I know I sometimes get a little bit cranky and complain-y on these pages, but after a morning like this one where the work of the gym was hard, but fell into place, let me tell you all I AM BLESSED.
The workout out itself had ragged moments because despite coming at this hard once a week since January, my conditioning is still not where it should be. Working with Len on the pads, and then having him coach me through some double-ended bag work focusing on the right hook put it all into place.
So, yes, I did get to a near-on physical s-t-o-p on the 4th round of pads, but still managed my sweet 16 feeling strong, confident, and as if I’d come away with something I hadn’t had at the start of it.
Plus … I was surrounded by an amazing group of women going through their third day of Gleason’s Gym’s first Female Boxing Clinic …
And if that wasn’t enough, Lennox feels I’ve come along enough for us to start sparring again beginning next week! Yay! We’re talking cloud 9 here people — and as the song says, “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day”!
Oh and a big P.S. – If you can make it … come on down to Gleason’s First All-Female Amateur Fight Card 2night! The bouts begin at 6:00 PM, @ 77 Front Street in Dumbo (Brooklyn). You can also catch the bouts on http://www.golivetv.com with Gleason’s own Sonya Lamonakis providing the commentary! $20 bucks @ the door, $15 for gym members or for folks with a boxing card.
So, there I was dodging the sudden rain at lunch time yesterday and out of nowhere, my knees screamed out, “you’re 50-something woman, WHY are you trying to bend!”
Similarly, my fingers and toes have been yelling at me lately — all of which is another way of saying (a) they’re still cold from the long winter or (b) I’m becoming a woman of a “certain age” that has got to sort out how to oil-up these joints!
For the latter, my usual response is to say, “give me a hot sweaty gym in mid-summer and I’ll train forever.” Really, there is something to walking in sweaty that just gases me to train longer and harder. Otherwise I find that I have to stay in the hot shower that much longer in the morning not to mention taking a lot of extra time warming up.
Okay, we’re not talking gnarly knees here yet, but I went to do a knee bend last night and thought I might get stuck mid-way forever. And on last Saturday’s run — ah, make that S-L-O-W jog — I had the feeling that if I wanted to run faster, say if my life depended on it, I couldn’t have!
Oy, so what to do!
In checking it out, I found some tips that seem intuitive and smart, and may prove useful to Girlboxing friends with stiffening joints whether from all that over-use in the gym or the age thing!
1. Range of Motion Exercises: This one makes a lot of sense, especially for the knees, but shoulders, neck, wrists and other “cold spots” can gain a lot of benefits. You can start with a small circular movements, and when it comes to your shoulders, giving them a good shrug really helps.
2. Strengthening Exercises: Building up your muscle strength to help support your joints is another terrific way of helping overcome stiffness. The joint issues may not go away per se, but by strengthening the muscles surrounding your joints, you can maintain or increase your muscle strength while giving support to your joints. The key here is that you don’t necessarily have to go running to the gym to lift thousands of pounds. Rather, strengthening can also be accomplished through repetitive exercises that can isolate specific areas of your body.
I’ll throw in Yoga as another terrific way to perform strengthening exercises — and there are a lot of focused Yoga movements that you can perform for specific parts of your body in addition to gaining overall conditioning.
3. Aerobic Exercises: The key here is to build endurance without hurting yourself, i.e., my slow jog versus a full-on pounding run (which I can’t do anyway). but you get the drift. Walking, swimming, dancing and our favorite boxing, are great examples of the kinds of aerobic exercises that can improve overall conditioning, keep your cardio in check and maybe even your weight.
The key here is if you’re noticing a slow-down, morning stiffness or other subtle changes you’ll likely want to work at your own pace. If you’re really hurting though, get yourself to a doctor to check out what’s going on. Years of pounding on your body does take its toll even if you are fit and keep to a regular fitness program.
Most of all, have some fun — and if you’re like me, you can get some entertainment out of cracking your knees in time to the music!
“We work for the future, because the past is lost.”
Female boxers in Afghanistan, Credit: Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
As Girlboxing readers know, I just can’t get enough of the Afghan Women’s Boxing Team. The Los Angeles Times has obliged with an in-depth feature piece by Molly Hennessy-Fiske. The haunting money quote by the team’s coach, Mohammad Sabir Sharifi truly resonated with me: “We work for the future, because the past is lost.”
