Image by paperrocks a.k.a. evalinda

Blood Happens (but I’m really sorry)

Image by paperrocks a.k.a. evalinda
Image by paperrocks a.k.a. evalinda

It’s a major balancing act, bringing a new boxer into the ring. Especially if it’s a woman. Women who actually want to get in the ring are just such rare occurrences that when one comes around I keep my fingers crossed and do my absolute best to encourage rather than scare them away. However, blood happens.

Yesterday I was warmed up and ready to spar when a woman I’d never seen before came up to me with a friendly smile and a warm greeting. I will admit, in advance, to my utter inability to carry on any sort of normal conversation, I was so floored:

Newbie: Hi, are you Lisa?
Me: Yeah.
Newbie: Great, the coach says I’m gonna spar with you.
Me: Oh! Cool. Um, I haven’t seen you around here before; been coming here long?
Newbie: Nope, three weeks. By the way, the coach said I was just going to be on defense, so you get to beat up on me.
Me: What?
Newbie: Yeah, aren’t you the one who broke your rib?
Me: Yeah, but…
Newbie: Right. So you can be on offense, and I’ll just take your punches.
Me: Oh. So you’ve boxed before, I guess.
Newbie: No, this will be my first time!

[protracted silence, while I try to get my brain to work out why she would sign up for this]

Me: Do I understand correctly that you’ve never been in the ring before and Bonnie actually told you to get in the ring with me and let me box with you throwing NO punches??
Newbie: Oh, no! I told her I wanted to do it and she said okay.
Me: Are you crazy? Why would you want to do that?
Newbie: Well, I’ve been coming here three weeks, and it’s a boxing gym, and I just figured, well, I’ll try it out!

I had never heard that before in my life. I’m constantly trying to persuade women to give it a try in the ring. They rarely want to. And here’s a woman who not only wants to, but is actually telling me that she’s not going to throw a punch.

No way would I go for that. Yes, I’m just healing up from an injury, but that’s just nuts, and I told her as much. We would box normally, and I told her I’d be very careful and control my punches and that she should throw whatever she could, although I did state a preference for head shots, since I’d never seen this woman box and I had no idea if she had the power to re-fracture my rib free of charge.

In we went, and she did just fine. She was a southpaw and after we stepped on each other’s feet a few times she asked me if she should aim for my face, which cracked me up entirely. “Yes,” I encouraged, and tapped my headgear, “Come on, let’s do it.” After a bit she landed an easy jab. I was already prepared for the apology which poured out and both Bonnie and I said it in unison: “Don’t apologize! Box!” It did make me laugh again, though. I gave her some light jabs, and was actually enjoying myself when I landed a very pretty body shot to her stomach, only a touch. But she realized what had just happened, and sucked in her breath. “Wow, that could have hurt,” she noted. I nodded — body shots suck — and we continued to the second round. I started letting her feel some jabs, and several times put my goves up and leaned into her to let her work on me. The first time this confused her a bit, but Bonnie explained that I was giving her a chance to do some offense without having to think about taking a punch, and she accepted that.

It was right at the end of our second round that she stepped smack into my straight right jab. She was wearing a face-saver with a bar across the nose, but it was a solid little pop. Her head rocked back, and I immediately swore to myself. I just lost another woman boxer, I thought.

“Woo!” she cried; it was her first real hit and she knew it. I asked her if she needed a minute, or was okay to go on, and she blinked a few times and ducked back in. “Oh, thank God,” I thought, “she’s gonna be okay in the ring.” But a moment later she said “That made my nose run a little,” and my heart sank. I couldn’t see it yet, but I knew I’d bloodied her nose. We all deal with bloody noses and split lips; it’s just a part of boxing. But I’d hoped the face-saver would prevent it. She finished the round and Bonnie pulled off her headgear; we both knew what we’d find and Bonnie was ready with a paper towel. It wasn’t a big bleeder, but I figured I’d never see her in the ring again.

But Bonnie is smart. She kept me in the ring and sent in Tim, an excellent boxer who brings out the best in me. “Give me real jabs,” I told him, and he delightfully obliged. Our newbie stood holding the paper towel to her nose and watched Tim and me work; she saw me get rocked a time or two and still keep going.

But I don’t know if she’ll be back. I really hope she will.

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13 Responses to Blood Happens (but I’m really sorry)

  1. K April 6, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    That’s always such a tough first test, seeing whether someone can weather a punch. Fingers crossed Newbie will be back soon.

  2. Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    I know, right? It was almost the exact opposite of your sparring experience with that wretched Carrie, huh? http://agirlsguidetoviolence.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/dear-carrie/

    Here’s what I think: Carrie should have told you to give her the body shots, heh. You would have softened her sails a bit, don’t you think? My guess is that she’s not planning to get in the ring with you at all once her jaw is healed. Girl’s got to know what’s in store.

  3. Alicia April 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    See, that makes me feel SO shallow. I could totally face the idea of a broken rib…but a bloody nose?! No way. Negatory good buddy. I swear, you’re my hero.

  4. Mom April 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    You’re right! Blood does happen, but I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be supporting an interest in hitting people and drawing blood….for my daughter! Go for it!

  5. Lauren (the lil sis) April 14, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    Go Lisa! Who also gives thumbs up to Momma by the way! Very enlightened of you! I’m proud of you Lisa!

  6. Mary Jo April 27, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    I adore the illustration with this post — Actually, that’s how I prefer my nosebleeds: anywhere other than coming out of my own personal nose or the nose of someone in the same room with me. I hate being such a girl — reckon if I’d birthed boys I’d see things differently?

  7. Jeri-Lynn September 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm #

    haha…the Newbie breaks her silence b/c she just found this post! Lisa, I’m so glad you chronicled my first ring experience! I just read it twice and got a good chuckle! You Rock my boxing sister!
    Jeri-Lynn

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe September 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

      And here you are, still kicking ass and taking names. I’m so glad you showed up at our gym! And who else keeps us laughing all the time? Without you we’d be a sour bunch.

  8. Lee September 8, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    Ha ha. Came across this site looking at the pictures you took from the fight.

    I love this. You mentioned the incident to me the other week, but this is way better – the actual story from when it happened. It’s also very clear you didn’t know Jeri Lynn yet…

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe September 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

      And now that I know you, Lee, I hadda go back and change my caption on the photo of the two from the Battle at the Expo fight pix.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  9. Hillari July 9, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    I worry about hurting new women who come to the gym, too. More than half do not want to spar, but the coach manages to sweet talk some of them into it. I remember knocking one woman down, and she never came back to the gym. I felt bad about it, because so few women come around the gym, and I’d like them to stay.

    By the way, thanks for adding my blog to your blog roll!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe July 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

      What’s amazing, Hillari, is that you have women coming to your gym. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of women who have ever showed up for boxing team more than a few times at any of the gyms where I’ve trained.

      And for some reasons I’ve quit thinking as much about convincing women I meet at the gym to try sparring… Not sure why that is. Maybe I’ve just seen so few actually do it.

      Did someone talk you into trying it when you started out? Or were you like the woman I wrote about, just rarin’ to go?

      • Hillari January 5, 2012 at 3:46 am #

        The first boxing coach I had made it clear that he expected everyone to spar, no exceptions. So I just jumped into it. There was only one other woman in that gym. We seldom sparred with each other, but we sparred with the guys all the time.

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