Friday, May 30, 2008

That Night

Malcolm was a young fighter who I trained in the "South Side" barrio of Tracy, California. He was a tough kid. His mother moved her family to Tracy in order to put her children in a more healthy environment than the one they experienced in Oakland in the early 1980. The first time I saw Malcolm fight, this was before I coached for the Tracy Boxing Club, I knew he had the making of a fine fighter. Without much skill he stood toe to toe throwing punches with an older and more experienced fighter. Malcolm had "heart." When we finally got together, Malcolm developed into an outstanding boxer. He had over a hundred amateur fights and for a time he was ranked eighth as a welterweight in the US. His pro career spanned sixteen fights. He was sixteen when I first began working with him. We are still friends.

That Night

It wasn’t the Gloves.*
It was two days before
You fought, just you and
I in that cold, rundown
Gym on Sixth Street.
I was tired of catching
Punches on the pads**, so
I sat down and put you on
The bag. At that point
I knew you ready.
Your dark, glistening,
Fully muscled back
Was a work of art.
Your body moved with
The grace of a ballet
Dancer. I called for the
Punches and you responded—
You were in full control.
I just sat back and admired.

The Gloves, the noise, the
Lights, the excitement, the
Money in the rings, your two
Amazing wins and your
One loss in the finals
That broke my heart,
Those were for the
Crowd and the cameras
And the papers and the others.
That Night,
Two days before you fought
While we worked in that
Cold, run down gym
On Sixth Street was just
For me and you.

*The Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament
**Hand held punching pads

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