Photo by jglsongs on Flickr

Boxing Gym Snobbery

Photo by jglsongs on Flickr
Photo by jglsongs on Flickr

I recently read a powerfully honest, wry, and accurate description of the undercurrent of boxing gym snobbery at the blog A Girl’s Guide to Violence. “This is an annoying part of boxing, and fighting in general,” the author writes. “The all important question of ‘where’s your gym’ says as much about what kind of fighter you are, as it does where you live.”

This blogger lives deep in the middle of a city of sharp racial divisions and constant jockeying for political and economic rank and power. Boxers both reflect and contest those divisions. The stereotypes may be hated or adhered to but they are certainly ingrained.

I’m a suburban mother of three, working in an upscale city and boxing in a 90% white LA Boxing gym and I’m powerfully aware of my particular brand of freaky in the boxing world. I’m frequently the only woman at team training. I’m always the oldest. LA Boxing is a trendy “Fat-blasting, quick weight-loss!” gym. There aren’t any other boxing teams at these franchises; this one only has one because the GM is a world-titled boxer who would die if she didn’t have a team to pound. I’m at the top of the access food-chain, but emotionally I sometimes feel like I’m at the bottom. Our team knows how strange we are when we leave our clean, bright little gym and head down to see fights in some dingy, beat-up town. As the only over-40 amateur white female boxing newcomer in a five-state radius, I feel about as out of place as a pork chop at a Jewish potluck. I know there are some tough men and women out there who came up hard and are training sometimes in abysmal conditions. But that’s not how I have it.

I think it would be worse if we really thought we had it rough because we middle-class LA Boxing types ran out of cream for our coffee or didn’t have time for a pedicure this month. I’m deeply aware of how comparatively easy I have it in the world of boxing. But eventually every boxer has to get in the ring and show their stuff, regardless of skin color, gym, trainer, city, or other circumstances.

And that’s where the real beauty, respect, and connection originate.

Hm. Maybe that’s why I do it.

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4 Responses to Boxing Gym Snobbery

  1. K March 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    Ha – I know what you mean, doing the work I do definitely doesn’t “fit” with one of the gyms I work out at, neither does my gender or race or background or any other little labels I have attached to me.

    But the sport is just so damn honest, or rather, it makes you honest with yourself. And that’s one of the few truly transcendant things we’ve got in the world.

    So very cool to know another female boxer that writes – yipeee for the interwebs. 🙂

  2. Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Honest, yes. That’s a great word to encapsulate what boxing is about. It’s damn hard to “lie” in boxing, isn’t it? Outside of the ring, maybe. In it? Never.

  3. Renee March 29, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    Awesome post! Would love to see you in the ring sometime!

  4. Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 29, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    Well, girl, you may get your chance. Our trainer is putting us in more and more. She’s trying to get an informal “meet” with another local boxing gym so that we can spar with new people; she says she’ll schedule it for a Saturday, which means more people might be able to make it. Almost no one can get to our Sunday sparring sessions, and the Friday night sessions are kind of late. SO. I’ll try to give a shout-out so I can get some ringside support!

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