Posts Tagged ‘boxing gym



17
Feb
13

Exclusive Interview with Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells ahead of her 2/21/13 fight!

UPDATE, 2/21/2013!!!

Keisher McLeod Wills with her 6th win on 2/21/13

Keisher McLeod Wells defeated Jacqui Park in their 6-round super flyweight bout by unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 59-55, 58-56 and 58-56. Fire is now 6-2! Jacqui Park is 1-1.

 

Exclusive Interview with Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells ahead of her 2/21/13 fight!

Kiesher McLeod Wells Fighting on 2/21/2013

Gleason’s own four-time New York Golden Gloves champion and professional boxer Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells (5-2, 1-KO) will be boxing again on DiBella Entertainment’s Broadway Boxing card this coming Thursday, February 21st at the world-renowned Roseland Ballroom in the heart of New York City. Fire will be facing a former four-time Canadian National Amateur champion, 36-year-old, Jaqueline Park (1-0) in a six-round super flyweight showdown.

This will be Fire’s first fight since her controversal split-decision against Patricia Alcivar. She forcefully disputes the knockdown call at the end of the 6th round–and in viewing the tape, you’d have to say it did look like a slip.

As for fighter Jacqueline Park, her four-round debut professional fight resulted in a unanimous decision over Amanda Beaudin back in September.

Tickets are still available for the Ring of Fire event ranging from $45.00 – $125.00. Contract Gleason’s Gym (212) 787-2872 to purchase tickets.

Girlboxing had a chance to pose some Q & A to Fire ahead of upcoming bout, this is what she had to say.

Keisher McLeod Wells1.  You’ve got a fight coming up on February 21, 2013 on a DiBella Entertainment, Broadway Boxing Card at Roseland Ballroom in New York City.  What can you tell Girlboxing readers about your 6-round fight against Canadian national amateur champion Jacqueline Park?

Jacqueline ParkI don’t know much about her but I know she has a boxer style like my style. I’ve heard good things about her amateur career and that’s what I like to hear. I want to fight good fighters. That’s the only way I get better. It will be interesting to fight someone with a similar style to mine as opposed to the normal and obvious, my opponents usually comes straight forward non stop. I’m used to fighting brawlers and I’ve learned how to deal with them, so I’m excited to box a boxer. However, I won’t be surprised if she changes her style to brawler though because I’m taller. I’m prepared to take on both styles.

2.  The bout is being dedicated to your sister, Bronique, who was a recent innocent victim of gun violence. What do you hope to tell the world about your sister–and the cause of ending gun violence?

My sister was a very gentle and kindhearted individual. She was a great single mother of two young kids. She would come to my fights with support. She loved bragging about me to her friends about being a younger sister to a professional boxer. I am going to miss seeing her face in the audience cheering me on. This fight is being dedicated in her memory on my behalf. This will be my first fight since her death. I took some time off after her passing to cope with the lost of her with my family. This was the first loss my family has experienced, so it hit us really hard. What was more tragic is the way we lost her. Gun violence is so out of control. Using this fight in her memory with my popularity to the sport in NY, I’m hoping to bring more awareness in ending gun violence. 

Kiesher Mcleod Wells 3rd round knock down of Patricia Alcivar, Credit: Marty Rosengarten3.  It’s been 11 months since your last outing. You fought against Patricia “Boom Boom” Alcivar, in a tough battle that saw you knock her down in the 3rd and take a shot that was ruled a knock down in the 6th. Still you were triumphant with the judges giving you a split decision win, 57-55 x 2 and 55-57. What have you learned from that fight and what sort of adjustments in your game plan are you making as you head into head into the ring on the 21st?

First, I would like to say I never took a shot from her that landed me on the canvas. I slipped after dodging an unsuccessful punch that never landed by her. You can clearly see that after they replayed it in slow motion. Even the commentaries said it wasn’t a knock down. I was so confused when they started counting. That wasn’t the first time slipping in the ring for me in my boxing career. I can get a little wobbly and clumsy sometimes, but I never been counted out for that in the past. I was upset. I felt I won unanimously regardless of the 8 count. I fought tougher fights giving me unanimous decisions. So I couldn’t understand the split decision. The only adjustment I have for any fight after the one with Patricia Alcivar, is to try not to slip again. I’ve been working a lot on leg strength this time around. So hopefully I’m done with the wobbly legs.

4.  In an article that ran in the New York Times about you two years ago, in answer to a question about how the money side of the fight game doesn’t offer much to women, you said, “I think that’s why we fight harder, because we do this for the love of the sport. There’s no money really to be made.”  After all of the hoopla about women boxing for the first time in the 2012 Olympic Games do you see any changes or an opening up of opportunities for female boxers?
I’ve notice more females making a name for them in the sport. We are getting more exposure. I’m not sure if I would give the credit to 2012 Olympic Games. Promoters here in New York haven’t changed since the games. Maybe it has elsewhere. All I know is that we are still getting paid the same here.
Keisher Mcleod Wells lands an upper cut in the Golden Gloves5.  You’re a Golden Gloves Champion four times over as an amateur and bring a 5-2 record coming into your next professional fight. What can you tell up-and-coming fighters about the difference between fighting in the amateurs and fighting as a professional boxer?

