Thursday, November 24, 2016

Into the Ring

*1/2 See next post for The Fight*

"Are you drinking coffee? Don't drink coffee. Nate Jones did that and threw up."

Great. But I always drink coffee before the gym. I feel better when I drink coffee. Is coffee going to fuck up my stomach with the adrenaline? 

But all I said was, "Really?" And put it away. I nibbled on the corner of an RX bar to have something for my stomach to do besides roil and churn. 

Hit pads. Stretch. Watch my opponent warm up. Ask how Jeff's fight went. Watch him shake his head in disbelief at his loss. His frustration. Warm Malik up. Hit pads with Nick. Glance at my opponent through the cheesecloth-thin black dividers. Stretch. 

What am I doing? Can I do this? Am I just going to get fucked up? She looks really warm. I need to warm up to everything, especially striking. Will I get too warm and waste energy? How much is too much? Am I going to get an adrenaline dump? Can I do this? What if she just pummels me? What if I get TKOed and cry? What if this is for nothing? 

"Focus on what you're doing to do to her," Wally had said as he turned and wrapped my hands with gauze and special tape. "Make a fist." Wrap, turn, tape, wrap. "Stick to the plan." 

A guy named Mike taped my gloves on. Thoughts about losing, the unknown, pouring through my mind until it was one fight before mine. I couldn't take it and slipped my headphones on. 

Runnin' out of breath but I, I've got stamina...
Don't give up, I won't give up,
Don't give up-

I'm free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest
The greatest, the greatest alive...

Tearing through the pages of Sam Sheridan's book I found what I desperately needed to have in my head complete, "The key to understanding dogfighting is the concept of gameness. Gameness could be described as courage, but that's simplistic. I've heard gameness described as 'being willing to continue a fight in the face of death,' and that's closer; it's the eagerness to get into the fight, the beserker rage, and then the absolute commitment to the fight in the face of pain, and disfigurement, until death. It's heart, as boxing writers sometimes describe it, with a dark edge, a self-destructive edge; because true gameness doesn't play it smart, it just keeps coming and coming. No matter what." 

Shuffling to another hatch mark, "after training five months, he could feel the presence of God in a fight... in his 'deep waters,' he comes faces to face with divinity- and is reborn on the other side." 

And lastly, what I desperately needed to remember, "That's the secret: It's all about love."

An with all that I'd done and endured over the last two years, I briefly considered how far I had come in life to this point. In it all, I had been training out of aggression, a need to feel alive. It was ultimately coming down to the fact that I had no one person in mind to channel years of hurt and anger towards, because training had wrought that out of me on terrible days already. I had healed within and outside of training and was here to fight not out of aggression and desperation to prove anything to myself. At least not in the beserker way some fight with a hatred and pent up rage that is unleashed on another person. I was here because of love and because I'd become a whole person. Marianne Williamson's quote pattered through my head, "'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world." 

I got pumped. 

I was here to fight. I was here because I had overcome years of sorrow and depression and had healed and become a whole-hearted person that simply had some natural, in-born aggression and had a purpose to live life fully from my soul. 

"Think about what you're going to do to her," Coach Wally reminded me. Focused me. I had the worst wedgie of my life and my gloves were taped on. He tried to help tug my shorts down with little avail. They called me over. Fuck it. A wedgie wasn't going to end me. 

I bounced in anticipation at the doorway that separated us fighters in the bright, yellowish florescent lit room from the darkened faces lit by the cave-blue light of the cage and ringing of the announcer's voice shouting my weigh- in weight and height.

"You have food in your teeth." The security walk-out guy looked down at me and raised his hand to his teeth in surprise. "Just a little bit right there..." I directed him as the announcer rambled on. "Ah, fuck it."

"Ready?" I nodded and followed him out. 

Freddie Mercury's clear, melodic voice rang out. My choice. 

Tonight, I'm gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive and the world, I'll turn it inside out
And floating around, in ecstasy
So don't, stop, me now,
Don't stop me now....

It built and built as Coach rubbed vaseline on my face, I spat out some water and wiped my feet on a towel. 

"It's a good song, right?" I asked one of the ringside guys and two nodded. I trotted up the black grated steps and my feet felt the blue mat as Freddie sang how he was gonna make a supersonic woman of me. 


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