Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Ladies Take Over The Ring Again

Professor's ankle is getting better, so he did some sparring.  First up was Geniece, whom Alan believes could be a boxing champion.  "She has great focus," Alan said.  I think she could do well, too.  She is looking forward to the upcoming Chicago Park District boxing shows.  A schedule hasn't come out, but it should be forthcoming soon.

Professor also sparred with Josh, and that was a bit of a mini war.  Josh was throwing a lot of wild punches. Alan kept telling him to slow down and loosen up.  Josh hit Professor with a punch that irritated him. I wasn't sure if it was an illegal move or not; it happened very fast.  "Don't do that," Professor told him.  They were trading some hard punches, especially as time went on.  Alan wiped Josh's face in-between rounds; I think Josh might have been bleeding a little.

I only sparred with Vachel.  We did two rounds.  Vachel was squealing and Alan joked, "Stop scaring people."  She turned her back at one point, and a punch of mine ended up hitting her in the back.  "Don't turn your back," Alan said.  "I couldn't help it!  I was trying to get out of the corner," she said.

I have to resist the urge to call Naomi "Little Bit".  That's a common nickname in the African-American community for a woman who is very short and very petite, which Naomi is.  She sparred with Katie, who is taller and has a longer reach.  "You have to fight on the inside even if you have to eat a punch," Alan told her. "Remember what we practiced the other day?  Do the dip," Professor told Naomi.  Naomi did not bob and weave, but she did lean back several times to avoid Katie's punches.

No sign of Igor, and Jason didn't come in, either.  But Jason was coughing and hacking the other day, so I assumed that's what kept him away.  Keith, Luis, and Andrew weren't there as well, so the gym was populated mostly by women.  That happens from time to time, depending on how many women have signed up during any particular session.

Professor sparred with Patrick.  They only did one round.  It appears that Patrick is still getting used to the feel of the ring.

Alan didn't put his workout clothes on.  After accidentally locking his keys in his car earlier in the day, Alan had to take public transportation back to his house to get an extra set of keys.  Sounded like the man had to take a three-hour-tour, and it tired Alan out. "You know I hate having to take CTA to go places," he said, wincing.  The Chicago Transit Authority is a pain, but after I lost my last car in an accident, it was amazing how quickly I got used to dealing with trains and buses again.  But I guess it's a different story for those who have owned vehicles for a long time and seldom had to use public transportation.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Women's Sparring Time

First of all, let me post this information as a favor to the folks at Gleason's Gym, a famous boxing gym in New York City:

Direct from Israel - Authentic Krav Maga from the leading experts in the field.

For the first time, New Yorkers can learn the 'contact combat' system of Krav Maga self defense from the men who train the Israeli military and the U.S. Navy Seals. Ran Nakash and Itay Dannenberg of Nakash Krav Maga International (based in Tel Aviv) will share their techniques with the U.S. public for the first time.

A Women's Self Defense course for women only will be held on Sunday, May 4 from10am to 1pm. 
The location is 
Gleason's Gym
77 Front St. 2nd Fl.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
718 797 2872

The cost of this three hour course is $75. 

If any of you all are in the NYC area or are traveling there, check this out.  It sounds very interesting.  Remember that movie with Jennifer Lopez called Enough?  Her character used Krav Maga to battle her way out of an abusive situation.

I keep thinking about boxer Maxie Rosenbloom, known by the nickname "Slapsie" Maxie.  The nickname was because Rosenbloom fought with an open glove style or "slapping".  I tried to throw some slapping punches against the heavy bag, but I quickly saw how those type of punches aren't good to use all the time. Regular slaps have their place outside of the gym but not in boxing.

I begged off of sparring, but all of the other women did except for Alicia.  In the photo above, Brandy and Geniece spar.  Alan told them to slow down, but they didn't slow down much.  Brandy took a shot to her nose, and Geniece had her head rocked back a few times.  They had many good exchanges between each other.