The obvious difference is that professional fighters get paid, the headgear comes off and the gloves are smaller. The rounds become longer as well. Fights are more far in between too. However, I feel the reward is greater at the end because you are training for a war that is more brutal than amateur boxing. The training is more intense and so is the fight itself. There is a lot harder punches to be felt and give without the protection amateur boxing gives.

6. Your other love besides boxing is fashion. You’ve also started a jewelry line with wonderful creations that are beginning to adorn half the women in Brooklyn–or so it seems. How are you managing to fit your two love together: boxing and jewelry making?

Being a jewelry designer is what soothes my mind in between fights and training. Each piece I make is from my mind and heart. They’re unique one of kind pieces. It’s wearable art. I get in a zone when I paint (my jewelry). So when my mind and body is tired from training, I relax it by making jewelry. Also, I get a lot of down time when I’m working at Gleason’s on Sundays. So I create here sometimes while I’m here. Some are my items are boxing related, so I find inspiration from Gleason’s.

Keisher McLeod Wells7. Where do you see yourself going from here, Fire?

I would love to be some kind of TV personality or something in that nature relating to boxing after I decide I don’t want to compete any longer. I never look ahead in the future. I live my life pretty much from week to week. If I had children then I probably would have more sight of my future. Probably a bit irresponsible, but that is the way I’ve always lived my life. I am aiming for a World Title in the near future though, however it comes.

13
Feb
13

A Boxing ‘Ohana – an update …

A Boxing ‘Ohana – an update …

Sonny & Annabelle, The Kona Boxing Club

In Hawaii, an ‘Ohana is a family. A family that may be related through blood or the kind of family the evolves around a passion or a shared set of experiences. Regardless, an ‘Ohana connotes a sacred trust of people who have each other’s back.

When it comes to The Kona Boxing Club, the idea lives in the ‘Ohana that owner and trainer Sonny Westbrook has created around boxing.

Word of the club and of Sonny’s work in the community inspired Sasha Parulis to produce a documentary she has titled, A Boxing ‘Ohana, her way of acknowledging the impact that The Kona Boxing Club has had on the lives of the young men and women who have passed through its doors–lives that have overcome shattered families, drugs, and run-ins with the law.

Kaleo Shadowboxing A Boxing 'Ohana

Now, after four years of developing her short documentary, Parulis and her crew, wrapped production earlier this year in Kailua-Kona Hawaii, on The Big Island. Sasha along with NY-based Director Cynthia Younker and Hawaii-based Director of Photography, Sam Kapoi shot the film on the island for 5 days.

The documentary focuses on how Sonny Westbrook, boxing coach of The Kona Boxing Club has helped and changed many of his boxer’s lives and others in the community. He is a man who is paying it forward in awe-inspiring ways, and the crew captured this on film through anecdotes from Sonny and perspectives of the pivotal people in his life. Sasha is currently working on prepping the next stage of the filmmaking process with editing scheduled for 2013. She is also working on marketing efforts through the film’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

For more information check out A Boxing ‘Ohana’s website here.

See also “A Boxing ‘Ohana – a documentary in the making …”

04
Feb
13

Newbie sparring …

Newbie sparring …

 Sparring, Gleason's Gym

For new boxers, the lure of sparring offers the first opportunity to put the skills they’ve been learning to the test.

That means the chance to throw the old one-two, and otherwise work on their offensive combinations, as well as using and importantly, perfecting their defensive skills.

Before sparring begins boxers need to have frank and honest conversations with their trainers as to what to expect and what the progression of their sparring training will be. Questions and issues to consider include the following:

1. Do you really want to spar? This may seem obvious, but some students feel they HAVE TO, before they are really ready to. Make certain that you are clear on what you want to do.

Gleason's Gym, All Female Boxing Card, April 20112. Are you aware of the risks? This can mean anything from a black eye, a split-lip, a broken nose, or even a concussion or other brain injury if you are hit too hard on the head or land hard on the canvas.

3. Does your trainer have your back, meaning, do you honestly trust that your trainer is going to help keep you safe from harm and have the will to stop the sparring session if he or she thinks it is getting too rough?

4. Will your trainer listen to you if after a round or two you say, “I’ve had enough”? There is no glory in getting hurt or in working past one’s own endurance. If you can’t go on, then don’t. You risk injury, dehydration or worse if you push yourself too far.

boxing mouth guard5. Do you have a good mouth guard? This is a REALLY essential piece of equipment. And frankly, you should NEVER step in the ring to spar—even to learn a few pointers with your trainer—without one.

If you think you will be sparring on a regular basis and can afford it, you might well want to go to your dentist to have one custom made. Alternatively, you can purchase decent ones from sporting goods, boxing & MMA stores online. Your local gym may also keep some on hand for sale

Boxing Head Gear6. Do you own a helmet or does your trainer have a helmet to lend you when you are in the ring? A good, safe, well-fitting helmet is a MANDATORY requirement if you intend to engage in sparring. While this might not be legally required—you should not consider sparring or even playing in the ring without one. It is THAT SERIOUS.

The helmets approved for sanctioned USA Boxing amateur fights are likely your best bet. They are padded and provide good protection for you head and jaw line and many will also do a good job of protecting your nose. All of the major boxing catalogs carry them including Ringside, Title and Everlast.

Make no mistake. These helmets do NOT protect you completely and you could still suffer from a concussion, a hematoma (bleeding on the brain), or other form of brain injury even when you wear a helmet.

