Something about extreme events from hurricanes to political upheavals to the strange and extraordinary in one’s life brings me to the point where I want to call my mother. Lord knows we had our issues and I admit to a genuine cringe factor as I listened to the refrain of the opening gambit on her voicemails that always went “hi, this is your mother.”
What, I wouldn’t recognize her voice? (Said out loud with all of the inflection that implies.) Let’s face it, I’d been hearing her since I was in utero which was a very long time ago. So, yes, I did know that it was my mother calling without the need to prompt my auditory memory.
When we did finally speak, and after establishing who was who, there was the rhetorical mom-is-presenting-me-with-a-huge-seemingly-insurmountable-but-ultimately-resolvable-problem-if-she-only-listened part of the conversation, followed by her multitude of what-are-you doing questions, the here’s-what-I’m-doing part of the call (what she bought that Saturday on her rounds through the tag sales, what happend at the pancake breakfast in Red Rock, NY, the latest deer tick count in Columbia County, recycled news about my brother followed by assorted complaints …), and finally the how’s-my-granddaughter finale where we found our common ground and lots of kvelling. Sounding familiar anyone? (And no comments allowed from the prodigal who will eventually read this.)
Oy is all I can say, though I must recant a bit of that “oy” to say that I have my mother to thank for being the Jewish mother I’ve become and for allowing me the joys of her mother sans editorial comment considering Grandma was as classic a hysterical Jewish mother as ever lived. And that is the space I most miss my mother in. The indefinable space of cultural shtick that we shared as true friends and allies, and not in the traditional sense either because in our tiny island of a family we were not exactly observant or even identifiable Jews.
We never went to Synagogue (except the few times my Grandmother grabbed me to go), never talked about it (except the time when I was nine years old and started sneak-reading her copy of William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich) and never went to High Holiday services. Even Hanukkah was an afterthought as I was well into my teens before we ever acknowledged it. Our only discernible “duty” if you will was to Passover which included the trek from Manhattan to Queens and back in the early days via a combination of subways and buses and as I got older, hitching a ride in the back of my Uncle’s car.
In Mom’s case Passover meant (a) helping her mother, (b) Grandma bonding for me (and getting a red ribbon tied to me at some point to ward off the evil eye), (c) Mom sneaking milk for her coffee in my grandmother’s otherwise kosher home and (d) lots of snickering with me as the panoply of remote Long Island cousins dropped in (hence the red ribbon to ward off the jealousy my Grandmother knew they harbored for us).
Fast forwarding a million years, my mother wrested with the effects of terminal lung cancer. In the last few days of her life, Mom would sit upright in her hospital bed and with a mixture of calm and cheerful wonder would eye the two large gold embossed leather-bound books on her bedside table, one neatly covered in plastic with an embroidered bookmark peering out from the back pages and the other a pristine copy lying in wait for the completion of its sister volume.
The books were part of the Daf Yomi series, a seven and a half year cycle of daily readings of the Babylonian Talmud*. Given the irreligious life my mother had lived, and given her genuine lack of interest in formal worship and the accompanying rigamarole, the contradiction of the embrace of such disciplined daily religious study may have seemed out of character, but even though she had eschewed the outward trappings of worship, her deeper search for meaning had led her to embrace the rigors of an intellectual life deposited into one sheet of paper per day.
I bring this up as a long way around the idea of boxing and boxing study as a temple of experience. One works and works and works at one thing such that the practice in its purest sense is down-right monkish.
Just how many ways are there to throw a punch or to slip a punch? Talk to a trainer about the art of the left hook and Trainer A will insist on a twist of the fist at the end while Trainer B will scream out “what are you doing, why are you turning over your hand?”
As is true for a lot of deep things about life (and not to sound too Hegalian,) it’s often in the argument itself that we find the essence. Much as my mother found the essence of Judaism in the cross currents of Rabbinic argument over the meaning of whether one cow or two is appropriate for reneging on a small contract, a boxer will find the essence of the jab through repeated argument with the mirror.
