How Boxing Uncaged Me is an essay I wrote for the new compendium, THE DIFFERENCE: Essays on Loss, Courage, and Personal Transformation. The brain child of editors and contributing authors, Achim Nowak and Rosemary Ravinal, the premise was to curate a series of essays that had as their focal point the deeply searing experiences that made a difference in how we lived the rest of our lives.
For me, that difference was of all things boxing. Since childhood I had a fascination with the sport watching the fighters of my era, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Ken Norton, on the flickering lights of my television. It took me a life time, however, to finally enter a boxing gym.
“No more excuses,” I said aloud to myself, on a crisp clear day in early January as I made the sojourn to Gleason’s Gym.
With the low wintry light streaming in through the line of grimy windows facing the street, I was immediately greeted by the owner of the gym. Bruce Silverglade, seated at a desk near the entrance. A chessboard in mid-game took up a corner of the desk.
“Hi can I help?” Bruce asked.
I introduced myself and within seconds he was up and out of his seat and touring me through the cavernous expanse. As the sights and sounds hit my senses, calm descended. I had found my place.
Learning the mechanics of the sport, however, was the least of my journey through boxing. It brought me the courage to write. To go back to school to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in my 50s. To go on to a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies. And to take up the sport of women’s boxing as a cause worth fighting for including writing the first comprehensive history of the sport.
The discipline of boxing is and continues to be another dimension:
If there is one thing boxing taught me, it is that fear and the accompanying self-doubt has been, and continues to be, my nemesis. It lives with me as a shadow being that I face down every time I glove up. I know it from the tears. The ones that still well up when I haven’t given myself the self-care I deserve. I know it from the places where new scar tissue has formed from hurts that have gone unanswered.
I am also humbled by the care and dedication Nowak and Ravinal have shown in selecting the essays for the collection–with stories about loss, courage, and personal transformation that have meaning across all of our lives.
The stories have inspired me as they have overwhelmed me with gratitude for having been chosen alongside my very humble efforts at exploring the impact boxing has had on my life.
As a writer, a caregiver, and all the other roles I embody on a daily basis, I am particularly proud of being given the chance to explore how the thread of the sport I love has woven its way through all of those experiences.
Thank you, as always, to the boxing community for continuing to embrace me and call me one of your own.