Exactly a week ago, I dozed in bed for as long as possible. The day of the fight had finally come, but I was so focused on trying to rest and think un-sick thoughts that I barely considered the actual fight coming up in just a few hours. I got out of bed around eleven or noon o’clock, at which point I was starving and back down to my normal weight. (So my weigh-in weight was shed overnight. That’s good.) In lieu of going out for a full-blown, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast, I had left-over steak with eggs—which still wasn’t too shabby. You’ve realized, by now, that I love eating.
Aside: My wonderful mother sent me a series of encouraging texts at intervals between 10:29 am and 5:05 pm. My favorites were “Go forth and conquer!” and “Have fun storming the castle!” The last message said: “This concludes transmission of the Encourage Kelsey Coalition. Good night. <3” Am I lucky or what? Even though she couldn’t be with me, she made sure that I knew she was with me in spirit. Don’t you wish you had my mom? (Too bad. Only my brother is as blessed.)
On with the story! After eating, I flopped onto the couch for more napping. Part of me wanted to do something to “get pumped,” but I stuck with the plan: rest until the show. So I drifted between being awake and asleep for a few more hours, drinking plenty of water and having occasional snacks. Eventually, around 2:30, I got up and took a shower to ease my congestion for a while. My cousin, Garrett, arrived from out-of-town and we talked until hunger drove us to Subway. I bought and devoured a delicious footlong. That’s what I had for late lunch/early dinner before my first fight, too. Don’t know if it’s the best thing to eat, but it’s yummy…
In a blink, it was time to leave. I checked and double-checked my gear. I threw a couple of apples and a chicken breast into my duffel bag. (You never know!) I was told to bring a blanket and pillow, as well—not something I’ve ever packed with my boxing gear before. Garrett dropped me off at the venue, where I chatted with two friendly Lisas (who would fight each other later that night), wandered around and got up in the ring to feel it out.
Then: plop! I laid myself down on the floor in the red corner’s warm-up area and stayed there. I was so glad to have a blanket, because that floor was freezing. Leeann said she was jealous of me. Leslie said she’d throw a worm on me. I said, “I don’t care.” I never actually slept, with all the people going to and fro, but I snuck in a few baby cat naps. Terri came back once and shook me to ask if I was okay. I think she might’ve been more nervous than I was—or maybe she was just wound tight from making sure that everything ran smoothly despite several volunteers not showing up. (That might be it.)
I had my uniform on under my sweats and I already taped up the laces on my boxing shoes, so that I’d be ready to go when it was time. Ronda wrapped my hands a short while before the show started, after which I laid back down—but not for long. Once the first fight began, I felt that I’d reached my limit of resting. I got up, put away the bedding and joined the land of the living.
One of my friends from work (an unofficial mentor teacher who has made a huge difference for me) showed up with a friend. She saw me and came over to wish me luck. Later, two more teacher-friends arrived. It was too late for them to come back to the dressing area, but they held up a poster for me to see: “Go Kelsey Go! She’s #1!” They also had tambourines and drums that they brought with them from the classroom.
Here’s the beauty! (I didn’t crop y’all out ‘cus I don’t like you–just didn’t know if you wanted to be on a blog. Privacy, you know.) Thanks to Garrett for taking the picture.
I half-watched the first two fights of the night, while walking around, talking to people and thinking. I took my last pee break during the second fight, and then started warming up slowly during the third. I headed to the glove table during the fourth fight with my mouthpiece in and headgear on over my bandana. After checking to make sure I was good to go, the very friendly glove-table-worker signed off on my handwraps and gloved me up.
I continued warming up, faster now. There were a couple of times that I felt very tired while shadowboxing, but I just put that out of my mind. I’d had as much rest as I was able to get, and that would have to do. The fourth and fifth fights went by. I saw bits and pieces of them, but not much. When the guys in the sixth fight walked out, I realized: “Oh gosh. My turn is next!” I continued warming up. Terri came back to do a little pad work with me (without the pads), during which I was really slow. Really. I didn’t let that worry me, though. She re-iterated what I needed to do: the main thing was to control the pace of the fight so that I wouldn’t get tired too early.
