Saturday, April 30, 2016

Coaches' Heartbreak

Finally figured out how to get photos off of my raggedy cell phone.  The picture above is of Barry and I during an opening party for Fernando Rivera's boxing gym in Evanston.  I believe the party was last summer.

Yesterday, only Brenan and Suave showed up for the youth class at my gym.  I can't seem to get Brenan out of the habit of running from an opponent and turning his back.  Whenever Brenan turned his back, his hands were down.  He'd look over his shoulder, and Suave would catch Brenan in the face with one or more punches.  "His nose is bleeding," his dad said.  "Again?" I replied.  The sparring went on for another round.  Suave was feeling very confident at the end, I could tell, but Brenan was sniffling as tears rolled down his cheeks.

Today, Earl showed up -- late -- and (in my Gomer Pyle voice) surprise, surprise, had his mouthpiece.  But the only other two who came to class, Brenan and Suave, did not have theirs, so Earl was out of luck that time.

Nay came in late for the adult class.  But I have to give her credit because she is focused.  Her form is not bad.  Nay and I have something in common.  The both of us were always in fist fights with others when we were younger.  I don't see a lot of fear in her when it comes to throwing punches, and that is a plus.  Too bad that the others in the adult class don't come in regularly or else, she could spar.

Suave said something about wanting to switch to MMA.  On top of TJ and Earl telling me they may not sign up for the summer class, all I could do is sigh inwardly.  It's heartbreaking when you have kids who have potential, but they decide not to continue on in the sport.  Sometimes, they return.  Most of the time, the kids get lured away by another activity or sport, never to look back.  It leaves the coach to wonder what might have been.

I threw my old boxing shows out today.  It was time.  The left shoe was really banged up, and I couldn't figure out why.  The sole was completely worn down, while the right sole didn't have much wear and tear.  The right shoe did have other spots where it was wearing away.  Well, in order to receive something new, I have to throw something away.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

X Doesn't Mark The Spot

X didn't darken the door of my gym today.  Maybe he thought long and hard about me telling him that I wasn't about to jeopardize my job by bending the rules for him and his kid.  I don't dig entitlement attitudes.  But I have a feeling that chapter isn't over yet.  I'm just glad that my boss knows what's up with X so that I now have some backup.  I remember that X's son said something about being in baseball.  I'm trying to figure out how X thought his son was going to be able to do two sports at once.

TJ and Earl showed up nearly a half and hour late.  Jermaine kept pointing it out until I gave him a "shut up" look.  The excuse I was given by the cousins was that they had to do their homework and that a relative dropped them off late.  "I understand that things happen, but y'all can't continue to make a habit of this.  That's especially going to be true when this class is cut down to an hour this summer," I told them.  But then, those two may not be in the class next session.  Earl had spoken of playing baseball, and TJ was talking about swimming class.

Jermaine continues to be sloppy.  I lost count of how many times I told him to stay in his stance while using the heavy bag and while shadowboxing.  There's no sense of focus with that kid.  While I held the punch mitts for him, he couldn't seem to tell his right hand from his left.  Earl was standing on the apron of the ring, and Jermaine had a side conversation with him during the round.  "Uh, you can't talk to people while in the ring," I told the boy.  I also made him take off a pair of sunglasses he was wearing.  "Is it sunny in here?" I asked sarcastically.

Moments later, Jermaine was going on about how he was being distracted.  TJ, Earl, and Suave were laughing and throwing the medicine ball around.  Jermaine felt he couldn't concentrate because of it.  "During the boxing shows, people in the audience are going to be yelling out all types of things.  Jermaine, you are going to have to learn to block it out," I told him.  The kid kept dropping his hands during punch mitt practice.  I got tired of reminding him to keep his hands up, so I cuffed his right ear with a mitt.  It's a tactic that a lot of coaches use to get a boxer's attention.  I remember Alan doing that to me once at Loyola Park.  "Ow!" Jermaine protested.  "And that is exactly what the person you will face in a regular fight will do if you keep dropping your hands," I pointed out.

Xavier came in, and I held the punch mitts for him.  No sign of anyone else in the teen class, unfortunately.  No adults showed up for the last class, so I updated the bulletin board that has the workout order on it.  I timed the parts of the workout so it covers an hour, even though currently, the class is still 75 minutes.  When the kids start goofing around after telling me, "I've already done everything on the board," I'll just tell them to do floor exercises until class is over.  The idea is, they need to keep training for the entire time.

What Will Smith Said. . . .Again

Robert Conrad, an actor who is best known for his role on the TV series "The Wild, Wild West" (CBS; 1965-1969), was a boxer for a time.  I discovered that he has a radio show.  You may find it at  Check it out.

