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Parrish & Heimbecker – My Corporate Sponsor

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When I was asked to participate in The Clean Fight and told I would have to raise $5000 before I could box, I envisioned myself as a race car (a shiny red Porsche to be exact) covered in sponsorship decals. I didn’t care if I looked ridiculous because it would raise money for such a great cause.  As we got into fundraising though,  I found out amateur boxers (what I’m becoming) have a very specific uniform and can’t be covered in decals. For the record, I would have pasted decals to my arms and legs if it could raise more money.  As it turns out, our only sponsorship real estate is the back of our robes.  This is a small event by corporate standards so I knew it would take a special company to recognize the value of this cause and could relate to the efforts of iDE Canada.  Thank-you so much P&H, and specifically Bill Parrish Jr.,  for readily supporting the iDE Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) program for rural families in some of the poorest regions of the world.

I thought of P&H right away because they are a Canadian, family owned company in the agriculture industry.  The entrepreneurial spirit of the company was fired up over a 100 years ago and has grown across Canada ever since.  I was there for the 100th anniversary and these guys really know how to throw a party. I love that about them.  I figured the company would relate to other global entrepreneurs trying to build a presence in their part of the world.  If you would like to know more about P&H, there is a great video here.

I will proudly wear the P&H logo on my jog/shadow box to the ring on November 28th.  I hope I have the same endurance and success that night as their company has had over the past 104 years.   To P&H: I wish you continued success and thank-you from all the farmers and entrepreneurs who will benefit from your donation.

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The Naming of Boxers

The Naming Of (Boxers) by T. S. Eliot (modified)

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The Naming of “Boxers” is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a “Boxer” must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
If you don’t remember the poem or musical, you can check out the lyrical version here.
We’ve been asked to come up with fighting name so I do what comes naturally – I start to research why boxers get their nicknames and who anointed them.  Yes I know I’m odd.  BUT it appears I’m not the only one who was curious about this.  There is a great article written by East Side Boxing about the topic.
The basic categories from which nicknames develop, according to the article, are the following:
  • Day Job –  which could leave me with Mavis “The Clobbering Consultant” of “Maniac Manager” McRae
  • Imagery – Smokin’ McRae
  • Catchy – such as “Boom Boom” or “Boogaloo”  (that one is fun)
  • Home Town Homage – here “The Portage Pugilist” has been suggested.
  • Animals, including insects and rodents – no junior high nicknames need to be applied thank-you. Examples of real boxers include The Worm, The Mosquito and The Mouse. No thanks. Next.
  • Fighting Styles – since I seem to lack style, or have yet to develop one, that could be a tough.
  • Heritage – where a number of “The Irish” and “The Celtic” have appeared. This one is quite appealing to me but I’ve yet to come up with a good Scottish tribute name.  “The Tartan Terror” perhaps.  Or the “Kilted Killer” only I won’t be wearing a kilt and I have no intention or desire to kill or even maim my opponent (unless provoked).
  • Classics – Marvelous, Kid and Sugar are popular entries here.  This is the category for Sugar Mave McRae or Marvelous Mavis McRae (I may get a t-shirt with that on it).
You will see a few other categories in the article but you get the picture.  The one thing that came out in the research was that it is very unusual for a boxer to name themselves.  In fact, it is a bit frowned upon from what I can tell (nasty words were used on some chat sites).  So I’m putting it out there for people to weigh in.  Typically a boxer is named by friends/family, their opponents, announcers, or their trainers.  I’m open to suggestions in the comments section (the little speaking bubble at the top) or via email.  Go – be creative, because according to one articulate boxing fan out there, I would be a d-bag if I gave myself a name.  And that’s not a very nice nickname.
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Thankful

Another Thanksgiving has passed and as usual another fabulous feast was consumed.  That alone is enough to be thankful for – to share good food (and wine) with family.  I also have another reason to be thankful this year; I reached my fundraising goal on Monday.  I am so grateful to have such a supportive network of friends and family. It is never easy to ask for money because everyone has their own causes to support or has that money earmarked for other things.  But so many people stepped up because they believe in me and/or they believe in the cause and that means a lot to me.  It takes a team to tackle big problems. I’ve got a great team behind me. Or in boxing terms, I have excellent people in my corner.  A big hug to everyone.

Other things to be thankful for:

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– We have a great country despite what we say about our governments from time to time.  I just received a book of photos by Al Doerksen, former CEO of iDE, with pictures from projects they are involved with around the world.  There are some hard working people just trying to survive.

– I thankful that I’m getting stronger and hurting less. Keep in mind we haven’t started sparring yet.  But 6 weeks ago I could barely make it through a workout. It feels good to be healthy and strong.

– A big thanks to In This Corner Boxing Fitness Centre (www.inthiscorner.ca).  Taking on 15 boxers-in-training at once with a short timeline to a match is a big undertaking.  They have volunteered their facility and trainers to make sure this event can take place.  And boy have they had their work cut out for them, especially when it comes to getting us to box and not chat! If you ever wanted to try Boxing Fitness, In This Corner is a really accessible, friendly and CLEAN place to go.  You will find a new kind of fitness joy when hitting the heavy bags.