Naomi returned to the gym.  She explained that she had been out of town for awhile.  I noticed that Brandy had to punch down to reach Naomi.  Keith asked me about Naomi, "Is she very young or just very short?"  "Both," I answered.

Professor held the punch mitts for people including Naomi.  In this photo, Professor had her move around the ring and throw punches as she went.

I told Alan about running into Carlos last week.  "I remember him.  Carlos was a tough fighter," Alan said.  He asked me about tall, lanky Matthew that used to come to the gym.  I was thinking about Matthew recently; I wondered what happened to him, too.

Alan and Keith had a bit of a brawl during their sparring session.  Alan wound up one hand in preparation to throw a punch with the other hand, but Keith popped him with a jab before Alan could throw the punch.  I don't think I've ever seen anyone cut Alan off from doing that move before.

I wasn't feeling as sore as I was last week, but I decided to take it easy anyway.  Didn't do much work on the equipment, but I did a lot of shadowboxing.  The next time I come down to the gym, I might do some sparring.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Why Boxing Gyms Thin Out Sometimes

I came across this picture of Alan and Carlos not long ago.  This is from the 2010 Chicago Golden Gloves.  A couple of days ago, I was out running errands, and I saw Carlos on the bus.  He told me that he and his oldest son were packing up some toys.  His son lifted up the Spiderman toy I had given him a few years ago and said, "Remember when the lady at the gym gave me this?"  I thought it was sweet that his son remembered that.  Carlos said his son liked going to the gym with him.  His son asked when Carlos would go back to the gym.  Carlos would like to, but his girlfriend doesn't want him to do that.

I'm not knocking his girlfriend for feeling like that. I understand where she is coming from. If I was dating or married to a guy who was competing in bouts, or just sparring down at the gym, I'd be concerned about my guy getting hurt, regardless of the fact I love and understand the sport.  A girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse's objection to participation in boxing is one of the main reasons a lot of people disappear from boxing gyms.

Another common reason why people leave the gym is because of work and/or school.  I was in and out of the gym for awhile myself back in 2008 due to a job I had.  I've known of many who try to fit a workout in before or after work/school, but eventually having to stop out because their schedules won't allow it.  Can't really blame people for that.  People have to pay bills, and most people want to get an education.

People drop out due to babysitting issues, and this affects more women than it does men.  When I see a woman showing up to the gym often with one or more of her kids in tow, it's usually not long before she's gone, especially if she's a single mom.  Kids under a certain age can't be left home alone, childcare costs are high, and some people don't trust everyone around their kids.

Some people are dividing their time between two or more gyms.  There are various reasons for this, including wanting to get more workout time during the week.  Sometimes people are weighing the benefits they get at one gym against the ones they are receiving at another gym.  This is especially true if people have an eye on becoming professional boxers, in which case, people will have to come out of amateur gyms and move on to professional trainers.  However, wanting to turn professional is not always a factor.  It's just that people like one gym better than another.

There are people who are not interested in continuing on after they have gone as far as they believe they can go and/or want to go in boxing.  For some people, winning a championship is satisfactory enough to retire from the sport.  Age is a determining factor for others, still other people just get tired and don't have the interest in the sport like they used to have.

There are a lot of reasons, and people can't be blamed for all of them.  We can just appreciate people while they are there, and wish them well when they are gone.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Six Times Three

Before I went to the gym, I thought to myself, "I'm not going to spar."  Famous last words.  I was still feeling beat up from the sparring session with Brandy the other day.  I couldn't hardly sleep last night because my left calf was bothering me, and both of my shoulders were throbbing.  I planned to go to sleep early, but there I was, watching "Bachelor Father" on Antenna TV at 3:00 AM.  No matter how much I turned, I could not get comfortable.

Jason and Kenny were already outside the door when I got there.  No sign of Jilberto, so we had to wait.  "Don't you have the key for the door?" Jason asked.  "They've never given volunteers keys -- never have, never will," I told him.  "That doesn't seem right," Kenny said.  Kenny was laying on his bag on the floor, coughing.  Seemed he picked up bronchitis from Colonel.  "I'm sick as a dog, but I'm going to sweat it out," Kenny said.

