My boxing trainer died on Monday.
He was 43 years old.
Cardiac arrest they said.
I had class that Monday morning. After practice he asked me how I felt. “Great,” I said. “Good” he said with that gold crown smile. I told him I’d see him Wednesday night for training.
They said he died that night while teaching one of his students in the boxing ring. Damn. Dying in the ring. Doesn’t that qualify you as a true boxer?
His name was James Buggs. He was the first boxing trainer that introduced himself at King’s Gym where I started my lessons. I liked what he had to say and I signed up for his class. That was at the beginning of this month. Three weeks later, he’s gone. That’s a trip isn’t it? Just gone. Disappeared. No longer on the Earth. Hmmm. Makes me wonder how I’ll depart this planet.
Rest in peace Coach.
King’s Gym is pretty sweet. It’s basically a neighborhood boxing gym in the Fruitvale district where I live. Maybe 15-20 minutes walking distance. Last Wednesday they celebrated their 30th anniversary. It’s one of those authentic salty old boxing gyms. The kind you’d expect to see in a movie or something. It’s owned by Mr. and Mrs. King. They must be in their 60’s or early 70’s.
I’m boxing partially at the suggestion of Rory Miller. In the last seminar I took with him he mentioned boxing as a good method of training that overcomes the fear of getting hit. That’s his opinion of course, but before I ever met Miller and while I was in Detroit, the notion came to me that I needed to train in something that incorporated full contact. There had been a long lingering feeling in me of not having confidence in self-protection. Miller suggested that I get the skills in boxing, work my way up to sparring and then quit after I begin to feel like all I want to do is hit back after getting smashed, or get a concussion (his words! – as the percussive nature of boxing isn’t good for the brain in the long run). I know it might sound kinda stupid (or macho) to be doing such a thing. I don’t think it has anything to do with that. As Rory said to me, “you can’t safely acquire experience with unsafe things”. It takes some honesty with yourself to recognize where your training is lacking. But even boxers can fantasize too much about the extent of their skill.
I think I’m finding out from this new after-school job of mine that I clearly have no knack for discipline. Teaching martial arts to kids is obviously proving to be much harder than I thought. It’s disappointing because I honestly thought I might have had some inborn talent for this. “Education” is one of the things that I discovered I was drawn to during my spiritual recovery in Detroit. As of right now, it’s quite unclear whether or not my genius actually lies here. *sigh*
At least I’m making mistakes.