I had a meeting that day with a director of some organization. And before that meeting, I was grieving and the water works started up again. I took in a deep breath and told myself, You gotta stop yourself. Dry your eyes. You need to be professional. I grabbed the bottom of my shirt and wiped my tears from my cheeks. I took another deep breath. I rubbed my eyes a little and looked in the rear view mirror to see I looked fine now. Good.
I had my meeting and discussed only business. I flashed my classy smile now and then and told the director that I would be going to Cabo soon. "Fantastic," he said.
I then went to my boxing gym. I did not want to box. As a matter of fact, I didn't really want to do anything except lay in bed and grieve some more. But I thought to myself, I know this is what my friend would have wanted - for me to be strong and to continue on. And so continue on, I did. Six rounds of shadow boxing, four rounds of jump roping, and six rounds of punching the bag. At the end of it all, I was supposed to hit the pads with my coach Luis.
I sat on the edge of the ring with my gloves on and a group of ex-professional boxers said, "Get in the ring. It's time for you to spar."
"With him." It was the tall, white guy, Gordon. The only one at the gym. He's been at it for years.
"He'll work with you." One of the ex-pro boxers said.
I looked at my head coach and said, "I don't know if I'm ready. I'm scared."
I know, it wasn't the most manly thing to say. But I said it. And even though the Mexican kids never say it, I see it in their eyes that they're afraid too to get inside.
"Just go," my head coach said.
"If you want to go - go."
Then the ex-pro boxers said, "Just go."
My head coach strapped my head gear on me. I placed my gloves on. I walked between the boxing ring ropes and was in the ring. The bell went off.
Gordon followed after me. I ducked and weaved. I jabbed and jabbed. Some of them landed clean. Some of his knocked my head back. Julian, the head coach was watching intently. Luis, my coach, stopped what he was doing and started shouting commands. "Paul, duck. Body blows. Get him with the upper cut."
I tap danced throughout that ring doing my best to dodge the punches coming at me. Sometimes, I blocked them. And once in awhile, bam! My left hand flicked that back handed punch that hit a blow. I converted to a Southpaw stance a month ago. It was better for me.
Then I noticed, everyone in the gym stopped their training and was watching me. I was like what is going on? And then I heard people shouting from every corner what to do. The ex-pro boxers said to keep punching. Luis kept telling me to upper cut. Julian was saying to weave more. And that's when I realized, even though I hardly talk to that many people in that gym, everyone was rooting for me.
For some reason, that three minute round was the longest three minutes of my life. Luis tried to give me water, but the water bottle had ran out so he sprayed the water against my head instead. The 30 second break was short, and it was time for round two.
I can't brag too much about round two. I didn't do as well as in round one because I was getting tired. I just started flying around the ring more to avoid the blows and to give my opponent a run for his money.
I was so relieved when the bell rang.
Luis came up to me first and said, "You did good. But we gotta work on that jab of yours. Not enough flick."
Julian said, "Good. You did good."
I smiled and said, "I think I did better than I thought I would do."
I walked up to Gordon and thanked him. He said, "Not a problem."
Everyone told me good job. It was decent. I need better conditioning. My spirits were high though that I was liked.
I hope from Heaven my friend saw how I sparred. Wish he could've seen it all. Maybe, he did.