Tag Archives: boxing gym

Back at it …

Back at it …

The heavy bags at Gleason's Gym

After a ten-day hiatus, I made it back into the gym today.

Talk about a shock! My conditioning as I entered the ring with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore was at about z-e-r-o!  But, that was to be expected after having fought off a lousy cold and its aftereffects.

Yes, I did manage to spar four rounds–but it was charity! Really. We were at half speed at best and I admit to feeling a bit light-heading as I shadow boxed. Giving into the reality of not being quite back to my usual level of fitness, after four rounds of sparring I took it slow and went three rounds on the upper cut bag and four on the speed bag before doing sit-ups.

Given the season, a lot of folks are in the throes of colds and flu and need to sort out just when to get back to the gym.

The following are some tips on how to go about it:

Klennex1. If you’ve been really sick with fever and an infection or if the virus that’s been plaguing you has left your muscles and joints achy and weak, you really should wait until your symptoms are pretty much done. You also don’t want to infect anyone else so if you’re still sneezing and coughing you should hold off until you are no longer contagious.

2. When you do head back, remember that your body has just been through an ordeal. And no–you are not going to perform to you usual ability, nor should you even if you think you can do it.  The body needs adequate time to recover. You will also need time to get your body back to its former conditioning–and depending upon the severity of your illness will require time, effort and patience.

Unknown3. Don’t think that you can immediately pound away at full speed. Whether it’s boxing, an hour of yoga, jogging in the park or working out on weight machines, cut your workout down to a reasonable time and cut yourself some slack when you find that your performance is off. No matter what shape you’re in a miserable cold is going to slow you down and your body needs time to get back to full strength. And, if you’ve had a couple of days of fever, your body has been hard at work fending of miserable germs–so it’ll take that much longer to get back to full strength.

4. Give yourself adequate recovery time, meaning if you run everyday, you don’t have to immediately get back to your normal schedule. Run on day one, rest a day, and then get back to it. In this way, you really are giving your body a chance to fully recover. Make certain that you are also keeping yourself adequately hydrated before, during and after workouts. The body can become slightly dehydrated even with a cold–which also takes time to recover from.

Most of all, remember to keep it slow and before you know it, you’ll be back at 100%!

 

Friday night at the women’s boxing fights!

Friday night at the women’s boxing fights!

Friday Night Fights

Okay so, ESPN Friday Night Fights, HBO, Showbox, NBC Sports, Fox Sports all seem to have forgotten that there are a heck of a lot of great women’s boxing bouts.  For tonight’s “card” I’ll start with a title bout from last week’s USA Boxing Nationals and add in some golden oldies.  Enjoy!

First up, our Gold Medal winner Claressa Shields battling Franchon Crews to take the USA Boxing 2014 Middleweight Title!

Next … Cecilia Braekhus (23-0, 7-KOs) vs. Oxandia Castillo (12-1-2, 9-KOs) from 8/9/2013. This was Braekhus’ last fight–she fights the great champion Myriam Lamare tomorrow night.

Here’s the weigh-in for what should be an awesome battle, tomorrow’s bout (Feb 1st) between Cecilia Braekhus and Myriam Lamare for the WBC, WBA & WBO Female Welterweight titles!

One of the greats! Ana Maria Torres (28-3-3, 16-KO) vs. Jackie Nava (23-4-3, 12-KOs) in their first battle on 4/11/2011 at the World Trade Center, Boca del Rio, Veracruz, Mexico. What a war!

Ana Maria Torres vs. Jackie Nava II from July 30, 2011 at the Metropolitan Arena, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico.

Old dog … new tricks …

Old dog … new tricks …

Boxing Dog, Credit: rachaelhale

When I first walked into Gleason’s Gym a million years ago–as in January 1997–my first trainer, Johnny Grinnage started me off on the wall bag throwing the jab and eventually a seven-punch combination that went jab-jab-straight right-left hook … dip right … straight right-jab-left hook … dip left … and repeat, repeat, repeat. From the wall bag, I graduated to the mirror where I practiced the same grouping of punches — and eventually went on to the slip rope and the heavy bag.  Oh, and once I made it to the heavy bag, my first round was always left-left-left hook … dip left and repeat … dip right and repeat … and sometimes for two rounds.

What I didn’t get was any time in the ring–or the sense of *why* I was practicing those punches.

Eventually Johnny added in upper cuts, straight body shots and even some shoe-shines that had me throwing upwards of 18 punches in a row wearing 18-ounce gloves and crazy wraps underneath because he had me throwing those punches on the super-heavy bag for 12 rounds. Oh–all the while listening to Johnny admonish me *not* to throw any pitty-pat punches!

Suffice it to say, I sure did get strong! And after months of that I was in shape, but I knew nary a thing about boxing.

