Archive for January, 2013

29
Jan
13

Jazzing with Melissa Hernandez…

Jazzing with Melissa Hernandez…

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich, Credit:  Rob T Sports Photography/ Rob Trudeau

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich, WBC Title Fight, Credit: Rob T Sports Photography/ Rob Trudeau

There is really no other way to describe WBC Female Featherweight Champion Melissa “HuracanShark” Hernandez in the ring than to say she is pure jazz.

Her fighting style is the essence of improvisation: bending the canon of what is possible in boxing with her left and deconstructing her opponents with each of her pounding rights.

The boxing maxim “kill the body and the head dies” is nothing more than a sophomoric adage as Hernandez dips and twirls her fists in a perfect prose of confusion and mind-numbing brilliance–so much so that watching her is the visual equivalent of the best mash-up that jazz could ever offer.

Supremely confident in her repertoire of boxing movements, she is pure poetry in motion: a swirling, stunning, harming, mugging, hilarious mixture of impossible postures, feints and straight-no-chaser jab, jab, jab, straight right, left hook to the body devastation.

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich, WBC Title Fight, 9/14/2012 (highlights)

I had the opportunity to see her in action recently at Gleason’s Gym. She was sparring, working three rounds with one fighter before the next fighter would move on into the ring. I didn’t get a chance to speak with her so I never did find out why she was in town–but it didn’t really matter. She was so at home, so assured that the years she’s been in Miami seemed to peel away.

The “Huracan” at work, Credit: Mischa Merz

The thing about her as a fighter is she is comfortable in her own skin; so comfortable that she can take as many risks as she needs because there is never any hesitation. It’s as if her prowess in the ring is programmed into her DNA. That is how sure she is.

Sue TL Fox of WBAN had a recent interview with Hernandez worth checking out (link here). Hernandez is waiting for another chance to fight and has otherwise publicly challenged Argentina’s Alejandra Oliveras to put up or shut up when it comes to wanting a WBC title. Time will tell on that one, and meanwhile, Hernandez trains at the 5th Street Gym in Miami, while acting as a trainer to a group of young fighters. With any luck, we’ll get to see her in action soon.

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich, 6/24/2011 (complete fight)

28
Jan
13

Women’s bodies, women’s minds…

Women’s bodies, women’s minds… (updated 1/30/2013)

Lady Sybil, Downton Abbey

If you happened to catch Downton Abbey last night (warning, spoiler alert), you were no doubt reeling from the news of Lady Sybil’s very realistic death from eclampsia.

As many women know, pre-eclampsia is a rather miserable and dangerous complication of pregnancy that affects between 5-10% of pregnant women. The symptoms include high blood pressure and protein in the urine and can occur as early as the 20th week and as late as the days leading up to labor and delivery. Prompt treatment is an absolute necessity and if the fetus is at all viable, c-section is often the prescribed next step. Without treatment, women can develop seizures, changes in mental function, fluid in the lungs, blood disorders, severe liver disease and death.

In the case of Sybil, she began exhibiting signs at the end stage of her pregnancy and while she had been under the treatment of Dr. Clarkson, the local family doctor, her father, Lord Grantham insisted on bringing a “celebrity” doctor, Sir Philip, all the way from London to attend to the birth. Lady Grantham objected and insisted that Dr. Clarkson at least consult on Sybil’s case. Admittedly, Dr. Clarkson had misdiagnosed Matthew’s paralysis and Lavinia had died under his care, but when it came to the hours before the onset of labor when he began to suspect pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, he certainly knew his stuff and knew enough about Sybil’s state of mind to insist that she be taken to the hospital for emergency surgery.

Sir Philip, looking very droll indeed was dismissive of Dr. Clarkson’s concerns — waiving off Sybil’s obvious confused state as nothing more than normal pregnancy stuff. Lord Grantham, in his place as pater familia of course concurred, and let precious hours slip by and even as they welcomed the birth of Sybil and Thomas’ baby girl, what they did not see was Sybil’s fall into more precarious health until she finally died in the throes of her uncontrollable seizures.

Whew!

That was a lot!

More to the point, decisions about women’s health portrayed as beholden to a patriarchal order with the wealthy, (white) male gentry at the top of the pyramid, still seems all to familiar circa 2013.

