Back in the Ring

Back in the Ring from Lisa Creech Bledsoe on Vimeo.

Exactly six weeks to the day post rib-fracture I had the chance to get back in the ring. I showed up Sunday about 10:40 am to warm up, and worked out hard until noon. By then several of my team members had arrived and there was a good crowd waiting to get in the ring and get down to business. I couldn’t believe the level of nerves I had and how my anxiety was sucking the life out of me. But my trainer is whip smart, and she let me wait through about five rounds, then called me in with her, offense only.

Now you would think that if I knew for a fact that no one was going to punch me that I wouldn’t be so full of anxiety. And you would be wrong. For some reason it’s the hardest thing in the world to get in that ring and go. Part of it is knowing I’m already pretty exhausted and fully understanding how demanding and endless three little minutes can be, part of it is wishing I didn’t look so crappy in front of my team, and another part is simply the strain of boxing. It’s a tough place to spend time, that ring. But the triumph of making it through is somehow worth the dead-hard work of preparing for it and the misery of anticipating it. Because we go back again and again.

My first round in was pitiable; my feet are still anchors and I still don’t have much in the way of combinations: I tended to throw one-twos or a right hook most of the time. I had a trouble sitting down on my body shots, and I had forgotten how much of my vision is cut out by the headgear. I was able to keep my head up (well, no one was swinging at it!) and my eyes on my opponent. But the strain was stealing my energy, and once when Bonnie called me to throw faster I grunted in sheer frustration, “I can’t!” Thankfully, she  refuses to accept that kind of attitude from me (or anyone else, for that matter), and she let me know it, and I found a little power to bring. I was glad it was over as I climbed out through the ropes, but I still didn’t feel like I was back. I hadn’t performed well, and somehow it’s not real until at least a few punches come your way. I didn’t want to leave it there. Only one way to get back, and it’s to get in again.

So as I waited my turn again, one of our big guys, a boxer who is unutterably graceful in the ring, agreed to throw me a few light jabs ringside so that I could practice slipping and paring away. That was actually the turning point for me, even though I had lost what little gains I’d made in the reaction department, and paired up with Dustin’s smooth-as-whiskey jabs I felt about as flexible as a wooden ladder banged together out of 2×4’s. Bad as I looked, I was determined, and it felt good to start working again.

I also watched Tim, another of our fight-ready boxers, go through round after round of defense with some newbies. Tim is the ultimate in calm boxers; it appears that nothing phases him, he just continues to bring his game on, and looks like he can go for hours. So I geared back up, gave my trainer the nod, and she put me in with him. He threw light jabs just as Dustin had, and I ate each and every one of them, but it was okay. He let me throw as many one-twos as I could bring, and push him up against the ropes and throw a few flurries. I moved. I worked. And he helped me in that quiet, calm way of his. My heart quit jack-hammering and I was with yet another skilled boxer whom I trusted.

Your trainer and your team make all the difference in boxing. My trainer understands how to build and rebuild confidence, to bring what people are ready to face, to refuse to accept excuses, and to keep calling us to go further and be better. My team is awesome, too; one boxer (a shout out to Paul, here) sought me out at another gym and encouraged me to get back to the team, even if I couldn’t go the distance. Mary, a regular at the boxing gym saw me on one of my first nights back, and immediately ducked out of her workout to come hug me and tell me how much she’d missed me. She also stayed late to watch me spar on my first time back in the ring (Here’s a hollaaa for you girl, with my thanks). It’s not all a tough-guy thing at my gym; there’s some real community to be had and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

And I’m on my way back. It feels awesome.

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4 Responses to Back in the Ring

  1. K March 23, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    GOOD FOR YOU!!! Always so hard to overcome the many, many emotional and physical barriers that seem to pop up like fencerows to keep a person out of the ring. By the time you get back in, you remember how good that adrenaline rush is, right?

    Glad you’re back in there, CONGRATS!

  2. schooldad March 24, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    That Mike Tyson quote is great.

  3. Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 24, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    Thanks for the support, peeps. I was definitely stoked coming out of the ring, and can’t wait to get in again.

  4. Bill Cammack March 29, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    V. Cool, Lisa 😀

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