NOT IN THE FACE!
Billy recently asked if I wanted to go to this boxing class with him. But before we begin, there are some things you guys need to know. First, I don’t box—shit, I hardly workout. Clicking this damn mouse and typing on this greasy keyboard is enough workout for my lazy ass. So I told him I’d go, but with camera in hand. Just can’t hurt this model face, you know? Second, Billy is not your typical funny guy. He’s actually a raging animal dressed as a clown. He also went to Notre Dame for law school and boxed in their annual tournament there for fun. By the way, Notre Dame’s mascot is “The Fighting Irish” so you know their boxing program is no Mickey Mouse Club. I think his record was 5(W) – 30(L) or was it the other way around?
Anyway, we drove to this alley on 9th and M St. NW where Downtown Boxing Club is located. I actually lived on the same street a few years back. When I lived in da hood, you could buy a bag of rock and grab a tranny at your front door (yes, the rock was more expensive — at least that’s what my Russian roommate told me). Now it’s overpriced condos and art galleries. Hence I moved away. To maintain my street cred, of course.
I digress. Anyway, we rolled into the gym and let me tell you, nothing fancy here. It’s like walking into an underground fight scene where you expect to see blood all over the mat and juiced up asain dudes dipping their hands in glass (no blood but then again I wasn’t really looking). No glass either (*note – I signed all sorts of documents that I didn’t read so take my words with a grain of salt). OK you’re thinking, how did it look?. The space is RAW and Manly. This is not LA Boxing; this is where men and women come to learn the art of Boxing. Dave White, the man who owns and runs Downtown Boxing greeted us. His platinum hair and happy demeanor is welcoming enough for you to drop your guard. I think that’s an act to get you into the gym.
Once you’re in, it’s punishment time. The Santa Claus we met outside earlier turned into Mickey from Rocky. The guys in this particular class were experienced— you know, like a black belt class. They fluttering around the punching bags like “butterflies”. This is where people go learn to box, the way it’s supposed to be. It is not where you go bouncing around in your fancy sweats or prance around with your $10 bottle of water from Fiji. It’s where you’d expect to see old school boxers like Joe Frazer, Muhammad Ali or my all time favorite Rocky Balboa (music video) exchanging punches with some poor practice dummy. When I noticed Billy walking in like it’s his second home, I knew right then and there, this ain’t his first trip to the rodeo. When I finally got a chance to ask Dave who he respected as a boxer past and present… (and mind you, this guys is a walking encyclopedia) he got really excited, eyes lit up and said… “Koucheravy who boxed for the Army and that kid over there, Billy.” Both of whom are David’s prized fighters. Nope he didn’t name any legend but then again why would he? These were the guys HE personally trained and got to see fight. That right there says a lot about this gym and the man who runs it. Nuff said. So here he is…the funny boxer, whose motto should be “It’s all fun and games until I punch your face in”: Billy.
That motto sucks, and I don’t think I dress like a clown.
That established, let’s move on. Boxing kicks ass, and accordingly I owe Dave White a great debt for introducing me to it. I came into his gym in 1999 when he was located near Metro Center over a Popeyes and an Asian massage parlor (not a joke). Although starting off with boxing, it can be a little repetitive since there is a lot to learn in terms of technique and muscle memory, I immediately loved it, and started getting to the gym several times per week. I dropped a ton of weight and was just generally in great shape (haha Billy was a chubby kid – Vu), plus I was having a blast punching the shit out of things. Once I got to the point where I could start sparring, I was even more addicted.
When I was looking at law schools, I was seriously considering the availability of nearby boxing facilities as a major factor. When I learned about Notre Dame’s Bengal Bouts program, the school took a big jump up in my rankings. The short explanation is that this is an intramural amateur student boxing tournament for charity. It is a lot of fun, there are always some great fights, and it’s a huge payoff to know you get to get into the ring and fight in front of tens of thousands of people… actually that may be an inflated estimate, but the lights are really bright so I can’t rule out a denser upper-level population in the arena.
Anyway, both of these programs keep it real son, and that’s what made them awesome. When I got back to DC, Downtown Boxing had moved its location, and I couldn’t really get there regularly (the Popeyes/HJ building was demolished and turned into some high-end condos and storefronts, leaving at least one very specific local cross-demographic devastated). I hoped to find somewhere to keep boxing that I could get to regularly, so when I heard about an L.A. Boxing opening up a few blocks from me, I was cautiously optimistic.
My caution was well-advised. This place (at least the Clarendon location) is more akin to a spin class than a boxing gym. I have not been to a spin class, but I have seen skits of them on SNL* and I watched a few videos online to make sure I wasn’t libeling spinning—pretty sure I’m safe.
So this LA Boxing workout was blasting techno music, yelling statistics about calories and current burnage rates thereof, and providing some motivational statements that often ended with “ladies!” (which I found less motivational). On the other hand, they did provide some pretty good, targeted technical analysis, for example “alright!”, “come on!” and “are you punching hard enough?” Luckily, this was their grand opening, during which you could come in and do a workout for free without any contract or anything. I considered the workout a waste of time, but on the plus side, no one I knew saw me doing it, and the girl who later tried to sell me on a membership was wearing some great camo booty shorts, so we’ll call it a wash.
Getting back to Downtown Boxing last week was great, and I’m completely reminded why I love the sport and training for it. When you do it right, it kicks your ass, but you also kick ass in the process. If anyone reading this blog is considering trying out boxing, or you just want to get in better shape or try something new, I highly recommend boxing, and I highly recommend Dave’s gym. And here is why: HeoYeah endorses bacon, booze, sports, fun, revelry, and, of course, ass-kicking. It does not endorse step classes, spinning, dance aerobics (other than exotic, of course), tae bo, or any of the foregoing masquerading as “boxing” classes. Downtown Boxing is a place where one kicks ass and/or has his/her ass kicked, and accordingly falls within our purview.
Just because you put on gloves and hit a bag does not make your workout boxing. If you are actually boxing and you are actually trying, you will at some point end up looking something like the picture below (at least if you have no concept of “defense” in your technique…).
*Yes, that is the only link to that video I could find.