gravel lot

Boxing Training. With Chickens.

Urban ChickensI can’t decide what makes the chickens squawk and mutter on some days and be perfectly silent on others.

For the past couple of months I’ve been doing boxing training in a mostly empty gravel lot (see photo below), located at the edge of a neighborhood of sagging student-housing Victorians. I’m sort of behind an ancient International House of Pancakes — with nice graffiti — near the railroad tracks.

Oh, and chickens.

I didn’t even realize the chickens were there at first, hidden away like they are in a tiny coop behind a two-story cinderblock apartment box, just past the dumpster. As I said, they were silent those first few times I got out there to train.

The gravel lot is rarely used, but it does provide a handy cut-through to a sprawling urban park nearby, and I have had to get used to the periodic gawker, catcall, or unhelpful comment from the students hiking past.

It’s weird to walk out in the middle of the dirt and gravel, sling gravel lotdown my gear bag, and start to shadowbox all by myself. Jay, who is training me, will quietly comment, “Just ignore them,” as people pass us by.

So I work, and wipe the gritty sweat out of my eyes, and blink rapidly to clear my vision when we raise a cloud of dust with our sparring. I sprint from the blue dumpster to the metal shed and back, then shadowbox for my recovery period until Jay calls the next sprint in 30 seconds. And I ignore the occasional “Stick and move!” comment from passers-by.

But one day I thought I heard a chicken crowing. An odd sound, to a woman who has lived much of herΒ  life in the suburbs of one large city or another.

I mean really, I learned what a chicken sounds like from a See ‘n Say.

So at first I thought someone was imitating a chicken. Those wacky students. But it happened several times, and no matter how often Jay told me to stay focused and ignore everything outside our scuffmarks in the dust, I got distracted.

One day a whole chorus of See ‘n Say chickens erupted. I dropped my guard and scanned the lot. I was damn lucky not to get dropped where I stood, because Jay kept throwing. “Focus,” he called over his mouthpiece.

“There are chickens in this lot!” I cried, “I know there are.”

“Oh. Yeah, over there,” he agreed, pointing with his chin. And sure enough, what I had mistaken for a haphazard pile of bamboo sticks, scrap wood, and mesh screening was an actual chicken coop. With ten chickens, no less!

I was fascinated. I pulled loose my gloves and walked back behind the dumpster, past a tiny makeshift garden to the coop. The chickens stood purring (Sorry, I have cats: what is that low hum they make?) and tilting their heads at me as if I were the curiosity in their world.

“Hi, you chickens,” I said, grinning like an idiot. Chickens!

Now I can’t imagine training any other way.

I bet you don’t have chickens in your training space. Too bad for you!

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13 Responses to Boxing Training. With Chickens.

  1. browse April 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Here in Portland, there’s a big resurgence in people keeping chickens in their yards. Mostly I think it’s for eggs, though, I dunno, maybe people are butchering some of them too. Is that happening in NC too, or is your experience significantly further in the sticks?

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

      Well, this is smack in the middle of Raleigh. I’m guessing it’s a student effort in this case, since that’s the neighborhood I’m training in.

      And I have a co-worker who just got chickens for his back yard, and he actually lives downtown too.

      Yeah, I think it’s for the eggs. It IS for the eggs, isn’t it? Oh, hell, now I’m worried and will have to go count the chickens today.

      Ok, I do understand where my chicken breasts come from, but I can not imagine killing a chicken myself. Dude, have you done this?

  2. Girlboxing April 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    GREAT post … really inspired, as is your dedication to training.

    Re: chickens, I’ve done a lot of travel through Asia and after a while came to expect chickens as a day-to-day part of life. One memory I have is watching a Thai-Boxing match out in a field at about dusk on the grounds of a Buddhist Temple with chickens wandering in and around his.

    The mornings are always the best, with roosters crowing from near dawn on through the first hustle and bustle of the morning as assured as they could be walking down a dirt road off a main one. This was the case in the Middle East as well, but in more rural places.

  3. Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 10, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    Get this, you guys. I trained out there today and was in a bit of a hurry to check and make sure there were still ten of them after the comment browse made. You know, make sure they were egg chickens and not roasting chickens.

    And they were running loose!

    There was a woman sitting in the lot, reading a textbook, and sort of keeping an eye on the chickens. I really wanted to talk to her, but Jay said we needed to find a different spot and I didn’t want to lose training time.

    Loose chickens!

    GB, I know I must sound like a nimrod, but for me it’s a big deal. I don’t get out much, obviously. πŸ™‚

    Not like you, watching a “Thai-Boxing match out in a field at about dusk on the grounds of a Buddhist Temple with chickens wandering in and around…”

    Incredible. That sounds like a blog post I want to read!

    • Girlboxing April 10, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      I guess the fun one would be “how i had a nervous breakdown and ended up in Asia watching Thai Boxing matches on the grounds of a Buddhist Temple” and other fun stories from the other side! πŸ˜‰

      Really, Lisa, I LOVE that you’re training with chickens. Its life we just don’t see anymore. And … is why I’m a vegetarian today. Chickens just don’t come from packages at the piggly-wiggly!

      • Girlboxing April 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

        Oh and one more thing.
        The women reading the textbook is straight out of a Jim Jarmusch movie.
        You can’t make this stuff up.
        It’s truly great.

        And don’t mind me, I’ve been writing a grad school paper for two days straight on Victorian femine gendered travel. My head is officially exploded. Oops there goes a piece now. ;)))

  4. Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 11, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    Consider me officially floored, GB. NYC boxer, world traveler, writer, grad school student.

    We were vegetarians for about 7 years for the same reason. But by the time the 3rd baby came along I couldn’t keep up anymore. (Speaking of nervous breakdowns…) I was barely surviving and sadly defaulted to McDonald’s. I’ve corrected some of those bad habits now, thankfullly, but not all.

    I’m serious, I want to read those posts about your overseas experiences. After the grad school paper is finished, of course!

  5. Laura April 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Chickens!! That’s pretty outstanding. I’d like to think they are clucking you on or telling the would be witty students to shut it and move along.

    I still get all giggly when the geese who reside on the lake in the complex next door come by for a visit. Teehee, geese!

    That sentence is… weird.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      You are clearly braver than I am Laura — Geese intimidate the crap out of me! They seem aggressive, like they want something from me and I better give it up, right this damn minute. They are like Mick, Rocky’s boxing trainer, kinda barky and rough-sided. (!!!) If your geese make you giggle maybe they are altogether a different breed — nice geese. (Now who’s weird?! Lol.)

      The chickens are more… what?? Comical? Complex? Non-threatening? Not sure what it is, but I have def decided I like them. A lot.

      Speaking of Rocky and chickens, a friend on Facebook sent me this vid of Rocky training with chickens (which is probably why I have Rocky on the mind):

      Damn, but this is fun.

  6. Margaret Reyes Dempsey April 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    “I mean really, I learned what a chicken sounds like from a See β€˜n Say.”

    Hahahaha. Me too, Lisa.

    Hey, GirlBoxing, I want to hear more about that paper you’re writing.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

      An entire generation of us did, chica, am I right? And apparently people are still buying these things. I googled it just to make sure those giant pieces of plastic were still around. Yep.

      Although $13 seems a bit high to pay for “16 Different Animals & Sounds!” (Wow, really? Animals and sounds??) in this day and age. Hell, I could get you an iPhone app with a few hundred, they’d prolly sound better, and it would be free.

      Is that an old fart kind of thing to say, or is it more new farty? πŸ™‚


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