Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wednesday Is For Sparring


Five kids -- David, Iz, Abraham, Jamire, and Maurice -- sparred yesterday.  David and Iz made for a good match as they were suited for each other.  Maurice took a hit from Iz later and was sobbing for a bit.  But he got back in with Abraham.  Jamire was done after a couple of rounds.

The gym was busy.  This time, it was me that overbooked the class.  There are currently 13 kids on the roster.  Eight of them showed up yesterday.  All of the boys, with the exception of Jamire, appear to be interested in boxing.  The two girls, Jayda and Rosemary, aren't.  Jayda didn't show up yesterday, but Rosemary did.  I didn't have to deal with the girls constantly huddling together to talk instead of working out.  However, Rosemary doesn't follow instructions nor listen well.  I had to use one of my late mother's expressions to wake her up.  "Stop standing there looking and move," I told her.

Jamire showed me there was a bit of blood on his mouthpiece.  I believe he had sparred with Abraham.  I was already irritated because Jamire was running his mouth to me while the other kids were sparring.  "I can't have people talking to me while I need to pay attention to this," I told the kid.  When I saw the mouthpiece, I told Jamire, "Just go into the washroom and wash it off.  It can't be that hard to do!"  I always get the feeling that Jamire is used to being babied, but I won't do that, especially in a boxing gym.

I asked Uriah's parent why he hasn't shown up to the teen class yet.  "Oh, he decided he doesn't want to do it," she told me.  Luckily, that class is not full, because if anyone was on the wait list, Uriah would be dropped from the class.  His mother told me she'll try to convince him to attend, but that falls under the "don't do me any favors" file.  The kid signed up in the middle of the session and is already skipping class?  No thank you.

It appears the new signs I put up in the gym telling people not to use the boxing ring as a kitchen table are working.  Last week, I found an open carton of apple juice and other food left on the apron of the gym.  No doubt that one of the summer camp wonders did that, and no surprise that Tina and the camp counselors didn't do anything to stop it from happening.  Lately, the ring's canvas has been devoid of food crumbs.  I hope that continues the rest of the weeks the disruption, uh, summer camp, continues.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Fine Tuning


Jamire didn't show up in the gym yesterday, and I was a little concerned.  The day before he told Maurice's mom that he liked boxing, but I don't believe that's totally true.  The other kids are looking forward to participating in the boxing shows, but Jamire has already been waffling about whether or not he wants to fight.  It reminds me of Ben, who used to be in the program over a year ago.  Ben never wanted to spar unless he could "win", and Ben always had an excuse about not wanting to go to a boxing show.  I wish Jamire would at least try, but then, I don't have high hopes that will happen.

Abraham and his brother Iz sparred again (Maurice will get to spar with them next week).  Abraham tripped over his brother's foot and fell.  The next thing I knew, Abraham was sobbing, and accusing Iz of tripping him on purpose.  Iz doesn't operate out of any malice.  He apologized to his brother, but after they finished sparring, Abraham was crying again to their father.

A guy named David came in, inquiring about signing up his son, who is also named David, up for boxing.  The guy and I had talked about a year ago about his son coming in, but no registration took place.  The 12-years-and-under class is not full even this late into the session, so I told him I'd be glad to welcome his son into the gym.  One advantage the boy has is that his dad has been training him so he could start sparring once he joins the class.  I make kids who are totally new to the sport wait a week to learn the punches and basic footwork before they are allowed to spar.

I was surprised when brother and sister duo Noel and Mikaela (I've been spelling her name wrong before) came in for the teen class.  Those two know what to do.  They don't need me to go over basics with them again.  Just fine tuning.  Both of them have good form.  I complimented Mikaela on how she always stays on the balls of her feet.  Actually, that is how she walks normally.

Mikaela had a hard fight at Garfield Park the night before.  "That girl you fought was a bull," I told her.  Mikaela had been overwhelmed by the constant barrage of punches the other girl had thrown.  "With someone like that," I explained, "going for their head is not a good strategy.  They're so used to rushing in like that so head shots don't faze them because they've taken so many of them.  Body shots have to be done to slow them down."  I had her and her brother work on uppercuts and hooks to the body.

I wished Ariel had come in because she might have been able to get some sparring in with Mikaela.  Unfortunately, Ariel is absent most of the time.  If I see Ariel once during a week that's doing good. Ariel is heavier than Mikaela, and she still needs to learn how to pull her punches during sparring.  But it could work out with me carefully monitoring the action so that no one gets seriously hurt.

Mikaela's mom asked why most male boxing coaches have the female boxers always concentrating on giving out shots to the head.  I think it's because they are concerned about the females taking punches to their chests.  When I sparred more regularly, I seldom wore a chest protector.  Yes, those shots to the chest do sting. But I tell all of the fighters I coach to deliver punches to all of the torso regardless of what gender they are and who they are sparring with.  It is better to mix punches up and practice combinations.  Too many kids talk about getting knockouts instead of utilizing other ways to stop an opponent and gain points.



Friday, July 07, 2017

Judging Battles at Garfield Park



Garfield Park's boxing show took place yesterday, and thankfully, the weather cooperated despite reports of rain.  Every time I walk into that place I'm reminded of when my late mother and I went there back in the mid-1960's so I could get my shots before starting school.  We used to live a few blocks away from the field house back in the day.

George spotted me walking on a cane.  "Stop faking with that cane!" he said, grinning.  The man gave me some good advice about stopping my knee pain, including losing weight, which I've long needed to do.  While I knew that George had been working for the park district since 1972, I didn't know he had been involved in boxing since 1964.  That's a long time.

Iz and Abraham weren't able to get fights because there was no one available to match them up with.  We might go to Taylor Park in a couple of weeks, but Iz is going to be out of town then.  Most likely, we won't attend another fight until the one at Seward Park in about three weeks.  I need to give time to Maurice and Jamire to catch up so they're ready for matches.  But between the two of them, Maurice appears to be more interested in actually fighting.  I plan to allow Maurice to start sparring in the gym next week.

Before the show began there was a touching tribute to Ed Brown, known as 'Lil Ed, who fought out of Garfield.  Brown was shot and killed several months ago not long before he was going to have a fight on Showtime.  He had 300 amateur fights and was undefeated.  Brown was also undefeated as a professional boxer.  His father and step-mother were present at the show and his step-mom read a letter from a person to whom Brown' kidneys were donated to after his death.

I spent the evening helping with judging the matches, and there were some good ones.  A girl from Taylor Park, I believe, really took it to Mikkela, who fights out of Portage Park.  I saw the Taylor Park fighter in the washroom afterward and gave her a big compliment.  Solomon and Matt, both fighting out of Loyola, did their best but did not get wins.  The younger kids (fighting out of Garfield, Taylor, Fuller, Simons, Ogden, and Portage) went wild on each other all evening.  One boy got knocked to the canvas, and the match was stopped soon after.  An eight-year-old girl agreed to fight one of the boys, but he got the best of her.  She took a hard pop to her nose and that fight was stopped.

Summer seems to be flying by.  We're almost in the middle of July, and there's still a lot of work to do.