Archive for September, 2011


Women’s Boxing: Ana Julaton’s WBO Super Bantamweight title defense, tonight (9/30/11)!


Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton handily defeated Jessica Villafranca to retain her WBO Super bantamweight title last night.  Julaton won a unanimous decision with the judges scoring the ten-round bout, 98-91, 96-93, and 97-20.  Julaton sustained a small cut to her forehead froms an accidental head butt.  The fight, however, was able to continue.  

Women’s Boxing: Ana Julaton’s WBO Super Bantamweight title defense, tonight (9/30/11)!

Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton (9-2-1, 1-KO) has been training her heart out at the UNLV Boxing Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada in preparation for her WBO Women’s Super Bantamweight title defense against the 18-year old Mexican fighter, Jessica Villafranca (12-3-0, 6 KOs).   The bout will be contested at the Polifuncional in Kanasin, Yucatan, Mexico.

As with Kaliesha West before her, Ana Julaton, is bringing her exciting lightening fast boxing style, honed by Freddie Roach to Mexico, in what appears to be a the beginnings of a trend for elite women fighters from the United States.

As Girlboxing has written before, Villafranca lost her last bout to Kaliesha West in a tough ten-round slug fest in August.  With Villafranca’s fight against Julaton, however, she will be fighting at her natural super bantamweight, so that may well mean that she will fight better and stronger.

Whatever the outcome, Julaton’s decision to take her game to Mexico will hopefully mean more opportunity and exposure as the fight will not only be televised on Mexico’s GMA-7, but on Philippine television as well — plus it will likely be easy to find on streaming video.

For some further insights into Ana Julaton’s life in and out of the ring, Chris Robinson has a terrific interview in the Las Vegas Examiner that is well worth the read.  The link is here.


Women’s Boxing Olympic Fever!

Women’s Boxing Olympic Fever!

The last couple of weeks have been amazing for Women’s Boxing in the United States as mainstream media has begun to pick up on the fact that we’ll actually be fielding a strong women’s team next summer in London.

The momentum will keep building too with the last round of competition before the February 2012 Women’s Olympic Trials coming up next week in Toledo, Ohio at the 2011 National PAL Championships.

The last three slots in each of the Olympic weight classes (112 lbs, 132 lbs, and 155 lbs.) will be selected, and it’s where boxers such as Cleveland’s own Cashmere Jackson will be duking it out to gain the opportunity to pursue their dreams of Olympic Gold.

Meanwhile, the fever pitch continues as seen in this fabulous ESPN piece on New Yorker, Christina Cruz’s dreams of not only winning gold as a member of the first Women’s boxing team to represent the United States at the Pan Am Games, but in her pursuit of the podium at next summer’s Olympic Games

If you have done so already, also check out Soledad O’Brien’s wonderful piece on Marlen Esparza that continues on October 1st on CNN. It is truly inspirational.

Here is the link to the teaser:


Short takes from my week.

Short takes from my week.

The past week or so has been a blur of too much to do and not enough time.  I mean I sparred with Lennox last Saturday (make that Saturday — a week ago) and think of it as having occurred months ago!

Casting back, however, I can truly say it was a fabulous four rounds of me getting popped in the head — a lot — ’cause I can’t seem to stay out-of-the-way of Len’s left hooks to my right side, but meanwhile I did manage to get one really sweet shot to Len’s nose that seemed to make up for it all.

Suffice to say, every time one gets in the ring there’s a moment or two of truth and mine was figuring out that I really did like landing that punch.  I mean really liked it, which reminded me that in spite of what of my general “nice person” demeanor, at the heart of it I will go for the jugular if given the opportunity.

So knowing all of that, I learned a tougher lesson two nights ago walking around the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn.  It was around 7:00 PM and very crowded.  As I walked through, I became aware of  child crying and yelling loudly.  At some point, coming into the main area near the entranceway (I had walked into the space from the LIRR side entrance), I saw a woman beating her four or five-year-old son with a belt.  There were people seated, standing and walking all around her and the child, and no one, and I mean no one said a word.  It was as if there was this women, her belt and the boy, and the rest of the world as two separate spheres.

Taking this all in, I screamed out, “stop beating that child” and seeing no effect, I yelled it out much louder.  The woman momentary stopped and shouted back at me, “I’ll beat your ass too.”  So, what happened next?  Did the crowd take up my denunciation?  Did they come to the aid of her child?  Give up?

Right.  They yelled at me for “interfering.”   Well.  I didn’t give up and kept yelling while looking for a police officer or a security cop.  None were to be found and meanwhile, the woman got tired of whaling her poor kid and left after nonchalantly putting her belt back on. The whole thing made me feel sick — and I realized that the killer instincts that I had in the ring sparring with Len were not the killer instincts I expressed at the mall.  Yes, I had expressed my outrage, loudly, but I had not put myself into the sphere of her seeming protected space.  In reflecting on it, I know that I was in shock at the surreal nature of what I saw — to the point of experiencing a sort of cognitive dissonance.  I also remember having a dialogue with myself, wondering if anyone else was going to interfere, how many people were with this woman (there were at least three other people with her), what the odds were that I would get into a huge physical altercation with her, what the crowd of seemingly disinterested people would do if I waded in.  In the calculus of those questions, I opted for calling attention to the acts in the hopes of getting the crowd to turn against her.  When that didn’t work, my tactical retreat was to find some sort of assistance to help me wade through. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to call 911 which was likely the best course because, really, if this woman felt that she could just beat this kid with impunity in the middle of a mall (which she did except for my shouts), what was she going to do to him at home.

