Tag Archives: support

Post-Fight Love

Waffle House All-Star Breakfast

Waffle House All-Star Breakfast

The morning after my fight called for Waffle House’s All-Star Breakfast. A buttery and syrupy waffle, two over-hard eggs, grits, two sausage patties, toast and orange juice. Mmmmm. Nothin’ wrong with that.

While I enjoyed my food and my cousin’s company, my phone buzzed with Facebook updates that I ignored. My Grandma called to congratulate me and tell me that she and PopPop “knew you could do it!” When I got to a computer, I updated my Facebook status:

Last night after my fight, I couldn’t fall asleep until around 5 am. A big part of the reason why is because I couldn’t stop thinking about the wonderful people I have in my life. . . . Last night wouldn’t have meant anything to me if it weren’t for all of you!!! Thank you.

I then proceded to wade through the Facebook notifications. I enjoyed looking through all the pictures—not just ones taken during my fight. I was in my own world for most of the night, so it’s fun to see what photographers captured that I never noticed.

Comments and posts and messages kept coming in. I’ve never had so many Facebook notifications in my life. I received congratulations from old friends I hadn’t heard from in a long time, someone I met at a boxing tournament once and even a couple of people I’d never met before. Add to that the people that I regularly interact with, and I was totally overwhelmed.

I’ll be honest: winning that fight meant a lot to me. At the same time, it would be lonely and pointless if the trophy were all I had. Sure, it’s a symbol of my hard work and what it got me, but I haven’t given the trophy much thought since I received it.

What I have given a lot of thought to: the people in my life. Most of my family lives too far away to come to events like this, but they still send me texts and messages to let me know they’re cheering for me. Then there are the friends and family who can’t stomach boxing, but still support me because they know how much I love it. I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!

After I lost my first fight, my cousin and my roommate were right there to hug me and tell me not to cry. After winning on ACFN 6, they both hugged me and laughed with me. Not only that, but they cheered me on during training. How many times has Rachel seen me come home from the gym in tears? (Not as many times in recent months, but before that? Shoot. I’m like a fountain.) I’ve sent Garrett numerous texts to the tune of: “Waaaaaaah!” and he’s never told me to get over it. Talk about moral support!

Poster made by teacher-friends!

Sorry for the glare. It says: “The Champ is here! Way to go, Kelsey!” They included a poster and bout sheet from the event.

When I walked into my classroom the next Monday morning, I was surprised by a big poster on the wall. The fact that some of my teacher-friends even came to the show meant a lot to me, and that they showed so much enthusiasm brightened my day (and the following week, as word spread around the school and people carried on and acted like I was famous).

For boxing-specific support, you can’t imagine how much the girls in the gym have helped me out. Between Milana’s supportive attitude (e.g. going over combinations and drills with me in slow-mo after training), Caryn’s encouraging positivity and Lisa’s challenging sparring… I had all the help I needed. They believed in me, and that was contagious.

Then there’s Terri Moss. She didn’t just train me physically, but mentally, too. (That is what made all the difference—I’m positive!) She believed in me and helped me believe in myself. After I posted my afore-quoted Facebook status, she commented: “You did the hard work, and you DID it!” I sure did, but still can’t take all the credit. Contrary to what one of my friends stated in her status, I’m not a superhero. What I am is a girl with a great support system—who likes to spend all her time in the gym. (Sure, I’ll take some credit.)

As Milana said in a Facebook status following the fight, “To me boxing is more than just a result in a passbook.” What’s important is the process of training and fighting and then training and fighting. Being my first win, this was an important milestone for me. But, really, it was only my third bout. I hope that this one fight was just a drop in the bucket of many fights to come. More than that, I hope this win was the first of many! I’m headed back to the gym to make my dreams come alive.

The Atlanta chapter of Thaakat, the charity I fought for (and won money for!), gave me a shout-out on their blog: Congrats, Kelsey Smith!! Thank you! I’m glad I could help.

3rd Time’s the Charm: Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 6

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.

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. The Best.

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

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

I woke up twelve hours later. I didn’t want to get out of bed, so I grabbed my Bible on the nightstand. I’d been reading Hosea, so I finished that book before flipping to the Psalms. I read a bunch of them, and taped a few verses to my wall. These verses helped me feel less like a failure and more like a promising work-in-progress. After that, I re-read a recent card from my mom that was still on my nightstand. Her words made me smile and think. I copied down a couple of quotes from her and stuck those up on my wall, too. One of them being:

Use what you know to change what you can all the while remembering that who you are transcends what you do.

