Was I just ducked?
An opponent who I had beaten in December challenged me to fight on May 29th. I know she got a few more bouts in and wanted to see if she could get the W. Okay, let's see. Bring it.
Wanting to be a badass, I was telling everyone that I was getting called out. When people asked me how, I said, "Uh, she emailed me asking if I wanted to be on a card with her." She's actually a very nice girl and a good Master's Boxer.
I am a card carrying Master's Boxer. No, it does not mean I am a master at the sport, it just means that I am old. In boxing, the cut off age for the amateurs is 34 and I am, ahem, a bit older than that. Okay, way older. I am also small. For my last bout against her, we said we'd try to come in at 112lbs. I wound up weighing in at 106 while she weighed in at 115. I had to go drink, eat something and come back again to weigh in. When I came back, I wore my trusty heavy knit Gleason's sweatshirt with a wallet full of change in the kangaroo pocket. I came in at 111. We had a fight. I later found out that my coach, Marcelo, admitted to being concerned by how muscular her arms looked, much thicker than mine. For some reason, this did not phase me.
Not one to remember my fights blow by blow; all I remember was moving around like I knew what I was doing and acting like a real boxer. Lots of side to side head movement and fake fancy footwork; punches in bunches. I had four years of training behind me, so I was much more convincing in the role than any other fight I've ever had. I also remember catching her with a lot of jabs to the face and the delicious sound of my left hook cracking into her headgear. She carried her right hand low and I took advantage of it whenever I could. Which was a lot. I also remember dropping my hands and showboating a little bit, which I hear is discouraged in the amateurs. But, I am a performer and the boxer in me likes to do this and trot backwards to the center of the ring in my pink satin shorts that say, "Exfoliatr" on them. Yes, I am the Exfoliatr, a fitting name for an older female boxer who is concerned with skincare. I will knock the skin right off you.
I won by unanimous decision and was grateful to have my husband, my coach, the editor for my film, my best friend and my training partners there. I never had a coach who I had trained with regularly in my corner and I could now see how this was advantageous. Marcelo was nurturing and kept telling me all the things I needed to keep being reminded of. Thankfully, he had trained some bad habits out of me so the reminders were working.
My previous fight was in the 2010 New York Golden Gloves against a 19 year old PanAm Games Gold Medalist. I was stopped at the end of the fourth round. Truthfully, she was just way too good and experienced and I got way too tired at the end to keep moving. It was comforting to know that she was a national champion, two time Golden Glove winner and, apparently the best in the world in my weight class. It was my third fight ever.
In the men's division this match-up would have never happened since there is a Novice class. (For people who have had less than 10 fights) Still, I hated the feeling of being overcome, of being overwhelmed by this girl, no matter how talented and experienced she was. I knew I was out of my league and I hated it.
After that fight, I copped to my real age and graduated to the Master's. Nobody knew I was actually 44 years old, pretending to be 34. I fought a girl I could have mothered. Possibly grandmothered. Yes, I started boxing at 40 and yes, I beat the tough 17 year old I had just fought in East LA so I wasn't completely delusional.
Cut to: the present. After not being in a "fighting head" for six months, I was looking forward to getting in the ring again. For the last two weeks, I have been training hard every day, sparring, getting my wind up, strengthening my mind and my body. Marcelo is pushing me with the conditioning again, making me do things I would never do if I didn't think I needed to be in shape to fight.
My husband and I were in Vancouver for the last few days so I found a boxing gym to make my training home. Shadowbox in the ring, hit the bag, abs, push-ups, jump rope, shower. One of the great things about boxing is you don't have to lose your rhythm. It can be the same wherever you go, anywhere in the world.
After my work out, I went to the coffee shop to check my email. The same email address that asked me to fight two weeks ago was now saying that she didn't want to fight. I asked her to fight on the June 3rd card at the Old Dog Boxing tournament, but she said the promoter was looking for another opponent for her.
Then, it occurred to me... I think I was ducked! The Exfoliatr was ducked.
I put out unfulfilled requests on Facebook for a viable opponent. Even with close to 5000 "friends," there were crickets out there when it came to finding me someone. Georgia, the 21 year old I spar with said she would fight me, but she's too young to box with a "Master." Maybe we'll do an exhibition one day. My friend, Kaiyana, is my daily sparring partner who I have started managing as an MMA fighter and boxer. I cannot imagine us fighting, especially since I know she is bigger, faster, stronger and on her way to becoming a fighter by trade. I am an enthusiastic boxing hobbyist who likes to put on a show. I know my place.
Even though I am disappointed, I am mildly amused. Actually, I'm very amused. God bless my ex-opponent. She got me back into fighting shape and believing in myself again. Things have become more clear and focused. My goals outside of boxing have become more laser-like. I'm in shape and enjoying helping to train the other young boxers at the gym to pursue their dreams. Hopefully, there will be another 106lb Master in my future. Hopefully, it won't be for a few years. Hopefully, I won't get ducked.