No one wants to be the punch drunk boxer that climbs between the ropes only to get their head knocked off and have everyone feel sorry for them because their time was up a while ago and they never got the memo. Or the fighter who is no longer in their prime and has to take mediocre fights to look good in the ring.
Mind you, I don't think I'm at that stage. I just don't want it badly enough, and it's showing.
Even though it will make my parents happy that I am finally not going to compete, that is definitely not why I'm doing it. Still rebellious at my age, that would be the only reason I wished my heart was still into it.
I felt this day coming. When I really wanted to fight, even when I was tired, I would push so hard to fight back and work every day to get better conditioning. I wanted it so badly that I would push beyond my limits just to go three or four - three minute rounds in the ring. That seemed to be my limit. This is an exhausting process, by the way. People with natural energy can do a lot more than that, but I'm not one of those people. I have to work a little harder. I only have to fight three or four two minute rounds in my division and I could always get to that point.
Even though I started boxing at 40 and just turned 50 last month, I don't think it's an age thing. It's a desire thing. I'm grateful for the journey fighting gave me. I went from freezing and crying in a corner, getting pummeled on to....well, let's just say yesterday, I rested in the corner, but I was relaxed and blocking punches. I didn't have the desire or the energy to pivot out, throw back, etc. I don't feel like I have anything to prove anymore. Is it embarrassing to get that tired during sparring with a twenty-something? Yes. Not embarrassing enough to try and make myself the victor. I don't really need that anymore. That's when you know the thrill is gone.
Last July, I won the National Golden Gloves in the masters division at 106lbs. I traveled across the country, dealt with jet lag, cut weight in the most humid state of America, and fought a worthy opponent. Was I dying to do that? No. I heard this woman, Angela, wanted a fight. While she did some unsanctioned fights, she wanted to do a sanctioned one against a woman of a similar age. Planning on being there to film the Women's Boxing Hall of Fame and to possibly work the corner for my friend, Traci, I had the time to train - so I agreed to fight her. She had more energy, but I had more ring experience and was able to use my boxing to beat her. Once I was in the ring, I knew I wanted to win badly.
Yesterday, after a long time off, I decided to get in the ring and spar with someone new. She was a bit bigger than me, maybe 10 - 15lbs; a young muscled MMA fighter. I knew our coach, Wayne, would make sure that we were not going to war and trusted my defense was good enough that I wouldn't get hurt. When I arrived, my old friend, Kaiyana Rain, was there. Four or five years ago, we trained in boxing together. She went on to be a pro MMA fighter, Mauy Thai fighter and boxer. I help manage her. Very athletic, she does all of these things very well. My first round was to be with her. I know Kaiyana and she knows she can bully me and beat me easily that way. She is bigger and stronger and I just gas out at the end of the round so my boxing skills go out the window.
However, it's more of a challenge for her to try and outbox me. Years ago, this wasn't happening. Now - it's happening! But, it's okay. I want her to be the best fighter she can be. This is what she does. Does it sting a little in the ego department? Yeah. But, if I acted out of ego, I would be one hurt puppy. Besides keeping in mind that this is all she does, while I balance writing, making films and editing, I also know she is just more gifted. It's just the way it is. If I REALLY wanted to be the best boxer I could be, I probably wouldn't believe that. Or, I would just work harder. Never give up. That's what has been my saving grace all these years.
After 10 years (on and off) of boxing, I am lucky to have no lasting injuries. My memory is failing, but it was failing anyway. I got into the best shape of my life at 40 and continue to keep reasonably fit. Now, I just want to write a damn good screenplay.
Where is the joy in boxing?
The joy these days comes from teaching others. It comes from seeing the spark in a young girl's eye when her glove cracks the mitt for the very first time. It comes from watching my students who used to constantly get tagged in sparring, block and move and counter, using moves they learned in my class. It comes from working with domestic abuse survivors and seeing the joy that fills their hearts when they realize, they have the power to change their bodies, their minds and their lives. It comes from the bond with these women that originally drew me to the sport. We are a bunch of weirdos. Weird, subversive, knock-around women who understand how much we can grow, improve, balance our ups and downs, change our lives and help each other in a sport that is still not embraced by most people. It's a sisterhood that cannot be explained. That's what I love now. Time to move on.
I still wish I could like yoga...but I don't.