Boxing easy, Gleason’s Gym, 12/31/2010
Getting the jump on those pesky resolutions
Yep. It’s that time of year again — when you need to confront all the coulda’, shoulda’ woulda’s from 2010 to write-up the “list” for 2011.
In years past, I’ve run the gamut from writing them hung over on New Year’s Day, to thoughtfully considering them for days and weeks before the turn of the year.
To be honest, the New Year’s resolution list is often an afterthought somewhere around the 3rd of January. By then of course, I’m in a decided catch-up mode which in turn can spiral into a state of New Year’s resolution anxiety if I’m not careful.
This year I’m trying something a little different. I’ve started my New Year’s resolution two days early — with the goal of doing at least *one* physical thing every day. Okay, sure, that can be tough, but with a hat tip to Conjuring My Muse, doing one activity — whether it’s one three-minute shadow boxing round in the living room or a full-on two-hour work out at the gym is achievable! And like doing anything else every day — it’s gets to be a terrific habit.
So to keep true to that New Year’s vow, I threw on my sweats, grabbed my gear (some of it with that new leather smell — thanks, Santa!) and walked down to Gleason’s Gym. The sweet part was being accompanied by my daughter — and while I must say that the work-out was tough as my latest lay-off has been way too long, I worked out just enough to feel terrific about making the effort. It also helped that she was there to cheer me on, especially when it came to the sit-ups.
I’m heading down to Gleason’s again tomorrow to work out with Lennox Blackmore with the hope that I’ll be able to throw in one or two extra rounds and a whole lot more ab-work. And though the gym will be closed on New Year’s Day, there’s yoga, fast-walking or dancing to James Brown to keeping me going strong — least ways that’s the plan!
I came across a couple of websites specializing in women’s sports that may be of interest.
Women’s Sports and Entertainment Network – reports on several different sports including women’s boxing. A recent promotional piece on Alicia “Slick” Ashley’s upcoming January 13, 2011 fight caught my eye. The link to the site is here.
Women Talk Sports – does a good job of reporting and publicizing a wide variety of women’s sports and sporting events. The site also links to blog entries across the spectrum of women’s sports and does a fair job of reporting on women’s boxing and women’s MMA. The site is comprehensive and worth checking out here.
PS – Check out blogs we like for other links.
Making it count
Having achieved her brown belt, my daughter’s Aikido Sensei gave her about half a minute to rest on her laurels before starting the push towards her next goal.
She is ranked at 2.5 and must reach a 0.5 level before she will be invited to test for her Shidon or first rank Black Belt under the rules of the the Aikido World Alliance, the parent organization for her Dojo. That will take three to four years, and given her age she will then wait at her 0.5 rank for some time before the AWA confers their invitation.
Her Sensei figures that as she is on her road towards a Black Belt — she is now not only an apprentice trainee with respect to all of the techniques that she must master, but more importantly she must also begin to learn the responsibilities of achieving the rank. That is all pretty heady stuff for an 11-year-old, and yet, having been thrown to the front of her class to lead the warm-up, she has become cognizant of how difficult it is to command the attention and respect of a group of people long enough to actually get something done.
What she’s also learning is that small things matter.
In Aikido, stance is everything — much as in boxing — and finding the balance means a lot not only to her practice, but in her role as a novice teacher, to those of her students. Thus she now sees when something is wrong and has begun to correct the tiniest of movements. This process of breaking it down is helping her to ascertain the faults in her own practice — at least that’s her Sensei’s ingenious plan, though this last is perhaps the hardest to achieve.
Sometimes it is not really possible to articulate what happens beyond the realm of the pure mechanics of a particular set of movements. In Aikido, that might mean the execution of a series of moves with a partner — pretty difficult stuff in that both partners must also act in a kind of harmony with each other even as the one may be attempting to toss the other to the ground.
Boxing offers something similar — a remarkable improvised dance executed by two well-skilled fighters balanced for ability and for that little something extra that comes from the heart.
All in the family: “The Fighter”
I saw The Fighter yesterday afternoon. The film is a biopic about “Irish” Micky Ward fighting out of Lowell, MA starring Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward, Christian Slater as his brother Dicky Eklund, Amy Adams as Micky’s girlfriend Charlene Fleming and Melissa Leo in the role as Dicky and Micky’s mother Alice. The movie follows some of the formulaic aspects of boxing genre films, such as triumph over adversity, but at its heart the film is about families and what happens when love is applied as an imperfect reflection of how people feel about themselves and each other.
It got me to thinking about why people box in the first place — and the kind of heart and mental fortitude it takes to get kicked down over and over, only to keep coming back; not only to get it right, but to say something about oneself. In essence, the boxer is there to say, “I matter,” in the world. Not to say that boxers or anyone who chooses to test themselves in that way necessarily comes from violent homes where “love” is equated with beatings or being pitted against one’s siblings or being taken on emotional roller coaster rides, but it does seem to say that one needs to test one’s inner strength — and in that affirmation overcome whatever demons large or small may impede one’s ability to feel whole without that sort of test.
