As is inevitable for this time of year, we relive our triumphs and disappointments and much like the wisdom espoused by the rituals of the Jewish High Holidays, may even set about examining those aspects of our lives we are most proud of and those we may be at a loss to explain.
In considering my own 2012 I certainly ran the gamut from graduating with my master’s degree to emerging from surgery on my shoulder with a pathetic wing that has taken months to set right.
Meanwhile, my own highs, lows and in-betweens are graced by the luxury of lots of comfort, a loving family and a Brooklyn home that experienced nary a sprinkle during Hurricane Sandy.
I’ve also gotten a book contract, my straight right back and a husband who even squired me to the movies two days running over the weekend!
Counting myself among the luckiest of the lucky, I also keep in mind the triumph and trials of my pals at Gleason’s Gym, the thirty-six young women who courageously took up the gloves to box at the London 2012 Olympic Games and another year in the history of women’s fight for equality whether it be in the boxing ring or the hope that a bus ride home in New Delhi doesn’t result in a brutal gang-rape and death.
Maybe it’s the latter that saddens me most.
I’ve been around a long time and the fact that a woman still isn’t safe whether it’s in New Delhi, Johannesburg, London or the Bronx reminds that me that for all our female bravura at embracing martial sports, the fact remains that there is always some part of what we do that is informed by our need for self-defense.
Talk to my thirteen-year-old about it and she’ll regale you with how to leg sweep a potential attacker or such street savvy stratagems as using big glass store front windows to check on who is walking behind her. The operative thing here is that she is thirteen and has already experienced men saying gross things to her on her short walk between school and home. And while her martial art, Aikido, is defensive in nature, it hasn’t stopped her from figuring out that sometimes the best defense is offense: that and the sense to scream, act crazy and run like hell.
So if we are talking New Year’s wishes, mine is to end assault with the first toll of midnight … that said, keep up the fight to claim the boundaries of the ring as your own, whatever your ring happens to be.
>>>In Guadelajara, Mexico, Mariana “La Barbie” Juarez(36-6-3, 16-KOs) defeated Japan’s Tenkai Tsunami (18-6, 7-KOs) after ten rounds of boxing by unanimous decision. Juarez was in command of the ring through out with Tsunami showing wobbly legs in the fifth and sixth round. La Barbie, coming off her loss to Ava Knight, should feel good at getting a fight into the “w” column as she hunts around for another title shot.
Interview with Mariana Juarez, post-fight (in Spanish).
>>>In Seoul, South Korea, Ju Hee Kim (17-1-1, 7-KOs) successfully defended her WBF World Light Flyweight Title on Saturday night defeating Thailand’s Ploynapa Sakrungrueng (9-3-0) by TKO in the 10th round. This was Kim’s third title defense and second title match against Sakrungrueng whom she defeated by TKO in the 6th round at their first meeting this past March.
Kim fought a tough match pressuring Sakrungrueng throughout. By the 10th round, the referee felt that Sakrungrueng had taken enough punishment and stopped the bout.
>>>Alesia Graf (26-3-0, 10-KOs) came out a winner last night when she defeated Liliana Martinez (10-12-0, 5-KOs) for the WBF Female Super Bantamweight Title at the Mitsubishi-Autohaus Gratzkein Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
Graf claimed victory in the 6th round of the 10 round bout.
Some big Women’s boxing bouts on Saturday, 12/15/12!
Layla McCarter will be fighting Belinda Laracuente on Saturday night, 12/15/12 in Las Vegas.
The big female bout this weekend on Saturday, December 15th, will be pitting Mexico’s super flyweight Mariana “La Barbie” Juarez (35-6-3, 16-KOs) against Japan’s own aptly-named Tenkai Tsunami(18-5-0, 7-KOs) in a ten round main event at the Arena Coliseo, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. The fight is being promoted by Canelo Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and Boxeo de Gala, and will be televised on Mexico Televisa and FOX Espanol. Juarez is coming off her loss by unanimous decision to Ava Knight for the WBC Female Flyweight Title this past October. Tsunami has lost her two most recent ten round bouts, in this past October and July respectively, but had a nine-fight winning streak prior to her two losses.