Igor walked up, spoke to Jason, then disappeared.  Later, Alan said, "I'm surprised Igor didn't come in."  "He did, but. . . .I don't know what the deal is, but Igor has been leaving when the gym door isn't opened fast enough for him," I said.  "But I was only a few minutes late," Alan said.  "That's what Igor has been doing every other time," I said.

Kenny (on the right) and Keith take it to each other during sparring.  "I feel better already!" Kenny smiled.

Kenny worked the pads with Geniece.  She hits very hard, as I found out when we were sparring.

She backed me up against the ropes, as seen here, then let go with a series of punches.  I couldn't answer the punches well, because she was right on top of me.  I was throwing some punches a little too hard, and I heard Alan say, "Easy, easy!"  Alan said she should get fights during the Chicago Park District Boxing Tournaments that are coming up soon.  I agreed.  Geniece and I did two rounds.

The next two rounds were with Sara.  Sara was a little stiff at first.  During the second round, she loosened up.  She's a little taller than me, and has a longer reach.  I was not successful in warding off a lot of her punches.  My hands were always down at the wrong time.

Diana was the last person I sparred with, bringing my rounds to a grand total of six.  I think that is the highest number of rounds I have sparred at one time.  It was Diana's first time sparring, so I had to take it easy.  Her punches were wild, so I also had to be mindful of protecting myself.  I showed her how to block my incoming jabs and hooks to the body.

Professor worked the punch mitts with Sara, and Alan held the punch shield for Jason.  I could hear Alan asking why Jason seemed to be running out of steam.  However, it seemed that Professor and Sara had a very good training session.  Sara is also a skateboarder; she came in with her board, and told me she took up the sport while she was in college.

When Alan dropped me off at home later, I told him I need to soak in a bath.  But of course that's not happening, at least not now.  First of all, I'm writing this entry, and I'll probably be on the computer for another few hours and watching the TV at the same time.  When "Bachelor Father" comes on, I'll think, "It's 3:00 AM.  Maybe I should go to bed."  I'll toss and turn for another hour and a half before finally going to sleep, only to be jarred awake by the alarm approximately three and a half hours after that.  The cycle has been like that for several days.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Me Sparring While Middle-Aged and Slow

In this photo, Alan watches Brandy and Geniece spar, while Jason works out with the wheel on the apron of the ring.

Geniece was tough.  Brandy popped her in the head and face, but Geniece kept going forward.  I was thinking, "If I was hit like that, I would have been on the canvas."  In fact, I remember nearly falling to the canvas a couple of years ago when Brandy caught me with a right.  Alan caught me before I fell completely down.

I sparred with Brandy for four rounds, but I wasn't prepared at all.  She had been gone from the gym for about a year before returning.  But Brandy had lost nothing in that time.  After the first round, Brandy asked me, "Are you awake?"  I was plodding around and not returning punches well.  She said she would go lighter for the next round.  I still didn't move any faster.  "Catch her up against the ropes," Alan told me, but I couldn't do it.  Every time I tried, Brandy came forward, raining down jabs and rights on me.

Brandy got me in the stomach, and my head and face didn't fare any better.  I tried to sneak in some overhand rights, but just as I thought to throw them, she would be too close to do them properly.  My left eye took about three hard rights.  Afterwards, I looked in the mirror.  My eye was red, and my vision was a little impaired.  Afterwards, I had to sit down for awhile.

Kenny came in.  "I'm 170 pounds!  See?  I've got to get this off," he told me.  I had talked to his dad, Colonel, on the phone earlier. Colonel wasn't feeling well, so he didn't come to the gym.  But Kenny came in with another timer, since the one in the gym has been acting up.  "I'm surprised to see all these people in here.  I need to come in earlier so I get some time on the bags," Kenny said.

