Monday, July 06, 2015

Another Loyola Monday

It didn't seem that Melinda was believing Alan, but he was being sincere.  Those two sparred again at Loyola Park, with me outside the ring coaching Melinda.  He told her that she really hits hard, and that she could win at Park District boxing shows, and at the Golden Gloves.  Melinda is nervous about taking a fight.

Alan really wants to get fights for Geniece, too, but it's hard all over for women in boxing.  He believes the two of them would do extremely well in bouts.  He told Melinda, "Sometimes, I had to turn down fights for Hillari because the other person was too tall."

I sparred with Annie and Anna.  Annie's just starting out, so I went light.  However, I did force her back into the corners and ropes periodically.  Anna was moving around a lot, so I couldn't get a lot of hits in.  She pushed me down once, and I fell like a tree.  But I wasn't hurt, and the action went on.

Alicia was at the gym, and she looked good due to some more weight loss.  I admire her determination to get her weight down.  I've changed a lot of my eating habits, and I've been exercising more, but it's still a struggle for me.  Sometimes I wonder if I am actually supposed to be chubby, and if so, should I give up trying to tone down.

Lessons From The Boxing Show

1.  Parents can be helpful.  Ashley and Man-Man's dad helped get their wraps on, and he encouraged them during their matches.  Nassir's mom told him to expect to get hurt when someone is throwing punches back.

2.  Parents just don't understand.  I got the feeling that LaKendrick's dad felt that his son was entitled to have a match.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  I wanted the boy to have a match, but there was no one available for him.  The boxing shows are a roll of the dice in terms of who will get a fight.  I can't make a match happen out of thin air.

3.  Kids just don't understand.  Johnathan tried to pull a fast one on me by telling me he had a match when he didn't.  I'm hoping that he watched his fellow gym mates during their fights.  Johnathan needs to realize, like a lot of the kids need to do, that street fighting will not help them in a boxing match.  Nor can they try to get a fight when there is none for them to have.

4.  Some kids need to learn a sense of personal responsibility.  Shanita and her brother Julius have been slacking off for weeks.  I made a fight for Julius, only to learn the boy had gone out of town without a word to me.  He knew he had a fight.  Shanita, who had been going on about wanting to be a professional boxer, didn't bother to attend the show, either.  I won't pre-match Julius again.  If he and his sister continue in boxing and want to participate in the shows, they'll just have to show up and hope they can get matches.

5.  Some kids will not step in a ring again.  I had made a fight for Mya, but at the last minute, she opted not to participate.  Honestly, I don't think she wants to box, but her dad wants her to keep attending the gym.  It remains to be seen whether the other kids in the gym -- regardless if they boxed in the show or not -- will have second thoughts about being in the sport.  Now that they have seen what it really is, some minds might be changing.

6.  The boxing show is a great recruiting tool.  Several parents came up to me during and after the show wanting to put their kids in the boxing class.  Both the kids' and teens' class are full for the summer, but I suspect there will be a lot of people looking to sign up in the fall.  Who knows?  I might even have to create a waiting list.

7.  The gym door has to be locked.  I left it open.  Luckily, the equipment was all locked up in the storage room.  I was told later that during the show, kids kept running in and out of the gym, playing around the ring.  A few kids had their skateboards in there.

8.  I have to remember to use the stool and the buckets.  The riggers brought stools to use in the corners.  However, I did not have Ashley, Man-Man, or Nassir sit down in the corner between rounds.  It didn't occur to me to use the stool until Jordan's fight.  I forgot to bring out the spit buckets, too.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

The Fourth In The Gym

A few days ago, Nassir's mom asked how often the hand wraps got laundered.  She must have smelled them.  I had been noticing the smell for awhile.  The kids don't seem to care, and to be honest, I never washed my own hand wraps out on a regular basis when I was at Loyola Park.  However, if a parent noticed that, then I needed to take action.  So today (yes, I had to work on the Fourth of July), I took the time to wash the hand wraps.  I hung them up on an old, unused exercise bar in the storage room to dry.

I also got rid of a small trampoline that has no legs.  Every time the kids saw it, they would ask about using it.  Having long been tired of the questions, I decided that it was time for the trampoline to go.

