Tag Archives: loss

Little Juan Ocampo

I said I’d write about my last fight, but something else happened about a month before that I want to address first. Not only is it more important, but it feeds into my last fight and will make more sense. So that story will be told in the next installment—as a continuation of this one. I do my best not to mention names of people who may or may not want to have their business out in public, but I have to talk about Little Juan. (Well, talk some—but mostly show pictures.)

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Little Juan Ocampo died in a car accident close to home on September 29th, 2014, at the age of 19. He was the passenger in an SUV driving too fast in rain on the interstate very close to both the gym and his home. He was the only one who died; another passenger was taken to the hospital. He went through the windshield and shattered the heart of the gym.

Juan & Terri

I found out about our loss when Terri (our trainer) texted a group of us a link to a news article (here, and later here) along with a picture of her with him. The picture was taken at the weigh-in for his first boxing match, which was on Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 7, our first boxing promotion since opening Buckhead Fight Club.

Before the gym had even been open for one week, “Little” Juan Ocampo joined and took up residence with us. He would come train in the morning, hang out and talk for half the day, run off, and then return to train again in the evening. He kept this up all summer. He lied a couple of times about his age, but it turns out he was 18 at the time. He was great company, and a real talker—he knew everybody and everybody knew him. He wouldn’t leave the gym until he’d said bye to every person there. Sometimes his friends from outside the gym would come looking for him at the gym, because that’s where they knew to find him.

Every Juan in the gym has a nickname so that we can tell which Juan we’re talking about, and “Little” Juan came right after “First” Juan (who joined a day or two earlier). It was a bit of a joke because he was actually relatively tall, but he was young and that made him little. :) It was also definitely a term of affection because he was our Little Juan and we loved him no matter how big he kept growing.

After that summer of hanging out with us, he came and went—sometimes for months at a time. He always came back, though. Sometimes just for a couple of days; sometimes for a steady few months. That’s part of why it was so hard to believe he was dead after we learned about the crash, because it was normal for him to be gone for a while. We still expected him to come back any day, running down the stairs.

Retired LockerNot long before he died, Terri told him to claim a locker at the gym so that he could stop leaving his things in the open. I happened to have a lock that I wasn’t using, so I gave it to him. I didn’t trust him to remember his lock combination, so I wrote it down to keep it in case he forgot. To his credit, he never forgot his combination—but the fact that I kept the numbers means we were able to open it and return his belongings to his family. The locker is empty now, but we locked it back up and put his name and picture on it.

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Little Juan’s boxing shoes, gloves, and jump rope.

Remember how I said that his friends and sometimes family would come by the gym to find him? This continued after he died (overwhelmingly so). Family dropped in as if they wanted to connect with the place he loved. It was hard to see them come in crying, wanting to hear stories about him. I’d end up crying, too. His friends would come by, as well. One guy called the gym for information about the funeral, because he wasn’t able to get in touch with his family any other way. He hugged me at the funeral and thanked me for making sure he didn’t miss it.

Even months later, every now and then, someone comes in and sees his picture and tells me that they knew him. (He knew everybody, because there isn’t a person in the world that he’d turn his back on.) People who don’t know about him ask questions, too, because his picture is all over the gym.

That week, his family asked if they could hold a vigil in the gym, and we did. The car accident was on Monday; the vigil was on Thursday evening. We didn’t know what to expect, but I was overwhelmed by the number of people and their singing and grieving. We had his picture set up in the ring with some of his belongings (his backpack!), flower arrangements, candles…

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That was rough. I stayed on the outskirts because I couldn’t handle being close.

His funeral was held Friday, October 3rd, at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Between there and the burial at Gwinnett Memorial Park, I was amazed to see how many people attended, and especially people that I recognized from the gym—some of whom hadn’t been around in a really long time.

He’s still our boy, with a prominent place in the gym. Little Juan was anything but little. His big heart changed my life.

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Picture posted at the front desk.

Left: portrait for ACFN 7. Right: behind the scenes before ACFN 7.

Left: portrait for ACFN 7. Right: behind the scenes before ACFN 7.