In Las Vegas, the great pound-for-pound boxing champion Layla McCarter (35-13-5, 8-KOs) will be fighting Gleason’s own Belinda Laracuente(26-27-3, 9-KOs) in what for them will be a six-round “walk in the park” given their previous meetings which included their history making ten-round classic with count ’em, three-minute rounds. The bout is being promoted by Sterling Promotions, but it does not appear that it will be televised — our loss!
Alesia Graf (25-3-0, 10-KOs) will be fighting Liliana Martinez (10-11-0, 5-KOs) for the WBF Female Super Bantamweight Title at the Mitsubishi-Autohaus Gratzkein Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Also on the fight will be a four rounder with lighweights Derya Saki (3-0, 1-KO) fighting Chrisoula Mirtsou (0-1-0). Alesia Graf, who is also listed as the promoter for the three-fight card, won the title against Thai fighter Jubjang Lookmakarmwan (3-5-0).
Graf is probably best known for losing to Australian fighter Susie Ramadan last February for the vacant WBC International Female Bantamweight title by split decision, 96-94, 94-96, 96-94. She was also cut above her eye in the bout. Martinez, fights out of the Dominican Republic and while she recently fought two four-rounders this past October and November, had been on an two-year layoff following her defeat by Maureen Shea for the six-round vacant NABF female lightweight title in July 2010. She lost by TKO in the third round.
In Seoul, South Korea, Korean fighter Ju Hee Kim(16-1-1, 7-KOs) will be defending her titles against Thai boxer Ploynapa Sakrungrueng (9-2-0). The four light flyweight titles on the line are from the WIBA, WIBF, WBF and Global Boxing Union. The two last fought in March 2012 with the 26-year-old Kim taking the titles by TKO in the sixth round of their ten round bout.
Meanwhile, the two big fight cards in the United States this weekend: The Nonito Donaire card (10 fights in all) at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas to be broadcast on HBO, and the Amir Khan card at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California (13 fights) set for Showtime — there is nary a female bout on either card. What gives???
We are almost at the solstice which this year is also the alleged end of the Mayan 5,125 calendar cycle. To the “end of the worlders” out there this means an apocalypse of one kind of another marked by the end of time on December 21st and the ascendance of a lucky few on alien space ships among other things …
Meanwhile back in normal space/time, gym or no, 100 sit-ups or no, writing a chapter or no, there is no pause button that allows us to step out of ourselves to la-di-da around until we’re ready, willing and able to rejoin the day-to-day.
I for one would love just such a Star Trek type of device–or heck, have The Traveler, Tau Alpha C, come teach me how to freeze time the way he instructed Wesley Crusher.
While not quite ready for another oy, the point is, there is no such device. Time moves on anyway.
The beautiful thing about the season we’re in is that we are entering the time of renewal. Come the solstice our days will grow longer again, and even though we haven’t felt winter’s wrath as yet in any appreciable way, those February snowstorms happen in the light of day. Okay, sure, the cynic might say, “great, just what I need more daylight to shovel out my car from a snow drift,” but heck, why not, Spring will come, eventually.
There’s also the joy of YouTube to keep alive so many of our memories as timeless interludes … or time-wasters perhaps when we are enjoying our past and not making our future?
Hard to say, but since, I am lately a charter member of the procrastinater’s club, I’ve got to err on the side of excellent device for mimicking the pause button even as the calendar marks down the days as painfully as a Chinese water torture … you know, the one that goes drip, drip, drip.
Meanwhile, Ravi Shankar died yesterday. He is another icon of my childhood that my very young, bohemian mother played on our Victrola ad infinitum along side of her Dave Brubeck and John Coltrane albums in the early 1960’s.
