When I get hit sometimes, there is this girl inside of me that STILL wants to swing wildly and push forward in a blind rage. That is her first impulse. My sparring partner, Kaiyana, and I call her the "Crazy Irish Girl." She comes out when I am getting tired, having an off-day, or not concentrating on being present, which is ridiculously important when you are sparring. When she emerges with her face all ruddy red, swinging for the fences, I'll catch myself and utter apologetically, "Crazy Irish Girl." We laugh about it and I'm grateful Kaiyana doesn't take it personally. She understands that it's just one of my..... "things."
While I appreciate knowing I have a fighting spirit, I'm embarrassed by her. I want to be a good boxer; someone who is calculated, strategic, quick, responsive, aggressive, yet calm - not a drunken cartoonish Popeye who throws hook after wild hook after he eats his steroid/spinach.
After four years of training, I hate that she still takes over sometimes. It's extremely difficult not to get completely frustrated and beat myself up. Then again, why do I somehow expect myself to be Floyd Fucking Mayweather? More importantly, who is this Crazy Irish Girl and why does she possess me? I suppose she has become better behaved over the last few years, but when pushed to the brink, she still likes to break out and bust a move.
I think she visited me in my late twenties for a while when I became a stripper. She also dropped by for a bit when I was doing coke. I have seen flashes of her throughout my life at parties, New York City night clubs, and I suppose she'll never just die off, but how can I manage her?
Today, I must have done 8 or 9 rounds in sparring. In the beginning, since we were going light, I was able to keep her at bay.
As I continued on, I could feel her welling up, so I took a deep breath and told her to try to be smart about retaliation. But, when I started working with a guy who happens to be around 40lbs heavier than me and much taller, she started rolling up her sleeves and peeking her curly red hair and freckled nose out from behind my gloves. In the later rounds, I got too tired to restrain her. She pawed her hooves in the ground and charged straight into punches, chin in the air, pushed the guy to the ropes, and caused laughter to erupt around the ring.
The embarrassment is much more painful than the punches. Mind you, I am just a teensy bit proud of her fiestiness, but I always pay the price for Crazy Irish Girl. Sore jaw, neck pain, tarnished pride.
Luckily, she only came out in my first fight when I barely knew any kind of technique. In the next three fights, we worked as a team. We seem to have an understanding that when I am on "stage," she needs to keep things on the down low. While she may torture me in sparring, she is an ally in the fight.
One of the things I love about boxing is that we always have something to work on. I don't love that for me, one of those things is trying to squelch the Crazy Irish Girl.
Perhaps it isn't about squelching her, but slapping some make-up on her and turning her into a lady. I need to teach this girl some manners! When she shows up ready to brawl, I need to tell her to use the tools she has been developing on the bag and the mitts. She doesn't need to throw herself right back at the opponent when she gets tagged. She can consult with me, save that energy, wait and use her noggin, counter, slip, plan the next attack.
It's My Fair Lady all over again - I have to teach her how to hold her pinky up when she is drinking her tea, lighten her heavy Irish broag, teach her how to walk in heels, figure out which is the salad fork, not wear her make-up so gawdy, and cross her legs when she sits. Mostly, I need to have compassion for her, the way I have compassion for the young girls I teach boxing to.
Eliza McDoolittle isn't going anywhere. I need to refine her so I can take her to the races.