One of the posters around the gym.

One of the posters around the gym. (Juan is in the blue trunks.)

The picture people notice and ask about the most.

The picture people notice and ask about the most, right above the speedbag.

It took me a while before I could drive on the interstate without feeling sad, but I still keep this in my car.

It took me a while before I could drive on the interstate without feeling sad, but I still keep this in my car.

Every time I see this building, I smile and think of Juan. One time he told me that the top can close (someone had told him that). I still wonder if it's true!

Every time I see this building, I smile and think of Juan. One time he told me that the top can close (someone had told him that). I still wonder if it’s true!

Juan was proud when he drew first blood at Buckhead Fight Club by breaking a nose. He was thrilled to sign the ring mat. (That ain't his blood!)

Juan was proud when he drew first blood at Buckhead Fight Club by breaking a nose. He was thrilled to sign the ring mat. (That ain’t his blood! He had the BEST defense.)

One day—after he died but before his funeral—I was babysitting and the toddler and I were out on a walk on a sunny morning. When we walked past this rose bush, I thought the dewy petals were so beautiful (like life, somehow, I don’t know). I had to take a picture and stop to admire them… trying to get the 1.5 year-old to do the same. I posted the rose as my profile picture on Facebook and someone (who didn’t know anything about what was going on) commented that it was a “knockout” rose.

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Grave

On November 1st, 2014, we held Latin Fight Night: “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) at Buckhead Fight Club. You see, months earlier, we had already sanctioned this promotion to feature local Latin amateur boxers. Once Juan died, suddenly the show felt very heavy: while it might’ve looked like any boxing show in the entertainment business capitalizing on a traditional holiday, for us it was solely dedicated to Little Juan.

More about that next.

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6th Fight — In My Home Gym!

Sometime in October, it was arranged that Buckhead Fight Club (my gym!) would host the 2014 Georgia USA Boxing State Championships! It was a two-day tournament held December 14 & 15, 2013. I signed myself up as soon as the registration form went live and entered the tournament as a female novice in the 119-pound weight class.

For the longest time, I didn’t have a match. Only three or four women entered this tournament, all in different weight classes. Luckily, we found me a match who was even willing to pay the late fee to enter just days before competition. We changed my weight class to 125 lbs to match her weight and make it happen.

I was excited and determined to train well for this tournament, especially because I was going through a rough time personally. I was going through a break-up, starting to catch a cold, and generally felt worn down and spent. For the three-or-so weeks leading right up to the tournament, I had problems both falling asleep and staying asleep at night. I wanted this fight to be a bright spot in a dark period of time—something that I could look forward to positively.

Day One (Saturday)

My opponent and I both showed up early to get our yearly physicals done. The weigh-in was technically much later, but the officials went ahead and weighed both of us to speed things up since we were the only female match. I weighed in at 124.8 lbs; my opponent was 124 on the dot.

After that, I manned a table of boxing memorabilia (t-shirts, mugs, watches, retired competition gloves, etc.) that the president of GABA brought to help raise money to send our open division winners to Nationals. I was getting sleepy while sitting there, but I was mostly hungry! Once someone showed up to relieve me, I took myself to Waffle House for a breakfast of champions. I had an awful waiter, but the food was good!

When I got back to the gym, my job was to sell tickets at the door. I had good company, including one of the kids in my kids’ boxing class. I guess he got bored of watching the fights, because he came up to the front and spent the rest of the night helping us. When the day’s bouts came to an end and people left, I finished up the VIP and Will Call assignments for the following day. After that, I headed home. Terri and some of the boxing chicks invited me to join them for dinner, but I was SO looking forward to bed. I wasn’t worried about my fight—I just needed one good, whole night of sleep to set me straight.

I literally read one page of a book to unwind, and then I crashed. I did finally sleep that night. I fell asleep easily AND stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which was a miracle. I don’t think that had happened since before December!