The refrigerator in the storage room was filthy.  Luckily, I was only storing bottles of water in it.  Now that I will occasionally store food in there, it was high time for a cleaning.  It's not spotless, and it could still do with a good scrubbing in some places.  But it is passable enough so that I don't have an icky feeling when I open the door.

Of course, no one showed up for class.  The park was filled with people and barbecue grills.  After doing my chores, I spent the rest of the day listening to my old, rickety radio in the gym, then for the last hour of the day, I helped monitor the front desk.  Leonard, an attendant, and myself had to keep admonishing boys who were coming in the building shirtless, or coming out of the pool area shirtless.  Other people were going in and out to use the washrooms.  The day was slow and quiet.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Fight Night at LaFollette Park

The fighters for LaFollette Park's boxing show arrived early.  It wasn't long before the gym was filled with kids from Scottsdale Park, Ogden Park, Hamlin Park, and Fuller Park.

Shanita and Julius were complete no-shows.  Unfortunately, I expected as much.  When Rick from Scottsdale showed up with the kid whom I had pre-matched with Julius, I called Julius's mom.  Come to find out that her son had gone visiting somewhere and would not return until next week.  I didn't even bother to ask about Shanita after that.  I was embarrassed to tell Rick that his fighter no longer had a match.  But Rick shrugged his shoulders and said, "We'll make do."

I really wanted to get fights for Kishaun and LaKendrick, but there just weren't enough contenders available for either.  Most of the kids had a lot of experience, too much for Kishaun and LaKendrick, both of whom have no fight experience.  But I'm determined to get them fights in the upcoming boxing shows.

Johnathan, one of the new kids, apparently thought that he was just going to bulldoze his way into getting a match.  In everything that I was going on, I momentarily lost track of who actually had fights.  I gave Johnathan a pair of hand wraps to put on, and I helped him wrap his hands.  When I realized that he had no fight, I was irritated with him.  "Boy, why did you put those on?  Don't waste people's time like that!" I snapped.

Coach James, seen here in the above photo, did a nice job being the announcer.

Mya decided at the last minute that she did not want to fight.  "If you don't want to, I'm not going to be mad," I told her, and she bowed out.  Her sister Ashley, and her brother Carmelius were pre-matched, so they were ready to go.  Nassir and Jordan came in later and were able to get fights.

Alan came by with John (not John the teacher), but there were no adults available for matches.  Kenny and Colonel came by, and they told me they wanted to volunteer in the gym.  I would love to have them there.  Some of the people in Loyola Park's adult boxing program also came to watch the fights.

Carmelius went the distance with his opponent, who I believe was one of David Diaz's fighters.  Diaz has some aggressive fighters in his group.  Carmelius did not win.  Every time he ran up to throw a punch, the other kid was laying in wait and had something for him.

Nassir was throwing wild punches during his bout.  I think Nassir's opponent was from Scottsdale Park.  Nassir wears glasses, and I'm not sure if that was because perhaps he couldn't see what was coming back at him.  That fight ended in the first round, when Tommy, who was the referee, saw that Nassir was taking too many punches.  Nassir's mom said to her son, "Why are you crying?  You know that this is boxing, and that people get hit.  Remember we talked about that."

Jordan's fight also ended quickly.  Another first round of throwing wild punches, while the other kid was picking shots and aiming correctly.  Jordan wasn't happy, either.  Next week, it is back to basics for all three boys, because they've got to learn how to control their punches.

Ashley fought a girl named Diana from Ogden Park.  Ashley was moving a bit slow, but her hands were not.  She kept popping Diana while constantly moving forward.  I could see Diana becoming frustrated because she couldn't figure out how to ward off Ashley's onslaught.  Twice, an eight count was called on Diana.  The third time it happened, the fight came to an end, and Ashley got the winner's trophy.  Kenny, Diana's coach, told me, "We want a rematch!"  "You've got it," I smiled.

Here is a shot of Ashley with her winner's trophy and her brother Carmelius (otherwise known as Man-Man) holding his second place trophy.  So Ashley is the first fighter I have trained to a win.  I felt very good about that, but even more so for Ashley who gave a good fight.