Tag Archives: win

Latin Fight Night: “Dia de los Muertos”

Crazy things have been going on recently (er, in the last two years) that I want to share, but first I’m going to travel back in time to a good memory and the next piece of my story: my 7th fight and one of the funnest shows I’ve been on so far.

On November 1st in 2014, Buckhead Fight Club put on Latin Fight Night: “Dia de los Muertos” and boy was that a fun show! You should’ve seen the gym. The decorations were cool, we had an Aztec warrior walking around, and the place was packed. So fun!

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Stage one of our decoration prep.

This was my second fight in my home gym (I lost last time). It had been eleven months since that loss, and I hadn’t fought anywhere else due to injury. My bout was matched at 119 lbs and I was thrilled to be getting back in the ring!

The point of the show was to feature talented, local Latin boxers in every bout. The problem: my opponent and I were both white girls. Seeing as she’s a tall blonde and I’m a short brunette, my trainer and I decided that I should be considered the “Latina” fighter in our bout. We joked that we’d change my last name to a common Hispanic one, and we picked Sanchez. I thought it was funny, but I didn’t think we would actually do that. What if I offended someone?

I weighed in at exactly 122 pounds, which was the lightest I’d been at that point in time. Abel and I went to Waffle House together for breakfast after that, and then I returned to the gym to help with the last details of the show. The downside of fighting at home is that it can be tough to work the same event you’re fighting on. Every time this happened I always promised myself “I’m not doing this again,” but I always did because I wouldn’t turn down the chance to fight.

Luckily, as any good fight day would, this day included a long nap and multiple episodes of Fresh Prince. When I returned to the gym, I was stoked and ready to go. I hung out in the back room for a while, but before long I went out to the main area because I wanted to be right in the hustle and bustle of fighters and their teams getting ready. This is my favorite time; I love the energy!

When it was time to warm up, I started to freak out because I felt tired and worried about how long it had been since I last fought. Ring MatHalf-way through my warm-up, our ring announcer called everyone’s attention to the ring for a 10-count and silence for Little Juan. Everyone stopped working pads, everyone went quiet and we listened to the bell ring ten slow, sad times. When Terri and I looked back at each other at the end of it, we both had tears in our eyes — and resumed warming up right where we left off. I was about to fight in the ring with Juan’s name on the canvas. Swallow that lump in your throat and do it.

My fight was the fourth bout of the night and the only female fight. First, my opponent was announced and brought to the ring. Then, preceded by the Aztec warrior waving the Mexican flag, I was announced in the red corner, “hailing from Mexico City… Kelsey Sanchez!” I was astonished, but it didn’t throw me off. I later learned that the ones who knew me were laughing at this, while most of the audience was confused–though some believed it. (I was asked for an interview by a Hispanic news source, but that was before I could fake fluent Spanish.) So, Sanchez became my ring name and an inside joke at the same time. As for the fight…

1st Round: So hard! I didn’t throw much, and it wasn’t good. In fact, it was pretty bad.
2nd Round: Better! I threw many more punches and they connected more.
3rd Round: Much better! I could tell that I was rocking her…

During our last round, her hair started coming out of her headgear, so the referee sent her to her corner to fix it. I threw a whole bunch of punches when we resumed fighting to try to take advantage of the situation–the fact that she was frustrated and I was on a roll. Her hair came out again; the ref paused the match again. They were in the corner for what seemed like forever, and I was thinking “Come on, come back out here…” I was feeling great.

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Coolest medal ever! 

At some point that was unclear to me, the ref stopped the fight. I was confused and asked Terri if it was over, so she got confirmation from the ref and removed my gloves. I won by disqualification, which was less than satisfying! I was certain that I was ahead. I could’ve easily lost the first round, but not the second one. The third round was also in the bag, barring a surprising comeback from my opponent in the time left. I felt like I might’ve even had a chance at getting my first win by TKO in that 3rd round. However, a W is nothing to whine about! I had a great time.

aztecI got my picture taken with the Aztec warrior. This is the only picture I have from the night, which is a shame. Another drawback to fighting at home–everyone’s busy working the show! I couldn’t even find my corner after my fight, but I knew they had to move on to Abel, whose fight was after mine. I wandered around the venue for a while before I changed and watched the last of the fights.