Day Two (Sunday)

I had set my alarm for 9:30 that morning because my coach and I planned to go to breakfast together. She ended up not being able to, so I tried to go back to sleep for a while, but couldn’t. Oh well! My morning started with a smile when I received a text message picture of a little baby that I babysit. She was holding a boxing glove, with a funny and confused look on her face. It made me smile! :)

Still, I started to feel down that morning and struggled to stay positive. Driving to Waffle House (a better one with friendlier service), I tried to turn my thoughts around. Finally, I told myself: “Screw it! I don’t care. I’ll rip her apart anyway.” It was sort of positive, but it was in an angry and grim way.

After breakfast, I went to the gym and laid down for a long time. I didn’t sleep, but I relaxed and got myself into a really good mood. My heart started pounding anytime I thought about throwing quick combinations, so I decided to mostly think of calmer things.

20140103-213923.jpgOne of my friends handed me a Christmas tree cut from wrapping paper, saying that a boy in my kids’ class sent it to me to inspire me. I LOVE it and I’ll keep it forever! My mom sent me periodic text messages of quotes from the movie Cars, which cracked me up!! That’s one of my favorite movies ever, so I loved the quotes and appreciated the support.

It was finally time for me to get up and re-join the land of the living. I watched Terri wrap another boxer’s hands (she had two of us fighting), and then changed into my boxing jersey and trunks. He was bout #1; I was bout #5.

Boxing started! While I watched the first fight, I started warming up and getting loose. Our guy lost by TKO at the end of the third round, unfortunately, but he fought hard against an opponent much, much bigger than him. After his fight was over, Terri talked him through it some, which made me a little nervous about how much time we had left—even though I know it was important not to leave him hanging after his first fight. Then she wrapped my hands.

The third bout was in progress by the time I started warming up on pads, and then the fourth bout ended by a quick TKO before I was anywhere near warm enough. Terri asked me, “Are you feeling rushed?” I said, “Yes.” We inserted a brief intermission in the show. (The promoter can do that!) I felt pretty good on pads, but didn’t get sweaty or hot. I figured I was ready.

I walked to the ring with my song playing and heard cheers. I’ve never had so many people there for me at a fight before! Between the boxing chicks and the people who regularly come to the gym, a lot of people were wishing me luck and cheering me on. It was a good feeling, for sure! The fight started.

Round 1: Half-way through, I felt like my thighs had turned into jelly. I already felt that it would be hard to stick to the game plan (pressuring her) because I wouldn’t last. I was way too exhausted in the first round. Mentally, too. In the corner, Terri told me that I lost that round and asked if I wanted to win. I said yes, but I didn’t tell her that I already didn’t feel like I would be able to last. (And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end because I’d already decided. I was in despair even when I still had a fighting chance.)

Round 2: The ref gave me a standing 8 count, which was my first. This was also the first time I felt that I was behind. (My other two losses were close, but I knew this one.) Again, in the corner, Terri asked if I wanted to win. I knew I wouldn’t. She told me, in strong terms, to just put my head on her chest and throw punches.

Round 3: Which made for a desperate (and agonizingly long) third round where I think I might’ve thrown more punches than in the rest of the fight. I rallied some pounding body shots inside, but never went back up to the head—which she was open for. I was totally spent at the end!

Never once did I hear Terri’s instructions from the corner during the rounds, which is a bad, bad sign. After the fight, the ring announcer drew out the announcement a crazy-long time, so I took that as a sign that the bout was much closer than it was in my head. In my head, I lost by a long shot. However, after watching a video of the match, I saw that it was pretty close.

I cried some after leaving the ring. Got a lot of hugs from people saying I looked good, it was close, it was an exciting bout to watch, etc. I knew these things were true, which is why I felt like I should’ve won!

More than half of my kids’ boxing class was there. They surrounded me with hugs and excited chatter and questions. I had to pull myself together to be a good example. This helped me because then I could speak with people in a much more respectable, dry-eyed way. A lot of people, friends and strangers alike, came up to me to talk about my fight. I got all kinds of congratulations and compliments. Though they were difficult to accept right after a loss, they were encouraging!

