Boxing Gym Match Fighting Story

When I first started as an amateur boxer things were a lot different than they are now. In the late 60s and early 70s amateur competition such as AAU and Golden Gloves didn't require headgear or jerseys, for example. And back then, unlike now, or even 15 years ago, a guy could walk into a boxing gym and begin training fairly readily, even sparring. Most good gyms would never dream of letting a kid in the ring till he has been working out for many weeks, even months. But in my day, things were different.
Back then there were several boxing gyms in Boston -- The New Garden Gym on Friend Street, near the Old Boston Garden, and Connolly's on West Broadway in South Boston,

an area noted for both boxing and also for
streetfighting. At various times I worked out at both clubs. And back then, it was not uncommon, when a kid came in off the street expressing an interest in the manly art, for a trainer to just say, "OK - show me what you got!" - and put the neophyte into a ring with one of his boys right then and there. It didn't happen all the time, but it did happen.

It happened to me at a gym in a suburb west of Boston when I was 23. I had been boxing for several years, mostly three-rounders at the gym, plus a half a dozen tournaments here and there. I hadn't competed in Golden Gloves competitions because it was a step I didn't feel ready for. I had been to the Gloves as a spectator, and had seen a couple of guys from this gym there, and, as it was hust a bus ride 15 miles west up Rte 9 I decided to check it out one day. It was summer, and I was still a grad student. I had gotten a job at Boston Sand and Gravel, and for the first time in my life had an almost entirely physical occupation, loading heavy bags of concrete mix and gravel ont o trucks, scheppling cinder blocks and in general doing more butch stuff than I had ever done, with a crew of straight guys who must have known I was gay -no one would ever confuse me with Charles Bronson - but who didn't care. I was always by nature a well-muscled mesomorph, but the job - after I adjusted to the first weeks of pain - had gotten me golden tan and hard as steel.
This gym was located in the basement of a firestation. It had been founded by this guy named Silvio Pollini. I walked in that day with my gear in my gym bag at about 4:00 PM.

There was only one large room, maybe 40 ' by 50 '. There was a smallish boxing ring - maube 16 feet square - a wall of mirrors, 3 heavy bags and 2 speedbags. "Can I help you?"
I introduced myself to the speaker, who in turn introduced himself to me. Silvio was a burly, dark guy of maybe 48, balding and handsome in a saturnine way. He gave me a glance "de haute en bas" in an amused way. "You box, huh?" I said "Yes, I do." We chatted about mutual acquaintances in the game locally. I am soft-spoken and as I say, not maybe the butchest guy you ever met. I am not tall and people seeing me in clothes always think I weigh less than I do. I told Silvio I was about 150 now. He seemed dubious. Just then a kid came in to the gym -we had been alone there until now. He said. "Hey, Gary, c'mere. This is Mitch."

He turned to me and said, "This is my son, Gary - why don't you step into the ring with him and show me what you got!" There was that phrase again! Gary was maybe 19 or 20, a beefy kid in a camouflage tank and sweatpants. I turned away, barely able to contain my amusement. A straight kid in a camouflage print. He was a couple of inches taller than I was and maybe 20 lbs heavier. Gary looked at me with a sneering smirk and said "The locker room is over there!" I went and changed into my scuffed old white Pony boots, old Everlast leather cup and a pair of lucky red Lonsdale trunks. I wrapped my hands and went out into the gym. I had the old kind of rubber mouthguard that tasted disgusting but did the job. Gary and Silvio were standing there. Silvio handed me a pair of 14 oz. Franklin training gloves like the ones Gary had on. Gary had taken off his camouflage tank. He was beefy, with big shoulders but his body wasn't as tautly muscled and well-defined as mine. His thick, muscular neck suggested he could absorb a head shot well, but you never know. He swallowed hard as his eyes took in my chest and arms and thick, hard legs. We climbed into the ring - Silvio had one of the first sparring timers I'd ever seen, with its own bell, instead of an old stopwatch. I was already sweating lightly. Gary's face looked both sneery and a bit alarmed, but confident.