What they do offer you is some protection from blows and falls, but do not replace the kind of good defensive training that will see you move your head out of harms way.

7. Do you need or want to use other protective gear? Depending upon your sparring partner, and the likely intensity of your time in the ring, you may want to wear gear that protects your lower abdomen and your genitals. There are different designs for men and women and you should make sure that you are using a design that will give you the best protection. This type of gear protects you from feeling blows to your abdomen, but again, will not protect you completely.

LaTarisha Fountain, Photo credit: Savulich/News8. Do you have a decent pair of boxing gloves to spar in? Generally, sparring is done with 12 oz. or 10 oz. gloves depending upon your weight class. Here too, you might well want to use USA Boxing approved amateur gloves. They are well padded for your protection—as well as for the protection of your sparring partner. Likely your trainer will have a decent pair for you to use if you do not own your own.

handwraps9. Are your hands wrapped properly? This is another biggy! I’m not saying that your training has to give you the full fight treatment, but at the very least you need to make sure that you are using proper clean hand wraps that will give your hands good protection.

10. A word about your sparring partner. As a Girlboxing reader put it, your sparring partner is a member of your team. While you may not know your sparring partner well, your trainer should. That means knowing the relative boxing skills of your partner, his or her strengths and weaknesses, and importantly his or her temperament. What you do NOT want to face is a beat-down. Your first sessions are to familiarize you with the ring and getting a feel for throwing your punch combinations at a live, moving human being, rather than at your trainer’s mitts or the heavy bag.

Tricia Turton, training a young boxer at Cappy's GymA responsible trainer will make sure that you are appropriately matched with a person that is going to give you the flavor of the real thing as you find your comfort zone. That means you should expect to get hit, but not as if you were competing in the Golden Gloves. Again, what you are aiming for is the opportunity to exchange punches so that you can learn both offensive and defensive moves. What this means is that you are going to take some punches, but not hard, more like a tap to remind you to slip or otherwise defend yourself and prepare for your counter moves–not see stars.

When it comes to sparring, some trainers will take this role for themselves choosing to spar with students over several weeks or months to help perfect their student’s offensive and defensive ring skills before they let them spar with other boxers at the gym. Check with your trainer to see if this is a preference both of you share. In my opinion, unless you happen to be a phenom in the ring this is likely the safest method, especially for boxing students who only get to the gym once or twice a week.

11. Do not go it alone! If you trainer isn’t around, but your sparring partner is—do NOT spar! It’s as simple as that. You are working out with a trainer or coach for a reason: to learn the skills of the sport AND to stay safe. Sparring without your trainer in your corner is asking for trouble. Remember, your job is to protect yourself at all times and an inexperienced boxer sparring without a trainer in his or her corner is plain and simple NOT SAFE.

When you enter the ring to spar whether it’s for the first time or the 100th time, it is the real thing.

It is also a fact that many novice boxers are itching to spar from the moment they put on the gloves their very first day in the gym—sometimes to the point of throwing caution out the door.

After spending weeks, if not months, shadow boxing in front of the mirror and throwing jab, jab, right, slip, straight right, left hook combinations at your trainer’s pads the prospect of actually sparring can be very exciting indeed.

Sparring, though, is also a big responsibility for your sparring partner and for you—after all, you could get lucky and throw a left hook that connects beyond your wildest imagination. You also owe it to yourself to be mindful of the boxer’s credo to protect yourself at all times to which I will add an extra level of caution to say, when in doubt, sit it out.

And one more thing–if you DO get hit hard and your head hurts, you have difficulty seeing, you have a headache or lose consciousness, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. It is much, much better to be safe than sorry!

29
Jan
13

Jazzing with Melissa Hernandez…

Jazzing with Melissa Hernandez…

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich, Credit:  Rob T Sports Photography/ Rob Trudeau

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich, WBC Title Fight, Credit: Rob T Sports Photography/ Rob Trudeau

There is really no other way to describe WBC Female Featherweight Champion Melissa “HuracanShark” Hernandez in the ring than to say she is pure jazz.

Her fighting style is the essence of improvisation: bending the canon of what is possible in boxing with her left and deconstructing her opponents with each of her pounding rights.

The boxing maxim “kill the body and the head dies” is nothing more than a sophomoric adage as Hernandez dips and twirls her fists in a perfect prose of confusion and mind-numbing brilliance–so much so that watching her is the visual equivalent of the best mash-up that jazz could ever offer.

Supremely confident in her repertoire of boxing movements, she is pure poetry in motion: a swirling, stunning, harming, mugging, hilarious mixture of impossible postures, feints and straight-no-chaser jab, jab, jab, straight right, left hook to the body devastation.

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich, WBC Title Fight, 9/14/2012 (highlights)

I had the opportunity to see her in action recently at Gleason’s Gym. She was sparring, working three rounds with one fighter before the next fighter would move on into the ring. I didn’t get a chance to speak with her so I never did find out why she was in town–but it didn’t really matter. She was so at home, so assured that the years she’s been in Miami seemed to peel away.

The “Huracan” at work, Credit: Mischa Merz

The thing about her as a fighter is she is comfortable in her own skin; so comfortable that she can take as many risks as she needs because there is never any hesitation. It’s as if her prowess in the ring is programmed into her DNA. That is how sure she is.

