I don't remember who suggested this or how it came about but I thought it might be a fun one to do. I'm a fan of taking out one's aggressions athletically and what better way to do that than with boxing gloves on?
I've noticed that when I start to think of something, the universe shifts around me and I manifest what it is that I want. I know...I'm become way too new-agey in my old age. A few days before I was scheduled to go boxing for the first time with Guy to take this task on, I was invited to a charity event by Diane and Roger. The charity event was to benefit Beit T'Shuva, a great organization that helps Jews combat and overcome addiction while reconnecting to Judaism.
Me and my one of my boxing trainers
It turns out it was a boxing themed event, so who showed up, if not Frank Stallone, Freddie Roach, and most importantly, Sugar Ray Leonard? I was floored and delighted and it turned out my special VIP wrist band entitled me to talk to him...so I did. He couldn't have been more cool. I told him about my Forty By Forty project and how I was getting in the ring. Then I paused so he could tell me I don't look 40. Which he did. And he gave me some good pointers too. They are private.
So, Guy (Number 33: Go Rock Climbing) was gracious enough to take me to his boxing gym although I suspect he feels similarly about women boxers as he does about women soccer players, "I'm not bein' a chauvinist or anythin', it's just the way it is. They just don't have the same athletic ability or genetics."
Before Jewish boxers Burnet & Cahn, there was Max Baer
We headed to Fortune Gym which made me feel like I was in a Rocky movie. One of the good ones. A small gym with a knit capped Macka at the front, a ring, some punching bags and other equipment, owned by Aussie and Former Heavyweight Contender Justin Fortune who, despite his manly, muscular exterior, is a very sweet and funny guy. From Manly coincidentally. Guy and I did the "double Dutch" for a bit, then a lot of jabs, the speed bag, and later that night, my hands were shaking and cramping up while I was taking the LAPD essay entrance exam. You all know how that ended...
I started going to the gym with Guy, and also started training with Mysti Friedman, one of the trainers and a former boxer herself. Mysti is really sweet and fun, but also a hard ass and a queen of manipulation. "You know those dimples you used to have when you where younger, where your lower back meets your ass?" she asked me casually one day. "Yeah...?" I replied. "Well this exercise will bring them back." SOLD. I've loved every minute of my training with her and not just because my increased stamina, energy and the slight resurgence of arm muscles for the first time in my life, but because I've found there's no better way to start the day, than with Mysti and her "burpies," "ghetto booty," and of course, the "dimple maker."
After a couple of practice sparring sessions with Whitney, who also trains at the gym, we decided that I was ready for the real fight, with amateur boxer Dina. Mysti was gracious enough to open the gym on a Sunday to make it happen, and I got there early, filled with excitement and nervous energy.
I was bouncing off the walls a bit, when Matthew (Number 32: Ride a Mechanical Bull) arrived. He told me to relax and breathe for the second time this week. He had generously offered to serve as cut man, should I need one. I had said yes immediately, figuring that if we can't have a pro stitcher or a real doctor on hand, having someone who can play one would be the next best thing. It turns out he also has a background in boxing, which proved to be helpful as I warmed up.
Lorne and Zoe walked in next for support and cheering, and I hammed it up a bit for the camera. It was almost go time....and finally Guy showed up, immediately pulling me aside to get me in the right mind set, and to have me warm up on the bag. He said I was having way too much fun and being too silly and that I needed to get serious. It was a great pep talk and he definitely got me riled up, slightly angry, and ready to get in the ring. He talked about how to pace myself, remember to protect my face, never just throw one jab, always two or three, and to keep moving. All while Mysti wrapped me and put my gloves on.
The headgear and mouth piece came next, and then Dina and I got in the ring. Mysti was the referee, Guy was in my corner, Matthew was the time keeper, and Lorne and Zoe filmed. It's hard to describe what came next because it all happened so fast. Two minutes, which is a standard round in amateur boxing goes by really quickly.
We moved around, both carefully at first, and then things picked up. I wasn't afraid, I was really excited and having the best time, although it was exhausting beyond belief...it's hard to imagine how much energy it takes to move around like that for two minutes...nothing can prepare you for it, although Mysti's hardcore conditioning comes very close.
I found that I was most "in the zone" when I was just breathing, moving and my mind was quiet. I listened to what Guy was screaming and did what he told me, to whatever extent I could. Dina has way more experience than I, so she moved fast, was better at ducking and protected herself really well, so it was hard to get in there. But I did my best, and got a few good ones in. It's the best feeling by the way, to throw a jab or a hook, and have it hit perfectly...
The second I started to analyze what was happening, or strategize, I got punched. Which I thoroughly enjoyed as well...almost more than when I hit Dina. At one point she got me good, and for a split second I was a bit dislocated. It made me feel alive and awake, and my adrenaline started pumping, which then made me hit back harder, and move faster. It was awesome.
I heard Matthew yell "10 seconds" so I jabbed and jabbed as much as I could before he yelled "time." It's weird, there were so many more things I wanted to do but it was over. At least the first round. I was more comfortable the second round, but also more tired. I held my ground as best as I could but it was a definite struggle to keep my arms up, move around and jab at a good pace.
The winner? See below.
Thanks to Fortune Gym, to my amazing trainers Mysti and Guy, to Matthew who unfortunately didn't need to stitch me up, and to Lorne and Zoe for coming.
And now, something that's becoming a Forty By Forty staple...the actual boxing match on video. If I was more competent in iMovie, I would have made a highlight reel, so my apologies for the lengthy videos.