Sharifi and some of the young women he trains have a received threats, and yet they persevere. As if to punctuate the pluckiness of these brave young women, two members of the team traveled unaccompanied all the way to Turkey by train and competed in the early rounds of the ongoing AIBA Women’s and Youth Junior World Boxing Championships in Antalya, Turkey.
These young women who train in the face of continuing threats of violence due to nothing more than their gender are emblematic of how much further we all have to come. I applaud their bravery and as the mother of an 11-year-old girl, feel particularly humbled by the love and support these young women receive from their families and their coach as they pursue their Olympic dreams.
Women’s boxing results: Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano wins with a 4th Round Knockout in her 360 Boxing Debut!
Amanda“The Real Deal” Serrano (9-0-1, 5 KOs) decisively won her 360 Boxing debut bout against opponent Ela“Bam Bam” Nunez (9-9, 2 KOs) by way of a fourth-round knockout. This was Serrano and Nunez’s third meeting.
Amanda Serrano and Ela Nunez, Credit: Sara Rivest, January 2011
Serrano and Nunez’s first bout in 2009 ended in a draw, though this past January, Serrano won their second fight by majority decision.
Amanda Serrano, a 23-year-old Brooklyn native by way of Puerto Rico, is a newcomer to 360 Boxing‘s stable of fighters and an example of a female boxer who is making inroads into the sport through her hard work, tenacity and fierce boxing skills.
We’ll see what the future holds for Amanda Serrano, but if her victory this past Friday in Hamburg, NY is any indication, a title fight is likely in the cards for her in the very near future.
Check out the Amanda Serrano’s page on 360 Boxing Website here.
Women’s Boxing: Thinking about “What Matters, What May Never”
Chris Namus (left) and Leli Luz Flores, Monetevido, Credit: Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images
Lyle Fitzsimmons over at Boxing Scene.com has a provocative piece about the state of women’s boxing.
Entitled “Reading the Reactions: What Matters, What May Never,” his thesis is that despite great strides in women’s boxing and his own personal hucksterism, if he judges support for the sport based on reactions to his columns it barely registers as a blip on the screen.
Given the momentum of a steady increase in positive press, such phenomenal fights as the recent Torres vs. Nava battle and the fact that women boxers are filling the seats with paying customers at stadiums and other venues all over the world, Fitzsimmons’ prognosis is depressing indeed.
Perhaps part of the problem is that here in the United States it’s hard to see a women’s bout unless one is willing to watch small market presentations, streaming-video on a laptop or after the fact YouTube videos. I mean lets face it, when was the last time HBO, Showtime or Friday Night Fights bothered to put a women’s bout on the air? In HBO’s defense, at least they’ve had women’s bouts on their two most recent undercards!
There’s also the issue of breaking through the “novelty” aspects of the sport that continue as an underlying current in mainstream discussions of the women’s boxing. Meanwhile, phenomenal female fighters in the amateur and pro-ranks continue to ply their trade with hard work and a sense of mission that sees them moving forward no matter the vitriol that is thrown their way in comment boxes across the internet or, as in the case of Fitzsimmons’ thesis, a lack of interest all together.
Even given that I am biased by Girlboxing’s support of the sport, the butts in the seats seem to tell a different tale as a world-wide phenomenon, and while Fitzsimmons laments that the coming 2012 Olympics are a ho-hum moment to his readers, I would posit that given how far the sport has come in less than 20 years is something to spur optimism for its future.
I know I keep harping on this one, but that fact that there is an Afghan Women’s Boxing Team at all sends the message that this sport is not going away, and despite the purported lack of interest among fanatical fans with nothing better to do than opine as to the prospects for the upcoming Pacquaio-Mosely fight, Philippine Pac-women fill the house as did Ana Julatan, the great Philippine-American fighter in her recent main event championship bout in Riverside, California.
Women’s boxing is not going away — and whether there is ever another women’s championship bout on one of the major outlets or not, it is still seen and supported by serious fans of the sport throughout the United States — and in terms of the international embrace of the sport is regularly televised as mainstream national events with huge support from the sports establishment, especially in places such as Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay.
Again, ticket sales don’t lie and seats are being sold — and even if Fitzsimmons’ readers don’t “get it,” the sport is evolving with new generations of fighters crossing the ropes and putting their hearts and souls on the line to make their way as boxers if for nothing else, than for love of the sport.