After boxing was over and most people had cleared the venue, I went to be alone. Terri came in and talked with me for a while. A bunch of us went to our favorite Mexican restaurant across the street, and I stayed in good spirits even though I felt like a disappointment among friends. I was glad to have them there with me!

The Day After & Beyond

The morning after the tournament, I woke up with the usual sore muscles. Physically, this was the least painful fight I’ve been in, which I think is funny because the most painful fight I’ve been in so far was one that I won. At any rate, I drew an Epsom salt bath (which I’d never tried before) and soaked for twenty minutes. It sure felt good, and my muscle recovery in the following days was quicker than usual.

Right after this tournament, we looked at the GABA calendar to see what was coming up. Terri got to work finding me an opponent for a club show on February 1st. I had a match lined up, but that opponent back out. We also tried to set up a re-match with the girl that I just lost to, but we couldn’t get them to take it. Now I’m training for the GA Golden Gloves towards the end of March. I can’t wait!

I don’t feel like a disappointment because of this fight anymore. There was no shame in my effort, though I initially felt that there was because I wasn’t “up to snuff.” Of course it would’ve felt fantastic to win on my home field, but there’ll be other opportunities!! This fight taught me an important lesson about staying on top of my mental game, and I’ll gladly accept that as a boost that’s going to help me with every fight here on out. I’m nowhere near finished!

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Evander Holyfield & Boxing Chicks on the first day of the tournament.

Paul Murphy Boxing Club Title Belt Tournament 2012 (Part 2/3)

On the morning of September 1st, I woke up at 7:17 when my phone buzzed. Terri sent a text saying that she’d check the brackets to see if we needed to weigh in or not. “She’s way too nice to us,” I thought, and fell back asleep.

At 8:00, my alarm went off. Since I hadn’t heard back yet, I probably wouldn’t fight today. “I hope I get a fight tomorrow,” I thought, and fell back asleep. I should’ve gotten up and ready. Didn’t those early years in Girl Scouts teach me to “always be prepared?”

At 9:00, my phone buzzed again—Milana wanted to know if I’d heard any news. Nope. I decided to get up and check the scale. I was fixing to text Terri my weight, when my phone rang. Within about five seconds, Terri blurted out something like: “Hurry you’ve got a fight today you need to get to the train station right now I’m coming to get you!”

I dashed around the apartment like a madwoman. I snagged clothes from my floor and threw them on. I grabbed some fruit (including a banana—funny story about that later), water, boxing clothes, boxing shoes, headgear and mouthpiece and stuffed it all into my duffel bag. Amazingly, I didn’t forget anything.

I flat-out ran to the MARTA station. My heart sank when I arrived and saw a long line of people who didn’t know how to work the ticket machines. Some of them were dressed up in costumes, but I was too stressed out to think anything of it. With my Breeze card in one hand and my credit card in the other, I was about to plead with the crowd: “Can I please cut in line? I promise I’ll be fast!” Then I remembered that I just might have one trip left on my Breeze card. I ran to the gate, tapped my card and, voila, it opened for me. Yes!

Down on the platform, the sign said the next train was expected in 1 minute. Good! The train was packed. I squeezed on, accidentally knocking people with my duffel bag, and found a place to stand by a girl carrying a Storm Trooper helmet. Now that I didn’t have to run anymore, I wondered: What was going on, here? This wasn’t a typical Saturday morning on MARTA.

I started eavesdropping and learned that Dragon*Con was going on and a big costume parade was coming up. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a nerd. NerdFitness.com is one of my favorite sites. I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek. I have a crush on a comic book character… But did these dressed-up people have to be crowding the train?

Besides, I bet they could smell me. Sweat was dripping down my face. I hadn’t brushed my teeth, and I hadn’t showered since Thursday night. I didn’t care. I texted back and forth with Terri, to keep her updated on where I was and to find out which station to exit. I finally got off the train, bounded down the stairs, saw Terri’s car by the curb, jumped over a low wall (parkour, here I come) and dumped myself into the passenger seat.

In the car, I told Terri how much I weighed and she said to drink and eat. I pulled out my banana, which was completely black and mushy—probably from the heat and being squished in my bag while I ran. I ate it anyway. The top of it was missing, though… where’d it go?

