Tag Archives: boxing

The Stories of Baseball

For me, the sport in and of itself is not the draw. The draw is the people. It’s why boxing always held more interest for me than any team sport. It was the individual who made the sport what it was. The fire and sheer ballsyness of Jack Johnson, the lightning style and class of Sugar Ray Robinson, the sturdy and unrelenting force of Rocky Marciano. They defined their sport and their sport defined who they were simultaneously.

With boxing (or any sport that’s solely about the individual), it’s easy and clear to see the story of that person, to see the thrills and the heartaches and the failures and successes of that one person. They win or lose on the basis of their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s plain for everyone to see.

But with baseball, that’s a far more murky prospect. It’s not about the one, but the many and all those singular stories are lost in the shuffle. At least, that’s what I thought. But as I learn more and more about the history of the sport, I’m starting to hear the same amazing and terrible stories that I heard when I read about boxing: The sad and terrible monster that was Ty Cobb, whose talent and downfall both came from the same rage and feelings of  inadequacy, the talented and uneducated Shoeless Joe Jackson who threw it all away for the promise of $20,000 and Christy Mathewson, who never went to war, but lost his way of life and then his life to poison gas anyway.

It’s the stories that make any sport go beyond the confines of being a simple game played by talented men and women. It’s their lives that make their victories more than just points on a scoreboard. It’s always about the stories.

Dylan Charles

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Going the Distance

I have a huge problem with exercise: it’s not instantaneous. I’ve always had this problem.  I’d run for a few days and I’d still be winded or my time wouldn’t dramatically increase and then I’d get discouraged and stop. I couldn’t see any real progress being made and that was inordinately frustrating.

And I’m running into that same wall again. “God damn it, why aren’t I instantly in shape now? I ran for THREE DAYS.” That’s not a joke. That’s how I really feel.

What makes it even more frustrating is that I’m fully aware of how stupid that is. Getting into shape isn’t going to take three days or a week or two weeks. And it’s not something I can just attain and then stop doing. “Wellp, I done my running, I can quit till the End of Days.”

This time, I’m glad I have a bigger goal than just “get into shape.” I want to box. I want to step into the ring and see how that feels, so I can either let it go or keep at it. And because I have something very specific to set my eyes on, I think I can keep this up. Even on those days when I feel like I should be doing better. Even on those days when I’m panting and I’m feeling every cigarette and every day I just sat in a chair for ten hours and every double quarterpounder (with cheese!).

All this so I can let some big dude whale on me for three, three minute rounds.

I am not sane.

Dylan Charles

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Ringside Fascination

This is going to sound a little bit silly, but I’m not sure why I want to box. I have no clue where my fascination in the sport comes from. I’m not sure why I’ve read two books on boxers (Unforgivable Blackness and Sweet Thunder) and ordered two more (Hard Times Man and King of the World). I’m not sure why I enjoy watching fights that are a century old and especially when I know the outcome already.

Normally, it doesn’t bother me too much when I don’t know where my interests spring from. “I wonder why I love zombies,” I’ll think to myself and then go back to watching the Dawn of the Dead remake for the tenth time. But now that I’ve actually decided to step into the ring, I feel like maybe I should take a step back and look at what’s drawing me into boxing before I let someone rap me upside the head a few times.

Partly, I can’t help but admire boxers like Jack Johnson and Sugar Ray Robinson. Both were men who fought with their thinkin’ smarts just as much as with their gloves. And Jack Johnson did whatever the hell he wanted, in a time when doing so could have gotten him a lynched. He denied the rest of the world.

They both acted fearless, going back time and again to hurt and be hurt. And that’s damned appealing: folks who meet up with a brick wall and say, “Hell with you wall” and knock it right down.

Couple that with my desire to get fit and fighting trim and I guess it starts to make some kind of sense. But I want to go to a fight. One where I don’t know the outcome ahead of time. Maybe I’ll find a way to work that in before I put on some gloves myself.

Dylan Charles

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Dressing the Part

Today I made my first step toward my boxing goal. I went to the store and purchased running shoes.

As  mentioned last time, I’m no where near in shape. So I thunk to myself. What would be the best way to start getting into shape?

Why running of course. With running I could increase my endurance and also start getting into the habit of, you know, exercising. I figure it’s the best way to start some good habits without breaking the bank with a gym membership or expensive equipment.

First things first, I need proper shoes.

I went into City Sports with a list of potential shoe candidates. Or, at least, I thought I had. It turns out I left that at home. So I ended up staring at the Wall of Shoes without a clue. Until City Sports Employee (I’ll call him Tobey since he reminded me of Tobey Maguire), came up and asked me if I needed help.

Once it was determined that I knew nothing about running, he asked if I knew what kind of shoe I needed.

“I need…stable…shoe.”

“Ok, well these are our stability shoes. They’re more for overpronators.”

“Oh I have normal arch! I step on paper and it’s normal!”

“Well, someone with a normal arch usually isn’t an overpronator, but if you take off your shoes and socks I can see what type of step you have.”

So it turns out I’m an overpronator (when I step, I turn my foot inward, causing my arch to flatten more than is normal) and I need stability shoes (shoes with extra support for people with freak feet). A stability shoe helps to correct for my tendency to step wrong and keep me from needlessly injuring myself while running.

After trying on three different shoes, I picked the Saucony Progrid 3, which just felt damn nice. Which is what I’m wearing on my feet right now, cause why the hell not?

So now I have the right shoes (hopefully).  Now I just need to see if I’m capable of sticking to an exercise schedule. Which means drafting an exercise schedule. I have two weeks to get into some kind of shape before I try out a free boxing class. Excitement!

Dylan Charles

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On Boxing

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m going to take up boxing this year. As I also mentioned in that earlier post, it’s because I watched Rocky a whole mess of times. That’s only about 90% of the reason why however.

I’ve never been in shape, except for that one time that I took a running class in college. That was about four or five years ago now and I only dimly remember what it’s like to run from Point A to Point B without contemplating a nap midway. Coupling this with a series of life decisions that at best could be called “disastrous for my health,” and I am not the pillar of godly healthiness that you might think I am.

So that’s part of it.

“But Dylan!” I hear you saying, “There are other ways to get into shape besides having someone punch you in the head repeatedly!”

“That is true,” I’d say, as I pat you on the head condescendingly, “But I’m using my built-in obsessively competitive nature to bolster my desire to get into shape. One will inform the other. I know that I’m incapable of just exercising. So I’ve got to give myself end goals and a reason to get into shape.”

As part of this process, I’m going to be keeping a journal of sorts on the blog. So you’ll be with me up to the point that I throw my recently purchased boxing gloves on the floor saying, “I quit!”

I think we’re going to have fun!

Later today, I’m buying my first set of running shoes and we’ll see how it goes from there.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Sporting: Baseball, Boxing and Sports Not Starting with a B