California- Desert casino- Boxing- lights- t.v.
I had an interesting and blazingly fast Boxing career. My manager, a boisterous Italian put me in his stable of all male contenders saying, “Turton- you will be the only female I ever manage- I don’t know why, but I like ya and I like the way you fight”
His main fighter got a break for a Showtime fight that was going to be his opportunity to head into the upper echelons of competition. I got to come along for the ride to fill out the undercard. Untelevised, unnoticed but fighting outside under the big lights.
We weigh in on Friday, fight on Saturday and are at Pechanga- the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the bleeps and bloops of slot machines. Each step we take once outside our hotel rooms is enveloped in the haze of chainsmokers clinking the ice of their watered down drinks.
There is nothing to do and at this point I haven’t come close to mastering my alone time. My brain kicks into overdrive, anxiousness a constant state. I lay in my room frustrated at the lack of selection on the t.v. It turns out, casinos don’t really want you to stay in your room staring at a screen that doesn’t accept money. They also did not develop their hotel structure to support the wait of a boxer on fight day.
I can’t sleep, I can’t get rid of the discomfort taking over my entire nervous system. There aren’t enough people to call or enough subjects to talk about to drown out the barrage of thoughts doubting my abilities.
Finally it is time. We head down to the venue to get wrapped, dressed and ultimately throw down.
I’m proud of my uniform- red trunks with two vertical lines on the side- green and white. Forza Italia. I sit with my right forearm on the chair so I can go through the hand wrapping ritual with my coach. He proceeds with the gauze then straps down the tape. My thumb feels too tight, I stay silent.
We move to my left hand and while he wraps it my right thumb starts going to sleep- I say nothing. I feel scared, I don’t understand- I cannot speak up – I don’t take charge.
It’s time- I step in the ring- fear- prickly thumb and all. I’m in quicksand. I can’t feel my right hand, I can’t speak, my moves feel like they are happening without me. I watch my right hand leave to land on her nose and it takes an eternity- It’s like I’m outside watching what I’m doing in time delay.
The only reason I win is because she is less skilled than the betrayed version of myself.