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The Boxing Chronicles

The Boxing Chronicles
Intro by Avery
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As you probably have figured out by the title to this chronicle, Janet and I are boxers currently in training.

About three years ago, we were looking to join a gym in order to keep active and get into shape. However, neither of us were really motivated to go to some yuppie meet/meat market like 24 Hour Fitness, or some overpriced luxury gym like the Bay Club… we wanted something with lots of classes that was relatively close to the house. We ended up joining Gorilla Sports because it was convenient.

When we started up at the gym, Janet gravitated towards Spinning, which is a group based bicycling class. I, however, was looking for something that would also help me with my aggression. Plus, I really hate bicycles. So, I decided to try out boxing. Janet took her first class about 4 months later.

That was three years ago. Janet and I left Gorilla due to a lack of commitment by the management to keep the place up (people were getting hurt due to heavy bag chains falling on them&#41… plus the owner was a womanizing putz. Now we're boxing at Powerhouse Gym under the expert tutelage of Jocelyn Grimes (she's listed in the links section&#41. We'll be moving over to Crunch once it opens because it has better equipment.

So, we box, None of this aerobic boxing or "box for fitness" bullshit… we box because we love the sport. We take technical boxing classes every week… and as of 7/19/98, we are also sparring. Hopefully we will find people in our weight classes to box against so it will be a more fair fight.

So, why do we box? You'll never know until you wrap up your hands and give it a try.

[Avery] 4/3/99
For the last two years, I have been training (off and on&#41 as a boxer, with the intention of eventually registering as an amateur boxer and having at least one boxing match.

Thursday night (April 1, 1999&#41 I finally realized this goal and had my first bout as part of the Northern California Golden Gloves competition.

As you know, if you have been reading the Boxing Chronicles, I have been training hard since 1/27/99 to get ready for the Golden Gloves… going to the gym five days a week, cutting down on my beer consumption and removing cigars from my weekly routine. I had really committed myself to getting in shape for the Gloves.

My training went very well. I dropped close to 10 pounds in the last month of my training, and strengthened my abs to the point where a 15 pound medicine ball dropped on my stomach didn't even hurt. I spent as much time as possible in the ring sparring in order to sharpen my reflexes, and would work for hours on the heavy bag in an attempt to strengthen my punches. So, when I weighed in for Golden Gloves last Sunday, I felt confident that I would be able to hold my own in the match.

The Golden Gloves is an advancing tournament for amateur boxers. If you do well enough in the regional competitions, it can land you a place in the National Golden Gloves, which then leads to the US National Competition, where the winners get the chance to get a slot on the US National Olympic Team. The Golden Gloves attracts the best of the best.

Thursday, I had to check in at the Cow Palace (where the San Francisco Golden Gloves is held every year&#41 at 5pm. I immediately went to the check-in desk to get my license (which I turned at the weigh-in&#41 and medical exam card. Once I got my license, they instructed me to stand in line for the medical examiner. I was near the front of the line and got in within 15 minutes, which was good because the line ended up being over 50 people long, and took almost an hour before the last person made it through the line.

Anyway, after I went through the medical exam (which consisted of weighing in, getting my pulse and blood pressure checked, getting my breathing checked and a cursory check of my internal organs&#41, turned in my license and medical card to the officials and then went to check the list of bouts for the night. There were 25 bouts scheduled, and I was set to fight in match #16. This was good, because it allowed me time to watch the other matches and get comfortable with the whole Golden Gloves scene.

At 6pm, my coach/cornerman Albert arrived. Albert is a trainer at Crunch that I used to know back from my days at Gorilla Sports. He showed up with a student from Crunch that wanted to see the matches, which didn't bother me at all. He asked me how I was feeling, and I told him that I was relaxed and ready to fight. Janet and Carlos showed up at 6:15 and the four of us sat in the bleachers to talk, watch the matches and relax.

The next few hours were a blur. I watched the first six matches, then walked to the changing room to get into my gear. Since amateur boxing is designed around scoring points, not knocking your opponent out, there is a significant amount of equipment that you need to wear in order to participate in a match. So, I put on my no-foul (a large protective cup which is designed to cover my lower abs and my…um… package&#41, boxing shorts, sneakers and tank top. I finished just as the 7th bout started which featured Simon from Granelli's Gym (where I train in conjunction with Crunch Fitness&#41 who beat the tar out of his competition (from King's Gym&#41.