– And a big shout out to the ladies.  We’ve been training hard, you look great, and I fear getting in the ring with any one of you.  Everyone comes to this challenge with a different story and it has been fun getting to know each of you.  To my friends and family reading this, if you haven’t donated and would like to, then anyone of these ladies is a deserving candidate. You can pick from the list at http://www.thecleanfight.ca.  We all have to raise $5000 to fight.  And it all goes to one great cause – iDE CANADA.

Thank-you everyone for your support and for helping me reach my first goal. YAY!

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Greetings from Cambodia

I’m so happy to have many great people in my life.  One of the reasons I jumped on the chance to take part in The Clean Fight was because of the work Cordell Jacks and Tamara Baker are doing in Cambodia (and now many other locations).  Their efforts have resulted in the successful installed 17,000 unsubsidized latrines in Cambodia in 16 months.  This project has prompted significant additional donor investment from the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Stone Family Foundation to scale nationally in Cambodia, and has laid the foundation for further international expansion.

I asked Cordell to say a few words about the program. Thanks Cordell and keep up the amazing work you, Tamara and your team do. Manitobans are making an impact on world poverty.

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Hello!  I am very happy to be a guest-blogger and supporter of Mavis’ quest for glory in the ring, and even more importantly in her effort to create dramatic impact to the lives of children and their families in developing countries through The Clean Fight.

As a backgrounder, I met and know Mavis through my time at the Asper School of Business at the U of M, and have been fortunate to have kept connected with her over the years and most notably when she visited Cambodia (where I and my partner Tamara live), and where she became aware of the work we do through our organization iDE (International Development Enterprises), to solve the world’s most lagging Millennium Development Goal- the universal human right of access to clean water and sanitation (more than 2.5 Billion people are without this! That’s like 1 of every 4 people on the planet!).

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As you probably already know, The Clean Fight will fundraise to support our efforts, but what you may not have known about the issue are the following:

  • Approximately 10% of global diseases are  preventable with water, sanitation and hygiene improvements
  • Lack of access to adequate Sanitation causes more deaths globally than HIV,  Malaria, and Tuberculosis COMBINED!
  • Lack of access to sanitation is the second largest killer of children under 5 years of age, and that 30% of child deaths worldwide are due to inadequate access
  • Lack of access to clean water and sanitation keeps people sick, and thus keeps people poor
  • We can and will solve this global health, development, and poverty challenge in our generation and lifetime!

We have seen living proof that we will solve this, through the work we have done across 8 countries in Africa and Asia that we have worked in over the last 5 years, since leaving Winnipeg.  We are very proud to be working for iDE (an organization that was co-founded here in Winnipeg, and to date has helped lift over 20 Million people out of poverty) and thank you for the support you are offering to Mavis and to the other contenders who will combat poverty.

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For those of you interested in how we are, and will solve this issue, I urge you to read more about iDE and our innovative approaches to international development in strategies (and most  importantly – sustainably) serving the needs of the ‘Base of the Pyramid’ (the 4 Billion people in developing countries who earn less than $2.50/day) at www.ideorg.org.
Good luck and thanks to you Mavis, and to all of you who are supporting this great event!

Cordell Jacks, Director, Global Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene Initiative, iDE

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Donations can still be made at  http://www.thecleanfight.ca

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To hit or be hit

I’ve discovered I don’t really like to hit people. That could be a problem. body protector Patrick put on the body protector yesterday so we could practice our body shots (no – not those kind) and I have to say it felt wrong to punch him in the stomach.

That and I was worried about missing because I’m not super coordinated yet.  Part of the problem is I can’t imagine what it feel like to be hit with that on.  Or just hit in general.  It looks like it hurts.  Perhaps I’ll ask to try it on and get hit. That would solve two problems – knowing what it feels like to be hit and learning to accept that it is part of the sport.

Classic. Back when kids’ TV shows were realistic.

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The Training Routine

You’ve seen the movies, you’ve heard my complaints but what exactly does boxing training involve when you take 15 women from zero to fighting in 3 months.

Well to be fair, no one was at zero.  Every volunteer has a base level of strength and experience with some type of sport.  There is no way any of us would get through the fitness classes if we had never darkened the doorstep of a gym.  That said, I can’t say I was in top physical conditioning going into this which has made training a bit of a struggle.  A training week for me goes approximately like this:

DSC_4220Monday Boxing Fitness with Maureen (and she’s tough), Tuesday Technical, Wednesday Boxing Fitness with Juanita (Maureen’s twin-in-training), Thursday Technical, Friday OFF (or a jog if I’m ambitious), Saturday Yoga for Boxers plus Technical, Sunday Moksha yoga or stripping wallpaper. Repeat.

DSC_4237Each session starts with 10 minutes of skipping  and about 10 minutes on the heavy bags. That’s the “warm-up”.