This went on for a while–and my relationship to boxing went in fits and starts, and was more about the emotion of actually hitting something than the fine points of the sport–and I ended up taking breaks that would last a year, two years or more.

Back in the gym after a particularly long break (2 years), I began training with Lennox Blackmoore.

I basically started all over again–and came a very long way, but ring time was still somewhat light, and it has literally taken me until the last couple of weeks to realize that so much of what he has been showing me and teaching me for years has passed right over my head. I mean I listened, and became proficient at things like the speed bag and the double-ended bag, but I still hadn’t grasped in any kind of visceral way what my body was actually supposed to be doing.

Call me dense (as in ridiculously so)–but the YEARS I spent being told to slip, bob and weave, were never about GETTING OUT OF THE WAY for me because maybe there’d be a punch rending its way down broadway squarely for my nose, because I JUST DIDN’T GET IT.

I didn’t get the dance. The absolute pas-de-deux. The improvisational hopped-up bang-pow-bang of it all.

I mean it’s crazy!

It’s the danciest dance ever.

Move, throw, move some more, drift in, drift out, squeeze impossibly low, fight tall, fight small, stay out of range, jam in and jam out, shoulder roll back, throw forward, sidestep … CRAZY STUFF.

Get it?

It’s crazy tap dancing–but you can’t dance if you don’t know the steps.

DAMN. I’m almost 60 and I finally get it!

Women box … Wordless Wednesday 1/15/2014

Women box … Wordless Wednesday 1/15/2014

Womenboxinginmotion

Women Boxing, Gleason’s Gym, April 20, 2013

My mind is not tired …

My mind is not tired …

My mind is not tired ...

Breath heaving, arms aching, knees buckling after three rounds of sparring with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore, I looked at him standing quite nonchalantly a few feet away from me with admiration and a tint of envy and said, “you’re in some shape.”

Len just smiled as the bell intoned for our fourth round and said, “My mind is not tired.”

“What?” I thought.

“My mind is not tired,” he said, as a mantra, our eyes locked, our bodies circling each other in the ring.

And suddenly getting it I said, “my mind is not tired.”

A eureka moment, my punches flowed as crisp staccato accents on a drum kit.

“My mind is not tired,” I screamed to myself, remembering to slip Len’s right hand, and pulling back as he was went to my body, I let loose with my own overhand right that hit the mark.

Len nodded and said, “nice one,” but that didn’t last for long as we held each other’s gaze feinting, flicking punches, slipping, moving; his punches still tagging me from the right one, two, three times, but decidedly less that the week before.

Coming into the fifth round–we continued. The words “my mind is not tired” a true tonic for my body which really was feeling out of gas, but was moving with focus.

I practiced the shoulder roll, not quite getting it, but at least pulling away enough for the punch to graze me before letting loose with my straight right to the body. I remember to stand low too, something I had kept forgetting. I stayed low, feinted, slipped right, slipped left, feinted again, surprised Len with a lead right, pulled back, danced to the side, danced back again, took punches, pushed punches away.

We ended the round with Len on one side of the ring and me on the other. My breath really was hard, but I felt triumphant, I made my way over, slowly. Len took my helmet off and offered me water. He was smiling.

“Good work,” he said.

I felt proud of that and made my over to the uppercut bag to work on slipping punches again. Flagging for a moment, I said, “my mind is not tired,” and kept going having learned something.

Boxing really is all about the mind. The mind and the will to persevere, to take old damned bones and make them slip when everything in the body screams “pull back and get the heck out of the way.”

Getting the skinny on #womensboxing … WBAN

Getting the skinny on #womensboxing … WBAN

WBAN

If you’re looking for the latest on #womensboxing … Sue TL Fox’s WBAN (Women Boxing Archive Network) remains the place to go!

With a plethora of stories on individual boxers, exclusive interviews, news on upcoming fights, editorials on the state of the sport, and a site loaded with goodies it takes days and days to go through; the site is a MUST GO for anyone interested in the sport.

Starting this month, Sue has opened up her considerable archive of boxing records to the public. It is treasure trove of women’s boxing photos, original documents, video streaming footage, as well as a repository of historical documents.

Sue TL Fox

Set up as a separate (but linked) website, WomensBoxingRecords.com is the most comprehensive website on the Internet for historical information of female boxing.

Named as one of the ten-most significant women’s boxers of all time in last year’s February 2012 edition of Ring Magazine, Sue Fox is more than that — she is a women’s boxing treasure for her years of devotion to setting the record straight in the sport.

As a former boxer with an illustrious career during the great spurt of women’s boxing in the 1970s, Sue also brings all of the passion for the sport that only someone who has actually fought in the squared circle can bring.

She has also been, and remains, an important point of contact for women in the sport. While not exactly a “mothership,” WBAN is a lifeline for denizens of female boxing from amateurs to professionals and everything in between.