I don’t know how many traffic laws we broke. “Sorry, Kels, but we gotta get there.” I didn’t mind! Milana had already arrived at the weigh-in and asked them to wait for us. She said they were mad.

Terri dropped me off at the door and I busted into a room of USA Boxing officials, all out of breath: “Where is the weigh-in???” Not my best moment, and they weren’t impressed, either. “Are you Kelsey Smith?”

“Yes,” I answered. A lady took me to the scale and lectured me while I pulled off my shoes and stripped. “Yes ma’am. Yes ma’am. I’m sorry. I promise. Yes ma’am.” I was the last female to weigh in: 125 lbs.

(Next time, I’d rather play by their rules, even if it means not getting enough sleep. I’m sure it’s better not to aggravate the refs and judges!)

Fully dressed now, I met Terri and Milana in the hall. I could breathe a sigh of relief. We looked at the posted bout sheets to get more details about the day. There would be three rings, with fights running simultaneously. I was fighting a girl from South Carolina named Anna—bout #16 in ring 3. Milana was bout #17 in ring 1. We crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t overlap. The tournament would start at noon, so we estimated that we’d fight around 3 pm.

Mmmm….

We left the hotel. Terri drove Milana and I to Midtown so that we could get a big, good ol’ breakfast while she taught her 11 o’clock fitness class at the gym. We ended up taking a bus to Pot n Pan Restaurant, which I loved. I had myself two eggs, two sausage patties, grits and a pancake covered with butter and syrup. The only thing that was missing from this picture was a biscuit to round it all off, but I couldn’t complain. (In case you can’t tell, I love breakfast  food.)

We took our time eating and talking. It was almost 1 o’clock when we left the restaurant and took the bus back. We bought bananas and water at the store, and then walked to her house. Then we waited. And waited, and waited. And talked, and waited. I laid on the bed, wanting to sleep. Milana busied herself by lacing up her boxing shoes, changing clothes, checking Facebook, etc. I would’ve changed, but my duffel bag was in Terri’s backseat.

At 2:50, Milana texted Terri the time. We were both quite anxious. Shortly thereafter, we heard a car horn so we ran downstairs and out. We set off for Doraville for the third time. I felt much less anxious once we were on our way with Terri, because she didn’t seem worried.

I changed into my sports bra, jersey, trunks and shoes in the backseat—all without flashing anyone. (That takes talent.) As I pulled these things out of my duffel bag, I found the missing tip of my banana from earlier—smeared into my boxing trunks, shoelaces and headgear. Ew! Milana and I had a good laugh about it. I poured some water on my trunks and tried to wipe most of the banana out. Eh, no one would notice.

Ronda arrived at the venue before us to find out which fights were going on, so that we’d know how much time we had. When we walked in, a guy from our gym was fighting bout #13 in my ring, which meant that there were two fights left before my turn.

Terri snatched a chair, sat me down and started wrapping my hands like a fiend. She told me to relax, because I kept tensing up. As she finished wrapping the right hand, a little too tightly but too late to change it now, she started on the left. There was an announcement that all the judges and refs would take a 15-minute break. Hallelujah!

Two other girls from the gym, Val and Lisa, showed up to cheer us on. It was cool to see them there!

After my hands were all wrapped up, Ronda wrapped Milana’s hands while Terri took me to a corner to warm up. I jumped around, threw some punches. (“Snap ’em!” Apparently, teaching me to snap my punches is like teaching a dog to ride a bicycle. But I’ll get there! And so will Fido.) After that, she started working defense with me on the pads, telling me to slip/block/catch/duck/roll/move. I responded well. I felt fast, alert, focused and confident. In short, I felt good.

Remember the girl that I saw while waiting for the doctor, who looked to be my weight? I saw her with her headgear on and I was 100% sure that she was Anna from South Carolina. (She was.)