It was, after all, during the 2012 election cycle that we were treated to then Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s “discussion” of a woman’s “right to chose” in the case of rape:

“Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

And as late as two weeks ago, a Republican, Phil Gingrey of Georgia, an OB/GYN, in speaking about Todd Akin, said:

“What he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’”

“That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that.”

Okay, so I’ve hit into two huge issues here, but if we ratchet it back a bit to say … women boxing in skirts … where are we really?

Member of the Polish National Woman's Boxing Team in a Skirt

Member of the Polish National Woman’s Boxing Team in a Skirt

The AIBA “examined” the issue for a year and a half and after a huge uproar cheated their way out of the controversy last winter by stipulating that each country’s national team could “chose” whether to mandate shorts or skirts for its female athletes while their male athletes would continue to wear shorts only.

Light Heavyweight in a men's gladiator skirt.

Light Heavyweight in a men’s gladiator skirt.

You might laugh at the latter, but there certainly are a lot of men boxing in skirts–albeit they are called “gladiator” skirts which makes them “male” versus the “female” kind of skirt that doesn’t actually have open slats, except of course, when they do.  Hmmm…

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich in Gladiator Skirts! Credit:  Rob T Sports Photography/ Rob Trudeau

Melissa Hernandez v. Jelena Mrdjenovich in Gladiator Skirts! Credit: Rob T Sports Photography/ Rob Trudeau

As for the female “mental” state, back in the 1950s not one, but two of my aunts (one on each side) were sent to mental institutions in their late teens for some version of “hysteria.”The Snake Pit

Digging deeper it seems both were hipster gal’s circa 1956 who were enamored with art, smoking reefer and sex with boys (not to mention that one was a teen mom — more later): solution, off to the nut house for shock treatments for their anti-social behavior.

It’s no wonder then that when I was nine and caught site of The Snake Pit on channel 9’s Million Dollar Movie, I was truly terrified. It gave me nightmares for weeks on end, not the least of which was the thought the I could be taken away too if I acted “funny.”

Downton Abbey, 3:4, Sybil's DeathWatching the fictional Grantham’s in action last night I began to ask myself, are we really so different than the tableau of shock and surprise at Lady Sybil’s sudden death.

Afterall, we live in a world where 700+ women die each day in childbirth. And no, that doesn’t necessarily happen here, but given the decisions that are made with respect to providing prenatal care to poor women, the statistics certainly give us pause.

In the United States the statistics as of 2010 are 12.7 deaths out of every 100,000 births. Among African-American women that statistic jumps to 34.8 deaths per 100,000. In New York City that translates into an appalling statistic:  eight African-American women die for every Caucasian woman.

And people wonder why Obama’s Affordable Care Act is so important — get it! Reproductive and prenatal care from contraception to post-natal checkups will actually be covered for all women beginning in 2014.

Throw the problems of the Grantham’s former maid Ethel into the mix (kicked out after getting pregnant by a rich cad, turning to prostitution to keep her son fed, and finally giving him up in order for him to have a better life), including the utter meanness of her peers and we have a picture that can also rival the present.  Seen Teen Mom lately?

In sum, not a very pretty picture at nearly 100 years in advance of the Downton Abbey storyline where yes, yes, yes, women in the United States have made extraordinary strides that includes, just last week, the decision to open combat roles to women in the Armed Forces, but as for things like pay equity, reproductive rights, equal protection under the law, violence against women, the medicalizing of women’s “natural” life changes, and the like, we have a long, long way to go.

27
Jan
13

One of those days…

One of those days…

Sisyphus

It’s been one of those days.

Sure the laundry is done, a bit of shopping for the week, and even a trip to Staples for new winter term school supplies for my daughter, but the real stuff, the substantive stuff, the chapter that should have been completed 10 days ago remains … well, definitely undone.

So if I was going to blow off the things that needed doing, I would have hoped to have at least spent my time say … at the gym going another bunch of rounds at hyperspeed or swimming at the Y or reading something other than books about 18th Century gender politics, but I didn’t even waste it doing that.

BookcaseIt was time spent in a drift to nowhere: bland, blah, nothing much and before I knew it the big clock outside tolled 4:00 PM.

