I’ve always wanted to try boxing to feel the power, drive, and adrenaline that I had heard friends describe, so I finally did it. This semester I enrolled in Boxing 101 through KO Boxing, located on Tuttle Creek Boulevard in Manhattan. I committed and bought my own wraps, gloves and mitts so I can continue boxing after I graduate. I was a bit nervous during the first couple of practices and I quickly learned that this sport is more than just punching a bag or an opponent in the ring. I recently went through a hard break up but KO has shifted my focus back to myself and it has helped me see all that I can accomplish in a short period of time. It quickly became a place where I could channel all my rage, sadness, frustration and stress into a few rounds of hard punches.
What keeps me coming back to practice is how good I feel when I box. I hit it hard and my coach Pedro Marquez gives me praise for it (and his dog is really cute). But seriously, I want to continue boxing as much as I can. My forearms have never felt more sore every night when I lay in bed doing meditation with my palms up. I feel like there’s a weight on each one. This reminds me of how hard I worked that day. When you throw a punch in boxing, you have to exhale to relax your body instead of being tense and straining it. I also breathe this way when I run to prevent cramps. I take one big breath in and blow three little ones out. Exhaling over and over while nailing each punch gets me on a high and I feel like I could go on for round after round. When I do my mediation at night I’m reminded of how I feel when I box as I take deep breaths in and out.
My psychiatrist at Lafene health center, David Dominguez, recently told me that cardiovascular exercise has been proven to benefit those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have been put through the physical ringer with experiences of child abuse and rape during my freshman year at K-State. Picturing my attackers in front of me has allowed me to release anger and feel powerful. In time, it won’t always be my past perpetrators that I see. The results so far have coincided with what Dominguez said as I have had reduced anxiety and depression since I first put on my gloves.
On days that I’ve had to miss practice, I can feel a difference in my energy level and motivation throughout the rest of the day. Coach Pedro has motivated me to keep going when I felt like I couldn’t get through the work out or when I mess up. His love for boxing is eminent and he loves to tell stories about its history.
“To this day, a lot of boxers of a particular decent — African American, Jewish, Irish — provided a lot of encouragement and support for kids,” Marquez said. “Back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, depending on who the champion was, they were great role models for people who were lower class because they got to show them that if one of their people can get to the top of the world with boxing [then] they could do the same thing as well.”
I loved hearing these stories at the end of class and it reminds me to strive for the goals of heroes in the boxing world.
“What I tell my students all the time: boxing doesn’t help you avoid your problems, but when they come into KO, they can get their workout in and they leave, they can face their problems [with] a clear head,” Marquez said.
I can get too focused on negative emotions and psych myself out in certain situations. Just like anyone else, I get upset, I feel the need to prove myself to people and I sometimes feel out of control, but I can escape all of this in the ring. I know what I have to do; watch for my opponent’s next move and remember how to defend myself.
Boxing is a “sweet science”, basically you want to “hit while not getting hit.” This is what makes me a fighter. As a fighter, you must combine moves, remain tactical and commanding and be ready for whatever’s next — which changes with every competitor you face. This can be true for the many curveballs life throws at us. You have to be ready to change how you react and fight back in the best way possible. Boxing has given me my strength and resilience back in ways that I didn’t expect and I am so grateful. Here’s a song I listen to when I feel discouraged, I hope you find your power and your badass self in it! Fight on, fighter.