I didn’t even know the word “pugilist” existed until I started this little adventure. Not surprising since I’ve never really liked boxing. (Sorry ITC coaches) But I had no idea how much was involved just to learn how to move my feet so I can a) stay balanced, b) get out of the way of a hit and c) land a decent hit for a point – plus remember to get my gloves back up to my face so I don’t get hit, know when to slide, bob, or weave and still remember to breathe. I just thought it was a bunch of thugs getting into a ring and wailing on each other for what seemed like an endless amount of time. Clearly “Rocky” had a residual effect on how I saw the world of boxing. It seems I’m not the only one because I get one of two reactions about my endeavor – either excitement about the journey and the effort or discomfort that I would even think about hitting another person or risk getting hit.
I think the first group just loves the sport, at least that is my hope, and not that they have some wish for me to get my butt kicked. The other group I completely understand because I can’t picture taking a swing at one of my team mates and I certainly don’t want to be on the receiving end of their hits.
Volunteering for this fundraiser has made me think about different sports and why we play. Is boxing any different in intention to karate or tae kwon do which carries a mystique about it? Didn’t we all get a warm fuzzy feeling as Mr. Miyagi’s patiently taught young Danny how to deliver that final kick to finish off his opponent. Even Tai Chi has its roots in defence and teaches people in slow motion how to deliver a chop to the throat. And what about football and hockey where huge defence players are often up against the smaller offensive players in sporadic and often violent attacks? At least in boxing they match you by size (and sadly broadcast it much to my dismay). I think amateur boxing has a PR problem.
Since I’ve started training I’ve found myself defending the sport and my choice to participate. I’ve thought a lot about hitting someone on purpose and I’m still not sure how that is going to feel but in the end, it is a sport and both people standing in the ring are there willingly and trained to participate in the sport safely and effectively. To learn more about the sport I took in my first amateur boxing match. It was fascinating to watch the styles (and sometimes lack of) and the effort. They worked hard, didn’t seem to get hurt, and in the end there was a lot of hugging – apparently part of the sportsmanship regardless of gender. It was great to see strong, confident young women up in the ring (on stage really) and working hard to show off their skills. It made me feel a lot better about becoming a boxer.