Thursday, February 23, 2017

Joey Bishop and A Return

The photo above is a still from an episode of "The Joey Bishop Show" (1961-1965; NBC and CBS) that featured actor Peter Lupus (who was a regular cast member on"Mission: Impossible") as a boxer.  Bishop's character had took over as the boxer's trainer, and he hoped to make tons of money from his fights.

In a previous post, I had written about another boxing-themed episode of Bishop's show.  The plot was about a comedic charity match that he and another comic, Jan Murray, were doing to raise money for a boys' club.  Due to a misunderstanding, both show up to the charity match ready to fight for real.  That episode was shown again recently on Antenna TV.  I kept noticing how easily Bishop was ducking Murray's wild hay maker punches as well as Bishop's footwork.  I did a little more research on Bishop and learned that yes, he had been a champion welterweight boxer while he was in Army during World War II.  I love finding out about celebrities who had participated in the sweet science.

I still keep wishing for the kids in the gym to show some enthusiasm for the sport.  James returned to the gym after his parents kept him out for a while due to poor grades.  Unfortunately, James doesn't seem to have learned his lesson, as his focus is still stuck on video games and game hack videos on the Internet.  That's the kid's main conversation every time he's in the gym, and I suspect that is James' conversation all the time.  I can't get him to focus on training.  Report cards will be given out again soon, and I'm afraid James' grades will not be any better.  I would not be surprised if his parents take him out of boxing again.

Tyler has been missing from the gym for two days.  I have no idea what's up with him.  Barry wants me to weigh Tyler so he could perhaps match him up with one of his fighters who wants to spar.  But I'm not going to close down the gym for one kid to have a sparring session elsewhere, especially if they don't feel the need to show up for it like Tyler did.  It would have been different if James hadn't been kept home by his parents before the session took place, as well if the other kids were showing up at LaFollette on a regular basis.  I could have had several participate, but I did not.  

I was sick earlier in the week (again) so I didn't go up to Loyola Park.  The Golden Gloves registration took place over the past weekend; several people at Loyola planned to compete.  I'll find out next week who's in.  During the break between the winter and spring sessions at LaFollette, I want to attend the Gloves to support those at Loyola who may be competing.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Long Valentine's Day

Planning sparring sessions between field houses take a lot of time and effort.  The main issue is getting everyone to agree on a time and then getting people to show up.  While Barry and Marlon were successful in having fighters show up at Portage Park, I was not.  Tyler did not show up and had no good reason why.  After waiting for a time, I called his home to find out where he was.  His grandfather said he knew nothing about the sparring, but I let him know that Tyler's mother did.  Also, Tyler had promised me on Saturday he was going to show up today.  

I won't give Tyler another chance to waste my time nor the time of anyone else involved in sparring sessions again.  If there is another session planned, and there just might be because of the Chicago City-Wide and Chicago Golden Gloves tournaments approaching, I won't bother to invite Tyler to the party.  I'm done.  I had a long day which started with Bible study at 6:00 AM, and I was not in the mood for Tyler's lackadaisical behavior.

I did learn some techniques and terminology by observing those who sparred and listening to what Barry, Marlon, and Marlon's coach (Marlon still competes), Jose said to the fighters.  What I learned will probably be saved for whoever signs up for the spring session because the winter session has been a disaster from day one.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Having Some Real Talk

Tyler's grandfather showed up with him yesterday.  I talked a little about how Tyler keeps goofing off in the gym.  His grandfather also told his grandson the importance of focusing on what he does during training.  But as soon as his grandfather left, Tyler went back to his usual ways.  I decided to lay some real talk about boxing.

I told stories of guys I knew who slacked off and how a general lack of motivation and determination had cost them winning fights.  I also pointed out how some of those same guys had been injured, some seriously, because they hadn't done enough work during practice.  "Don't come crying to me when you lose a fight, Tyler.  All I'm going to say is 'work harder' the next time you're in the gym," I told the boy.  I wasn't saying any of it to be mean.  That's just real talk for people who want to compete in boxing.

Whether Tyler really listened or not was doubtful.  Whenever his grandfather is there and says, "Show me something, boy," Tyler obeys him without a fuss.  But when I tell him something, I get ignored.  I have let Tyler know many times that I don't appreciate his attitude.  However, I don't think the kid gets how the attitude truly disrespects, disparages, and irritates me.