As a boxer I know once said, “any punishment I ever took in the ring was a damned sight less than what I got every Saturday night from my old man” — and yet he still found himself playing out his ability to overcome that abuse to come out on the other side as a fully intact human being.
Perhaps because it is Christmas and this is my first holiday season after losing my mother, I feel particularly sensitive to the notion that families propel us to so much of what we do in our lives. And whether it is into the ring or some other form of physical or mental test of one’s mettle, in the end we do get to not only affirm that we matter, but to say that how we express those feelings has meaning.
This is a long way of saying that The Fighter is a good film worth seeing if not for the star power than for the fact that it attempts and succeeds at telling a very honest story about being human.
Train to Poughkeepsie
I’m taking my daughter up to see her grandparents ahead of today’s snowstorm.
We’ve just passed our favorite part of the two-hour ride: seeing the ruins of a Bannerman’s Castle in the Hudson River just past Cold Spring. There are bits of ice and snow and low-flying birds cruising the waters. We both feel a sense of peace, seeing in the vista of the river a part of nature laying itself out for us as a special gift.
This is a train ride I’ve always loved taking; finding it less the portal to a destination than the chance to journey while taking in its special beauty. Would that all our travels were as serene.
Wrapping, baking, boxing
Aside from the fact that the cat decided that 5:09 was a great time to play hockey, I was figuring on getting an early start to the day. Okay, not quite that early, but the usual 6:00 AM even though I’m off for the weekend.
Squirts to the kitty aside (and a timeout in the bathroom), I’ve managed to wrap everything — except for the stuff that hasn’t come yet (with an offering of my daughter’s brownies to the delivery Gods in the hopes that they arrive on time).
Next up has been three minutes of chase the kitty (the loud meows got to me) and the first round of baking — a nice banana bread with walnuts. After slurping down some cold coffee from yesterday morning, it’ll be a shadow boxing sprint to the store for flour, eggs, sugar and milk (and the weird looks be damned as I punch the air).
I tell you my list of things to do today is giving new meaning to multi-tasking — all while my family sleeps, as not to put to fine a point on it (gosh, that’s a well-worn metaphor), when they’re awake it’s kind of hard to get a lot done.
Okay, so once I’m back with the days supply of baking goodies I’ll be trading rounds of making cookies with prancing around the room — before the real fun begins, my attempt at fashioning home made chocolate candies. Mind, I got some fabulous Belgian semi-sweet chocolate from our absolute favorite Middle-Eastern grocery shop on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn called Oriental Pastry & Grocery not to mention the lovely array of nuts and dried fruits. The trick will be in melting the chocolate all at once so that the temperature stays even … hmm. Best that I work in some shadow boxing rounds before I attempt that so that my arms are nice and warmed-up before I start whisking the chocolate.
Here’s hoping that your day is as fun!
Boxing over the holidays
Given my schedule these days, I think the only boxing I’ll be getting in over the holidays will be at the movies. My plan is to catch up on two of the latest films about boxing:
Frederick Wiseman’s Documentary Boxing Gym and the Hollywood biopic inspired by the life of “Irish” Micky Ward, The Fighter.
Boxing Gym was shot at Lord’s Gym in Austin, Texas and examines the ebb and flow of life at the legendary gym where people come to pursue their dreams in the ring. This highly acclaimed documentary by master filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has garnered several major awards.
The Fighter starring Mark Walhberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams, is a Hollywood biopic about legendary jr. welterweight champion “Irish” Micky Ward. The film explores classic boxing genre film themes of family, loyalty and the antagonist’s ultimate triumph over adversity. The real Micky Ward is perhaps best known for his warrior’s tenacity in his three classic “fight of the year” battles against Arturo Gatti (whose subsequent tragic death in 2009 is still subject to speculation as to the cause).
UPDATE: Bill signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 2, 2011! CNN has a piece about it here.
James Zadroga 9/11 Bill Passes in the Senate & the House!
This is fabulous news for the 9/11 first responders who have endured so much over the last years.
Special thanks to all Girlboxing friends who drummed up what support they could to get this bill passed.
We should all send a collective THANK YOU to Jon Stewart for his amazing efforts — with a further thank you to New York’s Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who has tirelessly kept this bill alive over its many iterations.
Also read the ABC News piece here.
Three days until
Okay, I admit it. I’m an excited little kid when it comes to Christmas. Given that it’s December 22, that means three whole days until — as well as that “eee-gads” feeling ’cause my Christmas shopping isn’t done.
If you’re in a similar boat, and if you haven’t yet gotten gifts for the boxer in your life (or that special something for yourself for that matter), you just may make it if you put in a super rush order with one of the boxing catalogs — though it’s a long shot. (Check out the Boxing Gear Page for a list of online websites and gift ideas.)
