Part I (you can read it here) was a figurative hit to the solar plexus. This part II was a literal hit to the solar plexus. Both were equally traumatic.
Yesterday’s training was a sparring session at the gym. I was pumped: I hadn’t sparred in over 3 weeks because of my trip to Beirut, it was time to dust off the cobwebs and see if all my work-outs while away had paid off. Feeling up to a challenge, I asked Coach if I could spar with Cap (the assistant coach who has publicly declared that one of his life goals is to drop me to the mat with body punches. See his entertaining and violent trash-talking here and here). Coach graciously agreed, telling me that he was offering me up as a gift to Cap, since Cap would soon be starting his 2 week paternity leave, and what better way to kick off his “break” than by roughing me up? To increase the entertainment value of this sparring session, Coach insisted we go last, so that the whole team could watch as they did their cool down.
Funny, I hadn’t considered my sparring to be a form of amusement for the masses.
Right before I got into the ring, Coach added a 2nd sparring partner to the mix: Bradley – a shy, quiet, tall, 15 year old boy, with a jab that can break through cement walls, and a hair-cut similar to Brad Pitt’s in the movie Fury. #heartbreakeratayoungage Coach smirked at me, and told me that sparring with Bradley was his present to me. It was Bradley’s first time sparring with a girl. **
Round 1 with Bradley went well, although he clearly wasn’t used to sparring with a tall girl – his jabs to the body frequently landed on my left boob. Coach noticed, and told Bradley that he could boast the next day at school how he’d frequently man-handled an Amazon’s boob. “All the boys will envy you, bro!” Poor Bradley turned as red as his helmet.
Round 1 with Cap also went well: the body shots weren’t too bad. I might have even landed 1-2 of them myself!
Round 2 with Bradley started off ok, except I noticed that he stepped up his aggressiveness, possibly in response to Coach’s embarrassing comments. He made me work on my mobility, to avoid getting pinned against the ropes. Everything was under control, nice give and take until the last few seconds of the round, when Bradley got me in the corner, and delivered a perfect right to my solar plexus.
For a split second my mind was all, “No big deal, I can continue boxing” and then my body decided that nope, standing up was no longer an acceptable activity. Down I went, both knees to the mat. I looked exactly like this guy, except with much better hair:
In front of my entire team. I got heckled pretty bad. And then Coach decided to deliver one of his coaching moments:
Ooooooooooooooh YEAH!!!! What a punch!
Everybody, just to give you guys a little context: Bradley here for the longest time refused to train with girls. To the point that I had to speak to his mom, and explain to her that Bradley needed to learn to respect my girls: they are Amazons, and can take and give a punch like any guy! And now look, look at how far he’s come. (waves at me)
Bradley, look at those muscles on her! It takes a real man to handle a woman like that, and boy did you handle her good. I’m telling you, at school tomorrow, all the boys are gonna envy you when you tell them what you did!
Meanwhile I was still on all fours, unable to breathe or crawl out of the ring. Great coaching moment, but I would have preferred if it had happened to somebody else.
Boxing. Always entertaining. Sometimes painful.
**Coach rarely allows for co-ed sparring: for the safety of his boxers, he is very strict about matching his boxers to appropriate sparring partners, based on height, weight (+/-15lbs max), strength and experience. Due to the normal strength & weight difference between guys and girls, there is little opportunity for mixed sparring. He only allows the more experienced lighter guys, the ones that can control their power at will, to occasionally spar with the bigger, heavier girls (myself, and 1-2 other girls) to give us girls the opportunity to broaden our experience, without putting us at risk of excessive power.