The next few bouts were spent warming up, stretching and throwing some punches with Albert. Around the 10th bout (each bout consists of three two-minute rounds with a one-minute break in-between rounds&#41,  I stopped warming up and sat down to get my hands wrapped for the match. I also was trying to find my opponent, Hector M. from Sacramento so I could see who I was fighting against. You see, at the Golden Gloves, you are assigned a pseudo-random opponent based on your division (Special-Senior for boxers 17-25 with less than 10 bouts&#41 and weightclass (Super Heavyweight aka 201+ lbs&#41. Additionally, they try to match people with similar experience and size together.

Wrapping your hands for a competition takes almost 15 minutes. It consists of wrapping your hands in standard boxing-handwraps (emphasizing significant padding on your knuckles&#41, followed with a roll of medical gauze and some final wrist supporting medical tape. When the 13th bout started, we went to the gloves desk where the officials examined Albert's hand-wrapping job and put on my gloves. Since there are a limited number of gloves, they re-use them after a liberal dose of bleach (inside and out&#41 to disinfect them. Mmm… burny.

It was at that point that I saw Hector. He was 6'5", easily 270 pounds and built like a "mountain with arms". This is the person who the officials thought would be the best match for me. Albert and I looked at each other, looked at him, and we then proceeded to put my head-gear on. One round of warm up later and we were on-deck to go in to the ring.

At 10:15, my match was called and I entered the ring. He was a giant compared to me. Headshots would be out due to his height and three inch (or more&#41  reach advantage, so my initial strategy of throwing hooks to the body still seemed valid. The referee checked my headgear and mouthpiece and the match began.

Hector was slow and predictable, throwing out single jabs, which allowed me to slip in under his punches and throw a number point-scoring hooks to the body. However, his punches were amazingly strong. Within thirty seconds of taking his jabs, I was down on one knee getting an 8-count. An 8-count is given to a boxer in order let him regain his composure, even though I was standing and ready to fight after he counted to three.

Once I was knocked down, I was both pissed and nervous. I knew that I would not be able to take many more of his punches, but I thought I would stick to the strategy, which would let me get through the first round. He threw a jab, and I scored a few more points with some hooks to the mid-section. Then he laid a strong punch to my head.

At that point, my instincts kicked in. Instead of sticking to the plan, I started to back up, trying to avoid another punch to the head. I started to shy away from him, when I should have been scoring points. He landed another punch and I was down on a knee again. I decided to take 6 seconds before standing up again. At that point, the referee checked me out and told me to stand in my corner for a second. Albert sponged my neck with ice-water. Within a few seconds, we noticed that he was collecting the score cards from the three judges, and the match was over.

The match was scored as a loss by RSC, which means that the Referee Stopped the Contest. This is a common ruling, and five or six other contestants had their bouts stopped by the ref for the same reasons. I was angry with myself for not doing better, but I knew that it was the proper time to stop before I got hurt.

After leaving the ring, the Medical Examiner asked if I was OK. I responded positively. He then asked if I was really OK, to which I responded "It was time for the bout to stop. If the ref didn't stop it, I would have at that point." He gave me a clean bill of health and I went to change. On my way back to get my clothes, Albert told me that if the ref didn't stop the bout, he would have stopped it. I told him that if he didn't stop if, I would have probably stopped it as well.

When I got back to the bleachers, four or five boxers and trainers (including ex-sparring partners&#41 came by… some that I didn't even know who just saw my fight. Everyone told me that compared to my opponent (who I found out had 4 previous matches&#41, I did a good job… that it looked like a midget trying to fight a mountain.

Carlos, Janet, Albert and I left around 10:40 and dropped Carlos off at the BART station at 16th and Valencia a few minutes later. I had a mild headache, but no blood or major pain. Let me tell you, I have a whole new respect for the manufacturers of the Tuf-Wear 10oz Headgear and the Shield 260 Mouthguard. The three of us then decided to grab dinner at Sparky's Diner as I had not really eaten anything significant since noon.