One day, it just sinks in … Jab.
As with most moments of that sort, they pass quietly, much as my mother passed her simple daily reading on to me the morning of her death. By then, she was in a coma, breathing easily and steadily, the edges of her mouth relaxed. Looking at her books, I picked up the volume she had been reading and read her the day’s passage aloud. The book, though well-read, still had a new book feel and though I passed a few difficult moments, found in the reading a connection to her I’ve only just begun to discern.
It showed me that beneath the many battles my mother and I fought over the years, at our essence, we were in fact, two willing partners in the engagement that was our relationship, and as with the moment a hook stings the heavy bag with an extra something that says “hook,” Mom and I were a pair after all: mother and daughter with some stories to share.
*The Daf Yomi is a seven and one half year cycle of readings from the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of religious commentaries on Jewish oral law, known as the Mishnah, and discussion of the Mishnah known as the Gemara. The Gemara also incorporates a broad overview of topics from the Tanaka (Jewish books of the bible), as well as particular (and avid) discussions of the meaning of varying biblical passages. The Babylonian Talmud dates from 500 AD (CE).
As a New Yorker, September 11th has a particular meaning — especially this year on the 10th anniversay. One way of honoring the friends and fellow citizens who lost their lives is to embrace all that is positive and wonderful about life!
So, if you looking for something to do that is positive and fun, come on down to BookCourt in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn for a fabulous evening of women’s boxing and readings about boxing!
The evening will include a wonderful exhibition of the sport by Alicia “Slick” Ashley and Camille Currie!
Alicia Ashley and Camille Currie
At 43, Ashley is the oldest women’s boxing champion having recently defended her WBC Super Bantamweight World Championship title against the much younger Christina Ruiz. Alicia has also been Camille’s trainer and was in her corner when she won the 2008 Daily News Golden Gloves Championship at 132 lbs. Camille Currie will be making her professional boxing debut on September 17th.
Mischa Merz, Author, The Sweetest Thing
Binnie Klien, Author, Blows to the Head
The literary part of the evening will include Australian national women’s boxing champion, Mischa Merz, reading from her boxing memoir, The Sweetest Thing and author and radio personality Binnie Klien, reading from her boxing memoir, Blows to the Head.
Details of the event are as follows!
Sunday, September 11th, 7pm
163 Court St
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Riding out the storm … things to do in a Hurricane!
If you’re at all like me, your life is somewhat circumscribed into bits of this and bytes of that on a fairly routine schedule. So what to do when there’s a hurricane on the way, especially when you live in NYC and there’s an unprecedented evacuation of the “A” zones (low-lying areas like lower Manhattan, Red Hook, Coney Island and the Rockaways — not to mention a lot of the coastal parts of Staten Island), subway and bus services running on their last hours and no Starbucks! OMG, as my young one likes to say!
Luckily, the stalwart of all stalwarts, Gleason’s Gym is open this morning, so I shall be able to get in my Saturday morning boxing fix … but, but. but … what then if one is stuck in the house for two days or worse yet, in a shelter or on a friend’s living room floor!
Well first off, charge up *all* of your electronics and I mean all ’cause even NYC might lose power for a while (especially if you are living in an A zone and decide to tempt fate when it comes to massive flooding).
There are also a boxing apps to download on your mobile device that’ll allow you to idle the time away.
1. For the couch potatoes in the bunch (and if you have an account) — get Netflix and have a boxing movie film festival! Titles available include:
– The Fighter, the fantastic Micky Ward biopic
– Homeboy, a 1998 boxing genre film starring Mickey Rourke & Christopher Walken
– Punch, in the tradition of Girlfight, a female boxer finds redemption in the ring.
Oh, and if you’re feeling like maybe you need to move around between features, here are a few workout suggestions!
