Monday, August 27, 2007

"I hate to lose."

Moises Ysaguirre hates to lose. At least that's what he told me after he lost a three round decision in an amateur box-off.

I coach Moises almost every Saturday, teaching him the fundamentals of boxing, conditioning him for fights and pushing him to focus on fundamentals when he is sparring. The 18 year-old lives in Richmond, Ind. with his Cuban-born father and Hoosier-born mother. He's a good kid. He works hard. He listens.

Boxing teams from around the state gathered at the Ryves Center in Terre Haute, Ind. on Saturday, August 25. Moises was slated to fight a kid from the same gym as the last kid he fought, the last kid he lost to. I've never visited his opponent's gym. Never worked out there, never had an in depth conversation with the kids or trainers. All I know of it is what I have seen at bouts, in the ring and out of it. And from what I have seen I don't like it.

The fighters coming out of the gym-that-shall-not-be-named are probably the best natural athletes in Indiana amateur boxing but I can't tell how much real guidance they ever get. They are lazy, they fight sloppy, they fight stupid, and they win almost exclusively through a combination of raw athleticism and their opponents mistakes.

Moises came out more aggressive in round one than he had in his previous bout which is essential when you only have three two-minute rounds to win or lose a fight. His opponent, like all fighters from the gym-that-shall-not-be-named, danced around with his hands down, bobbed and weaved needlessly, and threw blind punches from stupid angles. But Moises, in only his third fight, is too timid. He wades in, throws a punch or two and gets in a clinch. Or worse yet, he'll get in close and start eating punches. It was a close fight - Moises' conditioning was stronger at the end. He was more aggressive, he was landing more punches, but he was still in a hole that he couldn't get all the way out of. Now I have more information to take back to the lab. As much as I want to get in shape, I want to see Moises breeze through the competition at Golden Gloves next spring and do it with solid fundamentals and class, two things the gym-that-shall-not-be-named are sorely lacking.

As we walked out, one of their kids knocked his opponent out with the first three punches of round one. The victor's teammates started howling, pointing, laughing, running around, knocking folding chairs akimbo. Maybe these kids come from nothing, maybe this is the only arena where they feel accomplished. But if their coaches can't impress upon them the opportunity sports affords them to rise about their environment then they are doing all of these young men a disservice. The gym is a place to learn how to fight but there are ancillary lessons to be learned about dedication, focus, respect, and integrity...if you're paying attention.

1 comment:

Ryan J. Downey said...

VIva la ancillary lessons!