When the event was over, clean-up was relatively quick because of the extra hands there to help. However, Terri’s idea of celebrating included a lettuce fight, HA! What a mess. That’s when the drinking and partying started. I finally came home exhausted and already getting sore muscles from the fight. I went to bed with an ice pack at almost four in the morning. Sanchez out!

 

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Ofrenda for Juan set up at the show.

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Georgia Games 2013 — Half-way to Open!

The weekend following my fight in Greenville, I entered the 2013 Georgia Games tournament (July 20-21). I barely trained the week in between–one or two runs, some light sparring. After I looked so tired in Greenville, Terri wanted to make sure I was sharp this time. I’m glad she preaches rest before a fight!

Day One

I paid my $25 and entered the female novice 125 division. I got my physical and then weighed in at 123.2 lbs—about the same as the week before. My trainer went back to the gym for the Saturday morning classes, but I got to do my favorite thing… Know what it is, yet?

20131130-190752.jpgBREAKFAST!!! This one was particularly good. There were two of us from my gym in the tournament, so we headed to Cracker Barrel together and pigged out. That was the first thing that we learned we had in common! Loving food. I had three buttered and very syrupy pancakes, two eggs, two sausage patties and a biscuit. (Lord have mercy!) It was fantastic. I also enjoyed the company. We had never really talked much before this, even though he’d been training at the same gym for a month, but we had a great time.

After breakfast, we dropped by the gym to pick up a headgear, then went to my apartment to nap. I slept like a rock and woke up feeling great. Both of us were in high spirits and were excited about boxing. We went to pick up Milana, and then the three of us headed for the venue. This part is memorable because of the downpour of rain that I had to drive through to get there! I had never driven in rain this bad, and it made me nervous. I went super slow and we made it to the venue alive.

It was hard to find parking. We dropped Milana off at the door so she could check the brackets. We were late because of the rain, and didn’t want to miss our potential bouts! As we finally pulled into a parking spot, Milana called to let us know that I wouldn’t fight until tomorrow, but that he would fight today.

We ran through the rain into the venue, to find that the tournament hadn’t started. In fact, the bout sheets hadn’t even been posted. Only the brackets were up on the wall. (Apparently, this Georgia Games received way more entries than usual.) I checked the brackets and saw there were five women in my weight class, including me. Since it was  a two-day tournament, they broke up the most popular classes into groups: three of the girls were in group A, and my opponent and I were in group B.

The chick that I boxed in Greenville the week before (and had sparred previously) was also in this tournament, but she was now in the 132 weight class. There were only two women in the 119 class, and I didn’t see any open women—only novices. I think there might’ve been a couple unopposed open women, but no matches were made.

We waited for the tournament to begin. Waited, and waited… Some folks from the gym came to cheer us on, so we all kept each other company. Boxing finally began around 7:15 pm—over three hours late! The other guy from our gym was scheduled to box in bout #20 (out of 26) in ring 2. The good thing is that he had plenty of time to get ready. The bad thing was that his fight was so late. He seemed calm and collected all the way through. His fight ended around 11pm and he won! And looked good doing it, too. We’d both fight in the finals the next day.

We went to eat to celebrate his win. It was great to celebrate with him, but it was a lousy meal for me. I spent $10 on an over-priced salad, of which I only ate a few bites of lettuce because I didn’t want to exceed my weight the next morning. We sat down to eat at about 11:45 at night and left dinner at 1 in the morning. I got home at 1:30 am and was asleep by 2.

Day Two

Per my instructions, I checked my weight at 6 am after sleeping like a dead rock for 4 hours. I was 123.6 lbs, no problem. I slept for another hour and a half and had some really weird dreams that I forgot immediately. Around 7:40 I rolled out of bed, into my car. When I got to the weigh-in, I joined my friend from the gym in line and he informed me of our bout numbers. Mine was #24 and his was #29, both in ring 1.

To expedite the weigh-ins, the officials had the girls wait off to the side so that they could weigh a bunch of us at the same time. We got tired of watching guy after guy walk in and out, even though they arrived later than we did. One of the girls pitched a little fit and they decided it was time to weigh the girls. I was exactly 123.2 lbs again.