Sue TL Fox of WBAN had a recent interview with Hernandez worth checking out (link here). Hernandez is waiting for another chance to fight and has otherwise publicly challenged Argentina’s Alejandra Oliveras to put up or shut up when it comes to wanting a WBC title. Time will tell on that one, and meanwhile, Hernandez trains at the 5th Street Gym in Miami, while acting as a trainer to a group of young fighters. With any luck, we’ll get to see her in action soon.

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich, 6/24/2011 (complete fight)

18
Jan
13

Heather Hardy Interview ahead of her January 23rd Fight at BB Kings!

Update!!!

Heather Hardy makes it a perfect 4-0 after defeating Canada’s own Peggy Maerz in a hard fought battle. Hardy won by unanimous decision:  40-36, 39-37, 39-37. Maerz will still fight for the Canadian flyweight title in April.

Heather Hardy & Peggy Maerz

 

Heather Hardy Interview ahead of her January 23rd Fight at BB Kings!

Heather Hardy @ BB Kings 1/23/2013

Heather “The Heat” Hardy (3-0) has been hard at work training at Gleason’s Gym.

She has an upcoming fight against Canadian boxer Peggy Maerz (2-2-1) on January 23, 2013 at B. B. Kings Blues Club & Grill in New York. Promoted by DiBella Entertainment as part of the Broadway Boxing series, Hardy will box Maerz in a four-rounder.

Tickets for her upcoming bout are available from Gleason’s Gym 718-797-2872 or from Nelly Spillanes 212-792-9672.

Also on the card are Yuri Foreman (28-2, 8-KOs) making his comeback appearance against Brandon Baue (12-8, 10-KOs) and Delen Parsely (9-0, 2 KOs) fighting Tyrone Selders (8-4, 6-KOs).

Recently, Hardy agreed to an interview with Girlboxing about her upcoming fight.

Here’s what she had to say.

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Q1. Since turning pro in August you’ve racked up an impressive 3-0 record. In Peggy Maerz you’re fighting a boxer with a 2-2-1 record out of Canada. Maerz is known for her long reach and quick jabs. She also has had an impressive amateur career in Western Canada. What do you hope to show the boxing world in choosing Maerz as your next opponent.

I want to show that I’m ready, willing, and able to fight anyone that’s put in front of me. I work hard, I train hard and I fight even harder.

Q2. You’ve put a lot on the line to turn pro having made your mark on the amateur world with you Golden Gloves wins and appearance in the USA Nationals. What motivated you to turn professional when the odds are so tough against women in the sport — even after the great success of the debut of women’s boxing at the London Games in 2012?

I have faith, that one day the girls will get the same respect (and PAY) as the boys. You can’t put your heart and soul into something day in and day out and not expect to make a difference. I want to be the difference, and believe that I have the talent and work ethic to do so.

Heather Hardy & Melissa Hernandez, Gleason's Gym, December 2012, Credit: Malissa Smith

Heather Hardy & Melissa Hernandez, Gleason’s Gym, December 2012, Credit: Malissa Smith

Q3. Aside from boxing, you’re also a talented trainer with a wide range of clients with varying boxing abilities. What has your work as a trainer and mentor taught you about fighting and being successful in the ring?

It has definitely added to my success. I live boxing! I’m in the gym 15 hours a day! I see my girls walking the same path I did and I get to watch them make all the same mistakes. It’s so rewarding to be able to pass my passion onto those who share it. I love what I do.
Heather Hardy and Trainer, Devon Cormack, @ Gleason's Gym, December 2012

Heather Hardy and Trainer, Devon Cormack, @ Gleason’s Gym, December 2012, Credit: Heather Hardy

Q4. In a recent interview, you described boxing as more “training on the mind.”  Can you elaborate on how you prepare yourself mentally for a fight and for coping with the unexpected during a tense professional bout?

I know how to fight, so when I train it’s a matter of correcting bad habits and fixing parts of my game that aren’t quite perfect. Fine tuning, aligning my punches, stepping properly, etc. My coach always says there are only four punches, so learn how to throw each one perfect every time. You can only be the best when you make no mistakes.

Q5. You’ve made it no secret that you want to be a world champion. Given the crowded field in the bantamweight division, what is your strategy for gaining a title shot at one of the more prestigious world championship belts?

Keep winning! My plan is to stay focused and keep winning. Keep training and perfecting my game. Keep myself challenged. I’m ready for the road ahead of me. I’ve been on an uphill climb since the day I walked into this gym, since I started so late at 28.

Q6.  You turned pro days after Claressa Shields won gold in the Olympics, but considered turning pro long before the Olympics. Do you see any differences in how promoters approach booking and promoting female boxing matches or does it still seem more of the same?

Unfortunately, I do not see that it has made a difference in the professional sense. I am still making considerably less than my male counterparts and doing the exact same job.

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Q7.  Finally, what should we expect to see in your fight against Peggy Maerz on January 23rd at BB Kings?

Expect the same as always :)

This will be a fight from bell to bell.

12
Jan
13

Effortless prose on the speed bag …

Effortless prose on the speed bag …

Speed Bag Gleason's Gym

I’ve always loved the speed bag. Coming at the end of a workout, it feels like a well-earned respite from the grunts and groans of hard hitting on pads, bags and bodies.

One can go slow, fast and everywhere in between as that classic patterned da-da-da-da-da-da-da roams through one’s head, the feet perhaps in syncopated rhythm, perhaps not, as the right and left hands make the speed bag sing.