I’ve been in a back to the drawing boards phase for the past couple of days. I likely should have just put up the “gone fishing” sign, but what I’ve really needed is to draw on some inspiration. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. I have a friend in the throes of a tough fight against breast cancer. She’s ridiculously young to be going through this sort of “shite,” but if you ever needed to move on from a “what’s this all about” moment — take a read through Mandy’s terrific Breastcancerography blog to put it all in perspective!
2. Life got you down, try heaving 60+ extra pounds around during a four-round fight!
That was Sonya Lamonakis’ task when she fought Gigi Jackson last week — and somewhere from the depths, Sonya brought it forward. Talk about inspiration — that’s how champions are made. Finding the place in oneself where one can move past difficulty and seemingly insurmountable obstacles to succeed at the task at hand and if that’s not possible, walking away knowing that one did give it one’s all, which in my book is something to be just as proud of.
3. Every time I get to the gym, someone catches my attention and I am riveted by the precision of their work and more importantly by their work ethic. Sometimes it’s a trainer, explaining the nuance of a technique while at other times it’s a fellow gym denizen shadowing boxing in front of the mirror or heaving weights or doing sit-ups for the umpteenth time in a row.
Whatever it is keeps me coming back because I know that I’m part of the chain of a terrific community that inspires by showing up to do the work. And whether it’s 6:00 in the morning or close to the end of the day, the da-da-da da-da-da of the speed bag gets into my soul like a heart beat that reminds me how much the gym can mean.
Back from Montreal. It’s been kind of a nutty travel day with swirling snow in the morning and lovely 55 degree weather back in Brooklyn this afternoon.
The trip was not exactly what I’d wanted — I guess traveling to a city in cold weather with an 11-year-old in tow means finding compromises on both sides. For my part, I never did make it to the Montreal’s Underdog Boxing Gym or to the Beaux Arts Museum to see the Chinese Warriors. On the other hand I did walk 1/2 the city (cold weather or not we were going!) found a terrific vegetarian restaurant on Rue Saint-Denis, got to impress my daughter with my remembered college French, convinced the young one to have a spa afternoon complete with massages and facials, and saw a terrific dance performance entitled “Audible” by a group called the 605 Collective mixing elements of hip-hop, parkour, capoeira and classical dance.
Luckily, I’ve still got until Monday before I have to go back to work so it’ll be three lovely days of gym time starting tomorrow morning. I really can’t wait.
Ana Maria Torres (24-3-2, 14 K.O.’s) vs. Jackie Nava (24-3-2, 11 K.O.’s) … we’re talking a must see Main Event 10-round WBC championship women’s bout fought on April 16, 2011 in Veracruz, Mexico. All three cards had the fight as a unanimous draw — 95-95! We’re talking fight of the year!
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the action live … get some popcorn and enjoy the ride!
>>>AIBA’s Women’s and Youth Junior World Championships are set to begin in Ankara, Turkey on April 24, 2011 – May 1, 2011!
As noted by AIBA, “A total of 264 young women boxers from 45 different countries are set to compete.” Junior boxers as young as 14 years old will participate in a total of thirteen different weight classes under official AIBA rules. Interestingly, the United States will not be fielding a team in either division. Participating countries will include Russian, host country Turkey, Ukraine, India, Poland, Sweden and Ireland (with women’s boxing champion Katie Taylor leading the team), among other participating nations.
>>>>>UPDATE Women’s Championship boxing in Uruguay!
Cecilia “La Reina” Comunales continues her “reign” as UBO Lightweight champion after retaining her title with a unanimous decision in her bout against Alicia Susana Alegre. The judges scored the bout 96-93, 99-94 & 98-92 giving Comunales a decisive victory. With this fight, she improves her record to (8-1-0, 5 K.O.‘s).
Reminder: Women’s Boxing in Uruguay tomorrow!
Cecilia “La Reina” Comunales
Yep, Uruguay on April 19th!
Alicia Susana Alegre
Cecilia “La Reina” Comunales Hold the date of April 19th for a great night of boxing in Uruguay promoted by Sampson Boxing.
