Grays Ferry boxing club could use a good cornerman

Sometimes you’re just born with a powerful punch, that straight-off-the-street sledgehammer that can send an opponent’s brain bouncing around his skull like a pinball.

Mike Rafferty, the youngest and skinniest of four boys growing up in a Grays Ferry rowhouse, had to work for it. He built himself up in the old Augie’s Gym at Ninth and Passyunk under the tutelage of Jimmy Arthur, a man who could teach a mouse to drop a cat.

Rafferty harnessed power in his hips, found the footwork to drive his fist home, and pounded on his hands just the right way, so that at age 44 his knuckles still rise like a mountain range.

When Rafferty, a sergeant in the 18th Police District, walked past an old heavy bag on St. Patrick’s Day inside the Grays Ferry Boxing Club, his nonchalant right hook to the bag’s duct-taped midsection made a thud that would make most men flinch. The chains that held the bag shook, and the beams above gave out a little groan.

“You do hard work to build your hands up,” Rafferty said, slowly throwing and retracting his left hand in demonstration. “It’s pretty simple. You do construction. You hit the bags. You hit the walls. You find the power.”

He’s got the same philosophy about the state of the Grays Ferry Boxing Club, which sits a bit punch-drunk with broken windows and a leaking roof on the corner of 28th and Dickinson Streets. It needs work, lots of work, and it’s going to take thousands of dollars that no one in the neighborhood has to spare.



Irudhi Suttru Based on Dalit Boxer Thulasi Helen?

CHENNAI: She stepped into the boxing ring to train when she was 12 years old; within a week or two, she was fighting seasoned boxers who were twice her age. Meet Thualsi Helen, fondly known as Lady Mohammed Ali for her footwork and body movement that’s similar to the legend’s. Having won several tournaments by knockouts in the Women’s Boxing category Thulasi is all set to get back into professional boxing after a four-year break.

“Being a woman, sustaining in boxing amid so many problems is a struggle. But, I don’t want to look back; only look forward to pro boxing,” she says.

By the time she was 24, Thulasi was known as one of the best boxers in the country. “That was the beginning of my career. My sister began boxing first. Watching her, I developed an interest and started punching my way through,” says the 30-year-old.

Born in a Dalit family, discrimination was a way of life for Thulasi. After her first few matches, she left home due to family disputes and started living with her grandmother and friends. From delivering pizzas to driving an auto, this pugilist has done it all to survive. “I have always had the ambition to never give up. I want to go back to being on top of the rankings,” she shares.

Winning her first gold in 2000 at the Indian International Boxing Championship, New Delhi, was the turning point of her career. At 14, she was selected by the Sports Authority of India for training in Kollam (Kerala) for a year. “We didn’t know that our train tickets were free and that we would get paid for the matches I play. Not a single penny came by. Only after arriving in Kerala and talking to other state players did I know that we were being cheated,” she recollects.

Fighting her way to the top and defeating Olympian Mary Kom in 2008, Thulasi has won over 30 medals in 16 years.

Does her life sound familiar to you? It should, as Thulasi says the film Irudhi Suttru is her real-life story. “When I saw the movie with my friends, we couldn’t believe that the plot including the small scenes, was based on our lives (Thulasi and her sister). I don’t blame anyone for not crediting us. I only want to appreciate and thank the director for portraying reality.”

Her marriage was short-lived and after a temporary halt in boxing in 2011, she bounced back in 2014 through the documentary, Light Fly, Fly High by Norwegian filmmakers Beathe Hofseth and Susann Ostigard, which was again based on her life story. The documentary won seven international film fest awards.

Firmly holding on to her gloves, Thulasi wants to create a benchmark in women’s boxing and is looking for support. She works at Toneez fitness center and says that her employer, Sriram Vasantharajan, is helping her achieve her dream. “He is backing me and looking for sponsors as well. Though I don’t play for money, right now money is my need,” she says.

Thulasi trains thrice a day and teaches boxing in Nanganallur.

Adrien Broner rails against Floyd Mayweather ahead of bout with Money’s fighter

“Adrien Broner got up there and said ‘[expletive] TMT’ and we are a company that’s making millions. But remember when Adrien Broner lost to Marcos Maidana, I was the first one there that had his back and a shoulder for him to cry on when everyone else turned their back on him,” said Mayweather, who chalked Broner’s comments up to immaturity. Ultimately, Mayweather opted for the high road.

“Am I going to bash Adrien Broner and say something bad about him? Absolutely not,” Mayweather said. “I’m not going to do that…I used to say things when I was younger but I’m almost 40 now and I look at things totally different. I’m not going to carry myself in a childish way.”

What makes the perfect punch?

There are few sights in sport as shocking and unforgettable as witnessing a one-punch knockout. Boxers have a wide variety of favourite types of punches, and there are many different kinds of knockouts. But what components combine to produce perfection? Is power as important as technique, and does timing beat speed?

David Haye, the former WBA heavyweight champion:

In my experience, people who can move from one point to another quickly cannot only punch hard, but knock out their opponents.