– 10 Minute Solution Kickboxing (in case you always wanted to try!)
– Crunch Cardio Salsa (yep, time to get the hips moving)
– Crunch Candlelight Yoga (my favorite)
2. Workout Apps!
– MyBoxing, this is a great app with how to videos, workout plans, and a fabulous timer!
– FitnessClass, on demand fitness video workouts
– Yoga, this app has terrific animated classes, two variations of the Sun Salutations, plus a library of poses. You can self time for 30, 45 or 60 minute workouts.
3. News Junkies!
1. CNN, a no-brainer!
2. Hurricane Watch HD (for true junkies!)
3. Watch ESPN, gives you access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNU
Holly Holm picked up her second MMA win with her third round TKO over Jan Finney last night at the Route 66 Casino Hotel. The welterweight bout was featured as a co-main event on the Fresquez Productions MMA fight card.
Holly Holm returning to the “cage” for her second MMA bout on 9/9/2011.
Holly Holm (right) in her MMA debut, Photo: D. Archuleta
Pound-for-pound Women’s Boxing great, Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (30-1-3, 9-KO and 1-0, MMA) is set to return to the cage for her second MMA bout on September 9th against Strikeforce denizen Jan “Cuddles” Finney (8-9, MMA) at the Legends Theater, Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Jan "Cuddles" Finney
Billed as the Clash in the Cage card by promoter Fresquez Productions, the fight card will also include a semi-main event featuring Rio Rancho’s Travis “T-Train” Marx (17-3, MMA) and Mikey “Burque Bulldog” Lovato (10-2, MMA), plus a pro-debut and a full card of amateur bouts featuring local area MMA talent.
Holly’s first MMA outing was against Christina Domke (4-2, MMA) on March 4th 2011 and in true Holly Holm’s style defeated Domke in the second round by TKO. In the run-up to the bout, Holly is quoted as having said, ”I’m passionate about wanting to learn and do this …” True to her kick-boxing roots she proved successful in her debut.
Holm has also been active in the boxing world having won her 30th boxing victory by unanimous decision against Victoria Cisneros in a much anticipated rematch broadcast as Televisio’s main event on June 10th.
All eyes are on her second MMA battle, however, which is slated to give Holm the opportunity to fight a seasoned veteran Jan Finney who not only brings cage experience, but a tough no-nonsense MMA style and allowed Jan to fight the best that women’s MMA has to offer.
As is usual for Holly, she is hard at work in the gym perfecting her growing repertoire of kicks, punches and good old-fashioned, rolling-on-the-floor scrapping for what should be an exciting showdown on September 9th.
South African Boxing Promoter, Mbali "Don Queen" Zantsi
Mbali “Don Queen” Zantsi is a female boxing promoter with a dream, and as reported by Bongani Magasela in the Soweto Live newspaper, she is about to realize it with her second all-female boxing tournament to be held at Kempton Park Civic Centre in Soweto on Saturday, August 27, 2011.
South African Women's Boxing coming of age.
The For Us (women) By Us (women) – For Women By Women tournament will occur during South Africa’s Women’s Month, an annual event each August — with this year’s tournament set to bring new talent into the fore of South Africa’s growing female boxing scene. It should be noted that Women’s Boxing only became legal in South Africa in 2001.
It was just five years ago when Zantsi put on her first tournament in Durban. That event brought such female boxing luminaries as Noni “She be stinging” Tenge, Unathi Myekeni and Bomikazi Klaasto the ranks of professional boxing.
Noni Tenge (R) and Daniella Smith
Tenge went on to win the women’s IBF welterweight title with her fourth round knockout ofDaniella ”The Diamond” Smith this past June.
This will be Zantsi first event after a two-year hiatus. As quoted in the Soweto Live paper, she stated, “We are back with a bang and we are going to rock the boxing world.”
The tournament will also feature an all female roster of referees, judges, time keepers and ring announcers.