Thursday, August 29, 2019

Throwing Down At Eckhart Park

I can't call out instructions while I'm judging a fight.  But tonight at Eckhart Park's boxing show, I wish I could have during one fight.  One kid kept dropping his hands and not staying on his toes.  Each and every time the other kid saw an opening, they took it.  Of course, the other kid won.

Shifty mentioned that a fight between a brother and a sister was probably the first time that happened at a park district boxing show.  The girl won.  She kept tagging her brother with rights and left.  Her brother didn't have much in the way of defense.  Both kids were from Ogden Park.  I couldn't help but wonder if the girl won most of the fights she and her brother may have gotten into at home.

Melanie, who fights out of Loyola Park, had a tough time with her opponent, a woman from Humboldt Park, during the first round.  The woman kept coming at her with straight punches and hooks to the body.  In the second and third rounds, Melanie used her tall height and her long reach to her advantage.  Every time the woman charged in, Melanie had something waiting for her. Alan kept telling Melanie to "stick her". Melanie won her fight, which was the last of the evening.

Only six fights took place.  Bessemer, Brooks, Loyola, Humboldt, Harrison, and Ogden were the parks that were represented.  George from Garfield Park was there, but I don't know how many fighters he had with him.  None of them got matches.  I had no one with me as usual. 

Portage Park is where the next boxing show will be held, but I may skip that one.  It takes place three days after the fall season begins at LaFollette.  I'd rather not close up the gym on that day, especially if I have a crowd of new people that week. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Boxing Is Not A Supplement To Playing Ball

I saw a Facebook post announcing the death of a young fighter.  At first, I didn't recognize who it was.  JJ, who used to train at Loyola Park, had posted a picture of the fighter as a kid. Then I saw pictures of the fighter during his baptism at church.  The fighter was Nate.  He and I attended the same church.  His dad was a volunteer at Loyola Park.  Nate was a nice guy.  It's always hard to hear about a decent young person who has passed on.

It's the beginning of a two-week break period between seasons at LaFollette Park.  Walz, one of my co-workers, brought in a guy named Alex to the boxing gym.  Alex wants to get back into boxing.  He had trained at Simons Park under the late, great, Johnny Heard.  I told Alex he could come in during the break period, but if he wants to continue, Alex will have to pay for the class.  Alex also wants to volunteer, so that is a possibility. 

One of the boys on the football team, dressed in full uniform, strolled into the gym asking to sign up for the boxing class.  I didn't get the confused look the kid gave me when I told him his parents have to sign him up.  Birth certificates are required of youths who play the team sports in the Chicago Park District.  Youths are only allowed to play on the teams up until they are 13 or 14 years of age, depending on when they were born.  Parents must provide that documentation. 

I still don't understand why youths on the sports teams don't think they need parental permission to sign up for other activities at the park district.  The football player asked if I had a paper registration form.  Those were discontinued back in late 2014.  I still have a few, but I only use them when parents show up in the middle of boxing classes to register.  Even with Sahia, the volunteer, on the premises, I no longer walk out of class to do registrations.  I will have the parents fill out a paper form in the gym then enter the information on the computer system later.  I no longer give out paper registrations to youths to take home.  Most of the time, the form never came back to me.  Once one of the teenagers took home a form and filled it out themselves with false information.  When I caught it, I kicked the teen permanently out of the class.

I believe the same football player asked me a few weeks ago about the boxing class.  I should have asked how they plan to train in the gym when football practice takes place at the same time.  I don't need youths in the program who are using boxing to help them do better in another sport.  That's not my function nor that of the program.  I rather have those spots filled by youths who are mainly interested in boxing, and who take it seriously enough to want to compete. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Fourteen Bouts

Instead of judging fights at Harrison Park's boxing show, I worked the gloves table instead.  I followed the lead of the guys who were already at the table when I arrived.  The gloves and the headgear had to be wiped down after each fighter returned them after their bouts. 

Fourteen fights were done.  That was the biggest number of fights I had seen at a show in a long time.  Most of the bouts were slugfests. One girl received a bloody nose during one of the bouts.  One heavyweight appeared to try and wrestle the other one down to the canvas during another bout.  There were several knockdowns throughout the evening, but no knockouts. 

Too bad Juan -- from my gym -- couldn't attend.  He had to attend a party for an older brother of his who is going away to college.  Juan probably would have gotten a fight.  There was a long line of people trying to get matched up.  If Jaylin hadn't pulled a recent disappearing act, he may have been able to fight, too.  I'm just now learning that Jaylin has been missing for the past couple of weeks because he went on vacation. 