Katie was on the bag just as Keith walked in the gym.  Kenny not only sparred with Keith, but he coached him, too.

Jason wanted me to throw the medicine ball around with him, but I had no energy.  I don't think he asked anyone else, because I didn't see him with the ball.  He could have asked Igor, but Igor didn't seem to be in much of a social mood.  But then, Igor doesn't usually appear that way.  The relationship between Igor and I these days seems to be similar to the one between Basil and Manuel on the 1970's British sitcom, "Fawlty Towers".

"The only thing that will help Hillari is a osteopathic doctor, but she won't go see one," Alan commented later.  "There's not much that can be done for arthritis," I said.  "Yeah, but Hillari, something is torn in your left leg," Alan said.  He's probably right.  I worry about the discomfort becoming permanent since I can't really afford to see a doctor for that issue. I made an appointment to have my prescriptions refilled, and I'm cringing about how much that might set me back financially.  Like people say, if it isn't one thing, it's another.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Women Sparring

I admire Alicia (shown here on the speed bag) and her dedication to becoming fit.  She never stops working from the time she comes in the gym to the time she leaves.  It's paying off, too.  I've noticed that she's lost a little more weight.  I wish I was as disciplined as she is.  I just forced myself to put up the raspberry gelato I was eating before typing this entry.  Supposedly I only ate the recommended portion which is a half-cup (one regular sized scoop).

It was another evening where attendance was sort of thin.  Igor didn't come in, which wasn't much of a surprise.  But Jason didn't show up either, which was unusual. A few of the new people didn't come in, but there was enough to have some sparring sessions.

Here, Alan gives instruction to Brandy and Stephanie (Stephanie is in the photo, but out of view).

Stephanie and Brandy were popping each other from what I saw, and judging from Vachel's reactions.

Vachel and I sparred, and she didn't do much squealing and screaming this time out.  We did three rounds.  Beforehand, Vachel asked how could she block punches.  "When I throw a jab, turn your right hand to catch it as if catching a ball, or just tap it down," I explained.  Once the bell rang, I was blocking her jabs.  But Vachel sneaked in some punches when I wasn't paying attention, and I had my hands down.  A right to my face backed me up and nearly knocked me over.  Once again, I didn't throw my overhand rights correctly, and Vachel ducked every one that I threw.

Katie and I sparred, and I quickly learned that she can throw a hard right.  I got caught with it a few times.  It was a little easy to come over Vachel's right with a jab, but Katie had a longer reach.  I had to concentrate on trying to get in on the inside, which wasn't easy either.  I backed up Katie into a corner, and Alan told her to clinch.  Instead, Katie threw a punch, I tried to move fast to avoid it (which is still not easy because of my left hip), and I fell to the canvas.  "I'm sorry!" Katie said, looking worried.  "I'm okay!" I assured her.  Brandy pointed out that I end up falling every other week that I spar, which is true.  "How can you do four rounds like that?" Katie asked me afterwards.  "After awhile, you get used to it," I answered.

Alan had to help me down the ring stairs.  I just don't trust walking down them; the stairs are slippery to me.  I usually sit down on the apron and scoot down the steps.  Several people wondered if I was okay.  "I'm an old woman," I said, but Alan came back with, "No, she won't go to the damn doctor!"  Maybe I'll bite the bullet and spend a day at Stroger Hospital.

Brandy has another skill -- she can hold the punch mitts very well.  She held the mitts for Keith.

Vachel was wondering if the attendance was always as low as it seems to be lately.  "It used to be a month would go by before people started dropping off.  Now one or two weeks go by and people start dropping out," I said.  "Well, I guess it depends on what people want to get out of boxing," Vachel said.  She was right.