I went to the gym and slept for two more hours. Unfortunately, I’d left my duffel bag of gear at home, so we had to swing by my apartment “on the way” to the venue (in the opposite direction). We also picked up Milana, then got to the venue around 2:30, right at the time we had planned to arrive. (Wow!)

I dawdled around the venue. Sat around for a while, much like the first day. This time I was thinking about my own fight more than what was going on around me.

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Terri wrapped my hands, which is a time I enjoy. I shadowboxed and stretched while being filmed by Fred. (I stuck to my policy: ignore the camera! But still try to look cool.) Later, Fred and Milana took me outside to film a quick interview for Boxing Chicks. I was nervous because I didn’t want to cut close to my fight, but Milana watched the clock to keep us on track. I was my usual eloquent self! (That’s sarcasm.) I cracked myself up when I told him that I didn’t feel like being sad later, so I might as well win.

We went back in, and I warmed up hard on the pads. This part was really fun, and I smiled a lot. I had a blast. Fred filmed, and I got a good sweat worked up. After that, Terri let me cool off some.

Time to glove up! Shortly after that, I got a little headache. I borrowed the gym’s headgear (because the strap on mine broke) and it felt a little too tight… Terri got me warmed up again, to stay warm this time. The headache blossomed into a full-grown, throbbing affair like I’ve never felt before. Headgear definitely too tight! I worried about being able to focus on the fight.

It was finally time to head ringside. The moment I stepped through the ropes, I forgot about the headache. I bowed to the officials, and got inspected by the referee. It was time to go!!!

Round 1: Before the bout, Terri told me that we’d have to wait and see what kind of fighter this girl was. I would either need to pressure her or I’d need to lay back and box her from the outside. She told me to listen for her call during the first round. Within the first minute, I heard the command: “Pressure!!” and I darn did.

Round 2: I got hit a lot, and that’s about all I remember. My own pace was a little slower than in the first round. In the corner after that round, Terri’s words boiled down to: “You lost that one, now go win the next one.”

Round 3: I re-applied more pressure with renewed determination. The ref paused the fight to give my opponent a standing 8 count. At some point, some snot came out of my nose and onto my face and I remember thinking  “Ew, gross!!” (I’m sure you’re glad I included that detail.)

The moment Terri pulled my headgear off, my head was relieved x1000 and the headache disappeared like magic. (Side note: Since my old strap broke, I ordered new headgear. The first 3-4 times I wore it, I got that exact same headache. Now, it doesn’t hurt anymore. I guess there’s a break-in period?)

After the last bell, we knew I’d won the fight, but there’s still that nagging “what-if” feeling until the official announcement is made. The ring announcer drew out the announcement for a long time to make us crazy. I won by decision!

The other guy’s second bout was shortly after mine. His match stressed me out! Both him and his opponent had fought the previous day, and they both looked pretty tired. Our guy won out, though, so we swept Georgia Games 3-0 between the two of us, which made Terri proud. :)

This was a peculiar win for me, emotionally. I was in high spirits immediately after my fight, but within a few minutes I felt bad. Mostly physically: my face (especially the nose) hurt like heck, I had a bellyache, I felt a little light-headed, one of my right knuckles hurt, my muscles were already feeling sore… Further on in the evening, I started feeling down. Part of it (my pride’s about to show) was because I felt over-shadowed by my friend, since he won twice in a row. Yes, I know how silly that is and I’m embarrassed to admit it! I told him about it much later (when we were dating…) and we both laughed about it.

I don’t think that was the only reason I felt down, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. At any rate, we went to dinner again, but I didn’t feel like celebrating and I really wasn’t hungry, either. Looking back at myself that night, I was so petty. If the same thing happened again today, I’m confident I could turn my attitude around.

The next day, I was quite sore! Everywhere. I still felt a little down, with no reason. I’d just fought someone who was more skilled than my previous opponents, and I won. I won conclusively, fighting for the second weekend in a row. I looked, felt and performed better than the previous weekend against a tougher opponent! Why was I down on myself? I shared some of these feelings with Terri and she assured me (multiple times) that I did really good. I felt like a little child wanting attention, but it is what it is. The mind game is so important, and I’m learning to play it better as I progress.

