Saturday, August 16, 2003

Because you understand the fight in me, Part III

A year ago, a friend put a bug in my ear, "I've always wanted to watch a boxing match." I remember watching boxing matches on TV. My grandfather would circle them in red ink in the newspapers tv guides along with the other shows he faithfully watched, "Sanford and Son" "Lawrence Welk Show." Before boxing was a regular tv programming with Howard Cosell and his lovely matted hair on the "wild, wild world of sports." But since the scandals and corruption, and the perceived "violent nature" of it, it's be relugated to the Spanish channels or late night tv on a non-major station.

The thing about boxing is that we hate to admit that we enjoy watching two fighters pummel each other. Yet, we watch hockey and football. But for some reason unless they're padded like a mattress, it doesn't seem "right" for us to enjoy watching it. I have no shame. I like boxing.

I like it the way Romans like Gladiator fights. I like the drama, I like the strategy. I like the athleticism to avoid one strike, while finding the opening to another. I like the courage of facing one's fear. Do they fall for the fake? Do they remember to do what their coach tells them? Boxers have some of the smoothest feet out there. There's a certain grace and style to it. The lighter weight matches are fast and furious while the heavyweight battles are like giants battling in the heavens.

So, I was a bit surprised this friend of mine, who isn't much of a sport fanatic, wanted to watch boxing. But, always going with the flow, I said, hey if you want to go, I'll go with you. Thus bringing me to today.

I've been searching for boxing matches to go to. Ideally, Las Vegas would be the place to go, but Vegas is expensive! You're talking $100 to get in the door and nowhere near close to the ring. My friend wanted ringside. We'll have to look at no name events then.

A few days ago, I get a call from my boyfriend. He reads off this sign in Spanish. Live Saturday Nite Fights at the Oakland Coliseum. "Wanna go?"

Ooooooh! yeah!

I email my friends, but no one can go today, so my boyfriend said he'd go with me. See, this is how I know my boyfriend LOVES me dearly, he goes to a boxing match with me. Though i wouldn't mind a dress up gourmet meal, he knows that I couldn't really care much for jewelry or perfume nor the regular "chick flick."

I'm still looking out for boxing matches to go to with my friend. But my BF and I decide to go and check this one out at the Oakland Arena. There are five scheduled fights. The main attraction is a boxer by the name of Celaya from Salinas. The promotions were sent mostly to the Latino community, about half of the boxers were Latino.

Incidentally, Tuhan (my martial arts teacher) knew of the guy. Celaya's trainer is married to his cousin. There you go 6 degrees of Pinoy separation. We'll get more into the Filipino-boxing connection in a bit.

We get there an hour early by BART. But the matches are delayed an hour due to traffic and waiting for the ambulance. I think they were just stalling to get more of a crowd in. The boxing crowd was interesting. There were rows of old timer white men, whole Latino families (fathers with their sons and a few daughters), there were those dressed up as if going clubbing with their chains and rings, then the women dressed as well as if going on the night on the town in tight sexy outfits and heals, then regular joe-schmoes dressed in shorts and tshirts.

We watch them set up the ring. The referee leaning against the ropes to test out their strength. The distinctive ring bell sounds. A bright metal bell sits on a table at the side of the ring, the timekeeper puts on a distinctive black and white striped shirt. It's all about fashion and flash in boxing. The referees are dressed in business blue shirts with black slacks and neat bow ties, you wouldn't think they were getting ready to push a pair of sweaty boxers arm's length apart. Later one we'll see the boxers in basic black, shiny silver, velvet red, hot pink, and fire engine red colors.

There are 5 fights tonight, most of the their career records seem unmatched. A few young pros with only a handful of fights to their name, then a couple of old timers, with 40-50 fights. First two fights are junior middleweight, the third is a women's bout, fourth are the heavyweights, and the last the named title round.

The announcer in his finest tux comes to stage and announces the first bout. The bell rings after each of the introductions: the judges, the refs, the timekeeper, and him. Rap blasts over the sound system as the first fighter comes out. Next, mariachi music comes on as the second fighter approaches. more later...

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