Monthly Archives: December 2010

Hopkins v Pascal

Hopkins v Pascal

Watching Bernard Hopkins fight Jean Pascal last night was reminiscent of an epic battle between two samurai: the one a world-weary older fighter and the other a young prideful upstart receiving his comeuppance.

Bernard Hopkins (right) v. Jean Pascal. Rogerio Barbosa/AFP/Getty Images

That the fight was scored a draw is unfortunate as it was clear that Hopkins had defeated Pascal in spite of the two knock-downs Hopkins suffered in the early rounds of the fight.  More to the point, by the 11th round, Hopkins had taken Pascal’s heart and while the younger man fought gamely on, everything about his defense spoke of his having been shattered by the tenacity and grit of his older opponent.

If those of us of a certain age had all cheered on George Foreman when he returned to the ring, Bernard Hopkins’ insistence on his viability as a fighter has had something magical about it.  Think Nolan Ryan throwing aces at the age of 46 for the Texas Rangers and one can see that it is still possible to be at the very top.  In Ryan’s case he’d adjusted his pitches to give himself the longevity he wanted.

For Hopkins, conditioning is what keeps him viable along with his boxing savvy and the depth of his understanding of the game.  Sure he’s suffered losses, but to see him throw body punch after body punch with the force of a jack hammer against Pascal was to know that he can keep on fighting for a long time to come.  The only question will be balancing his desire to box with the chances he takes every time he receives a blow to the head.

Whatever the case, while he was robbed of a win last night, it really doesn’t matter because we all know that Bernard Hopkins is a true champion.

A mom’s delight

A mom’s delight.

Okay, I admit it, I am officially kvelling!  My daughter has been invited to test for her brown belt in Aikido today!

We are all enormously proud of her achievement — not the least of which is because she has done so much of this on her own through a combination of hard work and true passion.

As with any martial discipline, it a lot takes courage to stand out on a mat and get pounded. In her case, she flies through the air, does break falls any WWF wrestler could be proud of, and can toss a grown person twice her size with ease.  She’s also learned a thing or two about self-discipline, mental focus, and what happens when her “monkey mind” gets in the way.

What’s most impressive is she understands that in testing for her belt today, she’s not only taking a moment to acknowledge her efforts, but committing herself to further studies and the responsibilities that come with her new rank.

To all the parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or fabulous honorary aunties and uncs, do consider guiding the child in your care to studying a physical discipline such as boxing, aikido, or judo or any of the other recognized martial arts.  Having watched my daughter and her friends over the past years has given me an appreciation for how much these kids gain from this sort of practice.   It’s something I know I’ve written about before, but having observed the confidence and maturity these kids exhibit I can attest to the fact that these sorts of disciplines add an extra dimension to their growth and development that should serve them over the course of their lives.

So, congratulations to our fabulous girl and all her friends who are testing today — all of you deserve rounds of applause and a minimum of two scoops of your favorite ice cream a piece!

 

Pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Bill

Pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Bill

Last night Jon Stewart did  something amazing — he dedicated his entire show to the cause of revealing the hypocrisy of the GOP in the Senate for failing to bring the all important James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to a vote.

The House passed the bill on September 29, 2010.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims that the Senate has the votes to pass it, however, the GOP is blocking Reid’s ability to bring the bill to the floor.

This piece of legislation will provide funding for 9/11 first responders to receive continued health care, medical monitoring and other financial support. Without it many will fall even further behind as they not only deal with the burdens of their diminished health, but the ignominy of fighting with insurance companies and workman’s compensation to pay their medical claims.

For those who don’t know, the men and women who worked tirelessly on the “pile” for months and months at a time are sick and getting sicker with illnesses that range from severe breathing disorders to cardiac disease to soft tissue cancers.

In giving a forum to Kenny Specht, Ken George, John Devlin and Chris Baumann, four tireless first responders each of whom is sick with horrific illnesses, Jon Stewart provided airtime to people who have otherwise been denied a voice.

Implied in his forum was the plaintive question — is America really leaving its wounded behind to die?   The politicization of the 9/11 bill sure makes it seem that way.