I was reminded of one of Will Smith's biggest rap songs, "Parents Just Don't Understand", a couple of times in the gym yesterday.  Jermaine sparred with Justen, TJ and Suave.  Jermaine's mama raised an objection to her son sparring with Justen because they had sparred a couple of weeks ago.  Justen had got the best of Jermaine that time.  Jermaine did not bother showing up to the gym last week when it was Spring Break, first of all.  Second of all, there were not a lot of kids he could choose from to spar.  Third of all, I'm the coach, and what I say goes.

Justen did not finish his session, whining about how he got hit in the head.  I was NOT in the mood yesterday.  "That's normal in boxing.  What do you think this is?" I snapped.  It was later brought to my attention that other than one session he had with Jermaine some time ago, Justen has never finished three rounds with anybody.  Justen always cuts it short with an excuse.  The next time he does it, he won't be sparring again for a long, long time.

Jermaine delivered low blows to both TJ and Suave, regardless of the fact that I warned him to keep his punches above the belt.  Both of those sparring sessions had to be cut short because of that.  Jermaine started bragging about "winning" again, and I went off on him in front of his mama.  It has just about become impossible for me to hide my frustrations with Jermaine.

Suave didn't want to leave the ring, refusing to accept that I had to stop the sparring in order to keep him from becoming seriously hurt.  I admire that the boy has heart, but Suave's pride often won't allow him to listen to reason.  Eventually, he accepted that sparring was over for that day.  I made a point of then working with him to teach him how to get out of the corners and off the ropes when someone pins him in.

X, whom I hadn't seen for nearly two years, showed up with his son.  His son and his older daughter were a couple of the first kids who signed up for boxing when I was hired to coach.  Both kids dropped out early on.  X wanted to sign his son up again, but the class is full and five weeks have already gone by.  However, X wanted me to bend the rules, not only for his son, but for X to volunteer in the gym without going through the proper channels to be a volunteer.  In addition, X also planned to tell his adult male friends that they can show up to the gym to volunteer and perhaps get a free workout in, presumably without following registration procedures.

This is where I get pissed off.  I do NOT appreciate anyone insisting that I go against what I'm allowed to do within the parameters of my job.  Outside of being disrespected, X's attitude said in so many words that he did not care that I would reap negative consequences for allowing him to do whatever he wants.  I already informed my boss of X's actions.  Now I'm just preparing myself for the inevitable showdown to come.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Grumblings and Groceries

Jesus and Rojan face each other in the photo above.  Ben commented that he would like to move as well as Rojan does.  So would I.  Rojan is very much in command of his actions while in the ring.  Alan is very interested in getting Rojan a show fight.

Which reminds me -- I'm not exactly in the loop regarding show fights.  I have been promising the youths at my gym for awhile that they can have chances at participating in those events.  I have to contact Sam and Tina regarding show fights taking place around town.

Ben and John sparred.  I didn't see much of the action because I was busy on the heavy bags and speed bag.  But I could hear Ben going on about how hard it was to get shots in on John.  "You're asking me to walk straight into a guy whose arm reach is longer than mine!" I heard him say to Alan.  Alan was trying to explain that arm length didn't matter; Ben would have to move his head and work his way in.

The difference of opinions continued after their sparring session was over.  Alan had Ben watch Jesus and Rojan.  He pointed out that Rojan was taller and bigger and had to figure out how to handle Jesus.  Ben -- who ended up with a shiner courtesy of John -- was still making an argument as to why he couldn't get the shots in against John.

I overheard Alan telling a couple of people that he wanted them to get the cardio in for the three minutes the round lasted.  The next time I catch one of the kids at my gym goofing all during a round, I'm going to point out that they need to exercise for the entire two minute rounds they have.

When I told Alan about Nay, who wanted to go straight to sparring before learning how to punch and move, he suggested that I let people do that.  "Sometimes, you have to let people get that out of their system.  Those who think it's like a street fight will find out quickly that boxing is not that," he told me.  I'm going to remember that.

Alan had to stop at the "Jewish Jewel" to pick up some items for Passover, which began this past weekend.  He said he would drop me off at home afterward.  I agreed to go with him because I neglected to do some grocery shopping earlier in the day.  I had been inside that Jewel Food Store before, which is located in Evanston, IL.  The reason it is known as the "Jewish Jewel" is because they sell a lot of kosher food items.  It seemed that most other shoppers there had the same idea.  Alan had already paid for his groceries and was sitting up front waiting for me.  I was in a long line behind several Jewish wives who were stocking up for the holiday.  But it was interesting, as I learned a little more from Alan as to how Passover is celebrated.