Fighting 4 Queerz Participant Blog pt.2

With just 12 hours before showtime the Fighting 4 Queerz project has continued to gather pace with all the sessions taking place at St Paul’s Boxing Club in Hull. The training sessions have been hard-going: there is no question as to whether the two Mikes have been easy on us: they have not.

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Fighting 4 Queerz Picture: Jerome Whittingham @Photomoments

Check out more pictures by @ Photomoments here: Fighting 4 Queerz Gallery

After the initial issues over narrow participation criteria, a decision was made by Project Lead Gareth Chambers to open it up so that it was aimed at LGBTQ+ so allying the Pride message of equality and inclusion.

This shift hasn’t resulted in anymore participants… there are however a number of positives to having a smaller group they are; more work achieved in the gym, easier to schedule extra sessions and the unique opportunity for one-to-one training and guidance from leading coaches.

We have not just learned ring skills, defence moves, punches and combinations, we have learned about the place St. Paul’s Boxing Academy has in the wider community. It is inspiring hearing from Mike Bromby exactly what the place means to all the different people he has in the gym. He delights in explaining what a positive influence he can have on young lives, how through positive reinforcement he can encourage them to see something beyond their own backyards.

Mike snr has a saying for every occasion, like a living meme generator ‘It’s the skills that pay the bills  and ‘It’s your time to shine‘   Both of the coaches have been generous, caring and patient throughout. The hand carefully wrapped in red bandage, fingers poking out from beneath the layers of fabric a perfect example of that focus on care and protection.

I have been pushed that’s for sure, I’ve exceeded all my expectations and had many of my preconceptions about boxing, and people who box, neatly challenged. The feeling of achievement is undeniable, the adrenaline of stepping into the ring, facing your opponent, using what you have learned to avoid the blows.

Touch Gloves and Time: I’m stood in defence position, keeping gloves up protecting my chin, wide stance, front leg forward slightly bent foot pointing at 2 o’ clock, back leg slightly bent creating the triangle shape. I’m moving my feet, side-stepping, stepping back, ducking and weaving, moving all the time, looking for an opening, moving all the time. I step forward, the cross over, I’m in close and they’ve seen it, let their guard down now’s my chance… If you wait it’s too late.

What do you do when someone is coming towards you, gloved fists looking to connect with your body? You have to move, you have to think on your feet, in this heat that’s not so easy, training on two of the hottest days of the year, might not be everyone’s idea of fun. Thirty seconds to go, eyes on the prize, just get through this round and take a break. I’m breathing heavy, the canvas floor rises to meet me, making my legs feel leaden, on the balls of my feet I move forward, holding my guard, feint with the left, unleash the right, it lands and I feel, I feel… I feel Triumphant!

It also feels alien. In life when someone is coming for you, your first instinct may be to do everything to avoid conflict. Here all that thinking is turned on its head. Here you are actively throwing punches at your opponent and they are trying to avoid them and then actively return the favour.

I don’t like to see anyone hurt,’ Mike says, putting to rest any thought that this is all about beating someone up. The physicality, the focus, the discipline, the skills, the timing the patience and the relaxation they all shape what happens in the ring. And although we have been on a crash course, an intensive month of training, we are not looking to hurt each other. Rather we want to show some of that inner metal: years of fighting our corner captured in this public display of inner strength and spirit.

I feel a sense of pride representing St Paul’s, all those words of encouragement and praise ringing in my ears, as we prepare to step outside of the gym for our demonstration. It’s true to say I’d never have willingly gone inside a boxing gym, but it just goes to show, you just never know, until you give it a try.

Participant Feedback

I started this project because I am interested in dance and boxing…. This scares me so I knew I had to do it…. I’ve gained some great boxing experience that I will pursue….            I have a better understanding of both boxing and our community…

I’ve enjoyed learning a new sport….I’ve made some new friends…. In a way this project has given me a different outlook on life and my interests in our community.

You can see Fighting 4 Queerz Saturday 21st July beginning at Hull College, William Wilberforce statue then at different locations in the city centre, following the Pride Parade to Queens Gardens.

Check out more pictures by @ Photomoments here: Fighting 4 Queerz Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under #projectqueer, Art blogs

One response to “Fighting 4 Queerz Participant Blog pt.2

  1. Pingback: Fighting 4 Queerz at Pride in Hull 2018 | Michelle Dee

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