All truly proud Americans must do no less than Jon Stewart and provide a forum to call-out the continued hypocrisy of invoking 9/11 on the one hand for the furtherance of political agendas and on the other — failing to provide the material support necessary to give aid and comfort to the dying.

It is shameful — and every blogger, everyone on a social networking site should do no less than Jon Stewart and dedicate a post to exposing the hypocrisy for what it is, a disgraceful blight on the memory of all of those who have died.

The link to the Jon Stewart show is here.

Are we ever really done?

Are we ever really done?

My semester ended yesterday.  I finished it with a self-satisfied feeling of having completed something.  Last night, in a celebration of sorts, I used my free evening time to bask in the glory of evening television, hanging (and arguing) with my family, cooking dinner (well, sort of, because it meant ordering in Indian for my husband, cooking mac and cheese with peas for my daughter and reheating Tuesday’s eggplant parm for me), wrestling with our very ornery cat and starting in on the list of chores in the run-up to Christmas.

I actually wrote Christmas cards, ordered Christmas presents online (including a double of something — oops), hauled out last year’s wrapping paper, talked with my husband about how neither of us felt very Christmasy this year, and then dug through our very overstuffed closet to find the bag of ornaments for the tree we have to get one of these days.  It all got me to thinking that the crush of too much to do all the time means that simple moments tend to fall by the wayside in favor of a forced march of “have-to-get-this-done.”

In essence, my night off wasn’t a night off at all, least ways not until I figured out that I really didn’t have to get everything done in one night.  And even though my list of things to do is still pretty huge, I’ve resolved to slow down over these next few weeks; to take the moments as they are and enjoy the journey too, not just the destination.

I see the application to my boxing too.  I get in a rush and go mad for the gym and then find that I lose the knack for even getting there.  So I’m calling a moratorium on needing to overachieve everything.  Merely achieving is okay, just as being done is okay.  That means that today, even though I have a lot of chores, I’m going to give each thing its due and if something doesn’t get finished, well, that’s okay too.  It can have its own arc; its own round, and while it’s nice to fit things neatly into the equivalent of three-minute intervals, not everything in life can be experienced in that way.

 

 

Recent Press on Women’s Boxing

Recent press on Women’s Boxing

Jill Morley, "Girl in the Ring"

Lyle Fitzsimmons of Sports Network has written a fabulous feature piece on Jill Morley and her film “Girl in the Ring.”  This must read article published by the Miami Herald  among other newspapers can be found here.

 

Christina Cruz will fight for her 5th Golden Gloves Title. Credit: Goldfield for Daily News

The Daily News featured a piece on Christina Cruz yesterday.  Christina will be entering the Golden Gloves for a shot at her fifth title — as she works towards gaining a berth on the U.S. 2012 Olympic Team.  The link is here.

Mary Kom, Credit: Reddiff Sports

Girlboxing is a proponent of Women’s Boxing everywhere and found this piece on India’s Mary Kom entitled, “Representing your country is such a big thing.”  The article is an exclusive interview with Mary Kom published on Rediff Sports website. The interview can be found here.

My locker

My locker

I’ve had my locker at Gleason’s Gym for several years.  I used to schlep my stuff to the gym on a daily basis and then hope that one of the loaner “day” lockers was free.   In those instances even if I found a locker, more times than not, I’d forget to bring a lock or forget something at home, say my shoes or gloves or handwraps.  The solution of course, was to make the commitment to get a locker.

At Gleason’s as at other gyms, locker space is pretty dear.  Once I’d signed up to get one, it took several months before I actually got the call to telling me that I’d been assigned one.  Those months were a time of anticipation and frankly, outright jealousy as I’d ogle the lockers of my gym mates overflowing with gear, towels and deodorant.   When I finally did get the call, I was elated — and well, anxious.

What would I put in my locker?  Would it be big enough?  Should I purchase an extra shelf as I’d seen in other lockers?  Would I have enough places to hang things?  Oh, and the lock?  What type?  Would I remember the combination?

Coming into the gym my first day after getting “the call” I felt triumphant.  I had a locker with my last name prominently pasted to the outside of the locker door.  Opening it up, I felt a rush of excitement, never mind that it was exactly like the loaner lockers I’d been using all along, it was my locker, for my stuff; a little part of the world with my name on it that stored my special things.

