I was visiting Los Angeles a while back when a friend invited me to the boxing gym he trains at. I’d never boxed before and I love to experiment with new sports. Plus, the gym, Wild Card Boxing, is semi-legendary. It’s run by superstar trainer Freddie Roach and it’s where former “Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao frequently prepares for fights. (Pacquiao’s been training there for his match this weekend against the undefeated world champ, Floyd Mayweather.) I decided it might be fun to check out the scene.
We went on a weekday afternoon, when Wild Card was sparsely populated with a few 19-year-olds hoping to become the next Pacquiao and a few 40-year-olds hoping to shed their love handles. My friend, Mike, introduced me to his trainer, who gave me a rudimentary lesson on proper stance and then had me throw some air punches. He snickered at my form in a gentle way. I observed myself in the wall-length mirror—stiff, tentative, frequently off balance—and I couldn’t help but snicker too.
I was nowhere near ready to engage in actual boxing, which was fine by me. The trainer just had me jump rope or do crunches and pushups. I donned borrowed gloves to hit the heavy bags that swung from the ceiling. It was a terrific workout, and more interesting than plodding on a treadmill. I came back several times over the next couple of weeks, whenever Mike invited me.