At that point–well, I did manage half a page on the pesky chapter–but otherwise gave up on it all and figured the best thing to do was make a nice dinner for everyone (linguine with garlic, oil & calamata olives finished with fresh parmesan, plus a romaine lettuce salad).

The family fed. Daughter back to homework and husband happily digging into a bowl of ice cream, I’ve given myself permission to drift.

And really, that was all I needed. A bit of acknowledgement. A moment to say–hey, you’re a grown-up, you work your butt off, you can take the time to do nothing if that’s what you really need.

Now that I’ve given myself that gift, I feel myself easing up a bit; not quite so steamed for not hitting my word output, nor feeling guilty for taking a peek at my Facebook page.

Given that my permission stamp was only made at around 7:00, I don’t really have much time left … but at least I have Downton Abbey to look forward to.

23
Jan
13

The Few, The Proud, The Women!!!

The Few, The Proud, The Women!!!

GI Jane

Today marked an historic day in the history of Women Warriors!

Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta announced that women will no longer be excluded from combat roles in the Armed Forces of the United States. Women will be allowed to serve in combat units as well as assume command roles. Effectively this means that we can indeed look forward to the opportunity of seeing a woman Chair of the Joint Chiefs in the not so distant future.

Practically, each of the four branches of the service, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, has been charged with assessing how best to integrate women into combat specialities.  They will also develop time tables for phasing in women to these roles including such elite units as the Navy SEALS and Special Forces. In order to ensure that women have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, the assessment will include reviews of the physical requirements to assess how best to make those standards gender neutral.

Women have routinely served in front lines roles in Afghanistan and Iraq, albeit in “support” roles. Those positions have, however, not stopped these women from participating in fierce fire fights.  As of this writing 152 women have died in those wars and nearly 1,000 have been wounded.

Don’t be fooled though, women have been fighting wars for millenia!

Here are a smattering of those heroines:

Artemisia of Halicarnassus, British Museum

Artemesia of Halicarnassus (modern day Bodrum, Turkey) was an ally of the Persian King Xeres in 480 BCE. She commanded five ships and fought bravely in battle. Her exploits were recounted by Herodotus.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc fought along King Charles of France in his war against the British. She was eventually burned at the stake for heresy, including the crime of dressing as man. Exonerated some years later by the Roman Catholic Church, she was canonized in 1909.

Hannah Snell

Hannah Snell was a British woman who fought as a British Marine named James Gray from 1747-1750.  She participated in battles in India and was wounded a total of 11 times without ever revealing her gender.

Unknown

Loreta Janeta Velasquez disguised herself and acted as a Confederate Scout named Lt. Harry T. Buford during the American Civil War.  Hundreds of women in both the Union and Confederate Armies had distinguished careers as “male” soldiers.

21
Jan
13

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate weakness of violence
is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate….
Returning violence for violence multiples violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

18
Jan
13

Heather Hardy Interview ahead of her January 23rd Fight at BB Kings!

Update!!!

Heather Hardy makes it a perfect 4-0 after defeating Canada’s own Peggy Maerz in a hard fought battle. Hardy won by unanimous decision:  40-36, 39-37, 39-37. Maerz will still fight for the Canadian flyweight title in April.

Heather Hardy & Peggy Maerz

 

Heather Hardy Interview ahead of her January 23rd Fight at BB Kings!

Heather Hardy @ BB Kings 1/23/2013

Heather “The Heat” Hardy (3-0) has been hard at work training at Gleason’s Gym.

She has an upcoming fight against Canadian boxer Peggy Maerz (2-2-1) on January 23, 2013 at B. B. Kings Blues Club & Grill in New York. Promoted by DiBella Entertainment as part of the Broadway Boxing series, Hardy will box Maerz in a four-rounder.

Tickets for her upcoming bout are available from Gleason’s Gym 718-797-2872 or from Nelly Spillanes 212-792-9672.

Also on the card are Yuri Foreman (28-2, 8-KOs) making his comeback appearance against Brandon Baue (12-8, 10-KOs) and Delen Parsely (9-0, 2 KOs) fighting Tyrone Selders (8-4, 6-KOs).

Recently, Hardy agreed to an interview with Girlboxing about her upcoming fight.