It is hard to counter someone without speed, unless you are very lucky and just wing a punch that your opponent doesn’t see. Timing is vital. Speed and timing are both key, but if your timing is out, you can’t land your punch. Good balance is a crucial element of throwing a knockout punch. You need to be able to explode from your feet, using every ounce of your weight. It is not about how strong your arms are – the key is to have a strong core, in terms of your glutes, hamstrings and quads.

You need to generate power to explode through your target. It is not about how hard you can hit that person, it is the velocity of the movement coming through the target that causes maximum impact. People who have high knockout ratios do not look to punch at their opponent’s chin, they look to punch 12 inches through the chin, and that motion is what leads to the knockout.

Khan v Alvarez: underdog will motivate him

Amir Khan says being an underdog for the first time as a professional will motivate him against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas on 7 May.

Khan is jumping two weight classes to fight for his rival’s WBC middleweight title, at a catchweight of 155lb.

The 29-year-old Briton believes his superior speed will be decisive.

“For the first time I’m fighting someone who is heavier and also a bigger name, but that will bring the best out in me,” said Khan.

“Normally I’m the one who is supposed to win the fight and that puts a lot of pressure on you. This time I don’t feel that pressure.”

Khan, who weighed in at 147lb for his last contest, says he has felt “strong and explosive” during training and believes he may be fighting at his ideal weight.

Pacquiao says he respects Nike’s decision to drop him

0218-Pacquiao-ap“Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?”

MANILA, Philippines — Boxing star Manny Pacquiao said today he respects Nike’s decision to sever ties with him over his comments about gay relationships but stood pat on his opposition to same-sex marriage and added he’s happy that “a lot of people were alarmed by the truth.”

The American apparel giant said Wednesday it will no longer have any business dealings with the Filipino boxing champion, adding that it found his comments “abhorrent.” Nike says it strongly opposes any kind of discrimination.

“Whatever decision Nike makes is its decision and I respect that and its sponsorship of me now only involves my clothes for my fight,” Pacquiao told reporters during a break in his training for an April 9 bout with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas.

“Our contract has already ended aside from sponsoring the boxing,” he said.

The Bible-quoting Pacquiao, 37, has become an active Christian in recent years and has publicly declared his opposition to same-sex unions. When he was asked by a local TV network as a Senate candidate about his views on same-sex marriages, Pacquiao came under fire for his curt reply.

“It’s just common sense,” Pacquiao said in the remarks posted online by the TV5 network this week.
Animals, he said, were better because they recognize gender differences, and “if you have male-to-male or female-to-female (relationships), then people are worse than animals.”

Among those who reacted strongly were popular gay celebrities in the country, some of whom declared they have lost their adulation for him.

Even his American boxing promoter Bob Arum has criticized Pacquiao.

Army boxing team uses fists to face fears

Almost without fail, about 30 seconds remain in any given round when Ray Barone‘s voice booms from his boxer’s corner. “Let’s go, Army — let’s go.”

It’s to motivate, but also a baritone warning of how much time remains in this square, roped island in which cadets get real-world experience and military training.

The United States Military Academy‘s boxing club team is not merely for entertaining men and women swilling $5 beers at a Holiday Inn ballroom in Saratoga Springs. It’s six fist-flying minutes of studying fear management, a critical mission for West Point cadets, says Barone.

“I get calls from guys all of the time who are in the military now,” Barone said. “They’ve been shot at. Stories that will break your heart. And they’re saying, ‘Coach, boxing helped me through it. It helped me lead my soldiers. It helped me survive when it was rough.'”

Barone pauses for a second before quietly adding, “Because it’s pretty rough in there.”

“There” is the boxing ring. It’s also often the Capital Region. Barone, a 1978 Siena graduate, regularly brings his team here for competition.

In January a small group competed at Green Tech High. Earlier this month, Barone brought five boxers a little farther north to Saratoga. A return is tentatively planned Feb. 27 to Quail Street gym in Albany.

Barone, in black pants and a short-sleeved black Army shirt along with pristine white sneakers, looks all business. He stands 6-foot-4, sharp jaw, brick-sized fists. He became an actual professor of pugilism — his title was boxing course director — and also the school’s volunteer head coach since he retired from two decades of military duty in 1999.

Making Sense of Boxing’s Muddled Heavyweight Division

These days, there’s a fairly good chance if you ask a random stranger on the street who the current heavyweight champion of the world is, that the poor soul, caught unaware by your casual candor, will simply stare back at you in a state of quizzical bewilderment.

That, or if the person is under the age of 30, he or she might simply offer you the name of a mixed martial artist.

At one point in time, everyone knew the name of boxing’s heavyweight champion. The honors bestowed upon those wearing the crown, the likes of Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield, rivaled those of the world’s most glamorous sporting celebrities.

But today?

Boxing’s heavyweight championship doesn’t hold the same amount of swagger. Perhaps Wladimir Klitschko’s long reign as champion, coupled with a dearth of talent from this side of the planet, was just too much to overcome. Or maybe there just wasn’t enough action.

Or maybe we’re being impatient.

Whatever the case, changes are afoot in boxing’s glamour division, and Bleacher Report is here to help make sense of it all.