I love to fight

I Love to Fight

You knew this. I knew this. But periodically I’m reminded.

Last night I went 4 rounds (at the end of my workout, I must add, because I’m vain. Also a masochist.) with a good friend and freaking awesome sparring partner at my boxing gym.

Sinclair is a phenomenal peer coach; he’s forever smiling and goofing around with the kids, and yet he moves so fast on the bags and in the ring you’ll wonder if he’s real, and not just a ghost. You punch, he’s not there. Except for that blinding mouthguard-enhanced grin.

He also spontaneously breaks out and dances. In the ring, in the gym. He just a dancin’ kinda guy. I love Sinclair.

And yesterday he offered to give me some rounds in the ring and I took them before he could change his mind.

All my joy comes out when I fight well, but with someone like Sinclair, it comes out even if I’m tired and draggin’ ass, which I was.

Somewhere in the middle of the second round, Sinclair did a little stutter step, looked off to the left, and before I could pivot he nailed me with a gorgeous stiff right. I stopped in shock — not because the right stung (it did), but because the whole combination was so unexpected and… so pretty! So danceable! And damned effective.

I immediately demanded that he do it again.

Well of course he loved that. He laughed and took me to the whupin’ shed again. And this time I tried to watch for it, but he still caught me. Fast boy.

I made him stop, of course, and insisted he show me the move. He did, patiently demonstrating several times and encouraging me to try it.

I got it in my mind, we bumped gloves and circled, I launched my offensive and waited for my opening.

Whoop, I slipped it in, and found myself reeling from his counterpunch. I say counter punch, but he actually anticipated my tricky new move and prevented it! That wily rat. Taking advantage of a mere uneducated girl. (See what cards I pull when I want my way?)

I shouted my outrage, and dug in for a battle.

He told me to bring it, and I did. What I had left, anyway. I caught him once or twice with a power right (my fave) and a couple of inside shots in the clinch, but I held off on the tricky new move, instead opting for what I knew worked.

That and any other slop I had left.

He shouted for our coach to come over and watch just as the bell for the fourth round sounded.

Crap. Tired as I was, I scraped the bottom of the barrel and dove back in. I had one goal: pull the new trick in front of Coach Massey and give Sinclair a little party favor to remember me by.

And I did it!

I was so overjoyed at catching him clean that I turned around in the ring (don’t ever do that, boys and girls) and demanded acknowledgement from Coach Massey. Sinclair was laughing his head off behind me.

Massey tried not to grin. “You need to sell that move better,” he commented dryly. “You got to look off in the direction you’re stepping off in. Make him believe it. Then the right.”

I sighed happily, and plowed back into my round.

Massey had 6 succinct words for me, as I staggered out of the ring.

“You gotta get in ring shape.”

He’s right. I’ve been out, maintaining “normal athlete” fitness levels, but ring fitness is a totally different level, and after my last fight, I took a break from it for a season.

But damn, people, it just feels so good to fight.

It’s it’s own motivation, truly.

If you’re thinking about boxing with any kind of seriousness, I hope you find a great gym, a great trainer, and an incredible sparring partner like Sinclair.

There’s plenty of joy in there for you, too.

Image: That’s me in the gold and black, fighting in Atlanta (my second fight).

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20 Responses to I Love to Fight

  1. lil sis February 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    You need to get video of you pulling that move!!! WAY TO SIS!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      Yeah, before there’s video, I need to actually NAIL the thing. Hah. 🙂

  2. DaveG February 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Awesome post Lisa. I can totally relate to being overjoyed when you put in some good rounds. The other way around also applies: I feel shitty and pissed whenever I put on a poor performance.
    Those are the times I honestly feel like quitting and the litte voice inside tells me ‘what are you doing, you are 41’. Until I realize that I love boxing, I just need to deal better with sparring anxiety.

    Just today I fought too defensive, only blocking punches and not being agressive enough. On top of that I sustained a nose injury a couple of weeks ago so I fight with a face mask with tends to make me sloppy when defending.
    It went a lot better when I kept a close guard and riled myself up. No time for technical boxing, just overpower the other guy. Be more agressive then him, Not the way I like to spar, but sometimes it’s all about adapting to the opponent. If I want to box technically and he wants a brawl, then he will get a brawl.

    Anyway, my point being: how do you deal with bad sparring sessions? Do they motivate you to do better next time?