Just as I learned something from sparring with Lennox, in my confrontation at the Atlantic Mall I learned that in the realm of real combat, my instincts are for the preservation of myself first and foremost.  I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that yet.  I remember in a first responder “first aid”  course I took once, the instructor kept saying that our first duty was to see to our own safety before jumping in to render aid.  Perhaps that was my instinct in a crowded space of uncertain people.  I still don’t feel good about it though — and even though my voice was the only voice speaking up for the child being beaten, the truth is, my voice wasn’t loud enough or definitive enough.  I guess I’m going to have to work on that too.



Fighting the numbers.

Fighting the numbers.

I went “natural” on my hair color a couple of years ago.

It was a combination of really hating all those chemicals on my hair and scalp tinged with a bit of laziness (every four weeks is a drag) coupled with the alternative — monthly appointments with a colorist which are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e, especially if you go for double-process (color plus highlights!)  Not to say that I was particularly bad with coloring my own hair — I did make it look pretty good with out the tell-tale home-brew color of really dark ends or the weirdest shade of red you’ve ever seen — but after a while, the silvery flecks got longer and longer at the roots until one day I just screamed enough at myself in the mirror.

To enhance my marker of aging, I do admit that I primp a lot in front of the mirror when it comes to getting the silvery white hairs to shimmer just so as a way of counteracting any perception that the crop of white hairs nudging out the chestnut browns is in any way a factor of tired-old-age.  What I did notice in my recent experiment with growing it longer, was that the shimmer wasn’t quite so shimmery and those white patches were beginning to look as if they were definitely gaining the upper hand — something I am not quite ready to embrace just yet.  So this week I went back to really short hair with lots of product to bring out the shine.

I bring all of this up because the white hair on my chestnut mane (what’s left of it) seems to be indicative of other changes as I make my way through the latter part of my 50’s. As an example, I applaud my recent loss of 12 pounds thanks to low-acid-diet living, but I still have some serious kilos to go if I’m to become youthfully svelte again. And yes, I can actually run a mile and keep going — albeit slow and steady to save my creaky, crackley knees — even with months of fairly vigorous workouts at Gleason’s I still start to crash somewhere in the middle rounds before finding my way back to renewed stamina and energy. This last is interesting because I used to be able to get into condition much faster and easier.

If there’s a cautionary tale at all in this for my younger friends out there — it is to consider keeping fairly steady with diet and exercise over the whole of your life, and as for my compatriots of a certain age, keep at it! Whether we like it or not things do change, all we can do it mitigate what we can with things like eating healthy foods, keeping our bodies lithe and strong through regular exercise and strengthening, keeping ahead of ailments large and small, and perhaps most importantly, keeping ourselves feeling great with whatever it is that gives us that extra bit of shimmer.


Wordless Wednesday – 9/14/2011

Wordless Wednesday – 9/14/2011

Mischa and Kristina, Gleason's Gym, September 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday is a group of bloggers who give words a rest once a week.


Boxing and me …

Boxing and me …

I’m at the official start of writing my thesis today.  It is the culmination of my course of studies towards a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies.  I bring it up because my thesis topic is Boundaries in motion: Women’s Boxing.  The study will  take a look at how women’s boxing is changing notions of the meaning of being “female” or in other words, what women are and what they are capable of.

Having been born in the mid-1950’s in the era of girls wearing dresses all the time — and I mean all the time — the idea of athleticism, muscles and so on were a seeming anathema. To the extent that there were “Lady” athletes that were at all visible to my young eyes, they seemed to only be slim-hipped tennis players, figure skaters, skiers and gymnasts — and while there were women’s roller derby, softball and bowling leagues, those sports were barely a blip on my consciousness.

Muscle-bound women were certainly viewed as something other — and in remembering back to my early childhood years on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, organized sport itself was entirely non-existent except for boy’s basketball and boxing at the local Boy’s Club on Avenue A and 10th Street.  The sports I played, such as they were consisted of punchball (with a spaulding ball or a pinkie), Newcomb (with a giant red playground ball), King (or Chinese handball), bottle caps, stoop ball (a pinkie bounced off a stoop, with a “base” counted for each bounce before the ball was caught), playing catch, riding a bike, roller skating (with metal skates attached to my sneakers) and general chase games.

The fact was, these weren’t even considered sports. These were things we just did either during recess (punchball and Newcomb and chase games) or as general play on the block.  My only experience of “organized” sports was at camp, and having gone to a “leftie” summer camp, our idea of sports was groaning through hot afternoons on the sports field playing pathetic versions of baseball (and fighting off the gnats), with some passable basketball thrown in, albeit mostly among the boys.