While eating, Albert reviewed my performance with me, stating that it was a definite mis-match (which was echoed by a number of other boxers there… almost making me wonder if I was purposely paired against Hector because I would not give him much damage, increasing the chances of him making it to the finals&#41, and that my defense fell apart as soon as I was knocked to a knee the first time, but that I did land some good, hard scoring punches to his mid-section. I told him that I was planning on taking a few weeks off, but I would certainly fight again, just not in the Golden Gloves, but in a single match (called a Smoker&#41 where I would be able to pick a match with a boxer closer to my size and experience.

It's now two days after the match. My left elbow is a little sore, and my concussion is pretty much over. All I have are my memories, a small scar on the bridge of my nose and a t-shirt that only the participants get. I'm proud of myself for getting in the ring… especially with an opponent like Hector. But today, I'm just glad that my first match is behind me.

[Avery] 3/1/99
Today was a killer day at Granelli's. 4 rounds on a 140 lb post bag (that's a heavy bag lashed to a supporting beam&#41, 2 rounds on a 200+ lb bodyshot bag and 9 rounds on a standard heavy bag. I finished that off with 100 medicine-ball drops on my stomach, followed by a horrible ride on the bus (see the MUNI Chronicles&#41 and a nice pasta dinner.

Now I'm stuffed and stiff.

[Avery] 2/24/99
I guess I'm pretty damn lucky. Not only is my training coming along well, but in a tremendous show of support, my management has decided to make some scheduling exceptions so I can get ready for Golden Gloves in April. So, now I can work from home on Mondays and Wednesdays… which makes it possible for me to supplement my normal 3 day-a-week training at Crunch with two days of intensive heavy bag work and sparring at Granelli's Gym.

Since today was a Wednesday, I made a trek out to Granelli's. The plan: go and get in a couple of rounds on the heavy bags, show Vaj (the owner&#41 my footwork (which I have been desperately working on&#41, and then try to get in one or two rounds of ring work.

What I ended up doing was: four 3-minute rounds on the heavy bags (headshots, hooks, bodyshots, freestyle&#41, one round of shadow boxing, four rounds of sparring (competition, defensive, offensive, competition&#41 and finished the night off with four on the heavy bags (jabs, jabs, headshots, bodyshots on the super-heavy bag&#41.

The sparring was with a fellow boxer named Jimmy. Jimmy hadn't sparred in about three months… and I really hadn't sparred ever, so Vaj thought that we'd be a good pairing. He was right… Jimmy is much smaller than me, a little taller and has a longer reach. On top of that, he has amazingly smooth footwork. This meant that I got thoroughly pummeled, but I also learned a hell of a lot… and by the fourth round, I started getting more aggressive and actually scoring points. Jimmy is a great sparring partners, and is planning on coming in on Mondays and Wednesdays so we can get a couple of rounds in each week.

I have a difficult decision to make now. It seems that even though I have trained as a right handed boxer, I think that not only is my left hand my stronger hand, I think that when I lead with my right foot, I actually move faster and box more effectively. So, with only four weeks until Golden Gloves, do I change my training style and start boxing goofy-foot?

[Janet] 2/17/99
A gym installs a ring and hangs up a few heavy bags and suddenly everyone thinks they're Muhammad-freaking-Ali. There's nothing worse than legitimately trying to complete a boxing workout (written out for you by your former boxing instructor, no less&#41 and having some showoff-y man come over and wander around the boxing area, randomly hitting the bags…wearing neither gloves nor hand wraps. This guy puts on a sleeveless shirt, hangs a towel around his neck and then commences to wander around the entire gym. Every so often he comes over to the heavy bag and punches it. Then he punches the next heavy bag. Then he punches the double-ended bag, wanders away, and wanders back five or ten minutes later to repeat the whole process. I don't know, maybe he's just cruising for chicks.

Speaking of cruising for chicks, there's another type of guy that surfaces in the boxing area: the I'm Fierce, But Only For Five Minutes Guy who, to his credit, actually puts on gloves (they're not the type of gloves that you should use on a heavy bag, however&#41 and starts to do a little boxing dance around one of the heavy bags. After dancing for a couple of minutes, he'll attack the bag wildly, flailing his arms and hitting it about 100 times in a row with all of his might. Then he'll bend over, panting, with his hands on his knees, but once he realizes that the Treadmill Girls might be looking at him, he quickly makes his doubled-over position look more like a stretch. Good thinking, Sporto! (Note: at this point, his workout is over, as he is about to collapse.&#41

