Painting the Story of Boxing in North America

Champs PosterThere are some great documentaries on boxing available on Netflix.  If you just watch a few, it paints an interesting picture of the effect boxing has on the players and North American culture.  The stories of many great American boxers are featured from Tyson to Ali to Bernard Hopkins.  Aptly, these stories have more to say about how to be a great human being rather than how to be a great boxer; which I think is the true magic of boxing.  All careers can do this for a person who pursues greatness, yet few stages are as small and brightly lit as that boxing ring and few battles are as physically obvious and dramatic.

Tyson PosterMike Tyson’s story continues to fascinate me.  The arc that his career has taken is the stuff writers usually aspire in their fiction.  All that talent and potential; all that menace and destructiveness; people say his career ended before it had reached its full potential and yet it seems his fall from the grace of boxing was his start to realizing his true potential.  As a writer, and a person looking for my own arc, it is a privilege to witness his public superstar fall and domestic rise and to have the opportunity to analyse his titanic story and character.

I Am Ali PosterAli is another story that we had the privilege to witness rise, fall, rise again and evolve from the beginning to the end of his legendary career.  Like Tyson, I didn’t always like him or his story at every stage of his public career.  However,  if their books had ended too soon, if we had closed their books too
soon, we wouldn’t have seen their humanity rise above their careers in boxing.  Boxers have that perseverance to get up again and again where most people would have either given up or settled for quiet retirement.

Bernard Hopkins is another great story in perseverance and his advocacy for the rights and protection of boxers who are putting their lives and health on the line for our entertainment and a very small return and slim chance at greatness.

Please check out these great documentaries available on Netflix:

Champs

Tyson

I am Ali

© lyw 

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mending broken bone delays return to sparring

Sparring has always been a love/hate thing for me.  I dread it as much as I am drawn to it.  I meant to return to the Cabbagetown Boxing Club’s ‘touch’ (phhh) sparring class once the weather turned better — and my conditioning.  Then, I hit a wall and broke my pinky finger.  I got a little too enthusiastic during a workout and decided to let my right hand go on a very hard wall. 

My own stupidity, and not boxing, broke my finger.  So I’m faced with disappointment and also relief that I don’t have to face-off any time soon.   As I publicly declare my stupidity, I also publicly thank the doctors that put me back together in the emergency room of Toronto East General on April 20th.  They were very reassuring and competent and calm, and I wasn’t, that day.  I was so ashamed of hurting my hand, especially in the way that I did — I didn’t even hit the wall properly — that I couldn’t follow along with the doctors when they kept calling me a boxer.  I had to tell them that a real, or rather good, boxer wouldn’t do what I did.

Broken bones and physical limitations breed strength though.  What I can’t do now, I work around and focus on what I can do. 

For weird amusement, I did a little research on boxers and broken bones.  I didn’t realize this but my break is actually called a ‘Boxer’s Fracture’ .  😀  I also noticed a lot of forums for boxers to discuss broken bones.  Advice from this stupid girl says if you think you have a broken bone, go to a hospital, rather than discuss it further with anybody else.

Interesting trivia aside, I firmly believe that during the student stage of a boxer’s training, injuries like this should never happen during training.  All student boxers should be with a trainer and training environment that protects them and instructs them properly.  I have all that and decided to do something completely opposite.  That is why I have a broken finger.

mixing other martial arts in boxing

I can’t tell if my MMA friends are influencing the way I look at boxing or, in fact, there is a lot more holding and grappling-like movement in younger boxers and amateur matches.  My eyes may just be more apt to see things like that.

My friend put me off by saying any time a kick-boxer or boxer got taken down to the mat by a grappler in jujitsu or judo, the game was over.  I was shown several YouTube clips that confirmed this statement.  Another friend said that a good boxer would not be easy to take down.  A Muay Thai boxer told me, “Who cares? I specialize in Muay Thai not MMA.”

I like boxing more than any of the other blood-sports but I think I would like to have an answer to anybody that tried to grapple or throw me, other than screaming my head off and telling them to stop.  I don’t think it’s wise to safely assume that your next sparring partner will stay within the ‘proper’ rules of boxing.  It seems smarter to be prepared to take just about any kind of attack.  Grappling can be extremely claustrophobic and exhausting.  Being thrown is no joke, either, if you do not know how to land properly.  It makes sense that it only takes a few boxers to use a few alternative techniques in a boxing ring, to make us want to consider an appropriate response.