It puts me in mind that whatever our magical thinking time doesn’t stop. We move forward whether we’ve made our deadlines or not. The trick is to get everything done without causing too much damage along the way!
The news that Katie Taylor has been named the “Women’s Boxing Ambassador” by AIBA, (the governing international amateur boxing organization), in the run up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil is a big boost for the sport.
Her appointment is important and when Taylor says, “I want to help elevate women’s boxing to ensure it sits at the pinnacle of sporting achievement,” these are not mere words echoed by the Irish Gold Medal Olympian for the press release.
Nor are Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu’s, President of AIBA’s sentiments when he stated, “She has inspired a generation of women boxers and the acceptance of women’s boxing in the Olympic program has been in part a result of her outstanding achievements.”
Taylor’s amateur boxing career in an out of the ring exemplifies what it means to forge forward using her talent, gumption and immense athletic skills as an entree into a larger world as her following in Europe and Asia shows.
Beyond that, in her native Ireland, a scan of local headlines gives a sense of her importance: “Boxing Sensation Katie Taylor to Visit Limerick” read a recent one in the Limerick Leader, while another touted readers to “Win a VIP meet and greet with Olympic Boxing champ Katie Taylor at Whitewater this Sunday,” in the Leinster Leader.
And she is so beloved in Ireland that a couple of years ago Taylor was the Grand Marshal of the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade— no mean feat for a girlboxer from Bray representing a sport that was illegal in Ireland twenty years ago.
What she is now is not only the pride of Ireland, but the face of women’s boxing to the world; a young woman who through her boxing will help continue to push the barriers that have led to a wide acceptance of women’s boxing in her native country.
We can only hope that she is as successful on the international stage.
Holly Holm defeats Diana Prazak by UD, 100-90 on all three judges score cards on 12/7/12, Credit: Jose Leon Castillo
Holly Holm v. Diana Prazak Fight 12/7/2012!
Tonight’s Fire and Iceboxing card at the Route 66 Casino & Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico promises to be full of excitement if only to see the size of the ring where Holly Holm (31-2-3, 9 KOs) will fight for the IBA & WBF Women’s Light Welterweight titles against Diana Prazak (11-1, 7 KOs). In Holm’s last outing against Anne Sophie Mathis which she won by decision, the Holm team fought and won another decision as well, erecting a 24 foot ring. This led to considerable controversy as it favored Holm’s fighting style — and many believe tilted the “w” in her column.
Holm was also originally scheduled to fight Myriam Lamare. Diana Prazak, an Australian boxer who is the WIBA Super Featherweight champion, took the call and canceled out of her 6-round scheduled bout against Victoria Cisneros who she was also set to fight at 140 lbs.
As Prazak put it recently: “I’m a determined fighter. I have fought at 130-135-pounds; however, I walk around at 145. I will feel much stronger at 140 because I don’t have to starve myself.”
Diana Prazak will also have former world champion, Lucia Rijker in her corner, pound-for-pound, one of the best boxers ever, never mind “female boxer.” This has given Prazak a lot of confidence. “I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work with some great champions, not to mention the rounds I get in with my trainer, Lucia Rijker. If I can get punched by the most dangerous women in the world, I most definitely do not have any concerns about being hit by girls in other weight classes. I’ve been training with Rijker Striker for almost eight months and I’ve learned a lot being in America and about what it takes to be a pro fighter.”
At the official weigh-in yesterday, Holm came in at 138.8 and Prazak and even 138.
Also fighting on the card in a six-rounder will be Victoria Cisneros (8-13-2, 3-KOs) versus Mary McGee (19-1, 10 KOs). Cisneros has fought some of the big names in boxing including two fights against Holly Holm (both at short notice) and rumbles with Chevelle Hallback, Melissa Hernandez and Cecilia Braekhus. She may have lost those fights, but she is none the less a very credible fighter with a record that belies her strengths in the ring. McGee a native of Gary, Indiana has fought and won almost exclusively in and around her home town. Fighting Cisneros, who is coming off a three-fight winning streak should prove to be interesting.
