My dinner with Mischa Merz!
Former Austrialian national champion Mischa Merz and author of the book, The Sweetest Thing: A Boxer’s Memoir has come to New York to meet up with old friends and promote her book. She’ll be reading a chapter tonight (September 8th) at the Sidewalk Cafe (94 Avenue A @ 6th Street) in the East Village beginning at 6:30 PM.
Mischa will also be reading in at her Bookstore Boxing event along with author Binnie Klien, documentary filmmaker, Leyla Leidecker and for the “main event” a women’s boxing exhibition featuring WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Alicia Ashley and 2008 Golden Glove winner Camille Currie. The event will be held at BookCourt (163 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY) on Sunday, September 11th beginning at 7:00 PM.
Last night, I had the opportunity to meet up with Mischa at Gleason’s Gym and after a workout we headed over to Rice Restaurant on Washington Street for some well deserved dinner!
Generous with her time as always, Mischa talked about the process of writing her book noting that much of the book “wrote itself” because as she put it, “I have the luxury of this great reality I can write about.”
For those Girlboxing readers who have not read Mischa’s book, it is a personal journey through the world of women’s boxing in the United States at a particular place and time — and ends with an epilogue about the 2010 Women’s World Championships in Barbados.
In talking about how she came up with the concept for the book she wanted to write a contemporary history of women’s boxing so that the flashes of brilliance found in such fighters as Bonnie Canino wouldn’t be forgotten. “In another five or ten years it’ll be like trying to dig out people that are just lost,” she said.
This germ of an idea expanded to become a more personal journey through the story, and as she says, a lived experienced. “The book was more about spending time with people and training with people I’d admired from a distance,” adding that in writing the book, “it was a matter of producing, it was a matter of tying it up. It was a very tight deadline I had 6 months to write it and live it. I spent 5 weeks here fighting, writing up notes every night in cafes about what was happening and then from August to December I had to turn it into a manuscript.”
The book is also a sojourn through a personal passion best stated in the preface to her book:
My relationship with boxing has been like one you would have with another human being. I have loathed it and adored it. It has both invaded my dreams and turned my stomach. I have resolved to reduce its significance in my life only to see my passionf or it intensify. Boxing is my man. Even my husband will tell you so. (ix)
Sitting across a dinner table, Mischa is no less passionate about the sport. Talking about the 2010 Women’s World Championships in Barbados she said, “Barbados really was a dramatic seismic shift in my mind. It was like every where you looked the women boxers were really great: explosive, technical, hitting hard. Many women don’t know that they can be much more explosive, but these women were amazing. There were 300 or so and they were fighters, not just women, but great fighters.”
When Mischa isn’t taking fights or working as a boxing trainer in Melbourne, Australia, she writes.
“As a journalist, I continue to write about women’s boxing, but I like to write about other things as well, not get stuck too much. I’ve discovered another potential book, but it’s much more Australian. It’s about an aboriginal boxing gym, in Melbourne. It’s history is actually connected to the Black Panthers movement here, and the [American] civil rights movement, was its inpsiration. That movement has been completely derailed in Australia. The gym has got the boxing at its core, but the ripples go beyond. It’ll be more of a historical book, but again, I may need to write it in the same way, by being inside.”
Having spent a lovely evening talking about boxing – not to mention a fabulous meal, we headed off in our separate directions. If you can make it through the water logged streets of New York, do try and catch her reading tonight @ the Sidewalk Cafe and for you Brooklynites (or folks who just love a great time), do try and make it BookCourt on Sunday evening. Otherwise, R-E-A-D Mischa’s book, its great!