To refresh your memory, Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 5 was held on June 7th, 2012 at the Foundry at Puritan Mill. (Was that really three months ago? Let’s pretend that it was a week ago, and that I don’t stink at blogging.) It was a big night—something that I had been looking forward to and thinking about for a couple of months.
My most recent post was about the weigh-in, which took place the day before the fight. That night, I couldn’t sleep a wink. I kept envisioning throwing punches and moving around the ring, and that kept me awake. I’m sure nerves played into it, but I didn’t feel jittery or anxious yet. Just really excited and too alert to sleep for a while.
The next morning, I went out to breakfast with a bunch of gals from the gym and had pancakes and grits. Delicious!!! It is a truth universally acknowledged that there is no better food than breakfast food. This meal was an excellent way to end my diet. (Not that I didn’t cheat on my diet. Often… But that doesn’t matter. I still lost 18 lbs, yo.)
When I got home from breakfast, I tried to rest by taking a nap. Nope. All I could do was imagine I was boxing. This time, however, I was nervous. I felt butterflies in my stomach and thought to myself, “I knew it had to come, eventually.” Even though I didn’t fall asleep, I still felt more rested when I decided to open my eyes and get up off the futon.
I showered. I packed my duffel bag: gear, clothes, snacks. I double-checked and triple-checked everything, because I didn’t have anything else to do. I was relieved when my cousin (and best friend) arrived to visit me from out-of-state. We went to Subway for $5 footlongs, then we played cards to pass the time.
It was finally time to go. He drove me to the venue, not minding that he’d have to wait for the start of the show. (My homeboy can squeeze in a trip to IKEA anytime.) I felt relatively calm on the way, though I probably spaced out more than usual. I arrived at the venue a little early, so I spent plenty of time just hanging out (and having to pee every fifteen minutes).
I liked the venue. The ring was being set up toward the middle of a huge room, and there were curtains on one end to section off the boxers’ space to get wrapped up, warmed up, etc. That space was further divided into two: one side for the red corner and one side for the blue corner. I was in the red corner. (My opponent and I talked previously about which corner we were hoping to get. She wore white and blue; I wore black and red.)
Jackie was the one who wrapped my hands with gauze and tape, which was cool because she had such a calm demeanor while she talked to me. I appreciated this, especially when this other chick came over to us to give me unwanted advice. I’d never met her before. She seemed to think I was really nervous, and began telling me all about how I should fight. I didn’t say it, but I thought: “I already have a trainer, thankyouverymuch.” (I’m sure she meant well.) She made me feel tense, but Jackie helped me relax after the advice-giver went away.
I was surprised to see so many photographers and cameramen walking around the venue, and I found it strange that some of them were aiming their cameras at me. For instance, on WSBTV.com: “Want to box your boss, a doctor or lawyer?” (At about 0:06, I’m the one in black fighting the one in white. At 1:00, I’m warming up in blue. At about 1:11 they interview my opponent.) I was also interviewed by a girl wearing an extremely sparkly dress and a tiara. Her cameraman waved me over, saying that they’d only interviewed men and wanted a woman’s perspective. That got me excited. Hey, I went to a women’s college—we’re all about the female perspective. She only asked me two questions: “What charity are you fighting for?” and “Why do you think it’s important to give back to the community?” Lame! I didn’t even get to talk about boxing. (Not that charity isn’t important.)
Media aside, I turned my attention to warming up. As it got closer to time, I put in my mouthpiece and strapped on my headgear so that I could get gloved up. (Side Note: Earlier in the evening, the lady at the glove table was certain that I was in the masters division, meaning that she thought I was 35+ years old. C’mon, lady. I’m 23.) I went to the glove table. The lady looked me over to make sure that everything was okay: I had my mouthpiece in, I wasn’t wearing earrings, my headgear was secure, my laces were taped up and my handwraps were good. She signed my wraps and then held my gloves for me while I pushed my hands down into them.