He kept going on about Davion and James not being in the gym.  I explained that Davion has other things to do on Saturday and that James can't come back until his grades are better.  But Tyler kept mumbling about it.  He's also aware that the teens don't come in regularly, and he made comments about that. "I'm not calling anyone to see where they are because my assumption is if they signed up, they wanted to be here.  It's not a good use of my time to always be on the phone.  They just will not be able to compete if they don't train.  Tyler, you should be happy that the gym is empty because you don't have to wait on people to use the equipment.  You should be happy that place is all yours," I curtly said.

After Tyler left, I noted that Jada didn't show up, either.  Her mother was so concerned about putting her daughter into the last slot that was open for that class. I honestly don't know how that girl is going to learn the sport; she's already missing days, and she can only show up once a week.

Tentatively, a sparring session will take place this week at Portage Park, involving Marlon's fighters from that park, Barry's fighters from Loyola Park, and one fighter of mine, Tyler.  I hope that session takes place, and I hope Tyler shows up.  Maybe after mixing it up with the other fighters, Tyler will finally get that boxing is no joke.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Winter Session is Washed Up and Out

Barry wants to have a sparring session with his fighters, my fighters, and Marlon's fighters at Portage Park.  Good idea, especially with the Chicago City-Wide Tournament approaching.  So when I got to work, I called parents and guardians to see if they could bring their kids out for the session, which is tentatively scheduled for early next week.

Davion's sister reminded me that her brother is only able to go to boxing class two days out of the week.  He won't be able to go to Portage Park.  Tyler's mom was fine with it, but I have to make sure that I let her know if the date will be changed.  I didn't bother to contact Jada's mom because Jada can only take boxing class on Saturdays which prevents her from sparring as well as participating in competitions.

James had not come to class yesterday, so when I called his mom, I also wanted to find out if he was okay.  It is very unusual for James to miss a day in the gym.  His mom told me that she's keeping James out of boxing for the rest of the winter session.  James keeps getting into trouble at school about his grades.  The most recent progress report he received was very bad.  I agreed with his mom.  "The boxing gym will be here, but James needs to get his education," I told her.  I had suspected all along that James wasn't completely telling me the truth about his troubles at school.  Now I know.

Neither Tyler nor Davion have much interest in boxing, and frankly, I'm real tired of Tyler's lazy attitude.  The last time Davion came in, I got tired of him asking me how to do this and that.  He's been in there long enough to do the basics, but of course, Davion hasn't been paying attention.  I'm already disappointed because I won't have anyone to enter into the Chicago Golden Gloves this year.  Now I'm ticked because it looks like I can forget about having participants in the Chicago City-Wide Tournament, too.  I refuse to give either Tyler or Davion the opportunity to be in the City-Wide.  They're just not training hard enough.

Ariel showed up for the first time since last month.  As I suspected, she had been ill.  I thought I might have had a fight lined up for her at Cicero Stadium.  But it turned out that Ariel was 20 pounds heavier than the other fighter, so we had to take a pass on that.  There's a slight chance she could be in the City-Wide Tournament, but she has a lot of training time to make up.

I think it's safe to say that this winter session is washed out.  From day one there have been issues and setbacks.  It's halfway through, and I don't suspect things will get better before the middle of March when the session ends.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Clumsiness Is What I Do

Stephanie (in the light blue top) and Dallas face off during a sparring session at Loyola Park in the photo above.  Dallas wasn't bad.  She's good on the long jabs and rights.  Stephanie was game for action, but she was covering up and backing up a lot.  Her punches need to be fully out there more.

I took a tumble to the floor after tripping over Drew's foot.  It wasn't his fault.  I was headed to Alan's desk.  Drew was working on a heavy bag and moving around.  I wasn't watching as he moved around the bag.  It took him, Matt, and Gabe to pick me up off of the floor.  Clumsiness is one of my traits.  I'm surprised that I haven't had more injuries at both Loyola and LaFollette because of that.

Alan informed everyone about a boxing show that will take place in Libertyville on the 25th of this month.  "It will be a nice tune-up fight for those who plan to compete in the Chicago Golden Gloves," he said.  The registration for the Golden Gloves takes place the weekend before the Libertyville fight.  So far, Gabe, Ben, and John have expressed interest in competing.  I hope Rojan is planning to compete, too.  As usual, I have no one who qualifies for the Gloves.  The teens I have aren't old enough, and I'm not expecting any sixteen and seventeen-year-olds to sign up for boxing lessons anytime soon.