Win lose or draw, the fights should be great tonight … just wish they were televised!!!
The news that NASA’s Voyager 1 is hitting the edge of our Solar System has struck a huge chord with me. Having grown up in the 1960s, I am, among other things, a true space age baby. I have vivid memories of John Glenn’s spaceflight, the moon landing and took Star Trek for my anthem of what was “out there”.
By the late 1970s when the Voyager program started, I was, admittedly, disappointed that NASA was choosing technological feats of fancy for exploring our galaxy rather than charting a path to exploring Mars, but, Trekkie that I am, did enjoy the continuing exploits of “Vger” which brought my beloved Star Trek crew back into space in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Given that I have an actual tri-corder from the original series–that’s TOS to the initiated–I figure I have the cred to speak about it, but it is the actual trajectory of Voyager I at its “end” that is so intriguing.
Voyager 1 at the edge of the Solar System caught in the eddies of the Southern Hemisphere “Winds” of the Sun and the pull of the “Magnetic Highway.” Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Apparently, with all systems still go and traveling at 35,700 miles per hour till at least 2020, Voyager 1 has hit a region of space at the end of the Solar System and the beginning of “out there”: interstellar space on the other side. NASA made this momentous announcement earlier in the week noting that the edge of the solar system is shown through remarkable readings, very much like ocean tides that interact between the end of the magnetic pull of our Sun and the next area of space labeled the “magnetic highway.”
Voyager I has been traveling between these two areas of space since July; the tiny space craft that could beaming back yet another round of its remarkable stream of data for us to interpret. As NASA’s Yoyager project scientist Edward Stone put it: “Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun’s environment, we now can taste what it’s like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway.” (Link to article)
The great “out there” remains a mantra of sorts for Trekkies and other fellow “travelers” who were bitten by the space bug. As with many instances of contending with the unknown, we human beings have a tendency to create fanciful stories and myths of what lies beyond our barriers. Surely Voyager I is in great company when it comes to the dragons that lie beyond the mark of the known world, but that is what makes it such an exciting prospect. This particular border crossing comes with the ebbs and flows of collision between one set of rules and another making it tricky, but once past the gate, the great “out there” offers us a new and wonderous beginning.
Many women I know (and a few men-truth be told) are perpetually on a diet. Sometimes its even to the point where their diets are on a diet and the kind of thing where one can discern the caloric and fat content of a Starbucks Morning Bun at fifty paces.
Way back in the day — say when I was fourteen and in my grandmother’s kitchen in Far Rockaway — She’d put a plate of food in front of me that could feed half of Queens and then, sitting next to me, patting my hand would say, “Eat, darling, eat. You eat like a boid. Eat, darling eat.”
Now mind you I LOVED her stuffed cabbage, but, we are talking one at a time, not three, not to mention, the candied yams (at any time of year), stuffed derma (never one of my favorites) and a large breast of paprika chicken.
That was just lunch — not a holiday meal where a plate like that was the appetizer to be followed by Matzah Ball Soup (hmmm), gefilte fish (’cause there had to be a fish appetizer course), Turkey (if it was Thanksgiving), what my grandmother called “meat” which was pot roast, carrots and potatoes baked with tomatoes to the point where the meat was in strings, the aforementioned paprika chicken, and assorted vegetables such as beets, potatoes and peas and carrots. And we can’t forget dessert, which was usually cake (macaroons on Passover) and pieces of candy or fruit from the endless supply of bowls filled with the stuff, plus coffee (instant), tea (Lipton), fights over sneaking real milk (not kosher) versus the dried milk substitute, oh and when my Uncle Bunny was over, shots of Slivowitz for the adults at the table.