I continued to warm up by shadowboxing. The ring announcer came by to get my ring name (“the Body-snatcher”), and a couple of trainers from Delgado Boxing came around to ask if I had anyone working my corner. One of them ended up working my corner, so he worked pads with me for a bit (without pads). He kept positioning his hands as if I were a southpaw, which kept confusing me because he’d say “jab” but it looked to me like I was supposed to throw a right.
My bout was the 3rd. I didn’t pay attention to the 2nd bout, except to check every now and then to see that it was still going on. When it ended, I got excited. My opponent walked into the blue corner to tons of cheering, and I watched her dance around the ring to her walk-in song. Then it was my turn, and I felt pretty darn fantastic. I walked in to “The Downfall of Us All,” a song by A Day to Remember. Every time I hear it now, I want to box. (Thanks to my cousin for suggesting it.) It’s perfect:
As I’m typing this, it’s actually the first time I’ve listened to that song since I walked in with it playing. It makes me happy, and feel pumped!
When I got into the ring, I jumped around a bit and threw some punches in the air, since I figured that’s what I was supposed to do. I get that it’s a show, but I just wanted to get to the boxing part and skip the prancing-around part.
Of course, it wasn’t long before we got to the boxing part. We went at it for three two-minute rounds.
Round 1: Man, I felt really slow. (After watching the tape, I see that I didn’t look quite as slow as I felt.) I didn’t throw enough punches, and I knew it. I didn’t feel discouraged, though. I was there to finish the job and looking forward to doing so. After the round was over, the guy in my corner pointed out how her hands dropped after every punch she threw, and that I needed to take advantage of that.
Round 2: I started to feel really tired, in addition to slow. My opponent’s mouthpiece came out at one point, so we paused while the ref stuck it back in. I felt that the second round was a little more even between us… maybe I was warming up to it? On the video, you can hear my roommate yell: “SNAP HER IN HALF!” This had been an on-going joke, since my opponent was so tall and skinny.
Round 3: Between the 2nd and 3rd rounds, a guy from the gym grabbed my arm, pulled me down, and told me something incredibly encouraging about how he’d seen me working in the gym and knew what I could do. (I didn’t even know this guy’s name. A few weeks ago, I thanked him for what he said and we introduced ourselves officially.) After that, I came out swinging in the 3rd round and felt like I killed the end of the match. I don’t remember whether her nose started bleeding in the 2nd or the 3rd round, but I went crazy when I saw it. First it was coming from her nose, and then I saw it on her white shirt and gloves. I could win this thing.
Knowing that I definitely lost the 1st round and probably won the 3rd, I had no idea which way the decision would go. I felt pretty sure that I’d done some damage, but it doesn’t necessarily matter how hard you punch in amateur boxing. I landed some hard hits, but maybe not enough punches to rack up a good score…
I stood there with the ref holding my hand, anxious for the decision to be announced. Finally, the ring announcer’s voice boomed out: your winner… fighting out of the blue corner… my opponent. At first, I was stunned. I congratulated her, and she lifted up my arm and walked around the ring with me. She was yelling something like, “That’s my girl!” At that moment, though already disappointed and dazed, I knew I had just given it all and it was okay. I think I was even smiling.
After she got her trophy and I got my medal, we ducked out between the ropes to see the doctor. “How do you feel?” he asked me. “Great!” I said, still smiling. He signed off on my passbook and handed it to me. Our trainer came over and pulled the two of us into a hug where she said good things that I can’t remember, because that was when I started crying with my face buried between them.
Of the hundreds of pictures I’ve seen posted on Facebook from that night, one is my absolute favorite. I’d post it here, but I didn’t take it and I don’t know who did. I saved it on my computer so I could keep it, though. The picture is of Terri, Val and I hugging tight. You can only see Val’s face, since she’s so tall, and you can tell that Terri’s talking to us. Val and I both still have our wraps on and are sweaty as heck; Terri’s in a fancy dress with high heels. Even though it gives me a tiny twinge to look at it, because I remember exactly how I was feeling, I still love that picture. We both fought a tough three rounds, all the way. It wasn’t personal. We both really wanted to win, and Terri just wanted us to not kill each other.
