Joe Frazier (left) and Mohammad Ali, Madison Square Garden, 1971, Hurley/News
One of the key things about boxing and life for that matter is figuring out one’s optimal distance from all manner of experiences. Fighters learn early on that distance is the key to a successful bout not only in terms of establishing range, but in allowing a fighter clean shots, good defense and not to be underestimated, a way of psyching an opponent out.
Best way to frustrate an inside fighter … you got it, stay on the outside, but being careful to get inside just enough to keep the fans in the fight because an even worse sin is when one fighter creates too much distance by rabbiting around the ring. On the other side of it, stay inside long enough and you end up in a Micky Ward/Arturo Gatti duel that while great for the fans is tough, tough, tough on the body.
Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward
And that’s the key isn’t it: creating an optimal space. A place where your jab is perfect and the hook off the jab puts you in a terrific position to counter-punch for the upper-cut; where your punches connect enough to give a great show, but where your understanding of maintaining your distance from your opponent gives you the advantage and ultimately the win.
In life, say with your eleven-year-old daughter who isn’t in the mood to hear Mom chide her about whatever topic of the moment Mom feels insistent about … there’s not a lot of difference. We can pray for the bell and go to our corners, we can tussle in the middle and both get hurt, we can parry and thrust and hope for the best or one of us, hopefully Mom, can know enough to go her third-way to find the perfect distance until the storm washes over us both enough to re-engage.
PS: Girlboxing friend, Margaret Reyes Dempsey of Conjuring My Muse has nominated Girlboxing for the coveted Stylish Blogger Award. Girlboxing stylish, hmmm? Well, why not! Thanks Margaret! In order to be considered for the award the following four tasks must be completed:
1. Present seven things about yourself
2. Name about a half-dozen bloggers you think deserve the award
3. Contact those people
4. Create a link back to the person who gave you the honor
As for the first task, here are seven things you don’t know about me:
1. The closest I ever came to Muhammad Ali was in September 1991 when I stayed at a tiny beach hostel name-sake in a small village on the Red Sea called, Dahab, Egypt. The town is best known as a demarcation point for Red Sea scuba diving — although I didn’t go there to dive, rather I was there for the fun of it. My space at Mohammad Ali’s had a sand floor, concrete walls and a ceiling made of palm fronds loosely layered on top. For my $1.00 a night I also got a candle (no electricity) and an insect repellent incense coil. The best part of Dahab was listening to Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” wherever I went.
2. The first dance I ever learned (aside from the hokey-pokey) was “The Wobble,” to Little Eva’s “The Locomotion” (and not to be confused with the current line dance, and not to confuse my “Wobble” with the dance “The Locomotion”). I was eight years old and was playing on the sidewalk in front of my building on East 12th Street. A girl named Lydia and her older sister Anna taught me the dance when the song came on Anna’s AM transistor radio.
3. I discovered the delicious flavor of Nutella in 1991 while on board a vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean traveling from Rhodes, Greece to Limassol, Cyprus. I spent the night sleeping on the top deck of the ferry and traded Turkish baklava from a bakery in the Old Town of Rhodes with the coveted Nutella sandwich on freshly baked bread.
4. I hate lists even though I use them all the time. The problem is I write them down, start to follow them and get bored. ‘Nuff said.
5. I met my husband bar-dancing at Puffy’s in Tribeca on December 6, 1996. We both loved James Brown and Salsa music. In other words, kismet! For our first date (two nights later), he wore a red sweater and beige jeans — and looked like the Nautica man. We ate Vietnamese food for dinner and walked along the Hudson River sitting at the old dock on Pier 26 for a while to watch the water.
6. My uncle taught my brother and I how to box when I was 12 — well sort of in that he only taught us how to turn a jab. And while I may have written about that, what you don’t know is that he taught me how to box southpaw.
I kept my southpaw stance until I started boxing at Gleason’s when I took up boxing at 42! Every so often, I will find myself in a southpaw stance, but having not practiced that way for a long time, I feel very uncomfortable.
7. It took me 37 years to graduate college! I went to a total of four colleges over that period of time (1971-2008) and finally got my degree in History from Empire State College.
Thanks again to Margaret at Conjuring My Muse for giving me this chance to spill my guts in public! But now comes the fun part, nominating others! Here goes:
1. The Glowing Edge – Talk about stylish, spend a minute on the site and you’re instantly calm! Aside from which Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a true woman warrior! As she says of her own blog, she is “speaker, writer, media ninja, live music fanatic, boxer chick. Online a bunch. Otherwise in the gym. Or possibly at a gig.”
2. Beats, Boxing and Mayhem – This blog has it all, terrific posts on boxing, hip-hop music and culture, plus some serious politics mixed in.
3. Inspiring Sports Women – She’s got that right. Lovely, inspiring writing about women’s athletics.
4. The Sweetest Thing – Inspired blog about the personal side of being a boxing woman.
5. My ish wish dish – Now this blog is truly stylish! My ish wish dish blogs about home style, cooking and life with two small boys on a shoestring. This blog has terrific recipes too.
6. Girl in the Ring – This blogsite is not so much for a stylish blog, as a website to help publicize Jill Morley’s much-anticipated documentary about women boxers.
I’ll add that this whole thing feels a bit like a chain letter, but what the heck! I love publicizing blogs I like! Enjoy!