Learning the sweet science

My little sister wanted me to watch her get punched in the face.

Let’s back it up a bit so I can explain: Foo-Dog boxes. I am not in favor of this, because I am not in favor of her being hit in the face.

“You’ve got to learn how to take a punch,” Foo-Dog says.

Apparently, this means being hit in the face. Repeatedly. So she can accustom herself to absorbing the blows. I’m concerned about broken noses and concussions – known risks of boxing – and she’s concerned about pushing through and returning it, blow for blow.

Don’t mistake this for pearl-clutching. I’m not unfamiliar with the sport. Our grandfather was involved in the county boxing club, way back in the 1970s, and our dad and uncle boxed. So did our cousins and our brother.

“It’s a family tradition,” Foo says.

But it’s different to watch Foo dodge a punch. I’m not sure why – it’s not that she’s younger, our brother is younger, too, and I never worried, but Davey Crockett is well over 6 feet tall with a reach that keeps all but the most determined out of striking distance.

Foo is strong. While training for a recent fight, she worked out for hours each day and ran until she developed blisters on her feet. She’s determined. For months, she ate nothing but salads, raw vegetables and fruit. She’s tough. She can take a punch.

I just don’t want to see it.

It’s weird. There’s hardly any anger or hate fueling boxers. For all the posturing, most of the time, it’s not personal, it’s strategy. Most of the time, they’re either sparring partners, friends or virtual strangers. They hit each other, then they shake hands.

They call it the sweet science, but I didn’t want to watch someone make a science experiment of my sister, no matter how bloodless and methodical.

“Are you coming to watch me?” she asked.

“I think I’m busy,” I said.

Our father and uncle went to watch. So did her friends. I didn’t go. Our mother didn’t go, either.

It’s not that I didn’t support her or I wasn’t proud of her. The thought of her being hurt made me wince.

It was in the back of my mind every time she talked about her training, every time our uncle – a champion himself – gave her advice or instruction. I knew, at a fight, a real fight, it would be in the forefront. I would be the sad sack, the ring-side wet blanket.

So I didn’t go.

She called me Sunday. “I won,” she said. “But you didn’t say anything.”

“I didn’t realize it was this weekend,” I said. I hadn’t. “But I’m glad you won.”

She chatted about her fights while I made bread. “Now that you can eat again, I’ll make you some banana nut bread with chocolate chips,” I said.

“Are you going to watch the videos?” she asked.

“Maybe,” I said. “I’m proud of you.”

I did watch. She did well; she didn’t even get hit that often.

In the background, I could hear someone yelling, “kill her! Kill her!” I know they didn’t mean it literally, what they meant was “hurt her.”

I’m not sure if they were talking about the other fighter or my sister.

All in all, I’d rather stay home and bake bread.

(Wallace-Minger, a resident of Weirton, is community editor of The Weirton Daily Times.)