And if you ask me, I think that some of those Treadmill Girls should just stay on the treadmill, plodding away on their imaginary track for hours on end. I'm all for people getting into shape, but while there are things that one may do well, there are also things that one, well, may suck at. Take me for example: I've tried cross-country running (and always came in last&#41, the swim team (still came in last, and couldn't do that upside-down-kick-off-the-wall turning thing&#41 and skiing (I've been known to actually walk down the hills.&#41 I don't do those things anymore. Instead, I do something that I'm good at: boxing. So, if you're a girl and you think it's cool to try to box/kickbox (It's almost always kickboxing with girls more often than not, and I can't for the life of me figure out why this is&#41 because you saw it on Ally McBeal or read about it in In Style Magazine, don't do it if you're going to put on the wrong type of gloves without wrapping your hands and then proceed to lightly tap the heavy bag really, really fast as you stop for a drink of water out of your fancy I-bought-it-at-the-camping-store water bottle every 60 seconds. And for the love of god, women, please reach back into your grade-school memories and remember how to jump rope properly! I know five-year-olds who are more coordinated than you! 

[Avery] 1/27/99
Last night was a boxing night, just like tomorrow is. Same drills as last time. Same soreness as last time.

Golden Gloves, one of the major advancing amateur boxing tournaments in the United States is coming up fast. Weigh-ins are March 28 and the matches begin a few days later. Needless to say, it's time to get serious about training and as part of that, I needed to get licensed.

In order to get licensed, first I needed to join a USA Boxing Local Boxing Committee approved gym. This has always been a problem, because most boxing gyms cost $60/month, and since I already paid for my Crunch membership, I didn't want to have to pay for another membership. I could have gotten membership at Kings in Oakland, but that's a good extra hour of commute time.

Enter Granelli's Boxing Gym on 8th and Folsom. I used to train with Vaj Granelli (the owner&#41 back when I went to Gorilla Sports. A few years ago, Vaj opened up his own gym. The facilities are great, but the gym was in an inconvenient location, so I never considered training there. However, I decided to stop in today to see if we could put together a plan.

Vaj offered to let me register under Granelli's Gym and train as an independent. Basically, I continue my training at Crunch, supplemented with weekly sparring starting in mid February at Granelli's. It was a perfect deal, considering he is letting me pay per visit, instead of per month.

So we shook hands, I got the paperwork for the license, and I'm just that much closer to my first boxing match.

Oh… and since I had to walk by Fairtex to get to Granelli's, I picked up a set of 10oz gloves, as my current 12oz gloves are finally starting to fall apart after two and a half years. Fairtex is a kickboxing gym in the South of Market district. I wouldn't ever train there (cause there is a big difference between boxing and kickboxing&#41… but damn, they make good gloves.

[Avery] 1/21/99
Different day, same routine… the exact same routine. It's less than an hour after I finished the workout and I am already starting to feel sore.

While working out, I noticed two girls boxing in the ring. Actually, they were sort-of boxing. They were sort-of punching and sort-of blocking. Actually, all they were doing is giggling and shuffling around the ring every time they almost landed a punch. Janet could knock both of them out… probably with one hand. Hell, probably with one punch.

Back to letting the muscles start knitting back together…

[Avery] 1/18/99
Since we had today off (it being Martin Luther King Jr. Day and all&#41, we decided to get off of our dead asses and go to the gym.

The gym routine has become pretty well locked as we prepare for Golden Gloves in April. Stretch, 10 minutes of jump roping, 1 mile run, 5 rounds of shadow boxing interchanged with 5 rounds of heavy bag work, another mile jog, some crunches (Avery doing less crunches and adding in a set of 50 medicine ball drops&#41 and a final stretch. It's about a two hour routine, and we try to do this at least two times a week.

However, they have now finally added in some more bags at Crunch. Now, on top of the three decent heavybags, they added two double-ended bags (which I did an extra 2 rounds on today&#41 two hook bags, which are thinner than normal heavy bags… making it easier to throw hooks (which I also did two rounds on&#41, two uppercut bags (which are hung way too low for the average person&#41 and a shitty little water bag, which feels like it is half empty. The actual boxing space is great… rarely crowded and well equipped for the size. The only problem is that the bags are a little close together, making it hard to incorporate motion into the heavy bag part of the workout. Still, its 1000 times better than anything else I've seen in San Francisco.