If you can … go check it out, just click on the links:

WBAN (Women Boxing Archive Network)

WomensBoxingRecords.com

 

 

Missing the gym …

Missing the gym …

Gleason's Gym

I haven’t made it to the gym over the past few days, much to my chagrin. Between deadlines, work and a concert at my daughter’s school today, my plans to spend round upon round boxing on the the upper cut bag and slipping underneath have not come to fruition, but that hasn’t meant it’s left my mind.

Instead, in the moments of free time I’ve had, I’ve been watching heavy bag work-out videos and thought I’d share a few I’ve found that seem to have some good pointers.

1. Good instructional workout routines on the heavy bag: warmups, working lefts, head movement, outside work and finishing on the inside …

2. Advanced heavy bag techniques: working one hand, working in spot, “compound” attacks …

3. Freddie Roach Heavy Bag Training: footwork, balance and transferring feet, rolling and slipping, creating opportunities …

4. Uppercut bag workout with slipping under the bag

Women box … wordless wednesday

Women box … wordless wednesday

Mischa Merz (l) and Kristina Naplatarski. Gleason's Gym. Credit: Malissa Smith

Mischa Merz (L) and Kristina Naplatarski Sparring at Gleason’s Gym, September 10, 2011, Credit: Malissa Smith

Back to basics …

Back to basics …

Lennox Blackmoore & Malissa Smith

Stepping back into anything whether its training or writing blog entries takes a bit of getting used to!

With my manuscript for A History of Women’s Boxing at the publisher (and working through manuscript cuts)–I can attest to how difficult it is to find one’s way back to the earlier routines.

Boxing–not unlike serious dance–is a sport that requires constant fine tuning not only to keep one’s muscle-memory in tact, but to make physical sense of all of the nuances.  Throw in some old bones like mine and that savvy seems to revert back to near on zero after a few months!

For the last four weeks I’ve been attempting to turn back the clock–so to speak–to move my body into the next “space” vis-a-vis how I look to myself shadow boxing in front of the mirror. In a word … Ugh!  Well, okay, I’ll modify that.  “Ugh!” for the first three weeks and a mere, sheesssshhhh for today.

With just a four-month layoff, my timing became non-existent, I couldn’t muster more than 50 situps and the pad work was ugly. Facing my trainer Lennox Blackmoore in the ring was even worse! I could *barely* make it through three rounds (never mind four) of the *ugliest* looking punching you’ve ever seen!  And there was not ONE straight right that I didn’t walk in to!  Talk about humbling.

By the second week–I could at least make it through three + rounds, but my ring performance was no better even with Len egging me and shouting SLIP!  I think I managed to slip exactly one punch–well, maybe I’m being a bit generous to myself. I also managing a 16 round workout, but the situps remained pathetic.

My next step was to add two nights of training on my own after work–to at least bring my conditioning up and to focus on basics such as stance and the jab-jab-right-slip-right combinations. Last Saturday, however, was even worse in the ring–I still kept heading into the straight right, and finally in frustration, I just had Len keep throwing rights at me till I’d slip left out of the way! That seemed to help somewhat although I was still feeling bummed and even my timing on the double-ended bag was awful.

Back at it this week I kept plugging away doing rounds on the slip-rope and the heavy bag to work on those imaginary punches coming my way and spending rounds working on my stance, my footwork and throwing punches from the “slip” position. The only bright spot was realizing that my conditioning was coming back–with my body comfortably moving and working hard through all 16 rounds of work.

That all paid off today when I was able to get through four rounds in the ring with Lennox still able to breathe! As for slipping those punches–we’re talking a work in progress! He nailed me CONSTANTLY, but I did manage a few in every round and kept up with him when we shoe-shined during the last 30 seconds of the fourth round.

As for the rest of my workout, I had lots of stamina and spent a good six rounds slipping and punching as I moved around the heavy bag and the double-ended bag. The speed bag work was fun too. I was doubling-up like a demon and jumped over to the double-ended bag during the one-minute round breaks. And beyond that I actually did 100 situps–admittedly slooowwww, but at least back to my old number!

Despite the fact that my conditioning is much improved, I still feel like a physical moron in the ring and realize that it’s a matter of retraining my brain. The fact is, when I see a punch coming, I want to pull back, and that would make sense if I was stepping back with it and following it up with something, but I’m not. I’m just dumbfounded as I try to hit back and as the milliseconds of inaction tick by I, of course, get slammed with another punch!

The “Pollyanna” in me is convinced that my 59-year-old body can learn some new tricks … but even if I never really do, I at least feel good for trying.

Here’s a nice short video on how to slip a punch–and if you don’t have a slip bag, you can always follow my lead and slip the shower head in the morning.

Hardy the Film

Hardy the movie …

Hardy, a film by Natasha Verma

As Golden Gloves champion Heather “The Heat” Hardy puts it at the beginning of the Hardy the movie trailer, “There’s something to be said about boxing having been the last sport where females were allowed to compete.”