The alternative is to run over to a specialty store — if there is one near you (folks in the NYC can always go to G&S in downtown Manhattan) or you can head over to a boxing gym for gear & t-shirts, and for NYC area dwellers there is always “Mo’s” for something like handwraps.
If that doesn’t work boxers can always use workout T’s, sweats, water bottles, hoodies, winter running apparel (hats, silk gloves, wicking socks, thick tights) and bags to lug all that boxing stuff in. One- or two-pound hand weights are also great to shadow box with and boxers can always use a nice mat for sit-ups ’cause lets face it, the ones in a boxing gym can get pretty “funky.” Those kinds of items are pretty readily available — and you can always head to a Yoga store for nice colors and an island of calm in an otherwise crowded mall.
A free lesson or two with a trainer or paying a yearly locker fee are also amazing gestures that would be very appreciated — and of course, you can always donate to a boxing charity in the name of a loved one (check out the Boxing Holiday Giving post for a few ideas).
Whatever you decide, enjoy your three days of shopping!
Pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Bill Update
It it weren’t so serious the analogy to a Mets game would feel apropos. The sort of game where your heart-is-in-your-mouth because every pitch is a game changer that can mean the difference between winning or losing. The problem is the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is not a game, it is a very real necessity for the tens of thousands of first responders who have sought out monitoring and treatment.
So why is that the Republican Party is *still* obstructing passage? As of this afternoon, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is continuing to affirm his intention to block the bill. He claims that the bill is a “rush job” (how can that be when it was debated in the committee he sits on this past June?), but is also clearly griping at the price tag, which makes no sense since the Democrats have found a way to pay for it. One would think that would be “win-win,” but no, folks with severe asthma, COPD and other serious respiratory disorders must continue to wait and wait and wait.
As my grandmother used to say, that sort of thing is a “shonda,” a shame, a shame that continues to disgrace our very understanding of what is right and what it wrong.
Meanwhile today, a group of ardent 9/11 supporters descended on capital hill to plea their case. Let us hope that they manage to sway the seeming frozen hearts of those who oppose this bill and what it stands for.
New York Senator Gillibrand’s heartfelt plea is here.
Miles Davis and me
While I used to listen to my mother’s John Coltrane and Miles Davis records when I was a young child, I discovered jazz for myself when I turned 12. My grandmother had given me a small portable AM/FM radio and fiddling with the dial I came across the radio station WLIB. This was 1966 — and at 4:00 each afternoon, Jazz pianist Billy Taylor opened his show with Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage.
What I waited and hoped for each day though was the chance to hear something by Miles Davis. Billy Taylor usually obliged with tunes from Miles Davis’ ESP or Miles Smiles albums or a song like So What from such newly minted classics as Davis’ Kind of Blue album.
Years and years later training with Johnny Grinage down at Gleason’s, Johnny used to talk about Miles the boxer. I’ve never really heard the speed-bag in his trumpet, but I still love the thought that the staccato of his solos could have come from his days of training in the ring.
Update: James Zagroda 9/11 Bill
Multiple news outlets are reporting cautious optimism as new life is breathed into the prospects of passing the James Zagroda 9/11 Bill before the end of the lame duck congressional session. Senate sponsors have reportedly lowered the $7.4 billion cost to $6.2 billion in an effort to overcome some Republican objections. Girlboxing urges all in support of this bill to keep the pressure on. CNN has the story here.
Boxing holiday giving
At this time of year, holiday giving can include support for groups and organizations of all types from feeding the homeless to providing arts in schools.
For those of you who may want to support charities related to boxing here are a few organizations that can benefit from your generosity.
1. KnockOuts for Girls
KnockOuts For Girls (KO4G) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that uses the discipline of boxing to build self esteem, inspire the human spirit, and promote physical fitness to help people facing challenges worldwide.
Through female boxing events and fundraisers, KO4G raises money to support its many programs that help underprivileged girls, women, and those in need.
Link to donate is here.
2. USA Boxing
USA Boxing is the national governing body of amateur, Olympic-style boxing, and is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA). As a national governing body recognized by the United States Olympic Committee, USA Boxing is responsible for the administration, development and promotion of Olympic-style boxing in the United States.
Link to donate is here.
3. Retired Boxer’s Foundation
In the words of Alex “The Bomber” Ramos, Founder and President of the Retired Boxer’s Foundation, “In addition to assisting retired professional boxers in the transition from their glorious days in the ring to a dignified retirement, we also have the task of educating the public about the sport–the good, the bad and the ugly.” Programs include outreach and assistance to members of the boxing community.
Link to donate here.
4. International Boxing Hall of Fame
The mission of the International Boxing Hall of Fame is to honor and preserve boxing’s rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of those who excelled and provide an educational experience for their many visitors.
Link to donate is here.
5. Other ideas
If you’re in need of other ideas, you might want to contact your local boxing gym to learn of any programs they can put you in touch with — or donate towards supporting a scholarship for at-risk youths or an up-and-coming young boxer. You never know, someone you support might just go on to win a Golden Gloves championship or even Olympic gold!