Once mastered, however, there is always that push towards the next level. In my case I’ve been thinking  a lot about elbow strikes and telling myself that it’s good range-of-motion therapy for my shoulder has spurred me on to actually try.

For my first outing I chose a pattern of alternating a four-count between my left and my right hitting slowly with the following pattern:  right, right, right, right elbow,  left, left, left, left elbow.

I tried it during the last 30 seconds of my third round on the speed bag, and for the fourth round attempted the elbow strike pattern for most of it. I have to say I hit it right on the elbow a few times, but mostly struck the forearm.  Still, the range-of-motion was pretty tough on the right side — and as therapy alone, it certainly was something.

Coming home, I thought I’d check out some videos on YouTube and offer a smattering as inspiration!

Speed bag phenom in time to the music!

Cool double-strike patterns with elbow strikes!

Early efforts … with double-strikes.

True mastery.

10
Jan
13

If I can do it, so can you …

If I can do it, so can you …

Superwoman!

Don’t you just love those words?

Meant as a motivator for the under achieving couch potato that lurks in all of us, it can cut like a rapier.

Still, it can have its place — if the underlying, “you are such a slug” is left out it and the words are more action than anything else, without the accompanying censoring glare!

For the one who says it though, there can also be nothing but the best of intentions. All of us knows of someone who hours out of cancer treatment skips her way to the gym for a good workout and though she may excuse herself for a moment to puke her guts out in the bathroom, she none the less returns to the weight room with a freshly glistening brow, worse for wear perhaps, but no less game.

This brings me to the point.

What if we change that around a bit to an if you can do it, so can I, sensibility. The competitive aside (which motivates in its own way), we are all in this together. Certainly that’s the way it feels at Gleason’s Gym where each and every person sweating and grunting their way through a work out is cheering the hard work of their fellow gym rats.

We also all have our stories; those things that thwart our best intentions and no less tangible than a friend’s cancer, shoulder surgery, ACL tear, too many obligations hitting into limited time or the feeling of inertia that comes when you haven’t hit the gym in a while and need to push yourself out of bed to get there again.

I know for myself, I’ve had all sorts of things that I’ve used to not go to the gym some of which leave me with no choice but to stay home and others of which are more of the mental variety.

Having recently started back on a schedule after recovering from shoulder surgery, I can attest to the myriad of feelings that go into missing the gym and returning. If you’ve been a regular, it’s like missing family, plus that intangible sense of identity that comes of regular practice. During my rehab, I’d find myself going to Gleason’s for an hour on a Saturday, not to box but to do my exercises. Still, it was a bittersweet feeling. I wasn’t boxing, I was stretching and even though I was there, it was hard to feel a part of it.

Ultimately, though, it shouldn’t matter. Any work done is work accomplished, and while it might not be at the peak of the performance you are capable of, you’ve made the effort.

So, while you might go through periods when you are confronted with your decided lack of superhuman capability, give yourself a break and be aware of what being superhuman really means.

If you are say, 58 years old, I can assure you that your hand speed will NEVER match that of an in shape 20-year-old, but when it comes to heart, you might well get to wear your Superwoman T-shirt to the cheers of everyone who sees you!

One of my oldest pals is fond of saying, there are no dress rehearsals ‘cause the only life you have is this one. That might get an argument from some New Agers, Buddhists and Hindus who figure you can cycle through again — for the majority of us though, this is it.

In other words, you really do only have one shot so why not give it your all, whatever that means for you and realize that by following through, your example is making it possible for someone else to say … if you can do it, so can I!

03
Dec
12

Up and at ‘em …

Up and at ‘em …

Women's Service Corps, ca 1945, Credit: Washington State Magazine

 

Whether its early morning calisthenics, a five-mile run to get the “juices flowing”, or cracking the books one more time for an exam, the old “up and at ‘em” attitude is a great way to push oneself to whatever task is at hand.

Monday mornings also have a way of setting the tone for the week ahead whether its starting a new diet (or getting back on an old one), ticking off chores on the “to-do” list or getting back to the gym after a long hiatus. A Monday that is also the first one of the month has the added feature of jumping off into a fresh start with 30 or so days of opportunity to meet one’s goal.

Woman running 1920s, Credit: Baltimore FishbowlIt’s not exactly training for a prize-fight — but setting off down a path towards something to accomplish can certainly feel that way. That can mean losing five pounds, writing a paper (or a couple of chapters!), running five days a week, perfecting a new kind of glaze or learning five new chords on the guitar.

Whatever the goal putting in the work to do it means a lot of well deserved self-congratulations for persevering and at the end of it that fabulous “I’ve done it” fist-pump in the air.

Whatever the goal — one is also never really alone in it either.

We are all here doing the same thing and for every quiet cheer we might let out for ourselves we are also championing our friends who are along the path of their own achievements … at least that how I like to think of it!

So, if you’re out there today embarking on something for the month of December, know that a whole lot of us are riding along side you eating salads with low-fat dressing, waking up early to do doing crunches at 6:00 AM, perfecting sun salutations and memorizing the periodic table of elements.

