Friday, August 26, 2016

Boxing Lifer

James was hyped and ready for a fight at Harrison Park, but there was no match for him.  I was relieved when I was able to match Donovan with a 12-year-old who fights out of that park.

Before the show began, an honorary ten count was given in the memory of Sean Curtin, who passed on last week.

There were twelve fights scheduled at the show instead of the usual ten fights.  Donovan's fight was number six.  My fighter was knocked down in the first round.  When Donovan got knocked down again, I was worried that Tommy (who was the referee) would stop the match.  Donovan made it through to the end of the fight, but the outcome was not in his favor.

Several people congratulated Donovan for battling on.  A few of the coaches pointed out to me that Donovan did a good job but needed to work on his balance.  I also noticed that Donovan was backing up too often when he should have been pushing forward.  All of these things we will be working on when we get back to the gym.

I saw Joe, another coach whom I hadn't seen in a long, long time.  "I heard you were coaching," he smiled as he gave me a kiss on the forehead.  "Hillari, you are a lifer now!  This sport is in you!".  He's right.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ring Rust Is Real

I decided to have Donovan and James do something different today.  "Miss Hillari, why do you have headgear on?" James asked.  "I'm going to spar one round with you, then one round with Donovan.  Then you two will spar together," I answered.

My shoulder is feeling better and so are my knees, so I figured I'd get back into sparring.  I learned quickly that ring rust is real.  It had been weeks since I last sparred.  Donovan came at me with three and four-punch combinations.  He hits very hard, and I didn't tell him to slow down.  I found myself knocked against the ropes.

My goal with James was to keep him in the middle of the ring.  James seems to depend on the ropes and the corners too much for support.  Every time James would start backing up for the ropes and corners, I would lure him away from them.

I should have cooled it there, but then Ariel arrived for the teen class.  We sparred for a couple of rounds.  That girl caught me up against the ropes and let loose with continuous punches.  I tried to slip out on either side, but she had me pinned in.  She has heavy hands.  Finally, I had to grab her arms to slow her down.

Jermaine, a tall kid who was in the boxing class back in 2014, is back in the neighborhood.  He and a couple of his buddies want to sign up for the class.  I hope he sticks with it this time.  Jermaine had a good presence in the ring from what I remember.

Tomorrow is the boxing show at Harrison Park.  Donovan is going to go, and to my surprise, James said he wanted to try and get a fight there, too.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Claressa Does It Again

I rushed home from church after service yesterday to catch Claressa Shields' match at the Olympics.  To my surprise, church service ended early, so I had plenty of time to get to my computer and watch the live stream.

Like one of the announcers pointed out, "T-Rex" Shields schooled her Dutch opponent, Nouchka Fontijn.  I wish I could slip and duck like T-Rex.  I wish my reflexes and my hands were that fast.  Wow.  I hope that this time, the world will wake up and recognize Shields and not ignore the girl like they did in 2012.

There were plans to buy some jump ropes over the weekend for LaFollette boxing gym, but after attending an Italian street festival after watching Shields' win, I came home exhausted.  I dozed during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics.  I became alert along enough to eat a little something, take my medicine, and then I went back to bed for the rest of the evening.  That was the longest I've slept in awhile.

It's the last week of the extended summer day camp, and hopefully the end of working summer hours at LaFollette as well.  I'll miss the extra pay, but I'll be glad to get back to my normal schedule.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Late Summer and Sean

John gets in one on Ro during their sparring session at Loyola Park in this photo.

Unfortunately, I have to begin with some sad news.  Sean Curtin passed on several days ago.  He was the author of two books about Chicago boxing -- Chicago Boxing and Chicago Amateur Boxing.  Sean boxed while in the military, and he worked as the boxing commissioner for the State of Illinois for 15 years.  He also served in boxing as a judge, a time keeper, and a referee.  Sean and I became friendly over the past ten years or so.  He often was the referee at the Chicago Park District boxing shows.  He always greeted me warmly when he saw me.  Sean was a good guy, and he will be missed.

A staff member at LaFollette pointed out something about James that I had failed to notice.  James is pigeon-toed.  That would explain the boy's odd gait when he runs around the gym to do his warm up.  It doesn't stop him from wanting to get into that ring to spar.  James recently told me that he loves to spar.

However, James does not make good use of the ring area, and I'm at a loss as to how to get him to utilize it better.  He and Donovan sparred yesterday, and James kept sliding along the ropes and stopping in the corners.  I showed him out to turn or punch his way out of those situations.  But Donovan is taller and has a longer reach.  "Grab Donovan's arms to slow him down!" I told James, but he replied that he couldn't reach out to do that.  I took him aside afterward to show him again.  We're really going to have to work on that.

Meanwhile, Donovan's parents are really eager to have their son fight in a boxing show.  I'm trying to pre-match him with a kid from Ogden Park whom Kenny coaches, if Kenny is going to the Harrison Park show next week.  If that is not possible, I know that a lot of kids show up to Harrison.  Hopefully, Donovan will be able to get a fight with someone.

My left shoulder is no longer constantly hurting.  Stretching it and working with light hand weights did the trick.  My knees have felt better too since I started taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of cold water with a packet of Stevia daily.  I've gone back to exercising in the gym, usually alongside the 12 and under class.

Jakie surprised me again by showing up today to the gym.  He admitted "I have to work on my stamina,"  and I agreed.  It's not too late for Jakie to appear in another boxing show, but he's got to show up more often to train.  I didn't know that he had to attend summer school, which is why Jakie wasn't in much.  I reminded him that he needs to sign up for the fall boxing class beginning next week.

