February 4, 2011 by David Gillaspie
How To Hold Your Own
Look through the window. A decent sauna has a window. No one likes a broiling room without a view.
This is either a fighter making weight, a nut case on the edge, or both.
I wore five layers of sweats myself when I saw the fighter through the window. We’d talked before, a ‘how’s is going’ here and there. Now since we both had enough ambition to load on the sweat gear, we were almost equals.
That was my first wrong assumption.
Once inside I said, “How’s it going,” like I’ve done before. I took it further when I saw how I could be a mixed martial arts trainer for a moment.
The fighter needed some hands to hit. I saw Rocky parts one through ten, but never actually held my hands up for a fighter to shadow box on.
I didn’t even know if shadow boxing needed hands, or what to expect by volunteering mine.
What could go wrong in a sauna with a fighter working out?
“Hey, would it help to hold my hands up to practice striking?” I said.
“That would be great.”
So far so good.
I stood there in my ready stance. I was taller, so I lowered my hands to about where an opponents head would be.
This kid moved like Smokin’ Joe Frazier, bobbing and weaving, in and out, up and down.
Then he uncorked a combination of punches.
I thought I just broke both wrists. My mental picture flew back to Rocky’s gym where Mick wore hook and jab pads, not bare hands.
My buddy the fighter stayed on the hop, bobbing and weaving, coming for the kill.
“You okay?” he asked.
What could I say, I’m such a wimp I can’t even take a hand punch?
“Good, I’m good.” I raised my hands again.
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” the fighter said.
I jumped at the out. “Yeah, you’re looking pretty tired. When do you fight?”
“I’ve got one coming up at the coast casino, then a couple overseas later this year.”
I needed ice for my sprained wrists, but didn’t want to run out of the sauna too fast.
“Sounds good. Well, I got to go.”
“You just got here.”
That was the knock-out punch. I couldn’t say ‘I hear my momma calling.’ Or ‘my wife is expecting me.’ Or ‘you hurt my wrist you beast you.’ I had nothing, so I sat down.
Knowing I couldn’t leave, that I wouldn’t, made my wrists feel so much better.
“Well,” I said, “that’s some strong punch you’ve got there.”