After several visits to the gym, my locker began to take on the character of all the others I’d seen — overflowing with gear, and hard to close on cold days what with my winter boots and huge down coat.  Still it was mine, and if missed going to the gym for long stretches of time, my gear remained safely tucked in and at the ready for me.

This weekend I cleaned out my locker in anticipation of the area being bombed to kill goodness knows what kind of insects.  One of the last to get to the gym on Saturday afternoon, I felt wistful seeing the locker room so empty.  The treat was being reunited with stuff I’d long since tucked away inside bags or other crevices.  Who knew that I had my own speed bag??  This after just having put one on my Christmas list!  I was also reunited with my favorite pair of socks which I’d assumed had long since gone to sock heaven, not to mention mouth pieces, head gear, my daughter’s gear from when she was 8 years old and used to train a lot, and even my yoga mat.

Hauling my big laundry bag of stuff home, I of course resolved to keep my locker neater as I worked out where to purchase a large mesh bag to store gear so I’d actually *know* what was in there.  Mostly though, I was able to think through individual moments at the gym and came up the big hill on Washington Street with a smile.

Bird

Bird

 

Charlie "Bird" Parker

I stopped into a shoe store with my daughter on Saturday afternoon on our way home from her Aikido practice when I heard Charlie Parker’s rendition of “Just Friends.”  It got me to thinking about Bebop and the improvisational nature of boxing.  Watch boxing at its finest and one finds not only the dancer’s art, but the improvisational character of a Charlie Parker solo.

For those who may not know, Charlie “Bird” Parker was an alto saxophone player from Kansas City, Kansas who along with Dizzie Gillespie brought a new lexicon to Jazz interpretation called Bebop.  Like many talented musicians of later eras, Charlie Parker’s tenure on earth was brief — all of 34 years, and yet the legacy of his music lives on today.

“Groovin’ High”

“Yardbird Suite”

PS – Catch a young Miles Davis on trumpet on both tracks.

Great night of boxing

Great night of boxing

Amir Khan v Marcos Maidan. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Last night was a tremendous night of boxing on HBO and Showtime.

Joseph Agbeko-Yonnhy Perez. Photo Credit: ESPN

Showtime’s line-up included the first two fights in their bantamweight tournament. Beginning with the Abner Mares late round victory over Vic Darchinyan and Joseph Abeko’s stunning victory over Yonnhy Perez in a bout that everyone assumed would lead to a repeat of Perez’s victory last year.

Over on HBO, the undercard fight between Victor Ortiz and Lamont Peterson was scored a draw.

The fight of the night, however, belonged to Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana.

For those who didn’t see the Khan-Maidana fight, it fight is worth caching when HBO replays it or when they offer it “on demand.”  To my mind, Khan looked great through the first 9 rounds. What he’s got to work on though, is how to handle getting backed up into the ropes. He took a lot of punishment from Maidana from stiff upper cuts that really hurt him in the 10th, 11th and 12th.  Still and all, Khan proved himself to be a warrior and pulled out a tremendous victory to retain his WBA light-welterweight title.

For a great piece on the Khan-Maidana fight check out the article in the UK Guardian. The link to the article is here.

 

One other fight last night was Girlboxing’s friend Jill Morley’s victory in the Costa Mesa Master’s Tournament.  Jill is finishing up her film “Girl in the Ring” (previously known as “Fighting It”) and true to her subject is “fighting it” in the ring!

Get your tickets!

Get your tickets!

New York’s own Million Dollar Baby, Maureen Shea has moved on to the promoting side of the business as president of Pandora Promotions.   Her first big venture in association with Global Boxing will be a fabulous night of boxing at Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple featuring WBC Super Bantamweight, Alicia “Slick” Ashley in the main event.  The fight will take place on Thursday, January 13th, 2011.  Tickets are available from Gleason’s Gym and Global Boxing Gym.  Seems like a great addition to your Santa list!

If you’ve never watched Alicia fight, it’s a treat.

