Sunday, December 14, 2008

A view of the horizon

Its been a while since I've done any writing. Part of it is a writing block, or lack of desire to write. Especially the short story that has become longer than most of my others. Its a bit of a poor excuse. If you want to write, you have to write and just keep humping at it.

Of course I've also been preoccupied with training for my latest bout which was held yesterday in south San Francisco. The card was held in a high school gym with the ring in the center of the basketball court. The bleachers were pulled out and full of spectators. The fighters prepared themselves in the small two room wrestling room adjoined to the gymnasium.

My stable mate Joe Lacap was the first bout and I watched him from the doors of the dressing room. Joe's opponent was from Cung Le's gym and like Joe was a small Filipino. Their bout started off slow with both of them wary about engaging. Joe spent a fair amount of the fight being pensive and not engaging. When he did engage his strikes were clean, especially his punches. His clinch work was okay. Most fighters in the states have pretty atrocious clinch skills so I was happy that Joe got a good knee or two in. I thought that Joe lost the first round, gained the second, then scraped by with the third. The judges gave Joe a split decision win, deservedly. If he had pressed more in on his opponent I think Joe could have gained a majority win.

My bout was the third bout of the evening and my opponent was Jose Perez a latino from Cung Le's gym. We weighed in on Friday at 146 lbs each. I cut about 7 pounds for my fight. Thursday evening I spent some time in a sauna and on friday I jogged with a sauna suit. I avoided eating until the evening as well which made me slightly irritable in the evening as we waited endlessly for the scales to come out. The day of the fight I'd gained back my weight through rehydration and a good deal of eating. Yesterday morning I began by eating some oatmeal, then a peanut butter and plum jelly sandwich. Later I had a tempeh and mixed green sandwich while snacking on mixed nuts and figs. My final ingestion of food was a delightful shake composed of banana, blueberries, almonds and some soy milk. My stomach felt slightly upset I think due to the tempeh. I haven't been able to digest soy as well as I did five years ago. Prior to my fight I was hungry. I wanted to fight on a slightly empty stomach because I didn't want to feel weighed down.

Coke led the way out of the dressing room and to the ring. I looked out at the crowd and recognized familiar faces sometimes making eye contact with my adoring supporters. I tried to stay focused and calm taking deep breaths in from my stomach. My breath fell out of me as the time passed and Perez came into the ring. The referee brought us together and the bout began. We touched gloves and I went to push kick him. He came directly forward with looping punches. My nervousness shot up as I've had trouble in the past with aggressive brawling punchers. To offset his forward antics I clinched up with him and began to knee him in the stomach. My mind was focused not on having great locks but on delivering clean knees into his midsection. Every time I kneed I looked down and tried to step out. Coke had been screaming at me for a month or so to make everything clean. The first round was spent primarily in the clinch along with the second, and third. Other than the brief opening onslaught Perez wasn't that active, unless you can call standing and getting kneed active. He threw one combination that ended with a leg kick that still has my leg slightly smarting and a single clean knee while we were clinched. One of Perez's concerns was getting kneed in the nuts. In the first round I delivered a sharp knee to his pelvis which grazed the top of his cup. The referee declared the blast clean but gave Perez some time. While we were in the clinch Perez would drop one arm to cover his nuts. Unfortunately that meant instead of landing shots into his stomach I landed them on his arm. In the third round I had Perez backed in his corner. I threw a shot that landed on his cup. Immediately recognizing that I had hit him I backed away while the referee gave him time to recuperate. Other memorable moments in my kneeing him included a period of time in which I switched from left knee to right. I was at a slight angle to him and so my right knee came over his leg. My right knee crashed into his kidneys. After the blow to the kidneys I came up with a left knee into the soft padding of his stomach. I switched back and forth between right and left for a good five seconds. At one point Perez was doubled over and I was driving my knees straight up into his bent over body. He was collapsing on the ropes and I was behind him so I kneed him in the ass. I thought of the sciatic nerve which runs in the buttocks when I pummeled his butt with my platela.

In between rounds my corner gave me sage advice, which sadly I didn't follow. Coke told me to make more space with the knees, to thrust more with my hips, while Mike advised me to use more footwork, and to kick him in the body. Additionally Mike told me to drop my elbows down. Perez was bear hugging me a lot when we came close as he didn't really have a good idea of how to deal with my knees. I landed about three kicks on Perez the entire fight and barely used the boxing which I've been practicing so much.

Overall I felt like I fought okay. There's such a gap between training and fighting. Its always surprising that there is so much space between the two. After the bout I waited with some anxiety. My amateur record hasn't been that great. I've lost the judge's decision on bouts that were close and when the announcer said that there was a winner by unanimous decision I swore to myself saying "Fuck not again." I won the decision which made me happy. I did a slight wiggle in the ring but felt that I might embarrass my opponent with my jubilee.

Its funny having won. I don't feel elated, I don't feel depressed. I feel like I got another fight done. I think I've fought better before, but that I did a few things better in this fight. Its another step, another marker in a long road race.

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