I guess also I am coming from the perspective that I view my sparring practice as also a practice of self-defence.   It’s not just a sport or form of fitness which is totally cool, too, for anybody that spars for these two other reasons.

I did a Google search on mixing MMA and boxing and didn’t realize there have been many aggressive arguments comparing the two.   Quite honestly, I think the subject can be simplified.  Whatever happens in the ring, as a student boxer I just want to be ready and safe.

All sports and martial arts will evolve with time because nothing is static unless you’re dead – even then, there’s decomposition and rebirth from that.

Picking gear for boxing drills and sparring

from moralesboxing.com

As a student, not expert, on boxing, in order to find good equipment, I think it’s wisest to first have a good gym and coach.  That coach will lead you to good gear and be able to tell you the real difference between quality and crap.  I mean, if you don’t have a good coach and gym, then gloves, whether they are good or not, won’t be of much use to you.

I generally buy my gear at the Cabbagetown Boxing gym.  This gym supports a line of products by Morales Boxing, owned by Rey Morales, who was a competitive fighter and is now a boxing coach.

It has always been made clear to me that it is worth paying a little more for good equipment.  A good pair of gloves, though it may cost close to $100, will last a long time and, more importantly, keep your hands safe.  However, just because it’s $100 doesn’t make them good gloves.

I’ll be the first to admit I wouldn’t know the difference but I do take very seriously the safety of my hands and head.  I don’t want my head gear flipping around on me when I’m busy being pummelled.  I see that happen all the time during amateur fights and then they have to stop and readjust.  It just doesn’t seem smart.  What if your opponent saw your headgear impair your vision and decided to take advantage of those moments, before the ref called it, and readjust the rest of your head?  If I hit incorrectly or (one day) with lots of power, I don’t want to be worried about the safety of my hands.  Have I ever hit a heavy bag and it hit me back?  Yes, I must admit it has happened.

A sparring partner made an interesting suggestion.  She suggested that when I wear out my bag gloves that I just buy a new pair of sparring gloves and use my old ones as my next bag gloves.

I went online to see what other people were saying about finding good boxing gear.  This website, Expertboxing.com, offers some non-partisan advice on finding good gear without trying to sell it to me at the same time.  This website also advocates using sparring gloves as all-purpose gloves – in lieu of bag gloves.  They are heavier than bag gloves, are more expensive but provide more protection.

from moralesboxing.com

Now that I am coming close to wearing out my first pair of bag gloves (I am very proud of how beat-up and wretched they look), I think that this makes a wiser investment for the safety of my hands, conditioning-wise, and economically.

Another friend offered a contrary opinion to this advice; she said that the larger sparring gloves make it harder to determine if you are hitting your mark correctly and negates a student practicing proper technique.

Expertboxing.com has a lot more detailed advice on what to look for when on the hunt for good gloves.  This website also features other boxing tips and topics.  However, again, it’s better to find a good coach that can talk to you about boxing, one-on-one, than looking online or through a store for advice.  Don’t mess around, go to your most trusted source.

1. Online articles on picking good boxing gear:

http://www.expertboxing.com/boxing-basics/boxing-equipment/boxing-gloves-buyers-review

http://www.expertboxing.com/boxing-basics/boxing-equipment/what-boxing-gloves-to-use

2. Online threads on using sparring gloves as bag gloves:

http://www.sherdog.net/forums/f16/can-i-use-my-16oz-sparring-gloves-bag-1707273/

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/difference-between-bag-gloves-training-gloves-5940.html

3. Advice on picking hand wraps from the Morales Boxing website:

The Importance Of Choosing The Proper Hand Wraps

When you start doing any kind of contact sport where you are going to pound the heavy bag, hand wraps are essential for the protection of your hands.  It is important to know that there are 2 types of wraps: cotton and stretch polyester commonly known as Mexican style.