Either way, I couldn’t wait to fight again. (Five more novice bouts left for me, and then I’ll go open!) I was looking forward to the Title tournament at the end of August (where I got my second fight the previous year), but I was hoping for a match before then, too. I also couldn’t wait to get back to training! First, I rested and healed. All fight-related pain was gone by Friday and I was ready to get back to work.


A Little Unrelated Note Stuck on the End: The Next Tournament

I didn’t end up fighting in the Title tournament because no other novice females entered the 125 weight class. Milana entered this tournament, as well as two guys from our gym. They all got matches, which made me happy for them and jealous. :) I spent the weekend driving Milana around and just spending time with her, which was awesome. I took my two favorite pictures of her, which she won’t allow me to show people (haha!). Here’s one of us she took during Georgia Games:

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Milana won her fight! She got a broken nose and two black eyes in the process. She was supposed to advance to the finals the next day, but the doctor gave her a medical disqualification because of the nose.

I’ll end this post with a funny story from the Title tournament. I told a friend about how five girls entered my weight class at Georgia Games… “So where are they now???” She joked that I scared them away. A little boy, eight or nine years old, stopped and asked: “Is it true?!?” He looked up at me with big eyes. I said, “What?” I didn’t realize that he’d heard our conversation. “Is it true that you scared all those girls away??” Hahahaha! I just told him: “No, I don’t think so.”

Greenville, SC

As I mentioned in my last post (circa 4 months ago…), my goal for this summer was to get as many boxing bouts under my belt as I could. In late June, there was the question of whether or not we would make a trip to Florida for the Women’s National Golden Gloves tournament. Terri put it to me this way: “If your heart is set on this particular tournament, we’ll go. But if you just want to fight, we’ll fight you around here.” She hit the nail on the head: I didn’t care where I fought, I just wanted to fight. It was about 1:00 AM when we pulled up a calendar of boxing events and started looking for matches. (I’ll go to WNGG one day, though! When I’m open, instead of novice.)

The first show on the list was only four days away, so we contacted the people running the next show after that: Greenville Boxing Club would host a show in Greenville, SC on July 13th. They had a match for me! Easy-peasy. It was set, and I went back to my training with a specific goal in mind. All we knew about my opponent was who she trains with and that we were matched at 119 lbs.

This was my first out-of-state event. My trainer and I got to Greenville just after midnight Friday night/Saturday morning. I went straight to bed, for one of the poorest nights of sleep I’d had in a long time. I woke up every half hour, growing increasingly anxious about getting enough rest for the fight. Around 4 am, I had the briefest thought about how I might lose if I couldn’t sleep… Just as quickly, I banished that excuse. Unfortunately, I continued to wake up every half hour for the rest of the night.

When the 8:00 alarm rang, Terri told me to check my weight. I rolled my grumpy self out of bed and to the scale. About 124 lbs, if I remember correctly. I crawled back into bed, wondering how bad it was for me to be five pounds over 119. Terri wasn’t worried, though, and told me to go back to sleep. Gladly! My sleep was still fitful, but it was better than being out of bed.

The weigh-in was a breeze. I waltzed in, stepped on the scale, saw the doctor and left, with almost no wait time. I weighed in at 123.6 lbs, which is the lightest I’ve been since high school. And that was without dehydrating! (When we got to the venue later, I checked the bout sheet and saw that my opponent weighed in at 126.2. Good thing I didn’t sweat down to 119!) I saw my opponent at the weigh-in, and wondered if she looked familiar…

Terri and I found a local, country place and ate a GIANT breakfast. Well, I did, anyway. I had two eggs, two sweet potato pancakes (ohmygosh, yum!), two sausage patties and two biscuits. Folks, the post-weigh-in breakfast might possibly be my favorite part of fighting. For real.

