I grew up spending my afternoons at the local PCYC, my dad would teach boxing lessons to younger kids, men and women through out the week. Every day he would take the time to coach my brothers and after that he would teach my sisters and I.
The room was clean in a way that suggested there was no tolerance for outside clutter, dated in a way that reminded me it wasn’t about how you looked but what you were doing.
At the time I wanted nothing more than to be on the other side of the building in dance lessons. Boxing was a chore, synonymous with long trips to backwards towns, early morning weigh-ins and copious amounts of discipline.
I didn’t take much in, how to focus my breath, to jab and uppercut. I learnt to wrap my hands, to take care of my gear. I learnt that following instructions saves faltering in the long run- if you listen while you exercise, sparring will come easier.
I learnt that my brothers may work as hard as they physically could, run longer, eat better, train harder and still their opponent could show up on the day and do better. I also learnt to take that loss and turn it into an even longer run, a better meal, more hours in the gym.
Still, I hated every second of my afternoons there. Once my brothers got in the ring however that was a different story. They were the toughest versions of themselves yet I’d never seen them move so gracefully. I feel everything when they’re up there, pride and anxiety, stress, awe. I exhale every ounce of worry when they’re doing well and inhale it all again if they’re caught on the ropes. My father and I didn’t agree on much growing up, but we did end up settling on boxing.
I’m thankful for everything it taught me, and I regret ever straying from something that seems to trickle through my family’s veins. As my family changed, my relationship with the sport did too- and now it seems to be a reminder of a world none of us can reclaim.
I read books over and over again in the hopes that I get taught a new lesson, well in recounting my love affair with the beautifully vulgar sport- I realise the one lesson I need right now in my life.
You figure out what your next move is and you put every ounce of energy you have into it.
I’ll be honest my initial years after school didn’t end up anything like I imagined. I projected into the future with all the might and wonder of a fully inspired uncompromising teen.
Today, and most days I can’t find it within myself to participate in the hours ahead. Some days I can’t find it within myself to be the same version of me people are familiar with. I am at times rude and intolerable and uninteresting- and when I say things or do things out of spite I feel the effects the last year or so has had on my heart.
Sometimes when everything is quiet and I’m the only one awake I take a moment to look at myself. Not in a physical sense at all- it’s usually two o’clock in the morning and everything is as dark as it is still. I look at who I am, when it all comes down to it, who I am not.
I couldn’t ever get past who I wasn’t, I wasn’t a uni student yet, I wasn’t a home owner, I wasn’t a traveller or a party girl, a sporty girl. I wasn’t who I planned to be, and I was so emotionally drained I couldn’t even mimic someone, or anyone around me.
I told people to trust the timing of their life, and yet I had a checklist of the things I should’ve done eating away at me. Life happens, you work as hard as you physically can to prepare for the good fight and somehow your opponent does better.
I can usually sleep through the night now and I can sure as hell tell you what I am, I am that little girl shadow boxing in a sweaty room. The girl that would wrap her brother in garbage bags when he needed to drop a weight division.
I am a daughter, I am a sister and I’m an aunt to the most magical children I’ve ever witnessed. I’m a friend, a girlfriend and a coworker. I study, even if I don’t get that piece of paper as soon as I’d like- and I get back up when I lose, I train harder and do better.
Boxing will never ever mean what it did to the old me, but that’s okay because the new me has figured out her next move and she’s putting every ounce of energy she has into it.