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.


Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

Thanks so much, Niamh, for putting this together! I am honored that you were interested in helping me tell a little bit of my story. And maybe together we've raised the profile of women's boxing just a bit.

Keep up the great work!

niamh said...

No problem Lisa! It was great to learn a little about women's boxing in the US too, thanks for sharing