Women who box

Women who box

Nechama Brodie ready for a 'white collar' bout at the Armoury Boxing Club in Cape Town taking it like a woman on Fight Night. (David Harrison, M&G)

Women’s boxing has taken on a global character.  What’s interesting is many of the drivers for women’s participation in the sport seem universal:  empowerment, fitness and a way to get themselves where they want to go.

An article in a South African paper caught my eye this morning.  The article is written by Nechama Brodie.  She has entered the ring as a “white collar” boxer in two fights out of Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

As she writes, even sparring is not for the faint of heart. “‘Get used to it. It’s a man’s sport,’  [trainer] Shayvonne Pattison said to me, when I asked her to stop hitting me quite so hard in the head.”

The allusion to it’s being a “man’s sport,” however, has more to do with the seriousness of the intent during training, something many women who train will attest — so much so, that in my opinion boxing is certainly a “woman’s sport” with all the heart and fortitude that it implies.  As well, with the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, women’s boxing is beginning to engender the respect it’s deserved all along.

Her article is a well-written piece published in this South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Online edition and can be found here.

Getting them to the gym early

Getting them to the gym early

I live in a two-boxer family and if I count the young-one, we’re coming on three boxers.  As the trainers down at Gleason’s are happy to remind us, my daughter was practically born in the gym.  There are many stories told of how she was passed from one lap to another while my husband or I trained.  Her comfort today is telling every time she walks into the gym.  She’s got folks to say hello to,  her trainer, John “Superman” Douglas to fist-bump, and a general feeling of ease as she watches us workout or works out herself.

When it comes to kids in the gym, I always advise parents that there is no place finer to introduce a child not only to the intricacies of the sweet science, but to the rarified world of camaraderie, focus and importantly, people’s dreams.  A boxing gym provides children with a place where they can experience people working very, very hard to achieve complex goals that range from personal fitness to readying for professional bouts.

The boxing gym is also a place where children can learn great physical skills, confidence and a work ethic that will carry them across a lifetime — and this without ever really needing to fight in a bout.  The boxing work out alone with a skilled trainer or in a group class will provide kids with the chance to develop prowess in the boxing repertoire and for those parents who might object to their kids sparring, pad work and shadow boxing can simulate some of the movements of the ring.  Girls especially get a lot out of boxing training — not the least of which is learning how to physically defend themselves.

There’s also something else that happens in a boxing gym: a chance for people from all walks of life to interact and communicate.  In the over-scheduled world of contemporary child rearing, that sort of experience is invaluable as is the “drift” time that happens as you wait your turn.

For more information on children’s boxing programs, parents can contact their local PAL organizations. Many boxing gyms also provide opportunities for training children individually or in groups.  You can also contact Girlboxing and we’ll be happy to pass on what information we have.

Housebound

Housebound

My daughter has been sick off-and-on with a low-grade fever and headaches over the past few days. This has meant that my husband has been at home taking care of her — and has himself caught whatever bug she’s had.

On those sorts of days when bed, TV and iPad games are your best friends it’s hard to get motivated enough to reset your bed covers, never mind do anything remotely physical. As the fog of misery begins to roll back, however, one sure way of pushing through the rest of the way is to sweat it out with some robust exercise finished by a nice steam.

By robust, of course, I don’t necessarily mean running a marathon, but first off, dragging your bones out of bed and into a hot shower to help you reset yourself.  And sure, if you feel as if you’re about to faint at that point, bed is surely your only option, but if you get out of the shower feeling refreshed and human again, the next step is to get your body moving.  Think Army calisthenics and get into yours sweats and start either with a quick stretch followed by run around the block — or a brisk walk to your gym to make war on the machines or a heaving bag.  What you want is a nice healthy sweat to get all of those toxins out — and as for the steam, if you don’t have access to one, get back in the shower with the water on hot and feel that junk rolling off you and down the drain.

Of course if you can’t run out the door, there’s nothing like shadow boxing to “I Will Survive”!

PS – As this is UMG, it may bounce you back to You Tube.

Getting started

Getting started

If you’ve never boxed before, one of the hardest things to overcome is understanding that it’s okay if you don’t know how to box!  Let’s face it, that’s why you are walking into the ring in the first place.