I was talking at length with Keith who spent five years in the amateur ranks, then 17 years as a professional boxer.  He said that most people who take up the sport don't want to run, but it is very important for stamina.  I do include running as part of the training I give, but people only do a couple of rounds of it within the gym.  It's seldom practical to have people run on the track behind the field house especially once the weather cools and the clocks are turned back.  The youth classes are only an hour.  Some kids are always rolling into class late and then dragging to get anything done.  I'm going to ask the youths to do running when they are outside of class.  I know it's a long shot to expect most of the kids to do extra exercise when they're not in the gym.  But something has to be done.

Shifty received an award for 30 years of service being a referee during the show.  He was surprised by that.  It was nice that he was recognized for his dedication. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

There Are Other Reasons Than Money

There are PSAs currently running on television bemoaning the fact that kids are dropping out of youth sports.  CBS News recently released a report stating that middle-class and poor kids are pulling out of sports due to not being able to afford to participate in them.  Lack of money is an issue especially in certain sports like tennis and golf, which carry heavier prices to play than others.   know of at least a couple of kids who dropped out of the boxing program because of their parents not being able to afford money for gas or bus fare to get the kids to the gym.  That happens.  However, lack of money is not the sole reason for the lack of participation in every case.

Technology is heavily to blame.  We now live in a world where playing video games is considered a sport.  There are massive gaming competitions that take place, some on a worldwide level.  I've had kids in the boxing gym tell me they can't wait until class is over so they can go home to their XBoxes, Nintendo Switches, and Play Stations.  Often, the kids are registered for my program because their parents and guardians want to keep them from sitting and playing video games constantly. 

It appears that many grade schools have cut back on physical education classes.  Some grade schools don't have those classes at all.  Of the ones who still do, kids have told me they play kickball or dodge ball during the classes.  They don't do exercises.  I know because of all the blank looks I receive when I ask the kids to do crunches, push-ups, leg raises, etc.  The kids don't know how to do any of that.  It makes me wonder if the kids are moving much during recess if that is still allowed in most schools.  I'm guessing recess is probably another chance to play video games on their cell phones.

Housework is a way to get exercise.  Judging by the kids I deal with, it doesn't seem they are required to do that at home.  A kid on one of the sports teams at the field house asked me where he could find a broom and I pointed to a nearby utility closet.  They pulled out a mop.  When I corrected them, they went back to the closet and pulled out another mop.  I remember another kid telling me they shouldn't have to do housework because their only job should be to have fun. 

Parents who don't support the youth programs are another reason.  I have to deal with parents who use my program for babysitting purposes and don't care what their kids are doing while in class. On the other side of the coin are helicopter parents who push their kids to the point where the kids no longer find sports fun.  Those same parents grumble to me and the volunteer about everything from the length of the gym hours to the quantity of equipment available for use. 

The cries about kids dropping youth sports don't tell all of the stories. 

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Summer Continues To Stumble Along

As summer stumbles along, situations in LaFollette Park's boxing gym remain the same.  Jaylen and Damaris appear, for all intents and purposes, to have dropped out of the class.  Damaris' attendance has been spotty since the season began.  Jaylen's attitude wasn't right the last time I saw him, and I had a feeling I wouldn't see him anymore.  Their parents have not contacted me to explain the absences.  The youth class has been empty.

As for the teens - Darnell straight up told me he does not want to compete.  Darnell's parents are more interested in their son getting in shape.  I have been having Darnell do combinations on the punch mitts.  I plan to do that with the participants from here on in because I hadn't been teaching combinations as much as I should have.  Juan wants to fight and he splits his time between LaFollette and a private gym.  Juan is advanced in terms of his skills, so I don't have to constantly watch him.  Sahia gives Juan a lot of drills outside of the ones I have posted on the bulletin board. 

I'm not much in the mood to attend boxing shows this year, but I will have to make some effort for Juan as well as for some of those who sign up for the fall session who may want to compete.  I skipped Seward Park's show.  Jaylen was supposed to attend that but didn't show up regularly to train for it.  Sahia has suggested that Juan should attend as many of the boxing shows as possible.  However, I'm probably going to skip Sheridan Park's show, too.  Sahia has generously offered to go to some of the boxing shows in my place with the youths who want to attend.  I plan to take her up on that.