Here’s what she had to say.

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Q1. Since turning pro in August you’ve racked up an impressive 3-0 record. In Peggy Maerz you’re fighting a boxer with a 2-2-1 record out of Canada. Maerz is known for her long reach and quick jabs. She also has had an impressive amateur career in Western Canada. What do you hope to show the boxing world in choosing Maerz as your next opponent.

I want to show that I’m ready, willing, and able to fight anyone that’s put in front of me. I work hard, I train hard and I fight even harder.

Q2. You’ve put a lot on the line to turn pro having made your mark on the amateur world with you Golden Gloves wins and appearance in the USA Nationals. What motivated you to turn professional when the odds are so tough against women in the sport — even after the great success of the debut of women’s boxing at the London Games in 2012?

I have faith, that one day the girls will get the same respect (and PAY) as the boys. You can’t put your heart and soul into something day in and day out and not expect to make a difference. I want to be the difference, and believe that I have the talent and work ethic to do so.

Heather Hardy & Melissa Hernandez, Gleason's Gym, December 2012, Credit: Malissa Smith

Heather Hardy & Melissa Hernandez, Gleason’s Gym, December 2012, Credit: Malissa Smith

Q3. Aside from boxing, you’re also a talented trainer with a wide range of clients with varying boxing abilities. What has your work as a trainer and mentor taught you about fighting and being successful in the ring?

It has definitely added to my success. I live boxing! I’m in the gym 15 hours a day! I see my girls walking the same path I did and I get to watch them make all the same mistakes. It’s so rewarding to be able to pass my passion onto those who share it. I love what I do.
Heather Hardy and Trainer, Devon Cormack, @ Gleason's Gym, December 2012

Heather Hardy and Trainer, Devon Cormack, @ Gleason’s Gym, December 2012, Credit: Heather Hardy

Q4. In a recent interview, you described boxing as more “training on the mind.”  Can you elaborate on how you prepare yourself mentally for a fight and for coping with the unexpected during a tense professional bout?

I know how to fight, so when I train it’s a matter of correcting bad habits and fixing parts of my game that aren’t quite perfect. Fine tuning, aligning my punches, stepping properly, etc. My coach always says there are only four punches, so learn how to throw each one perfect every time. You can only be the best when you make no mistakes.

Q5. You’ve made it no secret that you want to be a world champion. Given the crowded field in the bantamweight division, what is your strategy for gaining a title shot at one of the more prestigious world championship belts?

Keep winning! My plan is to stay focused and keep winning. Keep training and perfecting my game. Keep myself challenged. I’m ready for the road ahead of me. I’ve been on an uphill climb since the day I walked into this gym, since I started so late at 28.

Q6.  You turned pro days after Claressa Shields won gold in the Olympics, but considered turning pro long before the Olympics. Do you see any differences in how promoters approach booking and promoting female boxing matches or does it still seem more of the same?

Unfortunately, I do not see that it has made a difference in the professional sense. I am still making considerably less than my male counterparts and doing the exact same job.

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Q7.  Finally, what should we expect to see in your fight against Peggy Maerz on January 23rd at BB Kings?

Expect the same as always 🙂

This will be a fight from bell to bell.

15
Jan
13

An interview with Shelito Vincent, to fight on 1/19/2013!

UPDATE!!!

Shelito Vincent takes it 59-55, 58-56 x 2 over Nydia Feliciano!!!

Per @TalkinBoxing on Twitter, Feliciano came out strong in the first round and used her height advantage well in the second. Vincent dug in though and started to really bring it in the third round. By the fourth and fifth round she was breaking Feliciano down with hard hitting and relentless pursuit. The fight was the war they anticipated with both fighters slugging it out to the end of the bell in the 6th round.

An interview with Shelito Vincent, to fight on 1/19/2013! 

Shelito Vincent, January 19, 2013

Shelito “Shelito’s Way” Vincent (6-0) is readying to fight her seventh bout on January 19, 2013 against boxer Nydia Feliciano (5-3-3).  The six-round bout is set for the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.com ($40 & $125).

