Lesson # 1. Go to the gym

November 3, 2013

Sometimes I joke that if I knew how difficult boxing was, I would never have started. There’s a small kernel of truth in that. Boxing is hard on so many fronts – physically, mentally, emotionally. But it’s best not to look too far ahead. When I began it was unchartered waters for women. Banned in NSW and unrecognised by the Amateur Boxing Association. It’s true to say I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. There wasn’t much encouragement and there were many in the sport waiting for the fad to pass. Well it’s certainly not going to pass any time soon. But still we can’t get too complacent.

Women’s sparring session at Boxing Central involving girls from Rudy’s Boxing in Warrnambool, ProFit Boxing from Coolaroo and I.A.P in Hallam. Photos by Kieran Marken.

Women’s sparring session at Boxing Central involving girls from Rudy’s Boxing in Warrnambool, ProFit Boxing from Coolaroo and I.A.P in Hallam. Photos by Kieran Marken.

So I’ve made it my mission to keep the ball rolling, especially at the grass roots level,  and offer a place for women to come together to spar each other since I so rarely had that chance when I began, always having to spar men who either hit too hard or not at all. I was delighted this week to see nine women sparring in the gym from four different gyms including my own. Ten years ago this would have been impossible. Now it happens at least once a month and I’m happy to say I’m still able to jump in and do some rounds myself. I can’t help it. I might not be able to turn back time but I can try and stay ahead of it by making sure that I am fit and in tune enough to still earn a place inside the ropes. But I do understand it’s not about me any more, really. It’s about generations of women to come. And I want those numbers to keep on growing. The more there are the higher the standard will be.

But I’ve noticed since opening the gym that the most inquiries I get for ‘learning to box and fight’ are from men. But it’s not often that I actually see those men. They phone, text or email. But I never see the whites of their eyes. They tell me how excited they are about boxing, how much equipment they have, how they’ll see me Monday. But Monday comes and they don’t show.

Then there are the people who come to the gym to get fit  or fitter. Fighting is the furthest from their minds. These people, both men and women, train hard doing the classes. They become captivated by what they see in the ring. They come to the Calabria Club to watch the boxers compete. Then they say maybe they’d like to try some sparring. So I started  the beginners sparring class on Mondays just for those people to learn some defence, the difference between boxing fitness and real boxing is having to deal with getting hit. After that you know you have taken a step into deep water and have barely touched the surface in terms of what there is to learn. And for many, that’s where the journey begins. It hardly ever starts with a plan or an email or a text. Getting punched in the face for real is often the best way to find out if this is for you or not. How you cope with that is the true test.

But it’s not for everyone. And that’s fine. But often it is the most unlikely people who want to push forward. Some people return to boxing fitness having decided getting hit is not for them. But at least learning the real nuts and bolts of boxing helps you improve your technique. We value everyone no matter what level they want to practice. And if you want to learn to fight, the best way is to come to the gym and train. By all means make an inquiry. But at the end of the day, you have to turn up. When I first started boxing I couldn’t wait to get to the gym every day and to be honest, I still look forward to it. If you are serious about fighting it has to be that way. And now, more than ever, I enjoy watching the progress of others and I see it most in those who have made it a habit.





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