The sixth bout ended. I don’t remember how I felt at that moment. The ring announcer called Shannon to the blue corner; then me to the red corner. (My ring-walk song: “The Downfall of Us All” by A Day to Remember, just like last time. Still love it.) My teacher-friends held up their poster and banged on the drums and tambourines, which tickled me. My cousin came over to film Terri and I walking in. (Terri was the only cornerman wearing a mini dress and high heels that night, I’ll tell you that. And she still got in & out of the ring with no problem. Now that’s skill.) After the ref checked me, she brought both of us to the middle to touch gloves and give us our last reminders. Back to our corners for the bell: ding!
Round 1: Praise God, I didn’t feel unwell or tired. I figure sleeping for four days did some good. I went into the round and did what I knew to do, which got me my first knockdown. I went to the neutral corner while my opponent got up for her standing-eight count. My six supporters started chanting my name. (Those six people that I knew were cheering me on were on one side of the ring. Later, I heard my name shouted from the other side of the ring. I remember thinking: “Who’s that!?”) The ref finished counting and we continued boxing. The bell rang shortly thereafter.
I don’t remember everything Terri told me, but I do remember that she had to tell me to look at her because I wasn’t really listening at first. Oops! I think this was when she said that I needed to land a few more good rights (which was what got me the knockdown). She told me how to do it.
Round 2: I spent the round trying to follow Terri’s instructions. However, very few punches were thrown. Honestly, after watching it on video, it was rather boring!
When I got back to the corner, Terri said that I needed to make a statement to end the fight, since I’d been waiting around too much in the second round. She didn’t tell me anything technical—just to go get busy.
Round 3: I waited less this round—and still didn’t feel tired. The ref called for another standing-eight count on my opponent. After that, I don’t remember anything else about that round. Only that I couldn’t believe it was almost over, after looking forward to these six minutes for months.
After we were both stripped of our gear in our corners, the ref brought my opponent and I to the middle of the ring and held our hands. In my first two fights, this was the moment when I didn’t know if I had won or not. In this fight, I knew I’d won, but I had a moment of worry: what if I actually didn’t?! I just had to wait for the ring announcer—and he said it: I won.
The feeling of the ref lifting my hand (for a change) was amazing. I was ecstatic. I hugged Shannon hard and told her to be proud, because I know how it is to lose your first fight. After receiving the trophy, I started to make a bee-line for the ring doctor, but was called back for a little post-fight interview in the ring. The lady asked me about how I felt, about getting my first knockdown and about my charity. I’m sure I blabbered away, but I was too happy to care.
Then I went to the ring doctor, who asked me how I was. “Great!!” I don’t remember who I hugged first, but just know that there was much hugging: my cousin and roommate, my teacher-friends, boxing chicks. (People who love you: the ones who don’t care how sweaty you are!) A bunch of trophy pictures were taken, and I couldn’t stop smiling even when the cameras had been put away.
By far my favorite picture from the night: my roommate Rachel, me and my cousin Garrett. They’re the best. Best! (Picture taken by one of my teacher-friends. How’s that for a credit?)
It took quite a while to calm down. When I did, I went back to feeling tired. I kind of wanted to go to the after-party, but knew that I probably shouldn’t stay out. Instead, Garrett, Rachel and I came back home to watch a (bad) movie with some McDonald’s french fries, chocolate and Jack & coke. I mean, there wasn’t anything else to eat… I ate it all before the fight.
I went to bed at about 1 am, but couldn’t sleep. I wrote plenty about the night and the days leading up to it in my journal. I still couldn’t sleep, so I started re-reading the journal (frequently laughing at my younger self). I tried to sleep again, but no luck. I kept thinking about the fight, about the celebrating and—most of all—about the people who were there to celebrate with me. I felt overwhelmed by how much I love and appreciate them. It was after 5 am that I fell asleep, even though I was deliriously tired long before then.
I woke up four hours later with the same thoughts running through my mind, unable to fall back asleep. I spent the ensuing days being overwhelmed by Facebook notifications of pictures, videos, statuses, tags, likes, comments, messages… There were also some emails, texts and phone calls. That is what my next post will be about. Not Facebook, but what I learned about what’s really important. (Hint: not the trophy.)
If you can, you should check out Action Fighter Media‘s albums of photos from the show. Particularly the one that has my bout in it. (I like that one best.) This is the URL to the album, though I’m not sure if you’ll be able to view it.
You can also see some good pictures here: my bout is shown in pictures #129 through #143. Those shots are all from the first round.
To read about the same event from another boxer’s point of view, head over to The Glowing Edge.
cell phone photo credit