 

25
Nov
12

Heather “The Heat” Hardy to box on December 8, 2012 …

UPDATE:

Heather Hardy with a fierce bodyshot sealing her UD against Ivana Coleman, Credit: Heather Hardy

Heather Hardy with a fierce bodyshot sealing her UD against Ivana Coleman. The win brings Hardy to a 3-0 record. Credit: Heather Hardy

 

Heather “The Heat” Hardy to box on December 8, 2012 …

Having shadow boxed at Gleason’s Gym yesterday for the first time in several weeks, it brings to mind the tremendous effort required to perfect one’s skills. Looking around me I felt humbled by the effort and work of my fellow gym denizens. From 8 to 80 it seemed, men, women and a fair number of kids were working hard to perfect their skills.

The person who struck me the most, however, was Heather Hardy (2-0) who is readying for her third professional fight on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at the Resorts World Casino in Jamaica, Queens, New York.

Heather Hardy Pro Debut, 8/2/12, Credit: Edward Diller Photography, Inc.

Having turned pro in August of this year, Heather is considered a fighter’s fighter. She works with hard-edged discipline and never stops moving. A national Golden Gloves champion, Heather has called Gleason’s Gym her own for several years training with Alicia Ashley, Devon Cormak and Hector Roca. She is also a talented trainer in her own right giving her students a well-rounded workout that includes a fair amount of core work in addition to boxing skills in and out of the ring.

The mother of a seven-year old, Heather works for her family and for the chance to be a world champion. She also works for the love of the sport with an attention to the nuances of boxing second to none.

If you are in and around New York City on December 8th, this is a must see fight!

For ticket information, contact Gleason’s Gym at (718) 797-2872. General admission tickets are $50.00.

24
Nov
12

Off to Gleason’s Gym …

Off to Gleason’s Gym …

 

I’m off to Gleason’s Gym today for the first time in a while. PT has been helpful in bringing back a good portion of my range of motion and strength, but I’m about to put all of it to the test when I work the speed bag for the first time.  Since I’m still only at about 165 degrees (should be well past 180), it’ll be an interesting challenge to say the least.

More than anything, I’m looking forward to seeing my trainer, Lennox Blackmore, who is himself coming back from knee replacement surgery!  Talk about the “blind leading the blind,” but given my state of things slugging s-l-o-w-l-y will be just about my speed.

Coming back from any injury is never easy. If I can use mine as a case in point, I will note first off that as savvy as I thought I was about what the surgery and recovery entailed, I truly underestimated how much it would affect my life and how long the process would take.

Setbacks also happen–thankfully not in all cases, but in when they do, as in mine when my shoulder “froze” it may mean adding months to the recovery process.

Losing the use of one’s dominant arm or other part of the body that is intrinsic to normal functioning for several weeks also takes its toll physically as well as psychologically. If one has been very active, the sight of one’s clipped wing or damaged leg is no fun and no matter how many pep talks one gives oneself, there are those moments.

Mine came when my physical therapist demonstrated an exercise on my body that I literally could not do without his help. It was about 12 weeks into the process and there was something so visceral about not being able to do a movement that had seemed so simple that it released the flood gates of pent-up feelings about the experience.

It was certainly a “first you cry” moment, but in the parlance of my grandmother when it’s all over you wash your face and “do.”

Those cathartic moments are likely a component of any recovery process and if they happen, there’s nothing wrong with giving into it until one can shake it off to go back at it the next time. In my case, I was able to do the movement on my own at the next appointment – and I will say it remains my proudest moment in PT.

Unfortunately, we don’t have Dr. Crusher to wave a magic wand on our limbs to heal our ills.

The fact is as great as orthopedic medicine has become the aftermath to surgery entails a bit of a slog to get back to full physical health.

As experiences go, however, it is certainly far from the worst that life has to “offer,” and each bit of progress brings one that much closer to the goal of regained strength and mobility–all it takes is perseverance, consistency and patience!

19
Nov
12

The first time …

The first time …

Boxing at Gleason's Gym. Credit: Malissa Smith

The first time I walked into Gleason’s Gym in January of 1997, I had a feeling of trepidation mixed with excitement and a healthy dose of exhilaration. This was a real boxing gym complete with the sites, sounds and smells I’d gleaned from a mixture of old boxing movies and my imagination.

Having lived on the Lower East Side as a child, I’d grown up watching men play dominos, so as my eyes took in three enormous boxing rings, my ears were honed in on the thwack of a domino clicking on a small table with three men, each looking like someone out of central casting for the part of boxing trainer, animatedly playing the game.

From the sounds of the dominos to the rhythmic beating of heavy bags, speed bags, focus mitts and bodies, each to its own beat punctuated by the loud dings of the ring clock that kept time at three-minute intervals with a warning at two and a half minutes and a ding at four minutes to start the clock all over again, I was hooked.

The sounds alone were an improvisational cacophony worthy of the best of John Coltrane or Rahssan Roland Kirk — still I felt a bit intimidated asking myself why in the world I was there and what had possessed me to think that I could actually box in a real gym. Sure, I’d taken a boxing class at Eastern Athletic Health Club in Brooklyn Heights and yes, I still remembered the old one-two my uncle had taught me when I was twelve, but this was different. This meant that I’d have to be serious, that the years of watching boxing and thinking about boxing were culminating in my taking those first concrete steps up to the second floor of the Gleason’s Gym building in DUMBO long before it was trendy and filled with cute coffee bars and babies riding around in eight hundred-dollar strollers.

If I’d thought I’d have a fight on my hands as a women crossing the divide of what even I thought of as a male domain I was mistaken.  Quite to the contrary, I was greeted by Bruce Silverglade, the owner of Gleason’s Gym who touring me around made a point to make me feel welcome.