One of the most popular ways to wrap your hands is to go between your fingers.  This can prove difficult when using cotton wraps because they are too thick.  What happens is that when you go between your fingers, the wrap will open the space between the knuckles more than the natural position of your knuckles, this creates stress in the ligaments, and instead of protecting your hands the cotton wraps may cause damage instead.  Some coaches and athletes are moving away from cotton to stretch Polyester wraps.

Stretch Polyester wraps are more suitable for people who prefer wrapping between their fingers.  One feature of this material is its stretch and light weight, which offers comfort and protection between the knuckles without putting stress on the ligaments.  Another feature is that the stretchiness allows you to tighten the wraps.  The elasticity and tightness remains and does not loosen during use as the cotton wraps do particularly when hands get sweaty.  Stretchy wraps are more comfortable and eliminate cutting off circulation to the hands.

If you have stretch polyester wraps, go ahead and wrap your hands between your fingers for more protection, and if you have cotton wraps avoid using the wraps between your fingers, concentrate on padding your knuckles.

Rey Morales

Owner, Morales Boxing

Canadian Boxing Equipment Supplier

Training at Krudar’s

Since injuring my shoulder I have opted for conditioning over sparring.  And quite honestly, getting slow and lazy off Christmas cookies, I only imagine the worse if I should try to spar again right now.  Have no fighter’s instinct in me at this time, just butter and sugar.

photo c/o Krudar.com

Krudar’s Muay Thai gym had some enticing holiday packages for sale and lured me for a few classes over the holidays.  The beginner classes are excellent for core, cardio and strength conditioning in one, plus I got to kick, knee and elbow my classmates, all in good fun.  Girl, here, got to try a flying knee.  It is possible to jump at somebody in slow motion.  I proved it.  I also got to try a different kind of block for the jab than what I am familiar with.  We put our gloves over our forehead and leaned into the punch, with enough space for my eyes to see the punch coming.

This gym is attractive because it fosters a great community spirit.  The staff are very helpful, friendly and respectful and we, as students, naturally adopt this nature in the way we interact with each other.

Now, everybody has their blood-sport of choice.  My first love will always be boxing.  It’s not about one martial art being better than another.  I just naturally gravitate to boxing.  I love the limitation of boxing to the hands and to watch great fighters negotiate within this sport’s limitations.  And as much as I dread it, I also look forward to returning to my own sparring practice at Cabbagetown Boxing, once my conditioning has come back to par.

Muay Thai boxing is a great martial art and Krudar’s is a great gym.  My kicks are pathetic, however, this gym is a positive atmosphere in which to improve oneself.

photo c/o krudar.com

This January 19th, Krudar’s will be hosting a fight demonstration night in support of their competitive fighters.

How to Avoid Injury and Your Age

I did not work-out or train for about three weeks due to a strange injury I did to myself simply by being in front of my computer for too long.  Is this my age catching up to me or is this the inevitable reality for anybody who sits at a computer for too long?

I remember something similar happening to my former boss who had a bad habit of cradling his phone between his ear and shoulder– and he was always on the phone.  One day — debilitating pain!  The next day, he was signed up for long-term physiotherapy and had to use a remote headphone.  I can’t remember if he actually needed a brace for awhile for his neck.

I think I am guilty of over-mousing (<– I say that’s a perfectly good word), and leaning onto my left side when I am researching on the computer.

Anyhoo, the relevance this has to my sparring practice is that after three weeks of not training, I decided to put myself through some basics last Thursday — skipping, shadow-boxing, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, mountain-climbers, and drills for all my punches and kicks.  I gave myself a solid hour and 15 minute workout and walked away from it rubbery but fine.

The next day, I realized that I blew out my calves.  I could barely bend my legs for days afterwards.  Stairs were my greatest bane.  Is this my age talking to me?  Anyway, I promised myself never to stop working out for three weeks ever again.

As well, I was reminded of the great training tips that my gym offers on their website, too.  The one I have always found to be most miraculous is the piece of fruit right after a workout.  It really does improve your recovery rate — when you are training normally.  I did eat something after last Thursday’s workout but I still suffered.

http://www.cabbagetownboxing.on.ca/boxing/training.htm
I hope to be back in a fighting fit readiness in another week.   Yes, it is worth the commitment, to be strong and healthy.