Another bout went by in my ring, and they called my name to go to the glove table. Ronda went with me with the tape—we’d forgotten to tape down my shoelaces and some tape on my wraps needed to be secured. (Note: If both amateur boxing events I’ve fought in required the taping of shoelaces, then how come several Olympic boxing bouts were interrupted by untied shoelaces? Why weren’t theirs taped, too?) A dude at the glove table inspected my wraps and wrote “ok” on them. They handed me a pair of red gloves and Ronda opened them up for me to stick my hands in. She grimaced at how sweaty they were. Yuck!

I continued warming up with Terri, but something had changed. My focus was gone. She started up with more defense, but she kept smacking me because I wasn’t reacting. I knew that I had to get back whatever it was that I’d had only a few minutes ago… Terri noticed this, too: “Focus!”

The bout before mine ended, so we moved to the red corner so that I’d be ready to step into the ring. Ronda and Milana came with us; Val and Lisa sat at the top of the bleachers near the ring. I watched the ref, and climbed into the ring when she gestured toward me. Terri told me to go around the judges, so I sort of nodded to each one. (When I got back to my corner, she said, “Okay, a little better than that next time.” When I saw Milana bow to all the judges before her fight later, I understood. Next time!)

Back in my corner, I got some more water and last words of advice: “Just don’t rush straight in at the very beginning, but move left.”

First Round: The bell rang; the official told us to box. From the beginning, I felt exhausted. I remembered that feeling from my first fight. According to the people there with me, I started the first round well enough (didn’t rush straight in, went left), but then I let her take over with her wild, incessant punching. She was doggone determined and didn’t stop no matter how many times I caught her. I heard Terri yelling my name over and over and I could tell that she was giving me instructions, but I couldn’t make them out. Every now and then I heard a lower voice yell—that was Ronda. The only words of the instructions that I understood were “PUNCH!” I knew I needed to punch more.

After the first round, my trainer pointed out where my opponent was open, saying that I just needed to throw more punches, moving in and out. That anytime I saw her even move to punch, I should go ahead and throw my own. “Do you want to win?” I said, “Yes!”

Second Round: Again, I started off following my instructions. I even remembered to do the jab-duck-jab move that I had practiced with Ronda on Tuesday, and pulled it off. (I’m pretty sure I heard Ronda yell something excitedly at that point.) My corner got pretty noisy during the second round. Meanwhile, I still felt like the walking dead.

After the second round, Terri said that I’d probably made the fight even again and that all I needed to do was to keep throwing punches, to stay busy. “Do you want to win this fight?” I said “Yes,” but I don’t know that I believed it. I was tired.

Third Round: I don’t know. I think it boils down to: I didn’t punch enough and she did. Already during the fight, I could feel my face hurting.

When the bout was over, we hugged and I went back to my corner where Terri took off my headgear and bandana and pulled out my mouthpiece while Ronda pulled off my gloves. “Don’t look disappointed,” Terri said, “you might’ve won.” I wanted to think so, but I didn’t. The main feeling I felt, however, was that of being devastatingly tired. My face hurt all over, so much worse than during or after my first fight. (Now that I think about it, I don’t remember throwing a single body shot during the whole fight. Neither did my opponent. It was all jabs and right hands.)

I went over to her corner to thank her for the fight and shake hands with her coach. She told me that I was “good, really good, it was a good fight.”

We stood in the middle of the ring and waited for the decision to be announced.

She won. I dropped my head and the tears welled up immediately. I hugged my opponent again and she put a medal on me. (There were three girls in our weightclass, so I got third place.) I headed for my corner, trying to keep it together at least until I was out of the ring. I had to see the doctor, so I tried to focus on that. It took me about three attempts to ask someone where the doctor was, without letting my voice shake too much.

“Are you okay?” the doctor asked. I nodded while she felt my stomach and signed off on my passbook.  I looked at it when she handed it to me—another “loss” box checked. Then I was covered in hugs from Terri, Milana and Ronda, who were telling me not to be upset and that I had fought really hard and it had been really close. I started sobbing pretty openly. We moved away from the ring; they went to ring 1 to get ready for Milana’s fight, while I hurried to my duffel bag.