I’d come that day to actually box having brought handwraps and a pair of boxing gloves and while I didn’t really know what I was doing yet, wrapping my hands that afternoon was the beginning of a physical and emotional journey I could not have imagined.

Within a week of that first visit, I’d been taken on for 7:30 AM training sessions three days a week with Johnny Grinnage, a trainer of the OLD old school who didn’t believe in new-fangled things like focus mitts or even the speed bag. His idea of training was beginning a workout using a broom stick for stretches before jumping rope for three rounds. From there it was onto a wall bag to learn how to throw a jab, a straight right and a left hook for three rounds. Those early weeks we’d end the training with three rounds walking up and down the slip rope and it had to have been a least two months before I actually hit a heavy bag.

After those first training sessions I took to writing out my punch counts and found myself punching the air and slipping whenever I could. I also found myself tearing up at the oddest times finding in the extension of my body a connection to a physical power I never knew I possessed–one that left me feeling bereft at the years and years of having never understood how much strength I actually had.

It was the first of many lessons boxing taught me and continues to teach me and while I’ve had an on-again off-again relationship with boxing in the ensuing sixteen years, Gleason’s Gym remains my home and the sport still gives me a warm glow that courses through me when I need a dose of something wonderful.

30
Sep
12

Back in the ring with Sonya

Back in the ring with Sonya

Girlboxing friend Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis won a tough hard-fought battle last night against Tanzee Daniels at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut.  This brings her record to 7-0-2. Two judges scored the bout 59-55 with the third scoring it 57-57.

Steve Smoger was the referee and as Sonya put it he told her “it’s an honor to work your fight.”  Sonya of course was thinking the opposite, feeling all the more humbled because Smoger was set to ref the Edwin Rodriguez-Jason Escalera main event.

Sonya Lamonakis and Tanzee Daniels, March 2011, Photo: Claudia Bocanegra

Humble is par for the course with Sonya who busts her butt all day teaching kids she loves up in Harlem before humping it to the gym to put in all the hours she needs to work out the stuff from the day and keep herself on the path towards her goal: a women’s heavyweight title, and hey why not, an actual chance to show her stuff on HBO on something other than an undercard bout that doesn’t get aired.

Last night was tougher though. Sonya has been through two bouts in the ring that were both ruled a draw by the judges. This past June she fought Tiffany Woodard with the scores 56-58, 58-56 & 57-57 and in January she fought Carlette Ewell with the same spread.

In the midst of it all, Sonya has been fighting through issues in her corner that led her to rethink her training style and to take on perhaps the toughest fight of all — seeing her way clear to the changes she needed to make to get herself back on track with a win.

Well, if she had any doubts they were dispelled last night. More than anything though, stepping back into the ring meant that she was going to fight through it all no matter what the outcome. That kind of courage is was makes boxing the sport that it is. A sport where each fighter truly puts herself or himself on the line.

For the moment, Sonya is slated for a WBF heavyweight title fight this coming December in Australia against Lisa Marie Vizaniari (5-0, 2 KOs). Knowing Sonya, she’ll work like crazy and then work some more to get into the kind of shape she’ll need for the win and the title. Along the way, she’ll throw us all lot of inspiration as we watch her suck back the tough things in life to bring it all into the ring, but then again, that’s Sonya.

20
Aug
12

Summer …

Summer …

Maybe its because I’ve had a weird bunch of weeks recouping from shoulder surgery, but this summer just feels slow and uninervating. Yes, of course there was the incredible HIGH of seeing the debut of women’s boxing at the Olympics, but now that it’s over, I feel as if I’ve fallen off a cliff!

I was in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for a week. It had a restorative feel and my husband and I reunited with our prodigal picking her up from camp. Still, back in Brooklyn, the weather kind of humid and unappealing, I’m hard pressed for motivation and as much as I am loath to say this, I’m ready to put an “amen” to summer.

What I’d like is a hard workout at the gym to wake me up.

Like a huge jolt of high-octane joe, hard-core gym time rocks my world with an instant shock treatment to the body and the brain. Perhaps it’s all the sweat pouring the accumulated junk out of my pores or the sudden remembrance that things can be done despite feeling otherwise. I’m not even talking endorphins here because that seems to come over time–what I’m after is the boom, boom, boom of going at something 100%.

It’s the reminder that your bones, young or old still have something in them. I forget that I have it in me from time to time, but like any shift, all it takes is a bit of movement to get going again.

15
Aug
12

Women’s boxing: past, present, future tense

Women’s boxing: past, present, future tense

Christy Martin & Mia St. John, WBC Title Fight, 8/13/12, Photo: Mary Ann Lurie Owen

Pictures always tell stories.  They speak of triumph, pain and the extraordinary toughness that is distilled down to a moment in time.

For Christy Martin (49-7-3, 31-KOs) and Mia St. John (46-11-2, 18-KOs) two legends in the field of women’s professional boxing those pictures, framed within the confines of a ten-round championship battle are indelible for what they tell us about tenacity, courage and love for the sport that both of these women has put so much heart into. Mia St. John won the fight by decision: 96-94, 96-94, 97-93. The decision was considered fair, and evened up their previous meeting on June 12, 2002 when Martin defeated St. John by decision.

