“It’s not about winning, it’s about taking part”.
What absolute bollocks.
Everyone wants to win, and if they say they don’t? They’re lying.
That said? There’s any number of things to be said for taking part. In Krav, our mentality is that if you can breathe, you can fight. It was one of the first lessons I learned, and one that was repeated to me on manys an occasion during training. Most notably? When I wanted to lie in the corner for an hour, panting uncontrollably and sweating in places I didn’t realise I could sweat. If you can breathe, you can fight. In many ways? The outcome is often irrelevant, it’s not about the outcome of the fight, it’s about stepping up to it. In Krav, we learn many techniques and tools to throw in our tool belts to defend ourselves, and help us stay alive. Even if you’re matched unevenly against an attacker, you learn how to defend yourself.
Earlier this year, my first cousin put up a post on Facebook, she was looking for people to join her in a fundraiser. She was putting together a White Collar Boxing event, in memory of her mother, my aunt, Olive – who died late last year of cancer. It was my aunt Olive’s dying wish for her family to raise money for our local hospice, as it helped her, and many other of our family members, through the end of her tough fight against cancer – my cousin Bernadette rose to the challenge and asked people to join her.
The Southern Area Hospice, provides invaluable support and care to people living within the local area who are suffering from Cancer, MS, MND and AIDS. Their aim is to provide the best quality of life for their patients and their patients families. According to research, approximately 1 in 3 people in Northern Ireland will develop cancer at some time in their lives and 1 in 4 will die from it. Within the Newry locale? There are 30 (!) new cases of cancer diagnosed each week.
Their services are provided completely free of charge and they rely heavily on donations and volunteering to provide their care. The hospice costs/spends almost seven thousand pounds per day to function – that’s a huge, huge, sum of money to raise to keep the place ticking over and providing their specialist care to those who need it most.
Having had family members live out their last weeks and days in the hospice, I can tell you, that it’s an extremely worthy place to send your spare change.
To find out more information about Newry hospice, how to fundraise, donate, or volunteer – please hit up their website here at www.southernareahospiceservices.org. Any one over the age of 16 can volunteer can help, if you have time to spare, hours are flexible, some training may be needed (and provided) and references are required for all volunteer roles.
Having volunteered for 6 of my 7.5 years in Houston, I can tell you that it’s a very fulfilling thing to do. My mum volunteered for the hospice a while back, and she loved it.
When I read Bernie’s Facebook post, I was hugely curious about participating, my Krav instructor in Houston, previously encouraged me to try some ‘pure boxing’, and when I saw this on my Facebook page, I took it as a sign to join up. I was hesitant, though, self-deprecating and unsure. While I’d trained in Krav in Houston, nobody on this side of the Atlantic really knew about my being an official badass. I was concerned about stepping in to *another* new gym, I was concerned about the ‘fat girl assumptions’ based on my size and the derogatory looks, maybe even some comments and I was almost put off by the fact that I’d know, pretty much everyone in the room.
However, I got over myself, and I put my name forward. I drove from Larne to Newry three, sometimes four nights a week and I hit the fundraising. I took the training seriously, but, not too seriously, because, at the end of the day? It was a charity fight. The aim of the game was to raise money for a worthwhile, local charity, but it was also about standing shoulder to shoulder with my family, The Currans, in my home town – it’d been a while since I’d done that.
Living in the US has made it hard for me to feel very connected to my family over the years, missed weddings, missed funerals and family events – it’s part and parcel of being an expat. But, this? Especially having already had some training under my belt? This was a no-brainer.
While I was beaten on the night? (I dread to watch back the footage, I should have adjusted my game-plan quicker as soon as I was told in the ring that our rounds were going to be shortened). I learned a lot for my next fight, and will go in to things with a better understanding and expectation next time I take up a White Collar fight – or, any kind of fight, really.
