Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Age no limit for Girl Boxing

Malissa from Girl Boxing  turned 57 in June and still makes it to two tough sessions a week at the famous Gleason’s Gym in New York City. She says the reason she keeps boxing is simple - “I like it”.

Malissa’s site is the place to go for women’s boxing results and news. She started boxing in 1996. “Gleason’s is very supportive of women,” she says. “It was pretty much my neighbourhood gym.  Once there I fell in love with the gym and the sport and never looked back.  It’s a place that feels as comfortable as home.”

Talking about why she loves boxing, she circles back a few times to the idea of honesty. She says in boxing you have to be honest, with yourself, with your trainers and with your fellow-boxers. “In order to be successful at the practice of boxing one has to let oneself go.  Really hitting something is difficult.  It requires precision, strength and control – not to mention that it takes one’s entire body moving in harmony to punch with power.”

Training the old-school way 
Her first trainer, Johnny Grinage was “old-school”. She says: “His thought was you can only learn in the ring so why waste your time (on focus pads). Johnny’s other big thing was to avoid what he called “pitty-pat.”  To his way of thinking, if you weren’t going to hit hard you might as well go home.  Thus, training was sort of simple.  Warm-up exercises with a broom handle (25 on each side).  Three rounds of slip-rope work – Left, left, right, left hook, slip, right, left hook, right, slip – back and forth along the slip-rope over and over again.”

And of course he loved the heavy bag, up to 12 rounds she says. Ouch, but that was how they ground it out back in the day. “Johnny always had me do nothing but the left, left, left hook, slip, for the first round (“and don’t give me no pitty-pat”) followed by slews of combinations, but always going back to the L,L,R, LH, slip, R, LH, R.” Five years of that, and it’s no wonder Malissa developed strong hands.
Changing trainers and training
Following a two-year break for personal reasons, Malissa got back in the ring with Lennox Blackmore. Still a tough routine but more variety.
One mile run on the tread mill to warm up /Three rounds shadow boxing
Four to five rounds focus mitts with Lennox /Three rounds double-ended bag
Three rounds speed bag/ Sit-ups: 100 / Crunches: 100-200

These days, in a nod to her slightly-older years, she’s adapted that regime to:
Walk for 1-3 miles to the gym (fast)
Shadow boxing or slip rope combination: four rounds
Focus mitts with Lennox: four rounds / Double-ended bag: four rounds
Speed bag: four rounds / Situps: 25-50  / Cunches: 50 or so

Why I love boxing
Malissa reminds me of a great scene where “Send me no flowers” when she’s explaining how liberating boxing is for someone of her age. And I’m sure any boxer could relate. “There’s a nice secret to boxing that is particularly hard for women to admit – it’s great to hit things. 

“I mean it, there is a deep satisfaction to letting it all go and feeling your own power or hearing the sound of your glove hitting a heavy bag with just the right amount of torque.  Women of my age in particular were still being raised to maintain our demeanours – and the notion of showing strength and controlled violence was unheard of, never mind hitting a person. I mean think of this:  Doris Day cold-cocking Rock Hudson.”

Part 11 of this interview will follow on Thursday - her Aikido-loving daughter and lots of tips for boxers. 



Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for your wonderful piece. I am honored, humbled and gushing a deep pink! Re: the changed routine ... I'd love nothing better than to get my sit-up & crunches back-up to where they were when I was *52* -- Oh, and slimming down a bit wouldn't hurt either :) I'll keep trying!!!

All my very best!


Amy Phillips said...

Go Malissa!

Leila said...

this was great! so inspiring. I really need to get more exercise! looking forward to thursday's post!


niamh said...

@Girlboxing - I'm sure it will come back to the best level for where you're at now, that's maybe the best way to look at it. And really it's no problem at all.

@Amy Scheer - Thanks for dropping by Amy. Are you training at Gleason's too?

@Leila - thanks for dropping by Leila. She has lots more to say

Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

Yaaaaay for Malissa at GB! Can't believe I missed this post earlier. I particularly enjoy seeing people's boxing routines, I guess because it's so interesting and varied across gyms and individuals.

Nicely done! Once again!!

niamh said...

@Lisa - it's fascinating how we call get there. I always enjoy your posts about moving from gym to gym and fitting in with the routines there