Things are slow here at BOXING 4 FREE Central. Holidays are to blame and a lack of writers… If you want to write for BOXING 4 FREE, click here. Things being what they are right now, this gives me an opportunity to get personal and fill you in on my time in amateur boxing. First, let me tell you how I got started in the sweet science.
I was always fascinated by martial arts as far back as I could remember. Films like The Karate Kid stood out to me and got me excited about the prospect of learning ancient Asian fighting systems. My parents always said no. Then a movie called The Perfect Weapon hit the theaters. The star didn’t rely so much on his kicks as other action stars, but rather his hands. Jeff Speakman, the star of this film, used mostly hand strikes in quick succession. I was intrigued and wanted more-than-ever to learn his style of martial arts, namely Kenpo Karate.
Once again, my parents said no. When I wasn’t running cross-country, indoor or outdoor track for my high school, I was reading books about Bruce Lee. His dedication to training and philosophy towards fighting caught my attention. At this point, I wanted to learn this thing he promoted: Jeet Kune Do.
Then something that Bruce Lee only dreamed of became a reality: a tournament where different styles of martial arts competed against one another in no-holds-barred matches, namely, The Ultimate Fighting Championship. I would end up ordering the first four of these competitions on Pay-Per-View.
In the summer of 1994, before going into my senior year in high school, my parents relented and let me pick a place to learn martial arts. I was still fascinated with Kenpo, but after watching the Ultimate Fighting Championships, I knew I needed to learn more than one style. I found a school on Long Island called the Integrated Martial Arts Academy with trainers Ray Longo and Mike Ryan. Ray was an instructor in Jeet Kune Do concepts teaching various styles such as Jun Fan Gung Fu, Thaiboxing, shootwrestling, Dumog, Kali, and several others. Mike was a professional kickboxer and his forte was kickboxing and Kenpo (Tracy system I believe).
As I watched a class, I was fascinated by their work-outs. Lots of sweat-soaked bodies. Lots of tired practitioners at the end of each class. They hit focus mitts, kicked shields, and practiced martial arts technique on one another. There was one thing that they always went back to that bothered me… boxing. I didn’t understand what boxing had to do with anything. I wanted nothing to do with boxing, but it seemed to be at the core of everything they did. Much of the sparring that occurred was hands only when they got in the ring. I put that in the back of my mind, because I was determined to learn the other stuff.
After two months of training, all I could think about was boxing. The fluidity of it, the practicality of it, straightforward method of it, and efficiency of this activity had me hooked. Reading about current and past fighters became a new addiction as well. I was watching boxing on television every chance I got. I would break down every fight I saw and pick out what I thought would be good to employ in my style, my technique. That’s how I got started in boxing. Thank you Ray Longo & Mike Ryan for introducing me to this great sport.