Documentary filmmaker Natasha Verma, in her soon-to-be feature film Hardy has set out to answer why it has been so tough for females to find a place in boxing and has chosen Heather Hardy as her lens into the unique world of women’s boxing.

While currently in pre-production, Verma is committed to seeing the project through and as she puts it bring to the screen a view of women’s boxing that’s “more than just a fight story.”

Verma continues,”It goes behind closed doors and explores the inequalities females face in the industry and how female boxing plays out in a larger social context today.”

To help bring the film into the next phase of production, Verma and her team are looking to raise funds and have enlisted the Rocket Hub fundraising site to help in their efforts.  If you’ve ever wanted to be a “producer,” here is a wonderful opportunity to help in the efforts to bring this wonderful project to the screen and gain a tiny piece of the action! Donations as small as 10 dollars gain recognition to the donors and include such goodies as an original-design HARDY T-Shirt at the $35 level. Donors can also receive a digital download of the film and can even gain an Executive Producer credit for really deep pockets!

To contribute click on the link:  Hardy the movie!

Check out the trailer too and then click on the link and donate to become part of the team that brings this great project to the screen!

Women’s Boxing: Jen Hamann’s “road to gold”

Women’s Boxing: Jen Hamann’s “Road to Gold” 

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Jen Hamann

The 2012 London Olympic Games which featured the introduction of women’s boxing has come and gone. The distinctive honor of having participated as one of the first thirty-six women to compete is also certainly singular. But that has not diminished the hopes and dreams of a new generation of female boxers who have already begun to train for the 2016 Games in Brazil.

One such fighter is 27-year-old Jen Hamann. Based out of Seattle, Jen is a two-time Golden Gloves winner who emerged this year as the 2013 Outstanding Female Boxer at the Jr. Golden Gloves.

Jen HamannJen has amassed an 18-2 record since taking up the gloves in 2009. She is currently counting down to this year’s 2013 USA Boxing National Championships beginning on April 1st, challenging for a spot on the podium at 125 lbs. Jen trains under head coach Tricia Turton, herself a former professional boxer, who recently began Arcaro Boxing. Together, they are forging a partnership to help prepare Jen for the competitive challenges that lie ahead.

Jen Hamann & Tricia Turton

Though no stranger to high-stakes competition as a Division-1 athlete in soccer, track & field and cross-country for Seattle University, Jen relies on Turton to help keep her focused and on point. Hamann also works through her experiences by maintaining a blog that recounts her feelings about the sport that has become so much a part of who she is. The link is here: Hamann Road to Boxing Gold. 

Recently, Girlboxing had the opportunity to enter a dialogue with Jen Hamann about her Olympic dreams. Here’s what she had to say:

1. Boxing is not for the faint of heart, what is it about boxing that has driven you to want to spend the next three and a half years of your life dedicated to gaining a berth on the USA’s women’s boxing team fighting at the Brazil 2016 Olympics?

Boxing has given me an outlet to express myself. There’s something satisfying about letting it all go on a heavy bag.  I also have a bit of a sassy temper, and when I suppress this short fuse, it eventually comes out on others in some other way. Boxing doesn’t change my personality – I’m still sassy as ever, it just lets me express it everyday.  Sports and exercise do this for many people, but boxing does it for me. As for the 2016 Olympics, that’s easy – I can never do anything half-heartedly. Whether a good thing or a bad thing, I have to consume my life what I am passionate about – the Olympics are the principle of amateur boxing. Who wouldn’t want to put on a USA uniform and represent their country? 

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Alan Berner, The Seattle Times2. You’ve written that you “see boxing as a tool for self-expression, passion, and awareness.” As you embark on your goal of winning a place on the Brazil 2016 team, how will those three attributes take you through the next four years?

Sometimes I get frustrated for being frustrated at practice. I can be a perfectionist in training, and this narrows my view of possibilities. When I fight my personal style of boxing by fixing bad habits, I loose my passion and I end up working to correct something rather than express something, trust my hands and let them go. The 2016 Olympics is a long road and right now, this is a distance race. The more you can be yourself the longer you will last. Being amateur is hard enough; the more awareness you can have of your self, what you love and how you express yourself, the better boxer you will become.

3. You also see boxing as playing an important role in your personal development. How is that expressed as you go through the day-to-day work of being an amateur fighter?

Being an amateur fighter is hard – especially now. I’m not currently on the radar and no one really knows me, I’m pretty new to the National scene. Since training for the Olympics is a full-time job you can imagine how hard it is right now. I have to walk into fundraisers and local events saying that “I am training for the 2016 Olympics” without much of a resume to back it up. It’s like claiming the title before earning the position. But the more I can say it, the more confidence I have in the ring. Since I’ve started writing about it, my boxing has improved.