I was going to shut down the gym for a couple of weeks once the summer session ends next week.  It has to remain open for people to practice because the boxing shows are still going on.  I don't want Donovan (nor the other kids, for that matter) having to lay off of training for all that time.  He starts school next week, and that's going to have an impact on how much he can train.  If I can get him into one boxing show before September is out, that will make me very happy.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Blood In The Mouthpiece

Jesus and Carlos sparred down at Loyola Park.  Carlos had his hands down too much, and kept hesitating to throw punches.  Jesus took advantage of this.  At the end of their session, I saw a lot of blood on Carlos' mouthpiece.   Alan wiped him off, but some blood ended up on the floor.  I got paper towels to clean that up.

Kathy sparred with Marta.  I was on the side, giving instructions to Marta to hit harder and do more body shots.  "Kathy can take it!" I said, to which Kathy laughed.  Kathy was not hitting Marta as hard as she is capable of doing.  I think that was because it was Marta's second time sparring.

When Alan sparred with Kathy, he caught her with a punch to the face that stopped her for a moment.  "I'm telling Reva," referring to Alan's wife.  "What?  Kathy walked into that!' Alan protested as I laughed.

I didn't do much of a workout.  First of all, I was hot.  Sometimes I think I don't take the heat as well as I used to do.  My left shoulder still hurts, but not as much.  But now I also feel discomfort across the back of my neck.  Kathy asked if I had gone to the doctor yet.  I still haven't made that call, but I need to because it's gone on for too long.  Two months?  Three months?  I've lost count.

This is the last week of regular summer camp -- thank goodness -- so things will get back to normal at LaFollette soon.  I have plans to go to Sheridan Park later this week for their boxing show.  Summer is slipping away, and outside of Jakie, I haven't had any fighters participating in the shows.  I hope that changes before September.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Seward Slugging and the LaFollette Rumor Mill

Two people from Loyola Park fought at Seward Park's boxing show last week, and I was in both of their corners.  Solomon attends Barry's class, and my primary function was to use his cell phone to record his fight.  Solomon won his bout.  Ro fought a tough opponent, and held his composure, but he lost.  However, his opponent came over to shake mine, Alan, and Ro's hands, complimenting Ro on his skills.

Donovan and his parents were in the audience, taking in the action.  Donovan keeps saying he's not ready for a match, and his parents are reluctant about letting him participate in one.  I assured his parents there are still more boxing shows to come when and if their son wants to get a bout.

Unfortunately, I had no kids from LaFollette in that show.  I went to Seward anyway because I had scheduled that as one of the shows to attend.  Besides, even if no kids participate, I always make myself useful by helping out Thomas, the head of the city's boxing program and/or helping out the other coaches.  It was a pleasant evening at Seward.

Too bad last week wasn't as pleasant at LaFollette.  The gym was closed due to the Seward Park show, and I knew it would be shut on Saturday because the local alderman always commandeers my gym for part of her summer festival that she holds each year.  But I did not expect it to be shut down on Friday in order to prep for that festival as well.  So that was three days lost of training.  On Friday, I had to sit on front desk duty because I had nothing else to do.

The only good thing about yesterday was that Coach James was kind enough to take down the ropes on the ring in order to prevent the alderman's festival goers from messing with it.  I also taped up the only speed bag in the gym so that it could not be tampered with.  Unlike last year, I didn't have to spend my day yelling at people to stay off of my equipment.

One more annoying thing about last week:  there's a rumor going around that I "hate" kids.  Some staff members have been making snide comments disguised as jokes about it.  I made it clear when the issue was brought up to me that no, I don't love every kid I come across.  I thought that would be the end of the matter, but the "jokes" are still popping up.  It should be common sense that if I had zero tolerance for kids -- and trust me, I know PLENTY of people who don't -- I wouldn't be working in a job where I had to be in close contact with them.  My being childfree has no bearing on my job nor does it impact staff.  However, some people cannot wrap their minds around other people's choices nor stay out of others' business.  I'm not going to make their issues my problem.  But there's only so much more of the "jokes" I'm going to tolerate.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Having The Talk

I guess James' ear was still bothering him yesterday (James has an infection), so he didn't come to the gym.  Donovan and Tayjon got some sparring in.  Tayjon had Donovan backed against the ropes, punching him until I thought Donovan would flip over the ropes.  I wish I could put those two in the boxing shows.  However, Donovan's parents are apprehensive about allowing him to fight, and I'm not sure if Tayjon's mom wants her son to try again since he didn't get a fight at the last boxing show.

Jakie walked into the gym after being AWOL for a month.  When he heard the gym was going to be closed today due to a boxing show at Seward Park, he wanted to participate.  I had to give him the "you're not ready" talk.  I don't understand the logic the youths are working with.  What makes them think they can just take a fight having had little to zero training?

I held the punch mitts for Jakie, and it wasn't long before the kid was huffing and puffing.  He ran off to the washroom after a wave of nausea got to him.  I just don't get it; boxing is not something that people can say, "I'll just wing it", and jump into a ring.

The day before that, one of the attendants brought a dread locked guy down to the gym.  I was told the guy was looking for information about boxing.  The guy was more interested in rambling on about God and throwing out random Scripture verses.  There is a reason why I keep the gym door locked when no class is going on.  Unfortunately, the gym has to be opened up for the summer camp darlings to get their lunches and snacks.  But as soon as that is over, I keep the doors locked to keep out people such as that guy.  I had to tell the guy twice to get off of the speed bag.  Finally, I herded the guy out of my gym but not before he told me something about, "Lock the door because only God is supposed to open it."  I doubt that guy will come back around to sign up for the adult class, but I'm going to do all I can to keep the guy out of the program.  I don't need the frustration or drama.