Both women announced their retirement after the fight and given that they are 44 and 45 years old respectively, why not.  They’ve earned the right to hang up their gloves as much as any two champions who ever lived.

Christy Martin (r) & Deirdre Gogarty, March 16, 1996, Credit: fscclub.com

Christy Martin began her boxing career in the Toughwoman contests of the early 1990′s before finding her way to Don King and her most famous bout against Ireland’s great boxer Deirdre Gogarty on Showtime’s PPV in 1996.  That fight put women’s boxing on the map — and ready or not, into the primetime of promotional gambits that sought to capitalize on Martin’s success in the ring without regard for the women who actually fought these battles, or the consequences ten years later when the bottom seemed to fall out of professional women’s boxing in the United States.  Mia St. John was able to capitalize on that first wave herself, entering the ring in 1997 and signing first with Don King and then with Top Rank. She continued to box, just as Christy did through the good and lean times of the sport.

Women fight, win, lose, and tough out purses that barely cover expenses, never mind the cost of hitting the gym every day or going into camp for several weeks before a particularly tough bout, things that are taken for granted in the world of men’s boxing, but seem like flights of fancy for the female fighters. Martin and St. John and countless other women who fought alongside them, some highly renowned, others only in their respective cities or gyms, fight on even now if for nothing else than for love of the sport and the opportunity to fight through the things that bring them to the ring in the first place.

Martin and St. John’s bout was their last battle, but to borrow a term from track and field, they have passed on the baton and then some to countless women who have been inspired by their fortitude as they’ve braved the gauntlet to fight and fight hard in the ring. That it comes on the heels of the debut of women’s boxing in the 2012 Olympics is so much the sweeter.

Women’s boxing has Marlen Esparza (Bronze, flyweight medalist), Queen Underwood (lightweight Olympian) and Claressa Shields (Gold, middleweight medalist) to mark another milestone in the sport as great as the night of March 16, 1996 when Martin and Gogarty put the sport on the map. But they’ve also got sisters in gyms across the United States and the world working out two to three hours a day for the chance to climb through the velvet ropes to tell their own stories in minute frames of images.

What we owe to Christy Martin and Mia St. John is incalculable, suffice to say Girlboxing sends a salute to these two remarkable women who have literally pounded the flesh for glory.

 

 

07
Jul
12

Taking it slow …

Taking it slow …

I am at Gleason’s Gym.

The sounds and sights the same.

The ring clock.

The bop-bop, bop-bop-bop of the heavy bag and trainer’s mitts.

The words of encouragement and plaintiff yells shouted into the ring.

I miss this world a lot. The sweat and feeling the power of my body torquing towards a finite point beyond as I smash into something. In the ring with Len, pushing off when we’re in close, the brava feeling of popping him right down Broadway on the nose. I like the close combat; hate the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do when I’m swarmed and getting banged on and am aching for the bell so that I can collect myself again.

Ring clocks and rest periods and those three-minute intervals for pushing at the limits of endurance: I love the discipline of it. The finiteness. The I-can-do-this challenge of throwing punches fast and furious with no let up even as my muscles begin to ache and start in on begging as if to say—if you let me stop I promise you relief and easy breathes and lots of time to sit around doing nothing eating chocolate. But it’s not how it goes. I keep at it, digging in deep, screaming out “are you kidding me?” as the punches continue to flurry, to hit hard, my hips turning with each straight right and uppercut, yelling out “sorry” when the throw isn’t true, when I’m more pitty-pat than fiercesome warrioress mindless of my 58 years on the planet or achy breathlessness.

Ding. Time to breathe. To gulp down a sip of water. To let Len dab at my brow with my towel, to take the sweat out of my eyes, to hear him say, “that’s good girl, very good,” the only accolades I really live for. The acknowledgement of my work, my effort, my push through the rebellion that is my body urging me to ease up on a nice comfy couch with nothing but endless British police procedurals to watch for hours at a time.

One armed and restless, my right shoulder in a bit of an ache as I listen to the sound of the heavy bags straining against the weight of so many boxers pounding them, I can think of nothing greater than getting the all clear from my surgeon to return.

Six months from now, a year from now, I’ll wander in with a smile that cuts through me to take my place again at the mirror. My body out of boxing shape, needing to take it slow and easy, I’ll find my way—starting at the beginning with my stance, my jab and the first few tentative throws of my right arm. It’ll be back to basics then. An old dog relearning tricks I used to take for granted; protective for sure of my shoulder and of harming it again, I figure it’ll give me the chance to box that much better, to seek out a sort of perfection in the mechanics the way pitchers find theirs after injury. And that is what it is about anyway. Second chances. Ways of making things better after you’ve been down for a while. Leastways that’s how I see it. I have a rebuilt shoulder so that I can rebuild my boxing—smarter, tauter, tougher and ultimately easier.

That is what life is about. Working through the hard stuff to find a simpler way around as one peels back through the layers of interference. In my case a lot of junk and lots of tears mucking up the movement of my shoulder, but clearly more about the business of life where we all tend to lose site of things till we’re cloudy and full of obstructions that make movement nearly impossible.

Thanks to my very great surgeon, I’ll have full use of my shoulder again, an assist I appreciate and will take full advantage of once I’m healed enough to move forward. As with most things, we need a helping hand from those around us. What I appreciate so much is that I’ve had more than my share leaving me blessed in ways I truly cannot yet fathom, but feel so humbly grateful for.




April 2014
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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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