The period from Thanksgiving through the New Year brings to mind my Grandmother’s bounteous table–or as I like to call it a heart-attack-on-a-plate. And even with her many admonitions about my avian-like behavior, which frankly I never really understood, because I always felt like I ate enough for a week!
Later in my twenties, I made the schlep to Far Rockaway to an older, svelter Grandma who in fighting off her high “sugar” count (aka Type II Diabetes) had dropped from a size 18 to an 8. Still, she’d put a humongous plate of food in front of me, as if I’d been out on the velt chasing lions or something before hopping the A train and with nary a thought to what it might do to my health.
More to the point, her sense of proportion reflected a feast-or-famine mentality honed I suppose from her experiences raising a family during the Depression and her own childhood in places like the Lower East Side and East Harlem where money was always tight.
A lot of years later, however, a portion of that size is an automatic five-pound weight gain (even thinking about it gives me at least a pound or two), not to mention a GERD attack (indigestion plus a throat on fire) and an instant case of narcolepsy.
While counting calories feels incredibly luxurious in a world where many people would still look on one of Grandma’s plates of food as something miraculous, Western types with jingle in their jeans and a ready source of fabulous foods face different challenges. And if you’re a woman of a certain age like me, “water weight” no longer cuts it as an excuse.
What is required is a mindfulness about food that takes into account the body’s carbohydrate, protein, fat and caloric needs, the state of one’s health, and a moment of reflection from time-to-time on where food comes from and how it gets to one’s table. After all, most of us do not go to the back forty to pick our own tomatoes, green beans and sweet peas (except maybe in summer at our country places), nor do we pluck our freshly killed chickens, milk cows or gather our eggs at 5:00 in the morning. What we do is wander through the aisles of a supermarket or Whole Foods or the local deli or maybe even make it to a Farmer’s Market to pick up fresh foods or more than likely prepared meals (frozen, boxed or fresh) or skip it all and eat out or better yet, order in Thai.
What we don’t necessarily do is take the time to reflect on what we are eating and how it got there or how its many nutrients pass through the miracle of the body to be stripped down into constituent parts to fuel our many activities.
Whether its eating too little or eating too much, what we owe ourselves is eating “right” especially as we enter that period where food abounds and whether through many temptations (hmmm, yes, chocolate), lots of holiday gatherings or just plain anxiety, how we eat seems to get laden down with a lot of extra baggage, plus a notch or too on our belts.
Whatever your persuasion during the next several weeks, be aware that issues around eating will definitely be on the table … so think twice and if you do have that yummy extra helping of freshly made potato latkes, what the heck, enjoy, after all, it is only once a year!
Whether its early morning calisthenics, a five-mile run to get the “juices flowing”, or cracking the books one more time for an exam, the old “up and at ’em” attitude is a great way to push oneself to whatever task is at hand.
Monday mornings also have a way of setting the tone for the week ahead whether its starting a new diet (or getting back on an old one), ticking off chores on the “to-do” list or getting back to the gym after a long hiatus. A Monday that is also the first one of the month has the added feature of jumping off into a fresh start with 30 or so days of opportunity to meet one’s goal.
It’s not exactly training for a prize-fight — but setting off down a path towards something to accomplish can certainly feel that way. That can mean losing five pounds, writing a paper (or a couple of chapters!), running five days a week, perfecting a new kind of glaze or learning five new chords on the guitar.
Whatever the goal putting in the work to do it means a lot of well deserved self-congratulations for persevering and at the end of it that fabulous “I’ve done it” fist-pump in the air.
Whatever the goal — one is also never really alone in it either.
We are all here doing the same thing and for every quiet cheer we might let out for ourselves we are also championing our friends who are along the path of their own achievements … at least that how I like to think of it!
So, if you’re out there today embarking on something for the month of December, know that a whole lot of us are riding along side you eating salads with low-fat dressing, waking up early to do doing crunches at 6:00 AM, perfecting sun salutations and memorizing the periodic table of elements.