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Alan Berner, The Seattle Times

4. As an accomplished athlete since high school and as a Division-1 college athlete in Track & Field, Cross Country and Soccer, you are no stranger to high-stakes competition. How have you incorporated those experiences into the training and mental focus you need for the ring?

Soccer was my first love. But the difference between the athlete I was in college and the athlete I am now is my confidence. I was a great practice player, for some reason, I couldn’t translate it into the games – I was so afraid of messing up that it messed me up! In boxing, I went into it as an underdog looking for a new hobby without any pressure of college ball. Clearly things have changed! The difference now is that I’m not afraid to show confidence and passion in the ring like I was in soccer. In boxing I have no problem in front of a crowd and I have fun with it – the performance is no longer a burden but a blessing and I’m lucky to participate everyday.

Jen Hamann5. You maintain an active blog recounting your experiences in and out of the ring, as well as your philosophical inquiries as you train. You recently wrote, “Just like in a boxing fight – we continue to put ourselves in a situation of fear and panic in the ring because we want to simultaneously feel the power of recreating the meaning and intention behind each punch.” What is the practical application of that idea as you train in the ring?

If I can push myself in the ring, push through fear, reactions, and comfort boundaries, then I can do this is real life. Creating these sort of fake situations in the ring makes you more likely to put yourself out there in life – you take on situations that you normally wouldn’t. Taking this perspective, I’ve personally grown a lot – I’m more expressive, more confident, more open to talking about what I want, what I need, what my opinions are, taking risks, and taking stances. The only way to go somewhere new both in boxing and in your life is to experience discomfort.  It’s uncomfortable sometimes to take risks – announcing myself as an 2016 Olympic hopeful, or applying to grad school this year, but without the risk and the fear, the success is far less exciting.

6. You’ve mapped out competitive goals that include winning a USA Boxing National Championship, the National Golden Gloves Championship and the National PAL Championship. While you fight at 125 pounds, it can still be difficult to find competitive amateur fights. How have you and your trainer mapped out your competitive options so that you can continue to compete at the highest echelons of the sport?

Finding good fights can be challenging. Luckily, I have a coach who will fly to the end of the world and back with me to find a fight. As a former professional boxer and a former member of the USA women’s rugby team, coach Tricia knows what it feels like to put on that USA jersey and represent your country. Now retired from competition, she wants to give me that same feeling at the 2016 Olympics. As far as finding fights now, this is why we are doing our best to make it to all the national events around the U.S. – experience is almost everything for a boxer.

Jen Hamann "Skittles"

7. You’ve been fighting out of Cappy’s Gym since you started in the sport, but are following your trainer Tricia Turton to Arcaro Boxing. How is that transition going and what do you both see as your goals as you begin this new chapter in your career as a fighter?

Timely question – I just wrote something about this transition on my blog here: The Adventures of Moose and Kid Skittles. Tricia has always been the brains behind the boxing skills, the mentoring and the person passionate about boxing in her community, so it would be crazy of me not to follow her.  The transition is only difficult because she still doesn’t have four walls where she can hang a heavy bag. Luckily, my community has been amazing at helping us out with places to train and funding trips for fights. If we can get through this, we can get through anything in the future. 

Jen Hamann8.  You have chosen to fight among an elite group of women boxers who are all striving for a place in the Brazil 2016 Olympics.  How would you describe your relationships and what you have to offer each other as you embark on your journey together?

Currently, I am not on the USA team so I don’t know any of them personally. I do know that traveling, making weight, and working towards huge athletic goals cannot be done alone. I feel that the best Olympic contenders for the US will come out of a strong, respectful and hard working National team.  We have to be willing to work together, push each other and respect each other for anyone to push their skills – our teammates can be our best trainers.

I think that there are a lot of youth female boxers who are also under the radar, being over looked. Again, we still have 3 years of training and some of my most recent fights against youth boxers entering the senior class have been hard. They are hungry, they are motivated by the 2012 Olympics, and they will not stop challenging us. Gold Medalist Claressa Shields is a perfect example of this. Which also reminds me of a recent blog piece I wrote: Does it matter how you play the game

9. In closing, what has boxing given you — and in turn what do you hope to give to the sport?

Mostly, boxing has given me a medium to express myself without feeling bad about it. It’s also given me confidence. I used to only like those famous athletes that were polite and politically correct in the media – because I used to think that expressing confidence and self-esteem was synonymous to extreme arrogance. But this is completely untrue! My favorite boxer Melissa Hernandez really expresses this well, both for herself and for other women in boxing. I think she boxes because she loves the sport, but she puts on a great show in the ring because she really does care about promoting the sport of women boxing.

I really just want others to experience what I have experienced through boxing. Though I’m not in the spotlight right now, I hope that the blog captures the ups and downs of working towards a huge goal – something that both boxers and non-boxers can relate to. The blog, sometimes a little too revealing, is right now, my way of giving back because I write pretty honestly about the whole experience. 