It's now two hours after getting back from the gym, and I am starting to get that post-workout soreness. Still, if I want to be in form for April, it's worth putting in the time.

[Janet] 1/18/99
We recently bought two $12.99 Sony radio walkmen to bring to the gym, since the gym people claim that if you tune the radio to certain stations, you can hear the audio that goes along with the movies that they play in front of all the treadmills. This may work, though I think that you have to be running practically on top of said TV, which is impossible as they are all hanging from the ceiling. So, I decided to just listen to the plain 'ole radio while I ran, hoping that it would help push me to run better than an 11-and-a-half minute mile. Well, evidently the Bay Area has the worst choice of radio stations in the whole wide world, because every station was playing either "easy listening" music or endless commercials. You just can't work out productively to "The Wind Beneath My Wings," OK? I'll show them a quiet storm… 

[Avery] 1/10/99
Janet and I went to the gym this afternoon, and ouch we hurt. We're now doing a standard boxing workout as prescribed by Jocelyn: 10 minutes of jump roping, two miles of running, five rounds of shadow boxing and five rounds on the heavy bag. Then we top all it off with a shitload of crunches and work with the medicine ball.

Still, it's nice to be getting back into shape, and my endurance is getting much better. Within a few weeks, I'll probably be ready to start sparring again.

The best thing about Crunch (our gym&#41 isn't the heavy bags (which is nice&#41 or the full size ring (which is really really nice&#41… it's the sauna and the steam room. There's nothing nicer than finishing an intense workout and then heading over to the steam room and then topping it off with a quick rinse in the showers of sex.

You see, at Crunch, the showers have frosted glass on one side and a light which shines on you, projecting a shadow of your naked body onto the frosted glass. That way, everyone coming up the stairs to the showers can check out who's getting squeaky clean. It's 50% cleanliness and 50% exhibitionism! Now before you all think… well, I have no idea what you would think here… it's not a detailed shadow. I mean, you can see vague outlines and stuff, but you can't see nipples or anything. Still, they have good water pressure, and after a shvitz in the steam room… exhibitionism or not, nothing feels better than a shower… and I really feel sorry for anyone who caught my outline in the frosted glass.

[Janet] 12/9/98
I almost fainted dead away when we found out that Crunch, the gym we each paid a year's worth of membership dues to on December 22, 1997, was actually open. OK, so they were supposed to open on December 7 and they actually opened on the 8th, but what's one more day when you've been waiting 8 months? After all of the build-up and aggravation over them taking so long to open, the gym itself is kind of disappointingly anticlimactic. You would have thought this place was going to be the gym to end all gyms, right? I mean, when they say "Rock Climbing Wall," you think it's going to be a whole wall, right? But it's a teeny little thing, with room for only two people to climb at the same time. And the gym itself was kind of small, with the boxing ring right smack dab in front of five rows of treadmills. I don't really mind having an audience when I spar, though the thought of an audience made up of 100 glassy-eyed skinny minnies hiking to nowhere, ponytails all a-bobbin' does send a little shiver up my spine.

But the gym itself is really sleek and color-coordinated. The showers are nicer than the one in our bathroom, chock-full of Crunch-brand shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, with a few Crunch Body Lotions placed strategically around the rest of the locker room which, strangely, has no benches. Must be a modern touch, like the signs that identify the locker rooms — a nondescript metal "E"-looking thing, which turned one way looks like a "W" and the other way looks like an "M." I would have walked right into the men's had Avery not pointed the so-called "W" out to me.

The only bad thing about the gym so far, aside from the fact that we — along with what seemed to be the rest of the city — went the very first day it opened, was the fact that they had a boxing class scheduled for 6:30 PM which suddenly turned into a beginners kickboxing class filled with girls standing around in their bare feet and matching outfits, girls who probably saw Ally McBeal kickbox on TV and think its some hot new trend. (The Program Director admitted that they changed it at the last minute because "some of the girls requested kickboxing."&#41 We were a tad pissed because a&#41 we purposely went on that day at that time for that class, and b&#41 I would hate to find out that that sort of thing is going to happen all the time. As long as they get some heavy bags in there, we don't really care about the class…we'll just work out on our own.