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

      Like you, I *abhor* a bad sparring session. Makes me feel like crap.

      Sometimes it’s the opponent who outranks you hugely and won’t let you have a chance to work, sometimes you’re just so damn tired but the coach makes you stay in, sometimes your partner has issues and either wants to hurt you or make you look bad. It all sucks.

      It’s hard not to let that wear you down, isn’t it? The truth is, if I had a shitty sparring session every time (or even most times) I would probably quit the sport. I would hate not being able to get the joy…

      The trick for me has been to exert my own form of control over it. I use multiple tactics:

      I find and cultivate sparring partners I trust and can communicate effectively with.

      I make sure I take care of myself; I don’t just put myself whole hog in the care of a trainer, gym, or coach, no matter who they are.

      I (mostly) don’t get in the ring with strangers whom I have not seen spar yet.

      And I don’t get in the ring if I know there’s a nasty situation brewing.

      I take some pride in knowing that I’m the only 46 year old woman in the gym. Hell, I’m 20 years older than everyone else in there! I look around and I think “You better HOPE you’re in as good a shape as I am when you’re my age.”

      Most of the time I have been able to find what I needed. I’ve changed gyms, changed trainers, and learned a huge amount in the past 4 years, and I guess I’m determined not to let anyone rob me of my sport.

      I hope you can do that too!

  3. DaveG February 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Same thing for me, I’m at least 18 years older then the average fighter in my gym.
    Also the deal is what is going on in your own head? The more I think about sparring, the more nervous I get, the more nervous I get, the shittier I perform in the ring. It’s a small club so you’ll end up fighting the same people over and over, all in all it’s a friendly bunch but I seem to provoke some kind of brawlesque behavior since I’m quite tall and muscular 🙂 They don’t see me as a beginner so the only technical boxing I can do is against real beginners, sparring against the experienced fighters it’s game on – every time.
    I did not have this problem when sparring with my personal trainer, who is also a friend, but I’m guessing that in this sport it’s unrealistic to think that everyone will display ideal behaviour.
    I am sure that you’ve had your share of bad experiences and it’s good you learned from them.
    To be clear: how many times did you change gyms and what were the main reasons for this?

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      There’s absolutely no two ways about it, there’s a lot of anticipatory fear, nerves, and dread in boxing. I wrote about it recently here:

      http://www.theglowingedge.com/fighting-the-dread-of-boxing-training/

      I’ve changed trainers when I felt one did not work out well for me, and I ended up in a gym where I really got to move to the next level.

      When I didn’t have a gym (or money for one), I trained in gravel lots with a friend:

      http://www.theglowingedge.com/training-with-fury/

      I’ve also trained at a gym uptown because I’ve found some good sparring partners there, but now I’m at a gym that’s not only near my home, but it also just seems to “fit” me. Well, maybe that’s not true — it’s a gym for at-risk and gang-related youth. I stick out like a sore thumb, but I’ve gotten used to it, and I love the coach — who also happens to have been the coach to my *original* trainer, Bonnie Mann (who moved to NY).

      The transitions suck, but they are worth going through to find a place that works for you.

      I wonder if you couldn’t have some private conversations with some of the guys you’re sparring. Let them know that you’d like to slow the pace and work some specific moves. See if you can work something out. Move your sparring to a different time from everyone else if you have to. Talk with them; become friends. Make them your allies.

      That’s been the only way I have been able to make it work for me.

  4. DaveG February 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    That is such an excellent story about you training in a gym for troubled youth. You know what the best part is? They probably don’t see you as the odd one out, but as one of the guys 🙂
    I mean come on, you must be facing some serious opposition when sparring in such a club?
    Awesome how you laugh in the face of convention 🙂
    Most people my age are into cycling, tennis or golf and they look at me like I’ve just descended from outer space when I tell them I’m boxing.

  5. y February 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    Hi Dave and Lisa. Dave I train at one of the gyms that Lisa use to train at. I’m 35 going on 36 and competed in my first amateur event in November. I have another one scheduled in June. I spar typically once per week though I need to increase that.

    Hardest thing for me is finding a sparring partner in the 180-195 range. Most guys I spar with are 150-175. So I feel bad when I catch them. My toughest challenge is controlling my power. Not that I’m a heavy hitter, but let’s face it, 195 vs 170 is a decent difference if I catch you with a straight right.