Getting back on topic, as a young girl, I loved boxing, but had no clue that it was ever something that I could actually do. I didn’t get to watch the sport much, so as a substitute, my brother and I watched professional wrestling with the likes of Bruno Sammartino and Gorgeous George.

By the mid-1960’s I was a confirmed boxing fan of Mohammad Ali and remember names likes Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston as icons to be venerated though I never actually saw them fight until much later.  I just liked the idea of them and learned names from the snippets of conversation between men and boys on my block.

Fast forwarding to what seems like a million years later, it took me until 1996 to actually walk into a boxing gym. Having done so, and like many men and women before me, I fell in love with boxing almost to the point of tears at just thinking about it. In those early forays, I used to keep a log of punch counts (so many punch combinations x so many repetitions per round) and would get all sorts of heart fluttery every time I got near the gym.

More to the point, it began to change how I felt about myself.  I was 42 then — and in decent enough shape for someone who’d never been athletic except for stints of hour-long runs a few years before.  Beyond the improvements in physical conditioning, it felt great to feel my own power, something I’d spent a lifetime denying.  The most liberating sensation, however, was the physical act of hitting — and I mean really hitting with all the force and torque of my body. That was something I’d been denied all my life — the freedom to let things go with an explosive pop accompanied by a guttural grunt of release.

That certainly wasn’t in the manual of things girls could do when I was growing up and how extraordinary that I was 42 years old before I was even aware of having missed out.

Female boxers in Afghanistan, Credit: Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

In thinking about my own experience, it occurred to me that other women, younger or older, athletes or non-athletes, may also undergo transformative experiences as they box.  Those experiences have multiplied times all of the women who participate in the sport whether as professionals, amateurs or recreational boxers like myself.   Somewhere buried inside of those experiences are the transformations that affect how everyone sees and thinks of women who box and whether those interpretations are positive or negative, the changes that women make for themselves are here to stay.

Maybe that’s why I smile so much every time I read about the Afghanistan Women’s Boxing Team.


Ten years on …

Ten years on …

My first memory of the Twin Towers was of watching their construction caught in snippets while walking downtown.  It wasn’t  until construction was completed in April of 1973 that the buildings became something special to me.

I was walking in the village on a foggy evening.  One of those late spring nights with a warm dusting of rain that permeated the air with hints of the summer to come.  Walking down Bleecker Street crossing Sullivan I happend to look south and literally did a dead stop as I took in the magnificence of the two towers alight with a soft glow as they rose up into the mist.  There was something about the image of these two remarkable modern edifices set against the low buildings of the Village that created an indelible picture in my mind; one that I sought out over the years standing on that same spot to reclaim some of the magic of that first vision.

And those buildings did have magic.  The kind of magic that brought Philippe Petit all the way from France to walk between the towers if for no other reason than because they were they.

They were there — a seeming touchstone to my New Yorkness; to the New York I had created for myself all those years ago, standing on Sullivan Street at the threshold to my adulthood.

The towers stood there when I saw them from my grandmother’s kitchen window in Far Rockaway or every time I flew into Kennedy airport or walked across the Brooklyn Bridge or the day I shot several rolls of film photographing them, or the days I’d go to grab a sandwich there after I started working at the Woolworth Building.  All are memories that live as separate pictures in my mind.  Of seeing the buildings in the distance or as enormous edifices that seemed to rise forever as I stood at their edges staring up.

My last vision of them was seeing them on fire through my daughter’s window. And then they simply disappeared in clouds of terrible smoke and ash that lingered for months in our mouths and in our clothing.  A soot and smell that sickened us and killed our hearts.

That ash contained all of our memories and like a sacred fire, the tiny fragments of all of those lives that had been lost.

I truly can’t look at downtown without feeling the hole in the sky.  Even ten years on, I ache for those buildings as a lover who mourns the loss of an old dear friend, only in this case I also feel the loss of friends, colleagues and friends of friends who perished.  I feel the special pain that all New Yorkers feel for the people who died trying to help others escape.  That too is a hole that will never really heal — especially since day by day, those who came to help get sicker and sicker.

Perhaps I reserve the biggest hole in my heart for the lose of the America I loved — we weren’t quite as mean and angry then, and didn’t carry the outward signs of terrible vengeance.  Maybe we always did harbor a streak of Old Testament wrathfulness, but it just didn’t seem as apparent.  I’m sorry for that loss too.

My New Yorkness has had to adjust itself to the new skyline — just as my Americanness has had to adjust to endless war, Guantanamo Bay, financial meltdowns and the realities of the Tea Party.  None sit easily with me, but ever the optimist, I hope for a better day.

Ten years on, I admit to getting on with things and not keeping the memories as fresh wounds that endlessly bleed, still, if I happen to watch a movie from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s, I feel an incredible ache as I catch sight of their magnificence once more.

September 2011

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