Val came and hugged me several times, telling me encouraging things. Then Lisa came and hugged me, saying how hard I’d fought. When they left, I ate a banana to try to “interrupt” my crying. I stood there for several minutes, looking over towards ring 1 every so often. I didn’t want to miss Milana’s fight.

I tried to take deep breaths and then rejoined my friends, where they all told me encouraging things again. It was overwhelming because I felt completely heartbroken (worse than after my first loss), but I loved them so much for being so supportive. They really helped, even if it didn’t show.

I couldn’t feel my right ring finger anymore, so I got Terri to cut off my wraps. Much better!

I didn’t want to give Milana any bad vibes before her fight, so I moved away. Several people came by and told me I’d fought hard and that it had been a good, even fight to watch. They’d pat my back, or shake my hand, etc. I felt embarrassed, crying in front of all these people.

Remember the guy I thought I recognized at the fake weigh-in the night before? He walked by me and said something like “good fight,” but then he saw my face and decided to hug me. (Yes, I was that pitiful.) He fought directly after me in the same ring. Unfortunately, he didn’t win his match, either. It turns out that he’s from South Carolina, so I probably didn’t really recognize him at all.

Milana’s fight started. I tried to cheer, but I only yelled a couple of times because I knew how darn unsteady my voice was. Milana stopped her girl in the first round! I watched her and Terri high five and saw how excited Milana was (and how mad the other gal was). I was extremely happy for Milana, while still crying for myself.

Milana, Terri and Ronda joined Lisa, Val and I: commence hugging. Milana hugged me extra, telling me she was proud of me. It was really hard. I love these girls, and I’m so glad I wasn’t there alone. Repeatedly, Terri told me to be proud of myself.

Milana would go on to fight the next day and Ronda was supposed to have a bout, too. Terri asked if I’d come to see them. My first thought was “NO WAY,” but I told her that I wasn’t sure. She sent me to the bathroom to change, saying that Lisa would take me home. (I was grateful that they’d already arranged this for me.) Milana changed in the stall next to mine, so I’m sure she could hear me sobbing.

I went to the sink to wash my hands after changing. I let the warm water run over my hands for a while because I wasn’t ready to leave the bathroom. I wanted to wait for Milana to be done, too. While I was waiting, a girl asked me if I’d fought. “Yes,” I said. “Did you win?” Wasn’t it obvious? “No…” When Milana finished, we went out and stood around while the various members of our group gathered back together.

Terri, who was happy and up-beat, wanted to get pictures with us in front of the trophy case. She put her sunglasses on me to cover up my puffy, red eyes and we took two pictures. It was hard to smile, but I did have to laugh at the thought of me in Terri’s sunglasses. They’re not my style. (I don’t even own a pair of sunglasses.)

Before leaving, I got my cell phone and tennis shoes out of Terri’s car, where I’d forgotten them in the rush to get inside. I sent my mom the results of the fight, and then my roommate and my cousin.

On the drive home, Lisa and I talked about the fight and she told me how it looked from outside the ring. I kept up a trickle of tears, but she was great about it. We didn’t only talk about boxing, either, which was good. She offered to buy me ice cream. No thank you. She asked if I wanted to grab something to eat. No thank you. Did I need to go to the store while we were out?  :-)  She’s a sweetie! I appreciated her offers, but the only thing I needed was to go home, and that’s where she took me.

I hurried into the apartment, dropped my stuff and cried like nobody’s business. (Did someone just die?) Between the stress of the day, the boxing and the crying, I was plain exhausted. Pretty soon, I was too tired to cry and could finally stop. My head was throbbing, my nose was stuffed and tender, my lips hurt and my cheekbones felt bruised.

I decided that I needed a shower. It would also be nice to brush my teeth. After taking care of that, a much cleaner and better-smelling me checked Facebook and saw people’s encouraging comments. I also got a sweet text from Milana. I love the camaraderie.

When I went to bed, I fell asleep before I closed my eyes.

panic button photo credit, comix photo credit, breakfast photo credit, timer photo credit, judges photo credit, water drop photo credit, heart credit, home credit