As a system of training, I’m not sure I’m completely fully qualified to give an opinion on ‘pure’ boxing. For the most part, training sessions were everything I hate. A five-minute group warm up run, conditioning and fitness training, with only 10-15 minutes being on the bags, or pads with trainers – the technical stuff that I love. In Fight Back Fit (Houston), it was the opposite. A brisk 10-15 minute warm up to get the heart rate up, followed by an intense technical training in any number of offensive and defensive techniques. Plus, the techniques for White Collar boxing versus ‘regular’ boxing, aren’t exactly the same.
That said, I most certainly liked the gym, the trainers and the group of people who came together to raise funds for the hospice. And, without a shadow of a doubt, there’s not a snowballs chance in hell that I’d have signed up for the white collar in Newry, had it not been for the excellent (confidence) training in Houston. Jeanna and the team truly coached me to believe that I could achieve anything I put my mind to – including a white collar boxing fight, in a ring, in the Canal Court in Newry with THOUSANDS of spectators.
This time last year, I’d have laughed in your face if you’d suggested any such thing as doing boxing training – legitimately. Never mind a real-life fight, or some glam-boxing pictures. I’ve grown and changed so much in such a short period of time. I feel like these days, I’m in a constant state of personal development.
Not only did I learn a lot about myself and the sport, though, I truly fell in with a good crowd. Going to the group training sessions was the *single* best thing to come out of the entire process for me. Going to the 7pm class meant that I met all of the Fit Club ‘regulars’, I got to train with a small group of good people, a good coach who didn’t mind a bit of banter and I wound up aching after training. The actual White Collar training, was 8-9pm twice a week and had anywhere from 30-50 people in the room. It was crazy, it was chaotic, it was hard, but most of all? It was fun. And I got to meet and hang out with some really, really amazing people – most of whom had never thrown a punch in their lives before. Some of whom? Actually wound up becoming pretty damn good fighters, too.
I surprised myself, I expected to fall apart and be a bag of nerves. I expected not to be able to sleep, I expected to be beaten black and blue. My aim was to not get knocked out, not fall on my face, and not need stitches – sounds simple enough, right? LOL! I went in having missed 3/10 weeks of training (due to illness and travelling), I drove one hundred and twenty miles round-trip for every, single, training session I attended, I wound up getting home around 11pm every night with a two year old – who truly took it like a champ. I ate more McDonalds and crappy meals in Newry than I care to admit (and that’s not even counting my weekly standing Friar Tucks date with Liz).
I went with good intentions, and determination not to let my family name down – considering that it was to raise money for the local Hospice in memory of my Aunt Olive and her husband, my father’s brother, Harry, it was important.
I went in wanting to raise five hundred pounds for the charity.
I went in thinking I was having a moment of insanity, that there was no way I could step in to a ring and fight in front of over twelve hundred people.
I came out with over a grand, over one thousand pounds, for Newry Hospice, I came out having boxed three rounds in front of over twelve hundred people, and I’m pretty sure my uncle Harry would have approved just fine – even though the result didn’t go my way.
What now? Now I continue my search for some self defence training that’s local to me, easily accessible to me and helps me move forward. It’s proving difficult and my faith that I’ll find somewhere is wavering, but I’m still trying.
To anyone who has the opportunity to try something they may think is beyond them, or just a little bit insane, or ‘out there’? Do it. Take the leap – especially if it involves something as epically badass as training like this.
Bernie recently presented a cheque to the Hospice for just over 34k – that’s a HUGE achievement for the entire Fit Club gang and White Collar Boxers!
On a final, and most important note, I’d like to take a moment to add a ginormous ‘thank-you’ to every single person who sponsored me – ESPECIALLY my Krav-Crew at Fight Back Fit in Houston – they sponsored me big, and they sponsored me the SECOND I put my name down, it was HUGE encouragement and a great show of support and faith in my skills, and some days it carried me through when my self-confidence waivered.
Thank-you all <3