Friday, November 07, 2014
My First Sparring Session At LaFollette
This is Robert Emmet Elementary, where I attended 7th and 8th grade. This school would have been a good spot for me to pass out flyers for the boxing class if it were still open. It was one of many schools that were shut down not long ago in a sweep by the Chicago Board of Education.
I had a moment where I had to get loud in the gym. I didn't want to do that, but under the circumstances, it was needed. The regular 12 and under kids weren't the issue; it was their cousins, siblings, and friends who were not signed up for the class. I was trying to watch the kids who were sparring, while the non-participants were goofing around and causing distractions. I put all of them out of the gym. Then one girl who actually is signed up comes in and tells me that a cousin of hers was in the gym because she wanted to sign up. Really? Do tell. The girl didn't open her mouth to say anything about signing up to me, but she was playing around with the gloves, hand wraps, and headgear. I guess I was supposed to be a mind-reader.
One of the boys took a direct hit that put him on the canvas. The boy was crying. I checked to make sure the kid wasn't bleeding. His mother was sitting off to the side. "Gotta toughen up," she told him. I was surprised, because usually, the moms are the first ones alarmed when their kids get punched. The boy was fine, and he sparred again later.
His older sister sparred with another girl who is about her age, but who is longer and taller. I nicknamed the smaller girl Li'l Mama. Li'l Mama was getting knocked around, but at one point, she stepped back and got the most determined look on her face. The look said, "I'm not gonna let her get the best of me!" I smiled to myself. Li'l Mama finished out the round, returning more punches than she had before.
There's a boy about 10 years old in the gym. He wanted to spar, but he came in late after all the other kids had at least sparred once. None of the others wanted to spar with him because the boy hits hard, and he's bigger than most of the others. So I got in the ring with him. All the kids, plus a couple of the moms who were hanging around, were surprised. Several of the kids told me that they wanted to see me knock the kid out. "Sparring is not about winning or losing. It's about practicing your skills," I told them as I put on headgear.
The boy does hit hard. I took one in the mouth, and I was not wearing a mouthpiece. A little more force on that punch and I might have lost my two front teeth. I did not hit hard back because, well. . . the kid is 10 years old. He did a good job avoiding most of my incoming punches. "She's quick!" he exclaimed to everybody. All of the kids were standing around the ring watching with interest. "She really can fight!" I heard one of the girls say.
No teenagers came in again, so I did my own workout when the kids' class was over. Went a little longer than I usually do. I could feel it in my right arm. I must have really been working a muscle I normally don't.