During this time, I was working on my confidence. Working my mind “up” (to be mentally ready) while still keeping my body “down” (so I wouldn’t get antsy). The show would start at 2, and I didn’t want to jump the gun with nervous excitement. After breakfast, we went back to the hotel and I had a great nap. I slept hard, and almost felt like it made up for the crappy night. I happened to wake up at 1:30 pm, and my heart started thumping with excitement as soon as I saw what time it was. Terri told me to stay down, though, so I relaxed and tried to stay sleepy. I watched a bit of nothing on TV… and then it was finally time to head to the venue.

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We arrived during the third bout of the show. We found the bout sheet: I was bout #15. Plenty of time to get my hands wrapped and to focus. I got a better look at my opponent, and it was a girl that I had sparred before. I told myself not to care, but it started to unsettle me. This girl made me cry in my own gym and had taken away some of my confidence. (Until Terri restored it by making me get back in the ring with her for the third and fourth rounds…) But I began to think about how I’m a much better boxer than I was when I last sparred that girl. Hey, maybe she had improved, too, but I was willing to bet that I’d improved more.

Meanwhile, Terri had a million words of advice and direction for me. I tried to take it all in. A friend of ours who is also a trainer, D, came over and added his advice. It was a lot to think about! I stayed calm, listening and imagining myself doing what they told me to win. And then, my favorite part, Terri simplified it for me: “Just focus on two things: protect yourself and beat the crap out of her.” I grinned. That works!

Terri worked pads with me before the fight. I got a little frustrated as she kept telling me “too slow, too slow, gotta move faster, too slow.” I finally started moving around more like she wanted me to and the frustration went away. I got to the point where I felt good working the pads.

This was my first time fighting out of the blue corner. Terri and I were both grateful for D’s help and backup while working my corner. At first I was worried that he’d try to talk over Terri in between rounds (and I wanted to be sure to hear her), but he didn’t at all. I sure heard his encouragement during the rounds, however! Pretty much all I was aware of during the fight was hearing Terri and him screaming—and the look on my opponent’s face. (Oh! I was also acutely aware of the fact that I really needed to pee throughout the entire fight.)

I think my opponent gave up early in the first round. She threw some flurries of punches, but mostly she tried to get away. I could tell that she was tired. The times when she stepped back for a breath, Terri yelled for me to stay on her and not let her rest. Sometimes I did, but sometimes I rested, too. I was tired! But I managed to push through and keep after her. I felt slow and tired. Watching the video afterwards, I don’t look quite as slow as I felt, but I do still look slow. And sloppy, to tell you the truth!

I barely remember the two corner talks. I just remember being told not to be tired and that she was open for uppercuts and straight rights, in particular. One of the straight rights that I landed well came right after Terri yelled “Do it now!” (or something like that), referring to the lead straight right we had just discussed in the corner.

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I won all 3 rounds! I knew I’d won the fight, but there’s always that moment when you’re waiting for the decision and wondering… But I did win! Note: This medal is deceiving because it makes people think I won 1st place in a tournament… But there was a 1st and 2nd place medal for each bout.

I posed for pictures with Terri and D, with sweat still pouring out of me and my lungs heaving. Then I began the process of emailing and texting people that I knew would want to know (especially since this was out-of-town, so no one from my gym was there). This was a difficult task, because my hands were shaking like I was having convulsions. Even twenty minutes after the fight was over, I still couldn’t text well. Each text took a loooong time to compose, as I mis-typed and re-typed everything many times.

D, me, Terri

D, me, Terri

As soon was my coach and I let people know the outcome, I started getting congratulations from home, which was a good feeling. After taking a minute to calm down (and stop shaking, darnit), I called my mom to let her know how it went.

Now, while I was on the phone with Mom, I started sneezing every now and then…

The sniffles arrived in full force within a few hours of the fight. By the time I went to bed, I felt like I had a full-blown head cold. I fell asleep and slept really well. When I woke up, I stayed in bed for a while, cozy and relaxed. I discovered sore muscles as I started to move around. Finally, I got up and took a shower. (Phew!) I definitely should’ve taken one before bed, but I was too darn tired.

It was time to head back to Georgia. And, yes, I did have a cold. I felt very lethargic and tired for the rest of the day. Luckily, the cold cleared up after a couple of days and never got worse. But it sure did hit me as soon as the fight was over! Wow. That was no coincidence.

This was my fourth fight, my second win and my first out-of-town event. It was a good weekend!