Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Glowing Edge of Boxing

American Lisa Creech Bledsoe describes herself as a speaker, writer, media ninja, live music fanatic, and boxer chick. Boxing is a big part of her life and her blog The Glowing Edge. She recently had her first fight, aged 45 and I'd like to share her love of sport here with you. 

I start boxing training

I discovered boxing by accident. About 3 years ago my husband saw heavy bags on sale at our local sporting goods store. He brought one home and hung it in the garage, thinking our boys would enjoy it. They weren’t all that interested, but I was fascinated. But I also didn’t know what I was doing, so a friend connected me with Bonnie Mann at LA Boxing. I worked out in the gym there for about a year before I decided I wanted to get in the ring, and once I made that shift, I was completely and totally sold on boxing.

I want to fight
I loved the first workout class I took at the boxing gym – it was fast-paced, incredibly varied, and there was no way in hell I could possibly finish it. The workout demanded my entire body rather than just one part. My knees were fine, but I was sore after that class for the better part of a week. And I was definitely going back; I loved the challenge of it.

Because I was a runner, I had thought I was fit, but I spent the first few months at the boxing gym just getting my fitness level up enough to get through a one-hour class without giving out. And maybe I was looking around for the next challenge, I’m not sure, but I started watching some of the people sparring in the ring.

My friends said ... 
At first I got plenty of strange looks and odd reactions – most people were simply baffled: why on earth would I do such a thing? A few people reacted more strongly, chastising me for being irresponsible. I encountered many of the same misconceptions that I myself had held about boxing.

But I actually found I could use my writing to help bring people on board and open up the world of women’s boxing to them a little bit. In fact, it was largely writing about my boxing experiences that began to draw attention to my blog. I went from a handful of readers to several thousand, and now my boxing content gets republished on Women Talk Sports as well; that makes me feel pretty awesome. I never imagined I could help bring boxing to the attention of more women and men.

I love boxing
I’m always incredibly anxious before a sparring session. So many things have to come into play before you get in the ring – eating right, training right, good cardio, no injuries or strains. But even when I know I have all those other things I’m scared, going over strategy in my mind, reminding myself that I can do this, telling myself that I know how to take care of myself in the ring. I have to psych myself up, every single time.

But once that first bell rings and I begin to box, I feel incredible. Powerful, strong, capable. It’s worth all the struggle and anxiety. When I come out of the ring I feel like a superhero. I feel like the most amazing woman in the world!

My first fight 

The call came, and I trotted down the hall behind Biggs, entered the ballroom, climbed between the ropes. I assume the ring announcer was talking, but nothing registered. I bounced restlessly and gazed around the ring as the dull roar of hip-hop and shouting washed past me. People in tuxedos and ball gowns made eye contact with me in the ring, but I didn’t feel like I was about to perform for them; something was coming but it had little to do with this sparkling, crystalline crowd.

Bledsoe fights Trecia “The Nail” Neal
And we fought. I don’t know if I threw the first shot. I know I felt power in my body; the peculiar exhaustion of adrenaline drain mixed with the undeniable force of training, habit, and strength. I had power, and I could feel it at my disposal.

I had no grace. While my arms remembered their job, my feet seemed to forget. My opponent came at me with plenty of punches, but I couldn’t feel them, and I can’t tell if I blocked or slipped any. I only remember landing punches, over and over again with power. I remember stalking her, walking her down, demanding the ring.

It’s a strange feeling, having the ref lift your fist as the ring man announces the win. I was almost too overwhelmed to look up, and instead I gazed at the canvas and privately exulted. This canvas, these ropes, this beautiful, stark 22-foot square space was mine. This was what I’d worked for. And I’d won.

You can read more from Lisa's first fight on her blog The Glowing Edge.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Post on Movie News First

pic credit speckham on Flickr

I was chatting the other day with some boys-who-like-sport and sports movies came up. There are so many great films about sportsmen. But women in sports movies? That was a little harder to list. But when Olive over at Movie News First asked me to write a guest-post, I did find some inspiring work for her.

My Top 5 women in sport movies are on her blog here Movie News First

Pop over and have a look, and please share if you have other faves not here! And as always, please leave a comment for her too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Steph Gilmore Surfing World Champion x 4

Gilmore, pic credit Rip Curl Australia
You know the saying "better late than never"? Well, that's this post. Exciting news ....from two weeks ago, ahem.

Steph Gilmore, who is interviewed on this blog here, won her fourth ASP World Tour this month. Yep, that's fourth. And she's only 22. Feeling inadequate anyone? Level now with record-holder American Lisa Anderson, who knows what the future holds for this young Aussie? Some great footage of Gilmore surfing on her own blog Steph Gilmore.

Do you know anyone else who is successful at a young age in her sport?

Gilmore pic credit Rip Curl Australia

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guest-Post on Shantiwallah

New Zealand Black Ferns Carla Hohepa
Today's post is in New Zealand.

I've been reading Shantiwallah and swapping thoughts on travelling, sport and food since last year. I finally got around to writing a guest-post. for you. Thanks Marie for the invite!

And on the night Munster (my local male provincial rugby team) beat Australia (male national team) 15-9, it's great timing to have a post up linking sport and travelling.

You can read the guest-post here on Shantiwallah  Do please leave some comments on Marie's blog - and have a poke around her travels in New Zealand.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Iranian Women's Rugby Team

Every now and then you see a sports documentary that really opens your eyes to something new. A Kiwi director made a documentary called "Salam Rugby" about the Iranian women's rugby team. I read about this a few months ago on Ricochet but hadn't watched the clips. But with the men's teams taking to the fields this week in Ireland and the UK, it seems like a good time to bring it all up.

The women play wearing a maghneah which covers them and protects them from charges of immodesty at home. The fuss made over their clothing reminded me of the drama in Thailand when women started fighting MuayThai there. Imagine women wearing vest T-shirts in public, imagine taking off your clothes at the weigh-in, imagine kicking a head-kick and displaying your thighs in public. All very shocking at the time.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Irish Surf Kayak Team Photos

You'll remember I posted a while back about surf-kayaking? It's a crazy sport mixing surfing and kayaking with lots of fun. I got some great photos yesterday from the Home Internationals, Portrush at the end of October.
Aisling Griffin and Muireann Lynch are on the women's team.
(ps - yes Ais is my sister)

Photos by Aileen Foy - more here on Picasa

Team Sponsors Munster Dive and Canoe


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Zenyatta We Still Love You

It's not often you see horse-racing journalists coming over all feminist but Zenyatta changed all that.

Unbeaten for 19 races, she sadly lost out in a thrilling finish to the Breeder's Cup Classic yesterday. The only mare on the track and probably the only mare to have been profiled in W magazine or on Oprah, she's been taking on the big boys and winning for years.

So close, so so close - nail-bitingly, on the edge of the seat, screaming in the stands and all those other great sports cliches.

But we love her anyway. You can read jockey Mick Smith's description on his blog Mike Smith Blog and watch the race. I defy you not to scream and will her on even when you know the result!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Iron Jawed Maidens

Elections are taking place in the States as I type. It's strange how large they loom over here in Ireland. I'm excited about how many women are running. But scared at the kind of woman so many of them are. End of political broadcast.

And I've been dossing off work watching clips from this film "Iron Jawed Maidens". It tells the story of the first American suffragettes and what they went through to get the vote for women. All women, even Sarah Palin. I read about it over on From Byline to Finishline  - thanks!
Best Movie quote: In women courage is often mistaken for insanity