Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Training with the boxing academy

There have been times when I have been a member of various gyms around here and there have been times when as a member of these gyms I have received an exercise plan from a well meaning young kid straight out of school who believes everything that he's ever read in a "Gym Instructor for Dummies" book.

I have consistently ignored all of these exercise plans and the young kids don't bother you anymore if you gaze somewhere into the middle distance and hum along to your MP3 earplugs when they ask to see your record card, in all of these gyms I have turned up when I wanted to, exercised as little as I wanted to and then gone home safe in the knowledge that I've done my bit to keep fit that week.

But there was a time, just once, when I had a proper instructor who forced me to do things that I did not believe possible in the quest for fitness, he nearly killed me in the process.

It all started so well too...

It was sometime around 1982, I was living in the north east ensconced in my own little one roomed apartment, life was simple, I paid the mortgage once a month and bought food, thats all I did, no-one relied on me for anything, I wasn't even registered with a doctor the day I did my back in (but thats another story), I cared nought for no-one and I owed nought to no-one.

But I was betrothed to the current Mrs Jerrychicken and she had two younger brothers one of whom got suddenly very keen on boxing when he was around 14 years old (Barry McGuigan was to blame). Mark needed to be taken across Newcastle to his boxing gym once a week and I occasionally obliged if his dad couldn't do it and on one of those occasions he asked if I'd like to go training with them - I stupidly agreed thinking that doing circuit training with a bunch of fourteen year olds would be a doddle, a breeze, a piece of piss, there I was, 26 years old, fit (in my head) what could possibly go wrong ?

I paraded into the empty gym with the young lads boxing group, we lined up against the end wall while the old man trainer eyed me up with suspicion, I was probably the tallest and fattest fourteen year old he had ever seen and I started to wonder whether Mark had actually informed him that I'd be there, I suspected that I was the victimof a practical joke.

The group started to jog around the gym while the old codger laid out various bits of equipment and mats, I don't jog or run, never have done, and I was finished for the night when he finally declared that the gym was ready to start - the jogging had just been a bit of warming up . We were all assigned to a particular mat or exercise and were expected to do that particular energetic workout until the old codger blew a whistle and we could move on to the next one.

An hour later I was in need of a blood transfusion and oxygen.

The whistle blew for the final time and I staggered towards the changing room door wondering just how much oxygen a person could survive on if your lungs decided that they didn't want to play anymore - the muscles that make your lungs work were screaming out in agony and threatening to go on strike, the brain had given up on persuasion long ago and was now yelling at the top of its voice for me to leave the room and lie down for three weeks, the legs had got me as far as the door when the old codger with the whistle shouted across to me and asked if I wasn't going in the ring with the lads.

I couldn't believe it, the past hour had just been a warm up for the main event - the bit where they climbed in the ring in pairs and beat the shit out of each other, I declined politely, went and got changed, sat and ached in the changing room for a while then came back and watched my young brother in law smash someone around the boxing ring for ten minutes, I could hardly move, they were dancing around just pleasantly warmed up, the little shits.

The next morning I couldn't move, I lay in bed motionless, brain issuing commands to legs to swing out of bed, legs returning the message stamped "return to sender", it felt like I'd been run over by one of those big road sweeper trucks, whirled around the big brushes for a while and dumped back out on the roadside - then been run over properly by a bus.

It took three days for my legs to work again, my lungs have never recovered.

My young brother-in-law made a name for himself in the North East amateur boxing circles and eventually turned pro in the same weight group as Herrol "Bomber" Graham (whatever weight that was) and made a living for a couple of years getting beaten up at fatcat tuxedo dinners - but you'd be able to guess that straight away if you saw him today.


Anonymous said...

Oh, to be as young as our minds think we are!

Zoe's Dad said...

Sorry, for some reason, I wasn't signed in there. That was my young mind comment.

Gary said...

Theres a part of my mind that still thinks I could do the boxing gym thing, fortunately the "experience" side cuts in at that point and tells it not to be so ridiculous.