell. Leo helped me up to my feet. "That's enough," Alan said.
Alan and Nate sparred for five full rounds. "I don't want to throw any bombs because I don't want to piss Alan off," Nate laughed. Alan delivered several uppercuts to Nate's middle section. Nate caught Alan with a few jabs. They tangled up a few times, and I had to call out for them to break. Just at the end of the fifth round, Alan connected with an overhand right. Josh, who had come in late while they were sparring, asked Alan, "Is that your signature punch?"
I saw Alicia yesterday; she didn't come to the gym the other day because she had a cold. She didn't come in the gym today, either, so I guess she was still taking it easy. But she did give me a TENS device so I can give some therapy to my left leg. The pain is centered in the back of my left leg up near my backside, and some days it spreads all the way down my shin. I wonder sometimes if a lot of that is due to the stress I've been under since last September. I wouldn't be surprised.