Be certain to check out Jen Hamann’s Blog:  Hamann Road to Boxing Gold

Exclusive Interview with Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells ahead of her 2/21/13 fight!

UPDATE, 2/21/2013!!!

Keisher McLeod Wills with her 6th win on 2/21/13

Keisher McLeod Wells defeated Jacqui Park in their 6-round super flyweight bout by unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 59-55, 58-56 and 58-56. Fire is now 6-2! Jacqui Park is 1-1.

 

Exclusive Interview with Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells ahead of her 2/21/13 fight!

Kiesher McLeod Wells Fighting on 2/21/2013

Gleason’s own four-time New York Golden Gloves champion and professional boxer Keisher “Fire” McLeod Wells (5-2, 1-KO) will be boxing again on DiBella Entertainment’s Broadway Boxing card this coming Thursday, February 21st at the world-renowned Roseland Ballroom in the heart of New York City. Fire will be facing a former four-time Canadian National Amateur champion, 36-year-old, Jaqueline Park (1-0) in a six-round super flyweight showdown.

This will be Fire’s first fight since her controversal split-decision against Patricia Alcivar. She forcefully disputes the knockdown call at the end of the 6th round–and in viewing the tape, you’d have to say it did look like a slip.

As for fighter Jacqueline Park, her four-round debut professional fight resulted in a unanimous decision over Amanda Beaudin back in September.

Tickets are still available for the Ring of Fire event ranging from $45.00 – $125.00. Contract Gleason’s Gym (212) 787-2872 to purchase tickets.

Girlboxing had a chance to pose some Q & A to Fire ahead of upcoming bout, this is what she had to say.

Keisher McLeod Wells1.  You’ve got a fight coming up on February 21, 2013 on a DiBella Entertainment, Broadway Boxing Card at Roseland Ballroom in New York City.  What can you tell Girlboxing readers about your 6-round fight against Canadian national amateur champion Jacqueline Park?

Jacqueline ParkI don’t know much about her but I know she has a boxer style like my style. I’ve heard good things about her amateur career and that’s what I like to hear. I want to fight good fighters. That’s the only way I get better. It will be interesting to fight someone with a similar style to mine as opposed to the normal and obvious, my opponents usually comes straight forward non stop. I’m used to fighting brawlers and I’ve learned how to deal with them, so I’m excited to box a boxer. However, I won’t be surprised if she changes her style to brawler though because I’m taller. I’m prepared to take on both styles.

2.  The bout is being dedicated to your sister, Bronique, who was a recent innocent victim of gun violence. What do you hope to tell the world about your sister–and the cause of ending gun violence?

My sister was a very gentle and kindhearted individual. She was a great single mother of two young kids. She would come to my fights with support. She loved bragging about me to her friends about being a younger sister to a professional boxer. I am going to miss seeing her face in the audience cheering me on. This fight is being dedicated in her memory on my behalf. This will be my first fight since her death. I took some time off after her passing to cope with the lost of her with my family. This was the first loss my family has experienced, so it hit us really hard. What was more tragic is the way we lost her. Gun violence is so out of control. Using this fight in her memory with my popularity to the sport in NY, I’m hoping to bring more awareness in ending gun violence. 

Kiesher Mcleod Wells 3rd round knock down of Patricia Alcivar, Credit: Marty Rosengarten3.  It’s been 11 months since your last outing. You fought against Patricia “Boom Boom” Alcivar, in a tough battle that saw you knock her down in the 3rd and take a shot that was ruled a knock down in the 6th. Still you were triumphant with the judges giving you a split decision win, 57-55 x 2 and 55-57. What have you learned from that fight and what sort of adjustments in your game plan are you making as you head into head into the ring on the 21st?

First, I would like to say I never took a shot from her that landed me on the canvas. I slipped after dodging an unsuccessful punch that never landed by her. You can clearly see that after they replayed it in slow motion. Even the commentaries said it wasn’t a knock down. I was so confused when they started counting. That wasn’t the first time slipping in the ring for me in my boxing career. I can get a little wobbly and clumsy sometimes, but I never been counted out for that in the past. I was upset. I felt I won unanimously regardless of the 8 count. I fought tougher fights giving me unanimous decisions. So I couldn’t understand the split decision. The only adjustment I have for any fight after the one with Patricia Alcivar, is to try not to slip again. I’ve been working a lot on leg strength this time around. So hopefully I’m done with the wobbly legs.

