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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Boxing Bootcamp: Day 4

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2007 at 8:50 AM

There's only one shower at 3rd Street Gym, so after 7:30, when we're done with the day's workout, there's generally some wait-to-use-the-shower time when the 4- or-5 of us who need to wash up before work hang out and gab or stretch or completely ignore each other. Yesterday, I chose a combination of the three, initially ignoring everyone, and then stretching while gabbing with a student from Trinity College in Dublin. That guy, who we'll creatively call "Dublin," came to San Francisco for the summer to study (something at SFSU, but I'm not sure). He talked rather matter-of-factly about why he's focusing on boxing and academics instead of going out and getting hammered every night, as students tend to do when they're studying abroad. But we were both drawn away from our polite conversation when Ed Gutierrez stepped into the ring behind us and started sparring one of our classmates.

I don't know much about Ed. He participates in our bootcamp activities as an assistant to Simon, generally walking through the room, offering instruction and encouragement as we go through exercises and drills. He's not that tall, but he's physically very solid -- maybe about 5'9" and well over 220 pounds of what looks like lots of muscle. He's quiet and reserved, and he seems to have experience working with beginners, and always seems to know not only what to say but what tone to say it in -- even when he's correcting a severe mistake, or trying to coordinate a painfully uncoordinated person on the technicalities of throwing a jab, he makes it sound like that person is improving and doing well, instead of looking pathetically foolish... which is good in this kind of class, where so many of us often look pathetically foolish. And, anyway, that's why Dublin and I took notice of the sparring going on behind us. A bell rang (from nowhere, it seemed), and the two opponents, in head gear and gloves, started bouncing in their stances. Ed, in a gentle, reassuring voice, encouraged our classmate to hit him, to step up and take some actual punches. Our classmate, who we'll call Rob, was hesitant at first, but after Ed threw some light jabs at Rob's head to inspire him, Rob started fighting, and they eventually had themselves a round of boxing. It was inspirational, it really was -- to see someone with as little (or slightly more) boxing experience as Dublin and I, in the ring, not looking too bad, receiving actual instruction from -- I found this out just now, after Google-searching "Ed Gutierrez boxing" -- a professional boxer. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Other points of note: I vehemently retract what I said yesterday about the Tenderloin at 4:30 in the morning ("...[it's] calm is eerie -- as if no one's lived there for a long time, and no one ever will.") That's horse shit. The corner of Leavenworth and Golden Gate was chalk full ("crack-rocks full"?) of angry motherfuckers yelling nonsense in every direction, just like it was midday. "Fuck you, pussy!" was the reaction I got around Golden Gate and Hyde, and someone actually threw a syringe into the street as I passed through the intersection at Market and 6th. Where was everyone yesterday, I wonder? Also: I admit, with some guilt, that I had two beers and smoked two cigarettes last night at Inner Mission Tavern, with a friend (who asks that we call her "Sexy Bitch" from now on, so we will). She, whatever you want to call her, does not help me avoid bad habits. "Just have one," she said, smiling, eyelashes fluttering. I'm surprised I made it home alive. I feel like I should hit myself in the head with a sledgehammer a few times as self-punishment, but I likely won't.

Boxing Bootcamp is a bit of fun orchestrated by 3rd Street Gym, SF Weekly's Matt Stroud, and Rob Quintiliani from the SF Bay Guardian; the fun involves Rob and Matt training for 6 weeks before pummeling each other publicly for everyone's amusement. Questions? Write to Matt Stroud.

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Matt Stroud

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