Monday, November 2, 2009

Super Bowl Boxing, part one

I was scrawny when I was a kid and got beat up a lot and it scared the shit out of me, so when I discovered in college that if you drink a bunch of whiskey getting hit doesn’t really hurt, I took to fighting all the time.

It got a little rough. In my mind, I was basically a one-man Fight Club. I’d get liquored up and then go around poking at everybody in the house and asking them if they wanted to fight. I thought I was being reasonably friendly. I usually found somebody who’d wrestle with me for a bit, kick my ass and then sit down with me for more whiskey. That part was rad.

But it turned out I was a little too excitable. One morning I came out of my room and I saw Darren, who was the sweetest, gentlest roommate I ever had, and he said, “You gotta stop punching people in the face, dude. It’s, ah, not very cool.”

I was pretty stunned, as most folks wouldn’t sign up for punching and so the Fight Club thing was usually more like wrestling. I developed a pretty savage choke hold headlock move that a lot of people told me was fighting dirty, but I figured was just a technique that worked for a guy like me who had no actual fighting skills. All I really wanted was the tap-out. Or to be shown that, no, in fact tonight it would be me who tapped out. Either way was fine, really.

So, the fact that I’d been not only punching people, but punching them in the face, and without their permission, was pretty surprising news, but this was a time in my life where “strange things that happen when you’re blacked out” was a pretty broad category of events and I just shrugged and told Darren I’d try to knock it off.

Super Bowl Sunday comes around, and I don’t give a crap about football but I am all kinds of excited about grilling meat. So we set up a barbecue outside the apartment and I stood out there with about 15 pounds of hamburger meat and some chicken and some hot dogs and a 12-pack of Miller Genuine Draft.

All my roommates and my girlfriend Molly and a bunch of other people gather up in the living room to watch the game, and I just grill burger after burger and pass them in through the window, cracking beer can after beer can, and for maybe an hour-and-a-half that’s my whole world. I loved it. Beer. Fire. Sizzling meat. Man. I am MAN.

So I drink all 12 beers and then somebody I know comes walking by and I offer him a hamburger, because at this point I’ve cooked up two big packages of hot dogs and I’ve crammed two hamburgers into everybody’s hand that’s inside the apartment and this fire isn’t going anywhere and this meat isn’t getting any more fresh. I’m not backing down from this barbecue. And my friend says, no, thanks, I’m going to go over to the boxing ring they set up in that apartment over there.

That was when I completely lost my shit.

“There’s a BOXING RING? Can anybody fight?” I shout, and my buddy says he thinks so. I put the lid on the barbecue and forget about the remaining meat and run over to the apartment where, yes, some people have set up a boxing ring of sorts. Really, they just got a bunch of rowdy people in a room, cleared out the middle of it and found two pairs of boxing gloves. The ring is bordered by people instead of ropes.

I am completely in heaven. This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to fight. And guess what? There’s my buddy Tim!

Loyal readers will remember Tim as the big Alaskan dude who got his face scraped across a gravel driveway trying to stop a fleeing car with nothing but his mitts and his attitude. Tim and I have done a lot of bonding over our shared problems with anger and I figure this is perfect! I run up to him.

“Tim! Tim, you gotta fight me!” I shout in his face, a giant smile plastered across mine. “This is awesome!”

Tim’s not too drunk, and as much of a tornado as he is drunk, he’s a pretty reasonable guy and a great friend when he’s not completely off his ass. So Tim holds his palms up in faux-surrender and says, “I’m not gonna fight you, Sean, don’t worry about it, buddy.”

I see what he’s doing – he’s not going to fight me just because he’s way bigger than me and he’d completely destroy me in anything that resembled a fight. But remember, I’m on the outside of a dozen beers and I’m all testosteroney from barbecuing. I feel stoked and invincible and I won’t take no for an answer.

So I start calling Tim a pussy and pushing him a little and teasing him and prodding him, and he sticks to his guns and won’t fight me so I decide I have to turn up the punk rock attitude in this place even more.

“I’ll fight anybody here,” I shout at the top of my lungs, waving my fists in the air like I’m already the champion. “Who’s man enough to fight me, huh?”

Well, it turns out there’s a guy there who has actually competed in Golden Gloves amateur boxing competitions and actually knows what he’s doing and recognizes me for the foul-mouthed obnoxious asswipe I’m being and decides to teach me a lesson.

I don’t remember too much about the actual fight except that I got my ass handed to me, but I never fell all the way down. I was incredibly proud of that. We’d come at each other from across the ring, me windmilling like a lunatic and him ducking my first punch and then pummeling me for a bit. He punched me into the crowd finally and turned around to brag it up a little, holding his arms out for applause, and I ran back into the ring and punched him hard as I could in the back of the head.

He turned around and pummeled me again.

Then he turned around to gloat, and I punched him in the back of the head again.

This went on for a while. Tim told me later it was the longest fight of the night. I don’t know if I can describe, actually, how proud that made me at the time.

Eventually I can’t even really hold my hands up and Tim convinces me it’s time to admit the other guy won. My head is ringing so badly I can hardly see. I run outside and throw up in some bushes, and then run back inside to see the next fight, because, dude, there’s fighting in there!

I run inside to find two guys in the ring. One of them, I don't know. The other one? He's a guy we called One-Armed Nate.


Words: Sean Murray
Art: Manuel Martinez