    That being said, their is a 170 pound 44 year old hispanic gentleman who comes up to our gym and refuses to wear headgear. The guy is an unbelievable boxer. I enjoy sparring with him. No matter how hard I catch this guy, he continues to come forward. I’ve backed him down only a few times, yet he’s backed me down plenty LOL!

    Dave, ever think about getting your Masters Passbook and competing in some Masters Events? By the way Lisa, my nose is no longer a bleeder. I guess I toughened it up, or actually learned how to defend myself LOL!

    I do plan to come down to your gym when I get a chance. One of the guys at my gym recommended I go down there with him one day to get some sparring in. My biggest challenge is finding the time to do it. With a 2 year old and 4 year old daughters, my time for myself dwindles away.

    • DaveG February 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

      Hi Eric,
      I am a not a US resident, so I did not even know about Masters Boxing, until you mentioned it.
      Looks really awesome. How does this work? I don’t assume you have boxing gyms that specialize in certain age categories so you train in a regular gym and when you feel like it, they try and pair you with someone with similar age and skill? How long have you been boxing?

  6. EricP February 2, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    By the way “y” is EricP….I think I hit a button when I submitted LOL!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 3, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      ERIC! (aka “y” heehee) — Dude I would be so stoked to see you again. I hope you’ll let me know if you plan to get out to Second Round so I can make sure I’m there that night.

      And good for you for working so hard to balance work, boxing, and home. I’m fortunate that my 3 sons are old enough that I don’t have to have a sitter every time I leave the house now… But I still never want to look back 10 years from now and regret that I didn’t spend enough time with them.

      I was sorry to miss your amateur debut in the ring recently, but I was thrilled that you got to fight.

      Thanks for jumping in over here. It’s so good to hear from the big guys; you really do face unique challenges.

      What’s your current challenge in the ring, Eric? What are you working on right now? I’d love to hear…

  7. Trevor February 3, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    I agree with you. Getting in tiptop fighting shape is like doing military-like training in terms of intensity.

  8. Adam Welsh February 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    It’s good to read someone’s description of the joy, fun and fulfilment they get from sporting activity. In a work-obsessed world, the importance of recreation is hard to overstate.

    The excellent image above illustrates one of the essential differences between amateur and pro boxing. Head protection has no place in the professional game, where fighters are fully vulnerable to the best shots of their opponents. The fierce exchanges between Holly Holm and Anne Sophie Mathis, when both women delivered heavy-duty head punches, was the best recent example.

    It’s entirely appropriate that amateurs should not subject themselves to the same degree of danger.

  9. Sasha February 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Lisa, thank you for directing me to your site (I had asked about boxing blogs on a Linkden post). Your writing is wonderful- witty, smart, refreshing and real. This site has such a personal feel to it and your story is very interesting. I also love your logo:) I am developing a short documentary about a boxing coach in Hawaii and his group of at-risk youth he trains. Among them is a great female boxer and seeing your story is inspiring to me. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

      Sasha, thanks so much for stopping by!

      The kind of gym you’re looking at is always fascinating — it may be something like my current gym, which is also for at-risk (gang-related) youth. The main coach is an incredible man. And there is one other female fighter there, a young woman about 15 years old who is poised to take on the universe. (We are the only two women boxers in the gym.)

      I’ve been incredibly honored to be a part of Second Round, and be coached by Willie Massey.

      You should also definitely meet Jill Morley, who is just finishing up a film about women who box:

      http://jillmorley.blogspot.com/

      And DEFINITELY keep me up to date on your documentary! I’d love to do whatever I can to help out, or even just cheer from the sidelines.

      And I’m curious — do you box as well? Would love to hear more of your story.

      Meanwhile, stay strong and keep fighting for your passion! Hope to hear from you again.

  10. Maegan87 February 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Your post here is very inspirational to all people…

  11. Wenz28 February 9, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    This is a great article!
    I really enjoy watching women having a sports of men, especially in boxing. They are tough! They have my two thumbs up for that!

  12. Divina February 9, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    This is what we call girl power! You are simply amazing Lisa! Continue what you have started, I know you will succeed on it!

  13. Patriaic39 February 10, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    I love watching boxing, but once my favorite player get hurts, I can feel the pain too… Of course only in my imaginations but it affects me so much.

  14. Girlboxing February 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Love it, love it, love it!!!!

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