Photos by OHventures
I've always thought that the sport of boxing was for brutal brawny badass guys that could punch your lights out like Sugar Ray Leonard, cut your eye open like Rocky Balboa, or even bite your ear off like Mike Tyson (maybe he confused it with an ear of corn). While those guys are no doubt strong, scrappy fellas who I'd never want to cross in a back alley, they aren't fighting just to fight, they're fighting for the glory of the sport of boxing.
I wanted to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, like Muhammed Ali. So, I checked out a listing of all of the boxing gyms located in Ohio (thanks to BoxingGyms.com), and found some nearby in Columbus. With the encouragement of one of my coworkers, Julie, I decided to take a boxing class after work at the Thompson Recreation Center near downtown C-Bus.
I came to find that, while this was not the fanciest of gyms, one major perk was that two-time International Boxing Council (IBC) champion and Columbus native Michael Clark would be teaching the class (pictured above). I had the privilege of speaking with Michael briefly before the class and he told me that he grew up at Thompson Rec Center, and trained there his entire life. He said that teaching the classes at the very place that molded him into the professional boxing champion he is today is his way of "giving back to the community." His classes are only $10-$12 a pop, which is extremely generous and a great deal, especially from someone of his calibur.
One of the regulars was kind enough to provide me with a pair of boxing gloves and hand wraps, but typically (at least at this location), you are to bring your own equipment. Any local sporting goods store (such as Dick's) has boxing gloves and equipment at rather reasonable prices (about $30). At this point, it was pretty awkward because your hands are restricted, so it is difficult to do simple things, like drink from a water bottle - and you had better hope you don't have an itch! But the gloves look pretty kickass, and get you in the right mindset to kick some proverbial ass.
Everyone in the class took their turn at the different "stations." We rotated in and out of the boxing ring, working with the instructors on our punches, moving around and giving jabs, uppercuts and hooks. When we were not in the ring, we would be at various punching bags perfecting our techniques. Throwing all of these punches, I realized, was a surefire shoulder workout that required you to move your entire body with agility and dexterity. It got me sweating, which is most definitely a good sign.
Following all of this, we removed our gloves and hit the weightroom. We performed a few lifts, as well as other core strengthening exercises, including a series of pushups.
I was well spent after the hour-long class and I am exciting to check out Thompson Rec Center again, or one of the dozens of other boxing gyms in Ohio. It's so great that our state has so many facilities that offer such classes. It's understandable to be intimidated or skeptical at first to take on an activity so unlike anything you've ever done, but just remember - it's never too late to try something new in life!!