Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Golden Boy Espinosa" a Philippine hero

In time for the Mayweather v Hatton fight on the first Saturday of December, a SF Examiner Weekend edition writer, Sasha Vasilyuk, published a short tribute to our very own "golden boy", Luisito Espinosa, two time World boxing title holder and a forgotten Philippine hero.

Initially, Sasha approached me online, seeking for some newsworthy writeup on Filipino immigrants within the Daly City area, a local barbque joint perhaps, she queried. Without hesitation, I jumped on the opportunity to present the story of Espinosa. Louie, trains at our 3rd Street Boxing gym, with passion and with hardly any pay. His life is a rags-to-rags story, an antithesis to Cinderella's happy ending; wherein lies the irony: certain boxing experts have claimed that Espinosa's skills surpass, bar none, those of the currently famed and adored, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao. One Tuesday evening, Sasha showed up at 3rd Street after our 6:45pm boxing class. We sat by the entrance couch and we listened to Louie tell his story, in Tagalog. The attached image is the resulting article written by Sasha on the story of the Filipino "golden boy". Click on the image to access the entire article.

Today, Louis, who was raised in the heart of Tondo, Manila, continues to struggle for his life, stocking boxes in Costco and pursuing his passion for boxing as a mentor to hopeful young boxers at Third Street Boxing gym, for almost nothing at all.

a boxing princess

She is our boxing princess. We trained together at Crunch, way back when Crunch the corporation allowed the Gorilla Sports gyms to carry on with boxing classes. And true to the nature of evil corporations (corporations are evil when they gobble-up boutique and efficient companies, usurp its customer base and then annihilate the product or service that made them hip, boutique and cool, to begin with; those things happen a lot in Silicon Valley), Crunch Alhambra has discontinued boxing altogether.

Our boxing princess trained at Crunch and joined us as we explored 3rd Street Boxing gym. At some point early this year (2007), she made a conscious decision to seriously train with a goal of fighting at the San Francisco Golden Gloves early in 2008. In less than a year of training, she victoriously brought home the "gold" during her first debut fight at the Irish Cultural Center. Here is Round Three of Shawna Harris vs Casey Leanio. We were proud and simply ecstatic. She represented us, very well indeed! Go Shawna!

Friday, December 14, 2007

on female boxing

Joyce Carol Oates wrote "On Boxing", 'The heralded celibacy of the fighter-in-training is very much a part of boxing lore: instead of focusing his energies and fantasies upon a woman the boxer focuses on the opponent. Where woman has been. Opponent must be.'

To those who are unable to read between the lines, what she has just said is that boxing, or a passion for something, anything, for that matter, replaces the status quo or usual predisposition of a being. In her context for male boxers, instead of sex, instead of woman, the opponent is the focus. Given that Ms. Oates lived during times of racial and sexual segregation (whereas we live in times of a hodge-podge confused idealisms), what race, sex and social class delineation is determined by the existing status quo of a given epoch. In today's flux of geopolitics and globalization the boundaries where various "isms" are concerned is in constant flux: status quo in constant motion.

Back to boxing.

Boxing as in any trade, art or craft, is an endeavor that stubbornly demands the undivided attention from the trainee-in-progress. Whether the art or sport or trade is painting or boxing or piano playing or computer troubleshooting or programming, a project will always require the utmost attention from its prodigy. This form of commitment is not foreign to me. In a very tender age of five or was it six? I was a classical musician mentor's prodigy. Fast forward many decades to-date, I forced my boxing mentor to "please" teach me, within the same stringent discipline as my classical teacher's regimen, how to fight.

Albeit my bones are aged while my mind is too wired for its own benefit, my heart and soul still yearns to feel that spring chicken's surge of adrenalin that stems from a young virtuoso's feat. My soul has continuously sought to seek that which would push my body, my mind and my spirit to go beyond the boundaries, the limits of what status quo has determined that one can reach (based upon a certain level of generalization).

Nevertheless, despite the status quo's dictum that it is fruitless to teach old dogs new tricks, in my mid-age, I think I have broken the barriers of boxing, by learning how to fight at an older age in addition to being a female boxer. I proved to myself, that being a tomboy does not mean lesbian. Not to disparage my lovely gay and lesbian bros and sistah's. I still recall the first few weeks we started training at the 3rd Street Boxing gym, whenever instructors see us for the first time, they immediately assume we are beginners. Perhaps because of our girlie demeanor while we wrap our hands? Or is it because we sometimes show up after work and forget to wipe off the colors from our face. Yet, when they see our form, our stance and our jabs, their eyes pop-out, sheepishly they would state, "Oh, you're advanced."

We enjoyed playing with people's preconceived biases. Sometimes we'd joke around that we're lesbians and have assigned each other a "girl", for instance, M is my girl, G is C's, and the rest are for "threesome" evenings. Oh how we used laugh at each other. Despite the obvious humor we have managed to acquire whilst in boxing class, we have also learned to toughen our spirits, to fight without emotions, to focus and use our peripheral vision. We learned that camaraderie can evolve even among individual sport athletes. We fight as individuals, but together we share each other's passion for the art and science of boxing.

In an attempt to jump start our favorite boxing gym as well as PR a prominent San Francisco social networking site, our restaurateur Diva from boxing class and I thought, we should hook them up: a Yelp Elite Event at Titanium Training Center. And so it came to be, the last Yelp Elite event of the year was at our Titanium gym. For grins, we indulged in gracing the opening act, hence the following is our third round bout.

On female boxing.