After that moment, Val greeted her celebrating friends and I hurried through the crowd back behind the curtain where my duffel bag was. Jackie, thank God for Jackie, intercepted me and gave me a hug around the shoulders. “You know what this means, don’t you?” she asked. I nodded, tears streaming down my face: “I have to keep trying.” She smiled. “Good, because you know you can’t go out like that.” (Or something to that effect.)
I made it to my bag, where I paused to text my mommy. I told her that I lost, I was crying, I didn’t get hurt, I made her nose bleed, and that I didn’t want to go back out there. I opened my passbook to look at the entry for the fight, and saw the “lost” box checked. Terri came and hugged me while I was sobbing. All I remember her saying is: “Please don’t be hurt.” I couldn’t talk. I then went to the bathroom to change into the dress and heels I had brought with me. That’s where I really cried, and definitely didn’t want to come out.
The 5th bout (between two of my friends) was almost over when I came out. I joined my cousin and roommate at their table and they gave me big hugs and took pictures with me. They said it was an exciting fight to watch, and my cousin had filmed it for me. (It’s on my Facebook wall. The next time I’m with him I want to get the actual files, so that I can post them here.) I’m grateful for these two people who met me after my first fight, and didn’t belittle how big this was for me. If they hadn’t been there, I would’ve stayed curled up in a corner somewhere.
I spent the rest of the night sitting with them, talking and watching the other fights. I always felt a little sting in my eyes, but I worked to keep my composure. Numerous strangers came up to shake my hand, or to tell me that I had fought well. Some said they thought I won. One guy said I should steal the trophy and then kick her you-know-what when she tried to take it back. No, sir, that’s a very silly suggestion—but him saying it made me laugh!
At the very end of the show, I snagged Terri for a minute to introduce her to my cousin and roommate, since they hear so much about her. I also wanted to say bye, since I wouldn’t see her until after my summer vacation.
As I was heading out the door, one of the USA Boxing officials told me that I looked good, but that I should’ve thrown a lot more body shots. Definitely true! I completely forgot that body shots existed when I was fighting. I watched the fight on my cousin’s iPhone while we were on our way home, and all I did was jab and throw some rights. It was interesting to see it from outside the ring.
It was late when we got home, and I was exhausted. After closing my door, I cried as quietly as I could and then I fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night at one point, remembered what had happened, and cried briefly again. First thing in the morning, I remembered why I felt so tired, and cried again.
I couldn’t help it. I got a couple of texts from girls at the gym, which were so encouraging and kind that they made me cry more.
I wasn’t ashamed of how I performed, but I was still so disappointed by the outcome. I tried to stick to Mike Smith’s 24-hour rule. He’s the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. I’ve read that he tells his team they can mourn a loss, especially a big one, for 24 hours. After that, they have to put it behind them and get back to work. I think I ended up “mourning” for something more like 32 hours, though, and that’s fine.
Two days after my fight, I flew home to see my family for the first time in a year, and boy was it good to spend time with them. I watched the fight on the computer with them and told them all about it, but the fact that I lost wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t need to cry over it anymore, either. I had more important things to do, like build awesome Lego structures, design imaginary quests in the forest, go on walks, have long conversations and give/receive hundreds of hugs. I did some shadowboxing and I gave my brother some boxing lessons, but I took a break from the constant focus on boxing. I missed the gym and the people in it, but I got my workouts in by following BodyRock.tv (which is how I exercised before I started boxing).
My visit lasted for almost six weeks. As usual, it felt too short and it was hard to leave. Once I was well on my way across the ocean, though, I was itching to get back to boxing. I landed late on a Wednesday night and I was back in the gym Thursday evening (July 19th). I was ready for my next adventure in boxing—which I promise I’ll tell about in a more timely fashion.
Note: Thanks to Lisa from The Glowing Edge (a blog that I discovered and followed before starting mine) for writing this article on me and one of my fellow boxers on the show: “Two Women Gear Up for Their First Boxing Fight.”