Tuesday, December 20, 2016

El Paso: The Adrenaline of Boxing and a Wrong Turn

Boxing, El Paso Coliseum, El Paso, Texas. September 2016.

The wrong turn

Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, is smack next to El Paso. There are a couple of roadways in El Paso that take you across the border OR to another El Paso destination. In split seconds. An adrenaline rush as one calls out to one's GPS guide: "This turn? Right here?! But it's pointing to Mexico! Are you sure?!" Oh, too late.

"Sorry, border patrol guy! I didn't mean to go to Mexico! I took the wrong turn!"

In reality, I did experience the chemical rush, but I disobeyed the GPS guide and veered off (in a wrong decision, requiring recalibration) just before - maybe - entering Mexico. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure this kind of thing happens all the time, and the border folks are accustomed to it. "Yes, turn around there, ma'am. No, there isn't a restroom on this side; you'll need to go on the US side. Thank you."

Which reminds me of that time in 1990, when Brother4 and I took a road trip to Europe, and in a small French border town, named St. Jean something, we kept circling and circling and circling its perimeter, trying to find the spin-off into Spain. Finally, on our 4th revolution, we saw a man walking alongside the road. Brother4 stopped. I rolled down the car window, and leaned out: "Où est l'Espagne?" (Where is Spain?)

The man looked over his shoulder, raised his arm, extended it, then pointed his index finger to a road that was right there. Right there. Apparently, every time we circled, we failed to see the sign ("Spain: Thataway.") because it was facing the opposite direction. From my trip journal:
"Brother4's theory is that there are men paid to change signs hourly simply to confuse strangers. May be a carryover from World War II days."

Boxing, El Paso Coliseum, El Paso, Texas. September 2016.


My intended destination on this foray was the El Paso Coliseum for a Labor Day Weekend fiesta. I'd expected a big affair, but it was quite small. But gee whiz, there was boxing going on. Not something I'd ever seen live, and which I generally flipped the channel on when I saw it on TV, because why would I get pleasure from watching two people beat each other up?

Boxing, El Paso Coliseum, El Paso, Texas. September 2016.

But I was there and I could see the intimacy in the interactions between the two fighters and between fighter and manager.

A video below. I like the tender, reassuring touches from manager to fighter at the end of this video.

And, of course, there is the visceral, ancient rise of the blood within when you see two living beings penetrate each other's space, slam the soft, thin shell with blunt blows, draw blood and fluids to the surface to make bruises and swellings.  A locking of horns or necks or legs. Embraces to pull opponents closer for pain and not love. An engagement that crosses all species, perhaps.

Boxing, El Paso Coliseum, El Paso, Texas. September 2016.

Over at the Art of Manliness, I read of the "sweet science of bruising" that is boxing.

Boxing, El Paso Coliseum, El Paso, Texas. September 2016.

Boxing has played an important role in American civil rights history. Jack Johnson.  Joe Louis. Cassius Clay cum Muhammad Ali.

By the way, the University of Texas - El Paso (UTEP) nee Western Texas University, figured into civil rights history: "The team made history by winning the 1966 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament in 1966, becoming the first team with an all-black starting lineup to win an NCAA basketball national championship. The Miners defeated Kentucky (a team that was all white until 1969) 72–65 in the historic championship game... "

Boxing, El Paso Coliseum, El Paso, Texas. September 2016.

According to Pro-Boxing Fans, in its list of the 10 greatest Mexican-American boxers: "The impact made in this sport by Mexican-Americans is incalculable. As a group, they have basically single-handedly buoyed the sport on the west coast. Since way back, Mexican-Americans have provided star after star to the landscape of championship boxing. This list, unlike those of some groups, encompasses a wide period of the time–spanning from the 1940’s to this very day."

Boxing, El Paso Coliseum, El Paso, Texas. September 2016.

Round 3 below:

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