The main event called will pit UBO Women’s Lightweight champion Cecilia “La Reina” Comunales (7-1-0, 5 K.O.‘s) from Uruguay against Alicia Susana Alegre (704, 7 K.O.’s) from just across the river in Argentina for an exciting evening of women’s boxing at its best.
Dubbed “La Defensa Del Reino” or “Defending The Kingdom”, the event is being heavily promoted in South America and will be viewed on Vtv, in Uruguay. The fight will also likely be video streamed – so do some checking online.
Yep, I’ve hung up the old “gone fishing'” sign and found my way up to Montreal, Canada with my daughter for our spring break. We had a terrific flight up this morning — and aside from some wishful thinking on the weather, enjoyed a couple of fabulous long walks through town plus some reasonable eats.
And who knew that one city could have the same name pronounced two different ways: Montreal and Mon-re-al.
We are staying in the old part of the city called “Vieux Montreal” — along the old Port on the St. Lawrence seaway. It is quite beautiful and while it certainly has the feel of a big city, the architecture is decidedly European in the older neighborhoods.
Having not been away for some time — especially with the young one in tow, it’s been quite a treat to experience something outside of our usual routine. Tomorrow, I hope to find out where the locals box to see if we can pay a visit.
There are times when I find myself training without a trainer. Today was one of those days and I have to admit I missed Lennox who is up @ Foxwoods to work Sonya Lamonakis’ corner tonight for her 6-round heavyweight bout on the Berto-Ortiz undercard.
Still, as I approached my sweet 16 — I found myself luxuriating in the time I had to focus on stuff at my own pace and in my own sequence.
Lately, I’ve been pretty orthodox with my four-round sets — but today, I thought it would be fun to indulge in the things I like so, I did a total of 8 rounds on the double-ended bag, 4 rounds on the heavy bag, and finished up with 4 rounds on the speed bag before I did my first plus 4 on the sit-up chair.
As I write this I have to admit that my upper arms are leaden not to mention a right knee that is feeling pretty inflamed, but … and this is a big one, as an antidote to a pretty tough work week and the specter of yet another paper to write, I am that sort of wasted “noodlish-body” kind of happy that will even see me through the cart-load of laundry staring at me from across the living room.
I’ve also gotten over that momentary by-myself panic I experience in the gym sometimes when I start to feel a bit lost all on my own.
Today though, I fist-bumped my gloved hands in a boxing salute to myself for a job well done.
I’m a sucker for a good old-fashioned movie, and when it comes to feel good movies, Here Comes Mr. Jordan is one of the best.
The 1941 black and white feature film stars Robert Montgomery as the saxophone playing boxer Joe, Claude Rains as Mr. Jordan, Everett Edward Horton as Angel # 7013, Evelyn Keyes as Miss Logan, and the great James Gleason as Joe’s Fight Manager, Max Corkle. The story is also a powerful one full of hope and redemption. For those who are unfamiliar with the plot line, Joe (Robert Montgomery) on his way to fight in a championship bout is plucked from his airplane as it about to crash by a fledgling angel (Edward Everett Horton). Unfortunately, Joe is pulled from the plane moments too soon — and the rest of the movie is Joe’s fight to be given a second chance at the “title” after having been mistakenly taken to heaven way before his “number was up”!
This enduring story of the human spirit overcoming adversity was a lovely allegory for an America on the eve of World War II, where luck, an indomitable will and great heart would see a generation of young men and women through the difficulties to come.
Seen 60 years later, the pluckiness of Here Comes Mr. Jordan continues to resonate as does its later remakes: Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait and the most recent iteration of the film, Down To Earth, starring Chris Rock.
Still, I’ll always opt to watch the original boxing themed version and hope you will enjoy it as much as I do! We’re talking a near-on 4 Star gem that’s definitely worth a bucketful of popcorn!
(See YouTube for the rest of the episodes or check it out on Netflix!)
Summer and the beach at dawn. The restless sound of the surf pushing towards a new day, expectant and full of promise.
The kind of morning when a long run licks sands at your heels. Dogs and their owners sashaying about as they play chase with drift wood in between small birds flitting in and out of the water.
The thought if reminds me of how much I love summer — and working out at the gym in hot, steamy, sweaty heat. It’s really my favorite time there, wearing as little as I can as I pound away at the heavy bag, feeling it slip towards me, and pushing it back, watching as bits of sweat first bead and then drip down where first my shoulder and then my cheek brushes it back.