[Janet] 10/28/98
Since our workouts have basically been whittled down to nothing more than going for Power Walks (OK, just plain walks, but it makes me feel better when I put the "Power" in front of it&#41, we were forced to return to the dreaded Gorilla Sports for another impromptu boxing session. As we are no longer members there, we're supposed to pay $10 each for a one-hour class, but it just so happens that the guy who works at the front desk remembers us from months ago (though we have no idea who he is&#41 and "waives" the fee. Gorilla, in true [food]-chain style, was bought out by the Pinnacle Fitness chain, which in turn was bought out by the Bally's Fitness chain. Consequently, they have a lot of new manager-types hovering around the front desk with their rulebooks. Last night the desk was manned by the Guy Who Knows Us and a severe-looking girl with very short, ash-blonde hair, a shrill voice and a rigid, Corporate Lackey demeanor:

[When you read this to yourselves, give Hitler's daughter a German accent.]

Avery: "We'd like two day passes." (I know! Even though we only stay for an hour!&#41

Guy Who Knows Us: [waves us is without taking the $20.]

Hitler's Daughter: "Wait! You must fill out these forms!"

Guy: "Aww, they were members here before."

Hitler's Daughter: "I do not care! They must fill out these forms!"

Guy, sticking up for us and rallying against The Man at the same time: "Even if they only quit two weeks ago?" (actually it was more like 6 months ago, but who's counting?&#41

Hitler's Daughter: [Standing very tall] "It does not matter! No one is exempt!" [slams forms down in front of us. Said forms are basically made up of questions about which type of exercise is our favorite, and what our name and address is, with a teeny-tiny waiver in 4-point type at the very bottom.]

Guy: All snorting and rolling his eyes.

Me, mocking her later: "You must pay $20 to go to the basement!"

If you look at the Gorilla Sports website, you may be amazed to discover that they have a "4200 square foot boxing room with 35-foot ceilings." And they do, except that it's called a basketball court. Which is located in the basement of the Russian Community Center. They also claim to have "locker and shower facilities," which is also true, if the five mini-lockers stacked against the bathroom wall count as actual locker facilities. Oh, and just to stay competitive, they threw a treadmill or two on a rickety-looking wooden loft structure above the basketball court. Just think, all this can be yours for just $57/month!

[Janet] 10/7/98
Since it looks as though we will be without a gym for the next 2+ months, yesterday we decided to go back to Gorilla Sports (the first gym we ever joined in SF&#41 and take one class, just for the hell of it. When we joined Gorilla, it seemed like a really inventive gym… there were no weights or treadmills, only classes like boxing, kickboxing and spinning, back when all of these things were relatively rare at most run-of-the-mill gyms, and it seemed to be more than just a see-and-be-seen kind of place where a lot of people go to just socialize. Gorilla eventually got bought out by Pinnacle Fitness, which in turn got bought out by Bally Fitness, a country-wide chain of gyms. We left shortly thereafter, as we had basically hit a wall with boxing classes: they wouldn't offer sparring or any type of advanced class to teach technique, even though many people requested them.

With all of our bad gym experiences in the last couple of months, we were beginning to think that perhaps we were too hasty in our decision to leave Gorilla. We took a boxing class last night that was a good workout, but that's all it was. Halfway through the class we realized that we had made the right decision to leave. There was just nothing beyond pounding on the heavy bag and doing simple combinations over and over again. Gorilla is simply a fitness gym, where the main goal of their classes is to get people off of the couch, and that can be just as boring as running on the modern torture device we call the treadmill day after day.

[Janet] 10/4/98
I hate being at the mercy of large corporations. The first gym we started going to in San Francisco was Gorilla Sports. When we found out that Crunch was going to be opening a great state-of-the-art fitness center in town, we decided to jump at the chance to get inexpensive charter memberships. That was in December 1997. Their expected opening date was April 1998, so we ended our memberships at Gorilla at the end of March. Well, Crunch's opening was delayed. And delayed, and delayed. Each month they would assure us that it would only be another month until it would open, so in the interim, we decided to sign up for a month-to-month membership with Powerhouse Gym. The one or two month Crunch delay eventually stretched into six months, and of course we started to get a little annoyed, as we thought that Powerhouse was only going to be a one or two month thing at the most. It's not a great gym, and in the last few weeks it's gotten worse.