The great mystery for me when I got started was how my body could stay centered, balanced and move as a coordinated unit while attempting to throw a jab.  I must have thrown thousands before I figured out that “less is more,” and even then it was sort of an accidental discovery.  The main point is, do not despair, you will get it!

There are many patient, talented trainers who will be more than willing to share their knowledge of the sweet science with you as long as you come to it with an open mind and the commitment to work hard as you learn the basics.  Where you go doesn’t matter so much as finding a trainer you feel comfortable with.

Don’t worry about gear either, the gym usually supplies the basics as will your trainer — whether your taking a class or working one-on-one with someone.  The main thing is to relax and have fun — and remember that it really is good to hit things!

You might also like:

It’s good to hit things

Learning to box


No pitty-pat

Boxing gifts

Boxing gifts

At this time of year, when I’m asked “what do you want for Christmas?”  I pretty much “cut to the chase” and hand over my list of items large and small.  Specific to boxing, Christmas (and Hanukkah for that matter) is a great time to give and receive fabulous boxing inspired goodies.

As you build your list, you might want to take an inventory of the things you do have so that you can sort out what items to add.  A biggie is checking out the state of your handwraps.  Boxers are usually very persnickety about which handwraps to use — to include color in some cases.  They’re also a pain to buy because they are not available at every gym and require a special trip to places like the Sports Authority — and even then they may not have what you want.  The alternative is ordering from one of the major boxing catalogs.  If you’re anything like me you hold off because the order is too small and there you are, two or three years later with the rattiest looking wraps you’ve ever seen.

From there it’s time to peruse the online catalogs and dream.  

Do you figure it’s time to start using your own speed bag or double-ended bag and not your trainer’s?  Do you need a better quality jump rope?  Are your boxing T’s too funky for school?  Want to start using your own water bottle with a spout rather than spending a small fortune on bottled water?  How about other little stocking stuffers — new mouth guards, adhesive tape, boxing books or the “speed bible” DVD?

Then there’s the matter of getting yourself a pair of real honest-to-goodness boxing shorts — yep, with your name on them, or a boxing robe, or some other tangible symbol of all of your effort this past year.

It’s also a great time to trade up on your boxing gloves, or to get a pair of specialized gloves for hitting the bag.  You might also think its time to invest in your own headgear or other boxing protective gear — or a really nice new boxing bag to haul your stuff around in.

When it comes to gloves, however, you might want to consider having a pair made just for you!  This can come into the category of something you splurge on for yourself, have someone buy for you — or something you might purchase for someone else.  There are two specialty places that I know of (see list below) or the folks in your gym may have some tips for you.

Purchasing boxing T’s say from Gleason’s or some other boxing gym are also fun gifts to give.  I cherish the “Lonsdale” T-shirt my husband got me, sort of what Everlast is to the US, the Lonsdale brand is to the UK.

The main thing is — don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want along with the website URL, size, color and brand name of the item.

Who knows, you just might get it!

 

Online Boxing Websites include the following:

For customized boxing gear:

Sites we like about women’s boxing

Blogs we like about women’s boxing

If you are looking for blogs by women who talk about the sweet science from the perspective of hauling themselves to the gym, here are a few Girlboxing has found around the web you might enjoy.

Girl.Boxer.Southpaw:  Girlboxing enjoys reading this blog.  It offers insightful and inspiring pieces on what it means to get up and train.  The link is here.

The glowing edge:  Terrific blog that mixes boxing news, personal boxing stories and the daily stuff about life.   The link is here.

The Sweetest thing:  A view of women’s boxing from Australia with a lot of salient points on the difficulties women face in the ring.  The link is here.

Binnie Klein:  Binnie Klein is a women after Girlboxing’s heart who wrote “Blows to the Head: How Boxing Changed my Mind.”    The link is here.

As for straight-up news about women in boxing WBAN – Woman’s Boxing Network is worth checking out.  Do they report on all the regional fights or have all  the latest news all the time – not necessarily, but given their focus WBAN does a good job of keeping women’s professional boxing in focus.  The link is here.

 

PS – Please pass along any blogs you like about women’s boxing in the comments field!