One reason to love boxing …
There are a lot of reasons to take up boxing, and Girlboxing friend Lisa Creech Bledsoe over at The Glowing Edge has a great post on the 13 reasons women should take up the sport — but let me tell you, the number one reason has to do with the heart, and I don’t mean cardio.
Yesterday, I walked into the locker room at Gleason’s Gym to get ready for my Wednesday work-out when a young woman, all of 16 came in and started to sob. I mean big tears with her head in her hands on the table. I attempted to engage her without much luck, but then her trainer walked in and managed to get her up and talking.
This is where the heart part kicked in … the part of boxing where trainers and gym denizens help young kids whose lives are otherwise an absolute mess through no particular fault of their own. It’s the side of boxing that countless adults will tell you helped them through the misery of their childhoods into active, healthy adulthood free of the foibles of the streets, bad parenting, and “the system.”
In the case of this young woman, as her sobs abated and a small crowd of women sat with her, even I could feel the tough edges of love from her trainer and the women listening to her in the locker room.
She talked of of feeling overwhelmed by the elements of her life that felt unfair and difficult — and not like a spoiled kid bemoaning a missed call from a boyfriend, but from a place of real troubles that had us all nodding in a moment of acknowledgement that said, “yep, this truly is as bad as you say,” … but having no other life than the one she has, the women of the gym said just that as they washed her with the sort of advise and support that can see her through her tough times and into an adulthood that is productive, healthy and happy.
After a while, and as af to say, enough of the pity-party, her trainer then said, “okay ladies, it’s time to work out.” And off we all trotted out, even the kid with her tears dried into a smile, pushing aside her issues with social workers, mean girls, life in a group home and problems in high school — to work it all out on the bag.
Thinking of it now — thinking of all the countless young people that have made it up and out of troubled childhoods because of similar scenes in countless boxing gyms over the years is to know the truth about boxing: at its core it is just a great big, mushy heart. A human heart that beats and pushes out love and compassion from thousands and thousands of hearts that extend kindnesses day-in and day-out.
I also think that no matter the hype that surrounds “rumbles in the jungle” or who the best pound-for-pound fighter is — real boxing is all about sharing your love and your heart in the discipline of the work. And while it’s fun to dwell on matching up fighter A with fighter B, or lamenting the chaos of professional women’s boxing … what really matters about boxing is how the discipline of the ring reaches out.
Now that is something wonderful to love about boxing.
I love boxing, too. I want to work out my concerns on the bag every day, even get a little kit for the basement so I can “detox” at any time…
Hey, I was at Gleason’s yesterday, too. I had a quick pow-wow with Bruce about a sports doctor and the Masters bouts coming up. It would have been nice to meet.
Sorry I missed you Scott! And I know what you mean – I love working it out on the bag too.
Thanks for the link and the shoutout, GB. I’m honored to be a part of this post.
And the moment you captured here is a powerful one indeed; I’m always thrilled to think this sort of thing happens in boxing gyms around the world. I bet it doesn’t happen often enough, but it is there — the ability to become part of a different family. Not the one in the crappy home, or the mean street, but the one in the gym, where power is controlled and cultured in a way that can benefit bodies and minds and, as you say, hearts.
One more win for the ring.
Well, that’s the thing about boxing. If you think of all the boxing programs like PAL, Boys & Girls clubs, et al., that ends up being a lot of lives touched. At any rate, it brought a tear to my eyes…
These are the kinds of things that keep my spirit going. As I’ve gotten older, I see not just what is happening on the surface but the deeper significance. I often find myself getting emotional at the way people pull together for each other. I hope that girl felt the love and that it will keep her going as she navigates a life that sounds difficult.
That’s the hope Margaret, that’s the hope…