4.  In an article that ran in the New York Times about you two years ago, in answer to a question about how the money side of the fight game doesn’t offer much to women, you said, “I think that’s why we fight harder, because we do this for the love of the sport. There’s no money really to be made.”  After all of the hoopla about women boxing for the first time in the 2012 Olympic Games do you see any changes or an opening up of opportunities for female boxers?
I’ve notice more females making a name for them in the sport. We are getting more exposure. I’m not sure if I would give the credit to 2012 Olympic Games. Promoters here in New York haven’t changed since the games. Maybe it has elsewhere. All I know is that we are still getting paid the same here.
Keisher Mcleod Wells lands an upper cut in the Golden Gloves5.  You’re a Golden Gloves Champion four times over as an amateur and bring a 5-2 record coming into your next professional fight. What can you tell up-and-coming fighters about the difference between fighting in the amateurs and fighting as a professional boxer?

The obvious difference is that professional fighters get paid, the headgear comes off and the gloves are smaller. The rounds become longer as well. Fights are more far in between too. However, I feel the reward is greater at the end because you are training for a war that is more brutal than amateur boxing. The training is more intense and so is the fight itself. There is a lot harder punches to be felt and give without the protection amateur boxing gives.

6. Your other love besides boxing is fashion. You’ve also started a jewelry line with wonderful creations that are beginning to adorn half the women in Brooklyn–or so it seems. How are you managing to fit your two love together: boxing and jewelry making?

Being a jewelry designer is what soothes my mind in between fights and training. Each piece I make is from my mind and heart. They’re unique one of kind pieces. It’s wearable art. I get in a zone when I paint (my jewelry). So when my mind and body is tired from training, I relax it by making jewelry. Also, I get a lot of down time when I’m working at Gleason’s on Sundays. So I create here sometimes while I’m here. Some are my items are boxing related, so I find inspiration from Gleason’s.

Keisher McLeod Wells7. Where do you see yourself going from here, Fire?

I would love to be some kind of TV personality or something in that nature relating to boxing after I decide I don’t want to compete any longer. I never look ahead in the future. I live my life pretty much from week to week. If I had children then I probably would have more sight of my future. Probably a bit irresponsible, but that is the way I’ve always lived my life. I am aiming for a World Title in the near future though, however it comes.

A Boxing ‘Ohana – an update …

A Boxing ‘Ohana – an update …

Sonny & Annabelle, The Kona Boxing Club

In Hawaii, an ‘Ohana is a family. A family that may be related through blood or the kind of family the evolves around a passion or a shared set of experiences. Regardless, an ‘Ohana connotes a sacred trust of people who have each other’s back.

When it comes to The Kona Boxing Club, the idea lives in the ‘Ohana that owner and trainer Sonny Westbrook has created around boxing.

Word of the club and of Sonny’s work in the community inspired Sasha Parulis to produce a documentary she has titled, A Boxing ‘Ohana, her way of acknowledging the impact that The Kona Boxing Club has had on the lives of the young men and women who have passed through its doors–lives that have overcome shattered families, drugs, and run-ins with the law.

Kaleo Shadowboxing A Boxing 'Ohana

Now, after four years of developing her short documentary, Parulis and her crew, wrapped production earlier this year in Kailua-Kona Hawaii, on The Big Island. Sasha along with NY-based Director Cynthia Younker and Hawaii-based Director of Photography, Sam Kapoi shot the film on the island for 5 days.

The documentary focuses on how Sonny Westbrook, boxing coach of The Kona Boxing Club has helped and changed many of his boxer’s lives and others in the community. He is a man who is paying it forward in awe-inspiring ways, and the crew captured this on film through anecdotes from Sonny and perspectives of the pivotal people in his life. Sasha is currently working on prepping the next stage of the filmmaking process with editing scheduled for 2013. She is also working on marketing efforts through the film’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

For more information check out A Boxing ‘Ohana’s website here.

See also “A Boxing ‘Ohana – a documentary in the making …”

Newbie sparring …

Newbie sparring …

 Sparring, Gleason's Gym

For new boxers, the lure of sparring offers the first opportunity to put the skills they’ve been learning to the test.

That means the chance to throw the old one-two, and otherwise work on their offensive combinations, as well as using and importantly, perfecting their defensive skills.

Before sparring begins boxers need to have frank and honest conversations with their trainers as to what to expect and what the progression of their sparring training will be. Questions and issues to consider include the following:

1. Do you really want to spar? This may seem obvious, but some students feel they HAVE TO, before they are really ready to. Make certain that you are clear on what you want to do.

Gleason's Gym, All Female Boxing Card, April 20112. Are you aware of the risks? This can mean anything from a black eye, a split-lip, a broken nose, or even a concussion or other brain injury if you are hit too hard on the head or land hard on the canvas.

3. Does your trainer have your back, meaning, do you honestly trust that your trainer is going to help keep you safe from harm and have the will to stop the sparring session if he or she thinks it is getting too rough?