In fact, I think the youths I have now are it for this winter session.  The kids' class is full, but only Tyler and James show up regularly.  However, those two continually show off their poor training routines.  Jada can only attend the class on Saturdays, so she can't participate in sparring nor will she be qualified to compete in any of the boxing shows.  Maz continues to be a no-show, and Ariel and Davante have been missing too many days also.  Donovan's schoolwork is threatening to take him out of the gym completely.  It looks as if it is not worth my time to promote the Chicago City-Wide Boxing Tournament anymore to the youths at this point.

Yesterday, I completed my boxing coach's certification online.  Alan was amazed that it took me less than a half-hour to do.  He actually went up to Sam's boxing gym a week or so go to sit in a certification clinic.  That took three and a half hours to complete.  It was so much easier, as well as efficient, to do that online at USA Boxing's web site.  People had been requesting to have the ability to do certification that way.  I'm glad that it is finally available.

I'm still a little bleary-eyed as I write this entry.  On Tuesdays, I've been attending a small group Bible study that meets at 6:00 AM.  The other small groups are meeting at times when I can't go, so that particular group was my best option.  Last night, I told Alan I had to go to bed early so I could get up on time.  "What would Jesus do?" he said, shaking his head.  I had to laugh.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Out Of The Running

Next week will be the fourth week in the session.  Today, two youths joined the class.  Actually, only one wants to stick with the program.  Let me explain.

Jada is nine-years-old, and she's in everything.  Her mother showed me a video of when her daughter appeared on Steve Harvey's talk show.  Jada acts, dances, and models. She is now eager to box.  Excellent!  But here's the issue: her mom thought the boxing class only meets once a week.  Her mom used to box back in the day, so I'm a bit confused why she thought practice for a sport would only be done one day out of the week.  I know that on all the printed schedules and flyers that boxing is stated as being five days a week.  The online listings show the program at LaFollette as being five days a week.  Where are parents reading "once a week"?  I don't get it.  I gave Jada a mouthpiece and forgot that she won't be able to spar if she's not able to come in on any other day but Saturday.

Her older sister, Kyla, had been signed up for the class, too.  "She has to do something to protect herself," her mother said.  I let the statement about the class not being for self-defense die on my lips.  That was written on the flyers, and signs to that effect are posted around the gym including on the front entrance to the gym.  "But I'm interested in dance," Kyla whined.  She told her mother that no, she was not going to participate in the teen boxing class.  I recognized the girl's "pretty girl" issues right away.  It appears that her mother is not going to force her to continue in the class, so that is one less person I have to worry about.

James and Tyler thought they would take advantage of the fact that I was spending time working with Jada and goof off.  But I was on them every time I noticed them slacking off.  It has been explained to those two that they can't keep half-assing around on their training.  But it's like talking to a brick wall.  I'm dialed down on talking up the City-Wide Tournament to them.  I'll be going there in April to help out, but I seriously doubt I'm going to allow either James nor Tyler to enter the tournament if they don't step it up.

Donovan may be out of the running, too.  He has a heavy study load in school this year.  Donovan is also trying to gain entrance into an educational program that will give him an edge in both high school and college.  Donovan's a smart kid; I don't doubt that he can go far in life.  "Your education is more important than coming here," I told him.  "If you have to take off from this class for a while, that's fine.  You can always sign up again for the next session."  His mother will get in touch with me concerning her son's schedule for the next several weeks.

I heard a rumor that some patron, someone who doesn't have a kid in my class, has a problem with the way I run the program.  They think I'm not coaching it correctly because I'm not turning out "killers".  Obviously, the person who made the comment doesn't know much about the sport.  There have been professional boxers who have come out of the Chicago Park District.  However, there haven't been that many.  Very few of the youths who attend any of the 21 boxing gyms in the park district system are going to display the skills of a Fres Oquendo, David Diaz, JJ Wright, or Ed Brown.  A coach is blessed if they have a natural champ on their hands.  But most youths just need to know the basics.  Most may have a few fights (if any), and that's it.  Every kid who walks into a boxing gym is not going to have the skills -- let alone the interest -- to make a career out of it.