There are two openings for boxing coaches in the Chicago Park District; one at Portage Park, and one at LaFollette Park.  Try, try again, people keep saying.  . . .I wonder.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chill Time In The Gym

Stephanie asked, "Why aren't that many people here?"  Over past weekend, temperatures reached as high as 71 degrees.  But today, it was snowing with temperatures in the 30s.  This is typical of Chicago weather this time of year.  I figured the snow would keep some people out, even though not much of it fell nor stuck to the ground.

Alan was out because this is the first day of Passover.  If I had remembered, I would have reminded Alan earlier to put in a time-off request with Mary.  I had forgotten about Palm Sunday; I made a rare appearance at Rogers Park Baptist Church during the weekend.  It didn't dawn on me what day it was until I noticed that everyone had crosses pinned to their clothes.

Carolyn opened up the gym when I got there.  I was the first person in.  Igor showed up next, followed by Brandy, Stephanie, and Diana.  Patrick, Keith, and Colonel came in after them.  I told everyone about Andres' win at the Chicago Golden Gloves.  Colonel told people about the Police vs. Firefighters tournament that had also taken place over the weekend.  The police won.  "There were nine fights and the fire fighters lost six of them!  I need to come back and coach them," Colonel said, shaking his head.  Colonel is retired from the Chicago Fire Department.

Professor held the punch mitts for whoever wanted to get the practice.  I would have taken him up on it, but both of my knees were grumbling.  The last few times of me sparring, plus working Andres' corner at the Golden Gloves really did a number on them.  In the photo above, Keith stands on the apron and watches as Professor works with Patrick.  Professor really had Patrick moving around in the ring.

Patrick was hanging over the ropes afterwards.  He saw me staring at him, and smiled.  "Are you okay?" I asked.  "Yes, I'm fine," he assured me.

It was a pretty chill time in the gym.  No people wandering in to look around and no one who hasn't been in the gym in ages showing up out of blue to get a free workout.  I always hope for an easy time when Alan is away from the gym.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Heart Fight

We went back again to Cicero Stadium for Andres final fight in the 2014 Chicago Golden Gloves.  It was also the last night of the tournament for this year.  Alan picked me up from the 'L train station closest to his house, and off we went.  Andres was already there.  He had to be there early to weigh in, as well as to make sure that his opponent, a guy named Edgar, fighting out of Rocket Boxing Club, would be there, too.  Andres' match was the third one of the evening.

All the usual people were there, even though I didn't get a chance to speak to everyone.  Percy, Rita, Alan the official, Shifty, Metzger, Sam, Johnny, Rodney. . . .George from Garfield Park was there.  "George, you remind me of my late father with all those photos I see on Facebook with you and those cigars," I laughed.  "I just got finished smoking one before I came in here," George said.  He had a 58 year old guy fighting in the Masters' Division, and the guy won the other night.  "How come you ain't fighting in this?" George asked me.  "I'm too old," I said, which is partially the truth.  There were many women fighting at senior novice level, but it's hard to find women fighting at the Masters' level in Chicago.

Alan the official announced that Montrell, who was the star of Loyola Park's youth boxing program a few years ago, is coming back to boxing.  Barry had spread the news around.  I was glad to hear that, but I was also shocked to learn that Montrell's disappearance from the sport was due to jail time.  But I pray for that brother like I pray for everyone else in the boxing program.

In this photo, Alan wraps Andres' hands for the fight.  That had to be done early because Andres fight was near the top of the program.  Also, there was also the possibility that the first two fights would not go the distance, so we had to be ready.  I watched closely as Alan put the gauze and tape on, but I really need to learn how to do that myself.  I made a mental note to ask Alan at another time to show me how.

Alan's wrists can't always take holding the punch mitts all the time due to compounded injuries over the years.  He told me that when he first took over coaching at Loyola Park.  Fortunately, Arnold was there, so he held the punch mitts for Andres.  We went into what we thought was a secluded corner, but there was a lot of activity going on.  Two other fighters were in and out of that corner preparing for their matches, and members of the audience kept walking by.  Arnold's girlfriend Jasmine and I kept an eye on the fights that were going on so we could let Alan know when it was time for Andres to take his place in the ring.

