Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Friday Tournament: All Friends Here

Another week, another tournament, another exhibition match.

Friday saw a couple of impressive debuts for tournament night. Jeanette Kuhn started off the evening with an impressive win over veteran slugger Dewran Wopat. The third fight of the night featured a solid victory for Allison Tobias, also making her tournament debut, over second-timer Arsinoe Dagger.

Allison's victory in particular was a good moment for me. While her recent debut might lead one to think that she was a new arrival to the Averlast Gym, in fact she and real-life husband Diedrich Price have been around almost as long as I have. Schedule conflicts kept them away from the gym on tourney night before, but one could still often find them sparring each other or others during the week.

So that amounts to a whole hell of a lot of practice time before Alli finally made her leap into the tournament. It was a thrill to finally watch her in action.

Hopefully that schedule will stay clear on future Fridays.

My own match was a lightweight vs. middleweight exhibition match against snake5608 Boa. Longtime readers of this blog would recognize this as a rematch. Or maybe a re-rematch. While it may have lacked spectacle, as we two cagey veterans of the ring maneuvered around each other, looking for openings and dodging the big hits, snake was a challenge as always. The end result was a close call, but finally the decision went to me.

While fun and challenging, my match, being an exhibition, was "full of sound and fury," but "signifying nothing". Like my loss to Leafouur Smythe last week, these matches don't go on anybody's record. Happily, we're looking at an expanded middleweight roster, which will hopefully relegate the exhibition match to a curiosity, rather than a way to get the evening's only present middleweight a slot on the fight card.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

If I've said it once...

We had an unpleasant incident in the gym over the weekend. Two boxers in the ring were accosted by a trio who apparently assaulted them with weapons, mocked them on voice, and, when one of the boxers teleported away to escape, ganged up on the remaining one with activated gloves.

The incident started with the three goofing off among themselves, and that's fine, well and good. The line was crossed when they barged into the ring and involved two unwilling people in the "fun".

It's a fairly common story, one which has swelled the gym's ban list to a rather epic level, as newcomers come to the gym and either fail to grasp the idea of basic respect, or act with deliberate malice.

The twist this time comes in when you learn that the newcomers were the ones minding their own business in the ring, and that their attackers were experienced Averlasters of good standing and reputation.

No names here. The parties involved know who they are.

When word of the incident got to me, I was very disappointed, and very, very angry. The trio had been at Averlast long enough to know better. The decision of what to do with them was out of my hands, as the one victim willing to come back to the gym had gone to another Averlast official first.

One of the things I keep telling people is this: Stay out of an occupied ring unless you have been invited in. There's a simple reason for that, namely respect for others and for the gym. Incidents like this, perpetrated by people who, as I said, should know better, hurts us as a brand and as a community. It degrades trust and discourages the influx of new people that keep the place going and competition hopping.

Who wants to go to a place where they know they'll be harassed? Nobody, that's who. And that sort of reputation is the last thing that Averlast needs.

Friday Night Tournament: Ring Rust

Believe it or not, people have actually been scolding me for not blogging. So, suddenly finding myself with a wealth of material to write about, back into the breach!

Well, Friday saw me in the ring for the first time in 2008, in an exhibition match against a talented newcomer named Leafouur Smythe. And I lost.

Not that it hasn't happened before (Derrick Cult took me down in my middleweight debut). And it doesn't go on my record (again, an exhibition match). But still, it was a disappointing performance on my part. Two decent rounds against Leafouur, followed by a complete mess in the third. Add to that two unanswered ring-outs, and, hell, by the time that final bell rang I knew it, Leafouur knew it, and the audience knew it. I was sunk.

None of this is intended to take away from Leafouur's own ability. He's fast, persistent, and has a good head in the ring. He also plays SL hockey, so he's already used to competing in front of an audience.

Plus - and this is a biggie here - Leafouur had trained a lot before the night of his tournament debut. I had not.

I had largely taken the month of December off, aside from making the presents for our regulars at the holiday party (personalized sweatsuits, which seemed to go over well). My system is such that it gets overwhelmed in free-for-all matches. Thus, I had little motivation to enter those events, which were all we had for that month. Most of December was spent in out-of-ring activities, and I let training slide.

Come January, when I did make some attempts to get back into the game, a newcomer expressed shock at seeing me in the ring at all. That was a bad sign in regards to my career as a virtual boxer.

So, in the end, it came down to the prepared man vs. the unprepared man. Just ask Sun Tzu as to how that usually ends.

The loss probably wouldn't have irked me so much if it weren't for that last round, when I lost focus and just started trying the novel strategy of trying to wear out his fists with my face.

On the other hand, what if I had somehow, through some miracle, managed to pull it off and then gone on to face Derrick or Manfred Pessoa (our middleweight champ) after another week of slack training habits?

I would be massacred, is what would happen. Leafouur beating me was the best wake-up call I could have gotten, as a competitor. The trick now is figuring out how to balance my sparring sessions with my other responsibilities at the gym. But if I want to be both a contender and one of Averlast's designers, it's a question that needs answering.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

And the Band Played Waltzing Mathilda

I try not to get political on this blog, so I'll let this one speak for itself:

Happy New Year, one and all.