Yesterday we got a letter in the mail from Crunch, volunteering some half-hearted apology for not opening yet. Now they say their expected date of opening is December 7, 1998, and that's still tentative. That would be a year after we gave them our $500 each for a yearly membership. A year! Not two weeks ago, Avery spoke to someone at the membership office who assured him that the date of opening would be November 16. Now, obviously the gym has not been anywhere near ready for the past 6 to 8 months. But they sat in their membership offices on the premises looking at an empty shell of a gym and assured people over and over again that they would be opening "in a month." Now that our boxing instructor at Powerhouse has quit, we have no reason or desire to go back there, but we still have 2+ months before Crunch opens. We can always go back  to Gorilla for a couple of months, but we left there because it wasn't exactly what we were looking for in a gym. I love boxing, and I'm happy that I'm good at it, but I just can't commit to going to a boxing gym in the East Bay (another 1/2 hour commute, minimum&#41 and revolving my life around just boxing. Basically, we just have to grin and bear that Crunch has intentionally misled us over a year's time, and that "boycotting" going there won't matter one bit, since no matter how shitty they've acted, they'll probably get a million other members…so what do they care if we don't?

[Avery] 9/24/98
Part 1 – 9/22 boxing class.
Jocelyn allowed us to put on the headgear and get in a couple of rounds of sparring. I love sparring… it's the best way to see if the techniques that you have been developing in class are really going to work for you. The only problem is that the only two people in class who are really ready for full contact sparring are Janet and me.
Now, Janet and I are great partners when it comes to working on technique and drills, but when we spar, it's another story completely. Since I outweigh Janet by over 80 pounds, she's worried that if I make a mistake and hit too hard, I could do too much damage (which is completely true&#41. On the other side, I hold back, because I know that one strong punch from me could knock her out… so the sparring experience becomes very frustrating. Jocelyn is trying to arrange for some sparring with people in my weight class for next week.

Part 2 – 9/23 Jocelyn Quits.
Because the new aerobics manager at Powerhouse was being such a prick (and he really is a major prick&#41 to Jocelyn, and neglecting the boxing program (he wanted to move the technical boxing towards that bullshit aero-boxing&#41, Jocelyn quit Powerhouse Gym on 9/23. Though it was the right thing to do, we are now left in a lurch. Either we keep on going to Powerhouse until Crunch opens in late November (Crunch is a new gym that we pre-bought memberships to last year&#41, which is silly because we don't like the gym and aren't crazy about the other instructors. So, do we just not go to a gym for two months? That's not really an option, because we don't want to put our training on hold for that long. No other gyms have decent boxing facilities either. The only other option is biting the bullet and signing up at King's Gym in Oakland, which is a full boxing gym, and it is where Jocelyn trains. The problem is that it's a hell of a commute to get there, and if we started training there, what would we do when Crunch opens?

Janet and I have a lot of thinking to do…

[Janet] 9/24/98
After two years of boxing classes, we've hardly ever gotten to spar, mostly because the gyms that we've gone to won't allow it because of the liability and insurance issues. We have been able to spar with other people a few times, but a couple of days ago Avery and I had to spar against each other, being that we were two of the most advanced students in class that also had headgear and mouthguards. I love sparring, but at this point have zero defensive skills. It's one thing to hit the heavy bag or work with a partner; it's quite another when the other person hits back and you don't know exactly which punches they're going to throw. It's instinctual for the body to want to turn away from the "aggressor," and that's exactly what I was doing the other night — it takes so much concentration to not turn around and try to get away when someone is throwing punches at you! I must say, it's a lot easier to spar with someone I don't know, who is also a little closer to my own size. Sparring against Avery just didn't quite work out the other day…it just feels so much better sparring with someone that you're not emotionally attached to, somehow. Generally speaking, sparring is frustrating anyway, as you have all of these punches flying at you and due to lack of sparring practice you're just not able to think quickly enough to react to them in any other manner other than cringing or taking punches in the face. All in all, I was pretty much disappointed with my sparring, and am hoping that the fact that it was close to 7:00 PM after a full days of work with a rumbling hungry stomach had something to do with that. 

[Avery] 9/16/98
Boxing day yesterday. Since Anji was there, Jocelyn was able to take each of us out for one-on-ones. Lots of technique, including a new way to parry and roll off of a jab. It was a hell of a workout.
What's annoying is the damned Step class people who come into the boxing room 10 minutes before the class ends. So, we're working out, and they're stretching out in their leotards and just getting in the way! I'm sorry… our class runs from 6 until 7. If the clock doesn't say 7, don't come in! Arrgh!

