Punch me

Posted on 10 Jun 2010 at 1:21pm
By RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Fighting against a boxing lesson is tougher that getting in the ring


KID CHEETO | The author learned to jab; his music journalism background proved basically useless. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

OK, something is wrong here.

The whole point of the Couch Potato Adventure Journal is to put in minimal effort while looking active and sporty. But Travis Glenn totally had my number, seeing through my slacker self by politely encouraging me to come take a "complimentary" boxing class.

When Dallas Voice last featured Glenn and his Oak Lawn Boxing Gym, readers learned how a man from Peoria with a background in music and science had become a boxing instructor. It all started with fight club (I just wish I could say it was the movie): Glenn participated in underground fighting scenes that were sometimes underneath a highway bypass. Sure I could use the exercise, but really, I did it because who’s gonna say no to that guy? This man could Ali my ass.

"I really think you need to get this experience first hand," he said.

"Ugh, sir, yessir!" My safe couch haven was going to be short some poundage — and the Wii won’t be saving me this time.

I dug out the gym clothes and shoes — yes, I do have those — for the adventure. However, I delayed telling my cardiovascular system what was going on.

The Oak Lawn Boxing Gym is not in what you might call Oak Lawn proper. Driving along Irving Boulevard, I squinted to find Crampton Street amid the industrial district. I had to find the building with simply "OLB" on the door. Glenn admitted that big, fab signs are way expensive, but what that said to me was, this guy doesn’t care about aesthetics; he’s true boxing grit.

Driving up to a nondescript storefront, I approached the door with trepidation that my first black eye was a few minutes away. I trusted Glenn’s expertise, but my own clumsiness was just as reliable. How I longed for the comfort confines of my laptop and lounger.

"First, we have to talk about any kind of exercise or sports you’re involved in and your health status," he said. "This gives me an idea about you."

The gym offers a complimentary private session to newcomers, which is what he gave me. After signing the waiver that I won’t sue if crippled, he gives me his spiels prior to the actual workout. So we discuss my health regimen (I didn’t mention the Cheetos) and after he felt I was suitable, we fitted gloves. With my 14 ounce weighted boxing gloves, I was ready to kick ass … or punch some … whatever.

Boxing is like dancing, with steps and counts. Interestingly enough, Glenn says a lot of his students have a musical background. I write about music, so I wondered if that counted.

The affable Glenn would know: He was a piano player and musical conductor. The transition for him into the boxing ring he says was a natural one.

I could see what he meant about the beats helping you. Once I got my left-right jabs with a twist down, or my left jab-right hook and step motion in order, no doubt my rhythmic head-bobbing to Gaga came in handy, as did years of experience on the dance floor. Hey, just saying.

"You took to this pretty well. Your form was good and your body seems to be an auto-corrector," he said. "You might be sore in the morning in places you didn’t realize, like your neck from the punch or your back from twisting. Just take an Advil or Tylenol."

Thanks to Glenn’s upbeat attitude and sensible approach to the beginner, I neither had a bruised eye or ego. Plus, I guess I’m tougher than I thought. The next day, I had no sign of soreness in any of those places. Obviously, he misjudged my boxing acumen …

Ouch! OK, scratch that.

Oak Lawn Boxing Gym, 1339 Crampton St. Lessons available days, evenings, and weekends. Call 972-497-1767 or visit OakLawnBoxing.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 11, 2010.

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