In Fitness, Maureen sets up a series of (torture) stations designed to toughen us up and give us stamina.  Or break us (kidding – sort of).  There are TRX stations, Roman Chair, sit-ups, push-up, squats, heavy bar presses and various other devices that only someone who has been boxing for 20 years can dream up.  And of course, burpees.  Lots of burpees. We go through these circuits for the next 35-40 minutes leaving a sweat trail behind us like a group of two-legged slugs in a lettuce patch.  Sometimes they spontaneously get us to do extra push-ups or burpees.  You feel like you’ve conquered the world after one of these workouts and after one month I already feel stronger.  I can measure progress on how far I can get through a workout without collapsing, crying, or cheating.

DSC_4285Boxing Fitness is definitely harder than the Technical Training – at least for now.  But Technical isn’t a walk in the park either.

After warm-up we alternate between heavy bags and footwork/shadow boxing while we wait our turn to get 4 minutes with this guy:

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Mark – our fearless, tireless ring trainer calls out the hits and stands in front of our less than accurate punches.  Some of mine have been rather random.  Four minutes may not seem that long but I’ve found it is like 2×2 minute sprints with your arms.  At first we just had to hit at the pads but now he’s started hitting back.  In fact, the camera was rolling the first time he tapped me back to remind me to lift my hands.  This is how that turned out:

Clearly I have to develop a better reaction.  My guess is I won’t be laughing if he really starts swinging at me.  And I have to learn to keep my gloves up. My poor nose depends on it.

So after an hour I am pretty tired and very sweaty.  There is no doubt that this has to be  the best, well-rounded workout you can do. (i.e. every muscle will hurt the next day). It’s fun! I suggest you try it.

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Pugilists

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. imagesIt 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.  mr_miyagi-sticksEven 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.

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What this is really about

 The Global Sanitation Crisis: Together We Can Solve It 

by Sanjay Wijesekera, Associate Director and Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygeine, UNICEF

“We have achieved the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) target on access to drinking water; poverty has been reduced; disease epidemics have been brought under control; more children are in school. But these truly great achievements – a testament to the world’s ability to solve even the most intractable problems – are blighted by the fact that even today more than one in three of our fellow human beings do not have access to even a basic toilet. One third of the world’s population.

Access to sanitation matters.  It matters because it protects children from disease and malnutrition.  It matters because it affects the poorest and most disadvantaged. It matters for the economy of the nation – the World Bank estimates that poor sanitation costs countries between 0.5 and 7.2% of their GDP every year.  And it matters because it is unacceptable that women and girls have to risk being the victims of rape and sexual abuse because they have to go into the bushes to defecate.

“We know that this is not about giving people toilets.  It is about dignity. It is about helping people take pride in being part of communities where everyone uses their own toilet, and where people themselves are empowered to take the initiative, and where others support them to do so.”

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Skipping

Three weeks ago I used to dread the start of class with the 10 minute skipping for a “warm up”. How can something I loved as a kid have turned so evil? And Skip-o-thons? How was that even possible?  My calves and hands would burn after a few minutes.  My first goal was to get through 10 minutes without stopping. That and at least one full bodied push-up.  Well other than tripping over the rope, I think I’m there. I’m even starting to remember the tricks we did with the ropes in junior high. I likely won’t be starting a double dutch club in the gym anytime soon but I’m coming around to this skipping thing.  I could do without the 150 push-ups we do as a “break” from skipping though. Getting stronger, hurting less. But then again, sparring hasn’t started.

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Technical Difficulties

I’ve decided to take a little fitness break this week to focus on the technical aspects of boxing.  I’m doing this for a couple of reasons:

1) I’m tired. My muscles are fatigued. I have a few injuries which doesn’t work well if I’m in this for the long haul.  The technical sessions are still a workout, let me tell you, so it’s not like I’m sitting on the sidelines taking notes. We are working.

2) My skills are quite rudimentary and I don’t want to start practicing bad habits like dropping my hands on a jab (because that will get me whacked in the face) or standing square to the opponent (which opens me to getting whacked in the ribs).  There is a lot to learn between knowing where to put my feet, how to step forward, back, sideways, how to throw a jab, then a right, then another.  Truthfully it all feels super unnatural which I was assured by Coach Steve (who is incredibly patient), that nothing about boxing is really natural.  It is all about practice and repetition.  Good to hear since right now I look like a junior high kid at my first sock hop – clumsy steps, flailing arms, no rhythm, slightly off-balance.  It is not pretty out there folks.

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AND they make you watch yourself in a mirror which I’m having a little trouble doing.  No one wants to see his or her 13 year old self again!   Awkward.  I completely understand the purpose of the mirrors.  If I was watching, I would probably figure out that I’m dropping my hands. I’d like to figure that out before sparring because I’m a big fan of my nose. I want to protect it at all costs.  So I guess I better get in touch with my inner 13 year old.

La Verendrye School circa 1986

Thanks everyone for your support. It is encouraging to know I have so many people behind me on this journey.  I’m 60% of the way to getting in the ring for The Clean Fight.