Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cross cultural combat sport

Three times a week I grit my teeth and warm my muscles to the sound of light Klezmer music in an underground bomb shelter. Two flights of stairs brings me to two large rooms posted with pictured memories of the last 30 years. Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson posters are hung next to Israeli flags. A Picture of Putin with boxing gloves neatly hangs next to soldiers in Israeli uniforms, the pictures lightly faded from too much exposure to halogen lighting.
In every country I've ever had a bank account it, i've managed to seek out the local boxing gym and train amongst the men, developing a click in my nose from sparring and stretched muscles from over exertion. One thing they all have in common: they all smell the same. The smell of sweat and plastic with an old sock thrown in the mix.
Here is Israel, i've found the safest place to work out in. In this gym, more Russian is spoken than English or Hebrew. Head gear hangs neatly on hooks in the back. Gloves are divided between bag and sparring. Here the religious and non-religious alike run laps around the gym, warming up for up to 45 minutes before a 20 minute stretch and on to conditioning or sparring. And don't forget- don't speak, just let your ancient grim- faced Russian trainer bark at you when your right hook isn't accurate enough.
Upon entrance, a grandmother waits patiently outside. I beckon her to come in to the warm underground gym for the two hour wait. She is stubborn and prefers to sit in between the two staircases. She only asks for a chair.
Her young grandson works to keep up with us older folk. Paying attention to every jab and duck. He concentrates on learning how to jump rope with speed, often getting his feet caught in the rope. His pants slip down as he runs laps with us, exposing a wedgie.
I run behind him, mindful that it is probably best not to mention it to him- the humiliation of a young boy to older men and us two women in the gym is far greater than I probably remember.


At 1/15/2009 5:31 AM, Blogger emily said...

At 1/16/2009 3:33 PM, Blogger cornflake girl said...

Very well written Sooz.

At 9/06/2009 9:22 AM, Blogger Jonas said...

Hey, I am looking for a boxing gym, too!
Where is yours? I can only find luxboxing so far...

At 9/06/2009 9:24 AM, Blogger The Ginrod said...

Lux boxing it is. No time to go there anymore tho'


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