Girlboxing had the opportunity to interview Shelito ahead of her upcoming bout.  Here’s what she had to say:

Shelito Vincent & Sherine Thomas, 11/29/12. Photo Credit: Cross Face Productions

Shelito Vincent & Rosie Sherine Thomas, 11/29/12. Photo Credit: CrossFace Productions

Q1.  You’ve got a great winning streak going for you. With the seventh fight on the line, what are you looking to achieve in you fight against Nydia Feliciano, arguably your most experienced opponent to date?

Looking to achieve the W… And a shot at taking her number one ranking in US from her… Yes definitely the most experienced to date… And she is an amazing fighter… It’s going to be a great hard fight… Probably a war… The city and casino will have a great women’s fight that night… Exciting from start to finish… We both going in ready for war… The whole card is stacked and will be dope from the debuts to the main events… I’m honored to be on this card with all these amazing fighters…CES, NBC and Main Events thank you for the opportunity… 

Everyone should grab their tickets and come support this great night… They are $40 an 125$ VIP…Contact myself at 860-574-5227… If in need… No one should be empty handed lol…

Shelito Vincent & Ivana Coleman, 10/18/2012, Credit: Eagle Sports Photography

Shelito Vincent & Ivana Coleman, 10/18/2012, Credit: Eagle Sports Photography

Q2. You turned pro in October of 2011. Now that you are well into your second year as a professional fighter, what is your game plan for achieving a title in the crowded women’s bantamweight division?

The game plan is always the same… Work harder than anyone else… And always give it our all… Of course timing has to be right too… I’ll be the first to tell you… I lack the experience these other woman had… I was 11-4 as an amateur; I won the National Golden Gloves  in 2011… Then turned pro and had 6 fights… Most women have an extensive amateur background… I’m pleased with the pace I’ve been moving… Jan 19th will be the next test…

Shelito Vincent and her team @ Manfredo Boxing and Fitness

Shelito Vincent and her team @ Manfredo Boxing and Fitness

Q3. Peter Manfredo has been training you for some time, how has his mentoring helped you in the ring and how are you both working towards getting you to the next level?

Peter has made me a monster… I look at tapes from my debut and Ammy fighs and compare them to now, and the transformation is miraculous… I owe that man a lot… He gave me a chance and we haven’t let each other down… He gives me a hundred so u’ll never see me give him any less than 150… He’s like the father I didn’t have growing up… He’s there for me even outside the ring too…. Everyone needs a Lil’ Manfredo’s guidance in their lives lol… Great, great man and I’m lucky enough to call my friend…
Shelito Vincent, November 2012, Credit: CrossFace Productions

Shelito Vincent, November 29, 2012, Credit: CrossFace Productions

Q4. Your story continues to be one of triumph over adversity. Now that you have comfortably made the transition to professional boxing, what do you see as the challenges that are most important for you to overcome?

The biggest thing I struggle with is my own mind… I still struggle with bouts of
depression… But that’s also what keeps me motivated an keep moving forward In my career and in life… The fight is often therapeutic…
Q5. The fight card you’ll be on is set to broadcast on NBC’s Sport Network. While your fight might not make it to the broadcast, what is your sense of when women’s bouts will begin to routinely appear on air again?  Have you seen any changes since Claressa Shields brought home the gold this past August or is it more of the “same ‘ole, same ‘ole?
I‘m not sure…but it needs to happen…MMA does so much for their women… People will tune in… An I myself sell more then any male in this area… And Every time I do better… People do want to see it… Plus women are so exciting to watch… We go so hard trying to prove we belong here….I have people that fly in from other states when I fight and I don’t even know them… All we can do is cross our fingers and hope we can get some time… I think it will happen though…
Q6. You are starting to train young fighters yourself. What do you try to instill in your girls coming up and what they can accomplish in the sport and in life?
Hard work and dedication will get you anywhere and all you need… You just have to have the will and drive… And in life nothing can keep you down… Dark clouds eventually separate… Weathering the storm is the hard part… But no matter how gloomy things get there is always a turn around as long as your desire to shine through is there… Never let anyone or anything keep you down… Always talk and let it out… Locking away pain and harboring depression is so hard and draining… Feels amazing once you air it out…

Q7.  What’s next for you after Saturday night’s fight?
March 15th Twin River…. But only focused about getting through this fight right now…
Shelito Vincent v. Sherine Thomas, 11/29/2013



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