My Mommy’s a wise lady and I’m lucky to have her.

I read Harry Potter for a while after reading the card, because I still didn’t want to get up. I did eventually tire of being horizontal, though. Since my face was tender to the touch, I went to check how I looked in the bathroom mirror. Nothing to be alarmed about: I was 100% normal-looking.

I had oatmeal for breakfast, which was a treat. I hadn’t eaten it in a long time because it wasn’t included in my fight diet. I also had a spoonful of my roommate’s ice cream. Just one spoonful! (Until later, when I decided to finish the carton. But don’t worry, I bought her new ice cream to replace what I ate.)

At about 10:00, I texted Milana to see if she’d weighed in yet and if she knew what number her bout was. (She opted to arrive at 8 am that morning and spent over an hour and a half waiting again.) She was scheduled for bout #25, which meant that her fight would be rather late—perhaps around 6 pm. I was still thinking about whether or not I’d show my face at the tournament again.

I was also thinking about going to my church’s Bluegrass & BBQ day, which I’d been looking forward to for weeks. I could hear good music, eat good food and see good friends. I only entertained the thought for a moment, though. I would be lucky if I pulled myself together in time for Milana’s fight, much less in time to get to church in an hour. I wasn’t fit to make a public appearance just yet.

So, I stayed home. I did some more reading, and then I read updates from boxing friends on Facebook. Val posted an awesome video on my wall, which was the first thing that made me feel like I’d get over the loss and be stronger for it:

Shortly after watching that video, something switched in my brain. Suddenly, I really wanted to support Milana at her fight that day, and I wanted to get back into the gym to get ready for my own next fight—whenever that would be. It was as if I “got over it” in a matter of minutes. (I was within Mike Smith’s 24-hour rule, this time.) I made arrangements with Lisa to hitch a ride to go see Milana.

It definitely helped that my dad and brother called me. Dad was on the line first: “Well, are you black and blue?” I had to laugh. Then I talked with my brother for a long time. He asked: “So how did the boxing go?” I said, “Well, I lost again!” and he said something like “Too bad.” Then he cracked me up by saying:

As I said before, jump! Left! Hit more. And be quicker, too, so you can hit more: powpowpowpowpow! Like that.

Except for the part about jumping, that’s basically what Terri always has to tell me: hit more, be quicker. It turns out that my brother actually listens when I go on and on and on about boxing and my training. It was just so perfect that he cared to ask about the tournament, showed sympathy for my loss, but then looked ahead to the next time. He’s got more tact than the average eight year-old. (He was actually still seven at the time of the call.)

I also got a call from my cousin. I told him all about the tournament and he patiently listened. I’m blessed to have such a fantastic family “in my corner.” (I appreciate that phrase more now than I did before I started boxing. The boxer is in the ring, but the people in the corner make all the difference.)

Lisa picked me up at 5:30 and we set off for Doraville. When we arrived at the venue, we found Ronda, Terri and Milana. (I didn’t realize until later that Jackie was there, too.) Turns out, Ronda’s fight was canceled. Either the other chick didn’t show up to the weigh-in in time, or she wasn’t on weight, or something like that. That’s a pity, because I was really looking forward to seeing Ronda fight. She’s taught me a lot during our sparring sessions.

While Milana and Terri warmed up, Ronda and I watched Anna’s fight for the belt in our weightclass. I recognized the other girl because she watched our fight the day before. She moved like a more experienced boxer. I was rooting for Anna, and I felt bad for her when she lost.

Then it was time for Milana’s bout. This time I could cheer as much as I wanted without being scared of embarrassing myself. I kept an eye out for Anna, because I wanted to hug her. I finally saw her and told her that she had guts—she didn’t stop for nothin’. She said that she was tired out from fighting me the day before. We said a “see ya next time” and went our ways.

Milana fought a hard three rounds in her second bout of the weekend. I was proud of her for not giving up, as tired as she must have been. She lost this bout, but she’ll be back again. (Isn’t that right, Milana?)

I’m very happy that I went back to the tournament instead of hiding away at home. The whole weekend turned out to be a positive experience. There was so much stress, excitement, disappointment and learning packed into that short span of time.

Though it was positive, it sure took a toll on my energy level. I was grateful for Labor Day! I needed the day off to get my act together. I had a mountain of lesson-planning to do, and other things to take care of. But my biggest concern was: when could I go back to the gym?

(It took me almost two weeks to finally clean the banana out of my duffel bag.)

Here’s a blurb about Milana and I going to the tournament on Terri’s blog. Thanks for the shout-out!

Bible photo credit, ice cream photo credit