It's four days before Pacquiao's next big fight against Shane Mosley-- four days before what most Filipinos (or the male population, at least) consider as the next best day to Christmas. If you're one of the more blessed, ahem, politicians of this country, your secretary is probably checking on the last details of your Friday flight (business class, of course!) at this very moment. Average Juans, on the other hand, are texting each other, scouting the best deals online, and choosing the bar that would give the most bang for their buck. Local officials are finalizing the details of the pay-per-view screening in the barangay basketball court. Moms? Well, they're probably scheming since their day unluckily coincides with Pacman's. The minority who doesn't care about watching the fight is most likely planning which shopping center to attack come Sunday when the impossible happens in Manila: zero traffic.
Me? I fall in between the fanatic and the apathetic. While I rejoice together with the rest of the nation whenever he wins, watching the fight live doesn't fall under my 'musts' list. But this time around, in time for the Pacquiao-Moseley match, I found myself doing something I never imagined trying. I did not bid for pay-per-view tickets, nor scored a chance to watch him live. I personally tried boxing.
If were to be judged physically, I would probably be the last person to be thought of as a boxing enthusiast-- which is just fair since I’m really not. Mainly sedentary and with the aggressiveness of a teddy bear, I am a far cry from the toned and mean-looking sport practitioners. It is of great shock therefore when a friend, who’s currently into boxing, invited me to try out the sport which she swears by as addicting. Me? Boxing? Now that's enough for a breaking news. Props to her for thinking of me as a possible recruit! But I ended up agreeing, thinking it would be of great timing to learn the sport. Besides, I said yes to falling from a hundred foot tower-- which never crossed my dreams. How hard can donning gloves and punching a heavy bag be, right?
Where to enroll for an hour worth of training was answered when she suggested to me Elorde Boxing Gym along Arnaiz Avenue, which is minutes away from my workplace. Since I'm a walk-in customer and would be trying one session, I am required to pay P350. But if I were to pay their annual membership that costs P1000, the session rate would drop to P200 per session. Members also can avail of the package where P2000 would grant you a total of 11 sessions.
Wraps and gloves are available for rent but it's advised to purchase your own if you're really determined to pursue the sport. Aside from this, a session would require you to wear comfortable sports attire, a tummy filled with a light meal, a huge water jug, a towel and change of clothes. The gym isn't air conditioned and the exercises would require you to bathe in your own sweat so be prepared.
The gym was as hot as I imagined but it isn't as testosterone-filled as I thought. Here and there were women with straight faces, practicing their punches. Minding their own businesses in the different sides and corners of the gym were men of all makes-- also practicing with their trainers. Ziggy Roces, part owner of the gym gave me and my friend a tour to the different areas of the gym.
The Floor Area to the left is where the warm-ups, stretchings, foot work and punching mitts trainings occur.
Hanging along the wall are speed bags, which as you could guess from its name, practices the speed and timing of punches.
The heavy bags across them are meant to improve the power of the punches, and the double end bags nearby also practices timing.
As in any boxing gym, there's a ring at the center where the sparrings occur. Farther back are the weights and the shower rooms.
A session with your personal trainer starts with the warm-up, which is probably the hardest part of the training to the uninitiated. Basic stretchings are okay but the three minute jumping rope exercise exhausted the bejeezus out of me! My trainer, Edel Geronimo, was very helpful in encouraging me to finish though, exclaiming "konti na lang, konti na lang," all throughout. He assisted me with my wraps afterwards, which made me feel good and semi-powerful. The very moment I put on the gloves though was surreal. Deep inside I was beaming "Oh yeah!" That was my this-is-it-moment of the day.
What occurred after wearing the gloves was the best part of the training. After 30 minutes or so, I learned the basics of boxing. I knew the differences between straight, jab, hook, and upper cut. I even aced my combinations test. Left jab, followed by a straight right, followed by a left hook-- all these, I understood. I was also taught the basics of defense. I weaved to the right and left, and finished each set with an upper cut. I was actually boxing.
My friend with her trainor
The rush of boxing knowledge was overwhelming. I cannot put into words how proud I felt that time. My body was probably aching, but the surge of numbing endorphins and my happy hormones took over. I never imagined I would ever say this but after that session, it came naturally: boxing is fun. I cannot say the same though for the cooling down exercise which required permutations of torturous crunches. The kind of sit-ups you see from Pacquio's televised work-out? They were hard as hell.
My reward for all the jabs and hooks I punched was a sticky-sweaty whole body massage from my friendly trainer. It's a far cry from the comfort of being massaged in a cool and dry spa, but heck, it was awesome and satisfying in all ways.
Edel Geronimo, my trainer
After the massage, my mind was all relaxed but my body was still shaky. I decided to interview my trainer, Edel, who to my surprise is a champion from the 80s. He proudly showed me the news clippings displayed on the wall, brandishing him in his glory days. While I was listening intently how he progressed from his hometown in Visayas to Hawaii, I could not help but feel at awe for the very person in front of me. Pride and passion reflect in his eyes when he speaks about boxing. Boxing to him wasn't to look macho nor to easily hook up chicks. It was something deep and important-- more important than the fame and fortune the sport brought him. By the end of his tale, I was convinced that this person deserves a documentary. I'm pretty sure the same goes for the rest of the boxing veterans who now found the next best thing as trainers to the new generation of boxers in Elorde.
Momomng Manaay, my friend's trainer
More than the boxing knowledge, that one session in Elorde gave me a whole new respect for boxers. Sure boxing is a sport that sizzles right now thanks to Pacquiao and it's a sure fire way to stay fit. But I believe that there's more to the fame, money, and glory boxing brings, for a person to subject him or herself to such rigorous training and discipline. Whatever that is, I sure am watching this Sunday's fight with a deeper understanding and acknowledgement how great all boxers are.