Antonio continues to be the boxer of the family...He has been involved in 5 sparring matches now. He has his own mouthpiece. And a new sense of confidence.
(Tonio in white)
Tonio, in white, prepares to unleash a right hook.
In his first match, Antonio would throw punches from a very safe distance. Usually coming to a completion a good four inches from his oppenent's head. I would ask him, why doesn't he connect? He told me that he didn't want to actually hurt anyone. He also backed away and ran a little bit... I let him know that with the size of the gloves they are wearing and protetctive head gear, he wouldn't have to worry about that.
Over the next few sparring matches, Antonio gained confidence and began connecting. I told him the story of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, famous Olympic boxer and champ at the age of 21 back in the '80's' from Youngstown, Ohio. He never backed up during his fights. Since I told him that story, neither has Antonio!!
He trains hard...
And makes time to kiss babies (Mary's daughter Kinsley!).
(Tonio in white. He always wears white. I tell him 'Tonio, you can choose any color shirt you want. It does not have to be white.' And yet....)
He is a relentles student of the ring. At first, it hurt his feelings when I would tell him to watch another boxer, to see their technique, their footwork, or when he'd come out of the ring and I'd say 'here's what you did well, here's what you have to work on.' He took it as a personal failure, so hard on himself! I had to explain to him that that is the best way to learn - to never think he knew it all - watch...and learn. Now, he leans against the ring, pointing things out to me. And the moment he is out of the ring, after telling his oppenent 'Good fight!' He will hustle over and ask what I thought.
One of his teachers at Cottonwood, Ashley, is an instructor at Boxing Inc and has taught Antonio so much. She recently tied a rope from one end of the training area to the other side and had Antonio manuever, in fight stance, the length of the rope, ducking and rolling to get beneath, taking a step forward and then ducking back to the other side.
Last week, while fighting an oppenent taller and defininetly heftier than him, Antonio found himself taking a bit of a beating. I called out 'duck and roll Tonio!' And he began doing it with ease, as if he was merely transgressing the length of rope that Ashley had taught him on a week before. In fact, his oppenent became so frustrated with Tonio's 'Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee' approach, ala Muhammed Ali, that he resorted to pushing Antonio!!
Oops! I never could get the video to upload, sorry. I am going to try to tape a short segment of his next fight and post it up. Okay?
Pretty proud of this guy! He's still a teddy bear, who misses his Mama and struggles with what happened to him in the aftermath - but, he's a fighter, a learner and has such a big heart!!
And at the end of the day, he just wants to snuggle with his puppy Bella....