[Avery] 9/9/98
Yesterday was an interesting boxing day. Only four of us were there (plus Jocelyn&#41, so we got to spend the night working on the more obscure punches (like straights and overhands&#41. Also, we were able to get in 10 minutes of heavy bag work which was needed. Since we left Gorilla Sports, we haven't spent nearly enough time on the heavy bags, and my punch strength is only about 80% of what it was at its peak. Sigh.

[Avery] 9/2/98
I can't believe that it has been over a month since the last update to the boxing chronicles. Sheesh.
The last month has been normal: we have been boxing once a week (except for last week when we were too sick to go to class&#41… we want to box more often, but Powerhouse Gym where we go is such a pit, that we only make an effort to work out when Jocelyn is there.
Yesterday, Angie, one of the more advanced students,acted as an associate instructor which is good for a number of reasons. Not only does it break up the monotony, but it allows Jocelyn to work with each of us one-on-one. Plus, Angie is leaving for Los Angeles next month and now she will have some teaching credentials before she leaves.
Usually, I hate dealing with new people in class… it doesn't matter if it's a new teacher or a new student… it usually reduces the intensity of the workout. However, Angie did a very good job for her first class. She could have reduced the amount of time we worked on each drill (it felt like she was focusing on 5 minute intervals, and I prefer 3 minute intervals to keep the class from getting boring&#41, but she'll get a better feel for breaking up the class the more she teaches. Overall, she was much better than most of our instructors in the past.
Jocelyn worked us like dogs in our one-on-ones… focusing on feints (a type of blocking&#41, footwork and defense. I can't wait until the speedbag drills next week!

[Avery] 7/22/98
Yesterday was a boxing day. It's funny, when you have the same instructor week-after-week you get a little tense when you find out that your instructor switched with someone else. This week, Jocelyn switched with Jen for the Tuesday class. I have never had Jen as a teacher, but I have taken classes with her, and I know that she is currently boxing for Kings Gym in Oakland, so I figured that her style would be similar to Jocelyn's.
Boy was I wrong! The only similarities between their classes is that they both stress good technique, and pace their classes well, making it interesting for both beginners and experienced boxers. The actual drills that they run are quite different.
Where Jocelyn's classes stress boxing with a partner and are a little lighter on the cardio, Jen's class spent more time on the heavy bag, abs and neck strengthening. It was a nice change of pace, and I would certainly take her classes in the future… but when I am ready to get into intensive training for a match, I want Jocelyn in my corner.
Tip of the class: Never sacrifice form for speed. It does no good to throw 100 punches in a minute if you don't cover your head in the process. That's just a quick way to get knocked out.

[Avery] 7/19/98
Janet and I had a sparring session this afternoon. Unfortunately, neither Janet nor I had partners in our weight range, which can be dangerous. Since there was not anyone even remotely close to my weight, I ended up sparring with Jocelyn, our trainer. It's funny, she's about a half a foot shorter than me, and about 85 pounds lighter than I am. Even with my limited sparring experience, I know that a full force right-hook from me could do some serious damage to someone that much smaller than me. As hard as it is to punch at full force, it's so much more difficult to try and hold your punches back… you end up throwing much slower, which means that your guard is down for longer. Sigh. Next week, there's going to be someone my height/weight to spar against. Should be fun.

[Janet] 7/19/98
I've always been told by my boxing instructors that I was quite good and that both Avery & I were too advanced for the standard classes, etc. etc., but when I got into the ring and started sparring with a complete stranger, it was like I had forgotten everything that I had learned over the past two years.  Two years of hitting a heavy bag or working on combinations with a partner (neither of which hit back&#41 leaves you with no defense skills whatsoever, so every time she came at me with a flurry of punches my brain would freeze.  After today's sparring, I ended up feeling like the only thing I had going for me is the fact that I'm good on the offensive and I hit hard, but you can't really do that when you're sparring.  Luckily, Avery is my usual partner and he outweighs me, so I've learned to take stronger punches, which helps when you have virtually no defense.  Sparring is very frustrating, but also rewarding in an I-can-do-something-most-people-won't kind of way.  The residual neckache does suck, however.

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