Cicero Stadium was a bit more crowded than it had been during the preliminary and semi-finals fights.  Alan had to park about a block away from the place because of the extra cars around.  But there still wasn't as many audience members as I remembered from when the Chicago Golden Gloves were held at St. Andrews and at Gordon Tech.

Andres was nervous, but he was ready to go.  It seemed like we all were waiting a long time for the second fight to end so Andres' fight could go on.  Alan was giving Andres a lot of advice, while I became nervous for Andres.  Edgar was not as tall as Andres, but Edgar was not a small man, either.  The bell rang, and for a time, things were not going Andres' way.  Edgar loved to throw hooks, and when Andres had his hands down, Edgar got in a lot of straight jabs and rights in the middle of Andres' face, too.  The referee gave Andres an eight count.  I was so focused on what had happened that I forgot to bring the spit bucket up to the apron.  Alan had to remind me to go and get it.

"What are you doing, Andres?  That's not how we fought in the gym!"  Alan told him.  Andres basically lost the first round because he was fighting Edgar's fight.

The second round heated up.  Andres caught Edgar off guard with some hard, hard jabs and rights.  Alan started yelling instructions to Andres.  Arnold and I basically lost our minds,  and we were screaming "hands up", "hit the body", "get off the ropes", and several other orders.  Edgar hit Andres with something, and I could see that Andres was stunned.  Arnold said in a worried tone, "Andres is hurt!"  Andres was tired too, and Edgar was showing signs of winding down as well.  Andres reached down, pulled up some energy, and fired on Edgar continuously, backing him into the ropes.  "Stay on him!" Alan, myself, and Arnold yelled. Edgar got an eight count, and the audience clapped.  Alan gave Andres water during the break after that round, and handed the bottle to me to hold.  There was blood all over the bottle and on my hand.  I thought, "This is some serious stuff going on here."

A couple of times during the third and final round, Edgar's mouthpiece fell out.  While Andres stood in a neutral corner, Alan kept telling him, "Breathe!"  Edgar barreled into Andres, throwing many hooks, jabs, and rights.  The two men kept finding themselves on the ropes, with Andres being the one who was pinned most of the time.  Each time they came off the ropes, both men were throwing bombs at each other. My heart was in my mouth as I kept screaming while trying to remain seated on a stool. Alan moved off of the chair he was sitting on for a second, and Alan R., the official motioned for him to sit down. When Andres let loose on Edgar, pushing him up against the corner, I commented, "That's what I'm talkin' about!"  Edgar ended up getting another eight count.  I think Edgar had three eight counts called on him in total during the entire fight.  After the last one, the fight resumed, but then the bell rang, ending that round.

I believe the decision was unanimous.  When Andres' hand was raised in victory, someone should have had a camera on me, because I was acting a fool.  I jumped up and down on the apron in joy.  Arnold kept hugging Andres, and Andres kept hugging Alan.

Here's one shot of Arnold and Andres.  Andres was a little bloody, but so was Edgar.  Edgar actually congratulated Alan and I twice; once at ringside, and later on before we left the stadium.  Edgar seems like a good guy.  Alan told him, "Maybe we'll see you again at another tournament."

Here's another shot of Arnold and Andres.

I didn't really take a good look at this shot until I saved it to my computer.  It's funny. . .Alan doesn't smile much in these types of pictures.  The woman in red is Andres' mom.  She looked way too young to have a son that old and that big.  Andres' mom thanked Alan for all he did in coaching her son to victory.  She was nervous about her son being in the ring, but was very happy when he won.

Another shot, this time with Andres' mom, the winner, and myself.