GONG!I sprang from my corner, ready to rumble. I charged across the ring and immediately started flicking a fast left jab into Gary's face. My left jab was cooking with gas - I was determined to outbox this kid. I just kept sticking and moving, keeping it in his face like a piston. He was not as fast as I was and although he tried to cover up, by halfway through the round his head was snapping back like the proverbial puppet on a string. My jab was finding its mark so well that a thin but satisfying dribble of blood was coming from Gary's right eye. I could feel my lips draw back in a grin, baring my mouthpiece like a wild animal at the knowledge that I now had a target to go after. I love to cut a guy. It makes him look weak, and somehow foolish.

Gary was looking at me with respect.I figured it was time to open up and mix it up a little bit more. I moved in with a double hook to his ribs, and then threw a right cross to his head. Silvio was screaming at Gary in the background. He ducked the right cross successfully and countered with his own double left hook to my jaw. That staggered me, and he folloed with a right uppercut to my chin, and I was on the canvas.Gary stood over me, eager to continue.
I sprang to my feet, albeit a trifle woozily, and Gary slugged me in the mouth with a hard right. Thank God the gong ended the round then.
I sat on my stool recovering. I had dominated the first two minutes of the round, but he had certainly dominated the last minute.

I had underestimated him - although a slow starter, he could hit hard. No one had hit me that hard in a long time. I could not let this kid get the better of me. I knew what to do.
GONG! We both sprang from our corners and in seconds we stood center ring, toe-to-toe,
chest-to-chest. The war began.I pounded his his body with hard, fearsome shots. I stood there, like Marciano against LaStarza, hammering his sides and his ribs with mighty punches that made him grunt and groan and moan with pain. Left, right, left , right -
to the kidneys, liver, ribs. I was doubling my hooks, left and right. He tried to fight back, to cover up, but to no avail. I continued a body beating of such savagery that my right uppercuts to his belly literally lifted him off his feet.My goal was to put the hurt on him. I wanted to soften his body up so bad that he'd be powerless to defend himself when I went upstairs. I backed Gary against the ropes with 5 straight body shots - left hook, right hook twice to his ribs, then to sickening left uppercuts to the solar plexus. He was winded, gasping, choking. I felt like a million bucks. Silvio screamed
"This guy is killin" you!!" Fucking right, I thought, and smashed a pulverizing right to his jaw. Then the gong sounded, and Gary staggered back to his corner. I grinned at him.

I stood in my corner now, disdaining a stool. Gary sat down. Silvio said, "You want to stop, son, it's OK!" Gary said, "No fucking way!" I looked with satisfaction at the damage I had done- so far. Gary's eye was swollen and on its way to closing from my left hand. His mouth was bloody, and his gut was red and bruising fast. If this kid continued, I would hurt him. I was pumped up and filled with a ferocious joy.
GONG! I came forward, taking the fight to Gary. The kid had balls, that was for sure. Again we stood center ring. I slammed hard shots into his sides with both fists, hammering at his ribs with jarring punches.

With surgical precision I dug shots brutally into his kidneys and liver, paralyzing punches whose ramifications would be felt for weeks to come. Gary looked rough indeed. I advanced, switching to the head now, keeping my jab in his face. I had one minute left now and I wanted to knock him out. He came forward and and walked into an overhand right that caught full in the face, smashing his nose. He went down, near his own corner, then lurched forward onto one knee. I stood over him, praying he would get up so I could punch him again. But he didn't. He was in a fucking daze. Silvio slipped through the ropes and said, "OK that's enough! He is finished!". He helped Gary up. "Are you OK son?" He didn't look OK - he was bruised and bloody, but not seriously hurt. We hugged each other, and I put my arm around his shoulders. "Great fight, man!" I said. He gave me a slightly woozy smile. Then we headed for the shower .....

view all stories