4. Will your trainer listen to you if after a round or two you say, “I’ve had enough”? There is no glory in getting hurt or in working past one’s own endurance. If you can’t go on, then don’t. You risk injury, dehydration or worse if you push yourself too far.

boxing mouth guard5. Do you have a good mouth guard? This is a REALLY essential piece of equipment. And frankly, you should NEVER step in the ring to spar—even to learn a few pointers with your trainer—without one.

If you think you will be sparring on a regular basis and can afford it, you might well want to go to your dentist to have one custom made. Alternatively, you can purchase decent ones from sporting goods, boxing & MMA stores online. Your local gym may also keep some on hand for sale

Boxing Head Gear6. Do you own a helmet or does your trainer have a helmet to lend you when you are in the ring? A good, safe, well-fitting helmet is a MANDATORY requirement if you intend to engage in sparring. While this might not be legally required—you should not consider sparring or even playing in the ring without one. It is THAT SERIOUS.

The helmets approved for sanctioned USA Boxing amateur fights are likely your best bet. They are padded and provide good protection for you head and jaw line and many will also do a good job of protecting your nose. All of the major boxing catalogs carry them including Ringside, Title and Everlast.

Make no mistake. These helmets do NOT protect you completely and you could still suffer from a concussion, a hematoma (bleeding on the brain), or other form of brain injury even when you wear a helmet.

What they do offer you is some protection from blows and falls, but do not replace the kind of good defensive training that will see you move your head out of harms way.

7. Do you need or want to use other protective gear? Depending upon your sparring partner, and the likely intensity of your time in the ring, you may want to wear gear that protects your lower abdomen and your genitals. There are different designs for men and women and you should make sure that you are using a design that will give you the best protection. This type of gear protects you from feeling blows to your abdomen, but again, will not protect you completely.

LaTarisha Fountain, Photo credit: Savulich/News8. Do you have a decent pair of boxing gloves to spar in? Generally, sparring is done with 12 oz. or 10 oz. gloves depending upon your weight class. Here too, you might well want to use USA Boxing approved amateur gloves. They are well padded for your protection—as well as for the protection of your sparring partner. Likely your trainer will have a decent pair for you to use if you do not own your own.

handwraps9. Are your hands wrapped properly? This is another biggy! I’m not saying that your training has to give you the full fight treatment, but at the very least you need to make sure that you are using proper clean hand wraps that will give your hands good protection.

10. A word about your sparring partner. As a Girlboxing reader put it, your sparring partner is a member of your team. While you may not know your sparring partner well, your trainer should. That means knowing the relative boxing skills of your partner, his or her strengths and weaknesses, and importantly his or her temperament. What you do NOT want to face is a beat-down. Your first sessions are to familiarize you with the ring and getting a feel for throwing your punch combinations at a live, moving human being, rather than at your trainer’s mitts or the heavy bag.

Tricia Turton, training a young boxer at Cappy's GymA responsible trainer will make sure that you are appropriately matched with a person that is going to give you the flavor of the real thing as you find your comfort zone. That means you should expect to get hit, but not as if you were competing in the Golden Gloves. Again, what you are aiming for is the opportunity to exchange punches so that you can learn both offensive and defensive moves. What this means is that you are going to take some punches, but not hard, more like a tap to remind you to slip or otherwise defend yourself and prepare for your counter moves–not see stars.

When it comes to sparring, some trainers will take this role for themselves choosing to spar with students over several weeks or months to help perfect their student’s offensive and defensive ring skills before they let them spar with other boxers at the gym. Check with your trainer to see if this is a preference both of you share. In my opinion, unless you happen to be a phenom in the ring this is likely the safest method, especially for boxing students who only get to the gym once or twice a week.

11. Do not go it alone! If you trainer isn’t around, but your sparring partner is—do NOT spar! It’s as simple as that. You are working out with a trainer or coach for a reason: to learn the skills of the sport AND to stay safe. Sparring without your trainer in your corner is asking for trouble. Remember, your job is to protect yourself at all times and an inexperienced boxer sparring without a trainer in his or her corner is plain and simple NOT SAFE.

When you enter the ring to spar whether it’s for the first time or the 100th time, it is the real thing.

It is also a fact that many novice boxers are itching to spar from the moment they put on the gloves their very first day in the gym—sometimes to the point of throwing caution out the door.

After spending weeks, if not months, shadow boxing in front of the mirror and throwing jab, jab, right, slip, straight right, left hook combinations at your trainer’s pads the prospect of actually sparring can be very exciting indeed.

Sparring, though, is also a big responsibility for your sparring partner and for you—after all, you could get lucky and throw a left hook that connects beyond your wildest imagination. You also owe it to yourself to be mindful of the boxer’s credo to protect yourself at all times to which I will add an extra level of caution to say, when in doubt, sit it out.

And one more thing–if you DO get hit hard and your head hurts, you have difficulty seeing, you have a headache or lose consciousness, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. It is much, much better to be safe than sorry!

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)