Another highlight of the evening was meeting Rudy Cisneros, seen here standing with Andres.  Rudy and I connected on Facebook months ago, but we had never met in person until now.  Rudy was a professional boxer who had previously won the Chicago Golden Gloves in the year 2000.  He also has a bronze medal that he won during the 2004 Olympics.  Alan was one of his former coaches.  Rudy was also a contestant on the boxing reality show, "The Contenders", during that show's second season.  You know, there's a difference between famous people in boxing and famous entertainers.  I've met a lot of entertainers and gotten a few autographs, but with the exception of a few, there always seems to be an invisible wall there that doesn't allow for a complete connection.  But with professional boxers, what you see is exactly what you get, and Rudy is just a real guy.  He had me cracking up with his stories about his adventures in boxing.  Rudy had a match with a Cuban boxer back in the day.  "There's a difference between taking a beat down and getting my a%% whipped.  When I fought with the Cuban guy, I got my a%% whipped!" Rudy said.

Ahhh. . .. it's so nice to see another person from Loyola Park with a Chicago Golden Gloves trophy.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

My Five Rounds

The gym was not as packed as it was the other day.  But there was a lot of activity.  I was the go-to girl again for sparring, and I had two new opponents:  Geniece, seen in the above photo hitting the body snatcher bag, and Alicia.

First up was Geniece and I.  "We're going to go light," I announced before the bell rang.  Geniece appeared to be a little nervous at first, but during our second round, she became more loose.  I've been becoming more comfortable with using my left hand other than for jabbing.  I got in some left hooks and left uppercuts, but I did not put a lot of power behind them.

Vachel and I went for two rounds.  I wasn't hitting hard then, either, but I did use a lot of hooks and uppercuts.  I tried some overhand rights, but now I know when I don't do them right.  The other person sees them coming from miles away and they dodge them.  Alan told Vachel, "Gotta stop doing all that squealing and screaming during sparring."  "I can't help it.  I also do that when I'm playing softball!" Vachel said.

Alicia and I sparred, but I didn't throw many punches.  I let Alicia get more hits in so she could get used to that.  I was hitting very, very lightly because I know that Alicia is in boxing mostly for exercise and to get healthy, not to spar or compete.

Martin sparred with Andres.  Professor rolled his ankle earlier, so he couldn't spar with him.  Martin appreciated moving around, but he told me he wished he could do more in the ring.  Martin wants to build his stamina up.

Alan sparred with Andres even though later on, Alan told me that he didn't feel like sparring.  But since Professor couldn't do it, and Martin could only do a couple of rounds, someone had to give Andres some work.  After all, Andres will be fighting in the finals of the Chicago Golden Gloves this weekend.  Their sparring session turned into a bit of a mini-war.

Andres caught Alan right in the face with several jabs, then Alan came back with some hooks to Andres head.  Vachel was cheering from the side lines, especially when Alan popped Andres in the face a few times.  I was standing on the apron giving advice to Andres:  "Keep your hands up, Andres!  Use the right more!  There ya go!"  Martin was giving Andres advice in Spanish.  I did make out something that sounded like, "Andres, work more!"

Jason wanted me to take pictures of him doing a spinning back fist as well as a flying knee drop -- neither of which is allowed in boxing, by the way -- but I could never catch the action properly.  Igor is standing in the background, mesmerized by Alan working with Andres.

Another older man came into the gym inquiring about the class (another older guy had also come in a couple of days ago with questions).  The guy said he wanted to walk around and observe, and Alan said fine.  The guy was on the speed bag for a little bit, and I overheard Colonel giving out some tips.  That was fine.  But then the guy was in the ring -- in street clothes and shoes -- bouncing around.  I'll be surprised if the guy actually returns.  So many people come in with ideas of boxing glory but don't follow through.

This was near the end of the evening.  Professor, who's sitting on the desk, spent most of the evening observing.  Alan and Andres look tired because of their sparring session and working with the punch shield afterwards.  I was thinking while Andres was hitting the punch shield that I was glad I wasn't the recipient of the punches that was landing on the shield.  Andres and I had sparred several times in the past, but he never hit me as hard as he is capable of doing.  If so, I'd still be in intensive care today.  But I hope Andres hits like that during the Golden Gloves finals.