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the sweetest thing

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					            the sweetest thing
                        mischa merz sTePs BacK inTo THe rinG.



i	 was	already	over	the	hill	when	I	came	to	Brook-
   lyn’s	 famous	 Gleason’s	 gym,	 although	 I	 hadn’t	
ruled	out	a	sparring	session	or	two.
                                                              events	 that	 combine	 boxing	 and	 chamber	 music.	
                                                              And	yet	he	has	also	preserved	something	of	the	old-
                                                              school	boxing	tradition:	the	unwieldy	chaos	that	is	a	
   But	I’d	heard	some	horror	stories	about	sparring	          feature	of	most	gyms	peopled	by	so	many	disparate	
in	America	 from	 Songul	‘Diamond’	 Oruc,	 one	 of	           and	driven	individuals.	Silverglade’s	smooth	but	firm	
the	pioneers	of	women’s	boxing	in	Australia.	She’d	           presence	 has	 a	 catalytic	 effect,	 bringing	 cohesion	
spent	 a	 few	 hard	 years	 in	 the	 late	 1990s	 fighting	   to	what	could	so	easily	disintegrate	and	fragment.	
there,	 mainly	 on	 the	 west	 coast,	 and	 had	 once	        While	loft	apartments	are	selling	to	Manhattan	yup-
warned	me	that	sparring	sessions	were	like	territo-           pies	for	millions,	inside	the	gym	a	certain	shabby	
rial	wars.	She	had	eventually	wearied	of	the	broken	          charm	has	been	preserved.
noses	and	the	stress.                                            The	layered	archaeology	of	fight	posters,	photo-
   Located	in	a	part	of	Brooklyn	known	as	DUMBO	              graphs	and	magazine	clippings	tells	the	full	story	of	
(Down	Under	the	Manhattan	Brooklyn	Overpass),	a	              Gleason’s	trajectory.	But	the	electrifying	energy	of	
once-treacherous	industrial	wasteland	now	rapidly	            the	place	keeps	you	from	looking	at	the	walls	long	
gentrifying,	Gleason’s	is	the	oldest	gym	operating	           enough	to	piece	together	a	narrative.	The	images	
in	America.                                                   dissipate	as	the	living	art	of	boxing,	practised	at	its	
   Since	 it	 opened	 its	 doors	 in	 1937,	 it	 has	 been	   highest	level,	unfolds	around	you	at	the	sport’s	epi-
the	location	of	twenty-nine	movies,	including	the	            centre.	Without	question,	the	most	compelling	story	
Martin	Scorsese	classic	Raging Bull,	and	the	home	            goes	on	from	morning	to	night	in	the	four	full-sized	
of	luminaries	like	Muhammad	Ali,	Jake	La	Motta,	              rings	constantly	in	use	with	people	shadow-boxing,	
Mike	Tyson,	Zab	Judah	and	many	more.                          sparring	and	punching	pads,	with	one	ring	near	the	
   The	gym’s	owner	for	the	past	twenty-six	years,	            entrance	preserved	for	wrestling.
the	urbane	Bruce	Silverglade,	has	managed	to	move	               Aside	from	the	sheer	scale	of	this	New	York	box-
with	 the	 times	 –	 holding	 art	 shows	 and	 staging	       ing	mecca,	what	surprised	and	excited	me	most	was	


                                                                                            overland  192,  2008          5
     the	number	of	women	inside	the	rings	–	and,	indeed,	       had	also	been	Hilary	Swank’s	sparring	partner	as	
     on	the	posters.	I	mean	women	fighters:	not	boxacis-        she	prepared	for	Million Dollar Baby.
     ers,	not	decorative	side	dishes	to	the	main	course,	           The	 first	 female	 sparring	 session	 I	 witnessed	
     but	genuine	competitive	athletes,	more	skilled	than	       was	between	two	of	those	champs:	Belinda	‘Brown	
     most	Australian	male	boxers.	Once	that	would	have	         Sugar’	Laracuente,	a	Puerto	Rican	still	in	her	twen-
     sounded	like	an	affirmative	action	overstatement.	         ties	yet	a	veteran	of	forty-five	professional	fights;	
     Now	it’s	a	simple	fact,	so	vivid	and	palpable	that	        and	a	warhorse	from	White	Plains,	Ann-Marie	Sac-
     it	made	me	wonder	if	perhaps	boxing	was	indeed	            curato.	I	stood	in	dumb	awe	as	I	watched	Belinda	
     more	suited	to	women	than	men,	despite	centuries	          goad	and	move	with	the	kind	of	slippery	evasion	of	
     of	discourse	to	the	contrary.                              which	only	a	handful	of	Australian	male	boxers	are	
        I’m	used	to	walking	into	a	boxing	gym	and	re-           capable.	Ann-Marie	was,	by	contrast,	a	classic	pres-
     ceiving	a	lot	of	sideways	glances,	and	I	have	been	        sure	fighter	with	an	intimidating	physical	presence,	
     to	many	gyms	along	Australia’s	eastern	seaboard	           a	long	torso	that	rippled	with	muscles.	The	hairs	on	
     over	the	past	ten	years.	I	am	always	acutely	aware	        the	back	of	my	neck	stood	up	as	I	watched	them.	I	
     that	I	am	an	oddity:	like	snow	in	the	suburbs,	some-       felt	a	little	shudder	of	vindication	as	I	recalled	how	
     thing	that	does	happen,	but	rarely.	At	Gleason’s	I	        harshly	female	novice	boxers	had	been	judged	when	
     was	noticeable	more	for	my	peculiar	accent	than	           they	had	entered	the	ring	so	poorly	schooled	that	it	
     my	gender.                                                 was	sheer	guts	that	got	them	through.	Now	I	was	


       It gave me a strange and eerie feeling, and demonstrated that so little is
       fixed in what we call culture. An idea that seems immutable and true in
                 one era can sound laughable to the next generation.

         I	knew,	because	I	had	been	following	women’s	          seeing	 how	 women	 looked	 when	 they	 had	 been	
     boxing	 online	 for	 more	 than	 a	 decade,	 that	 the	    given	the	kind	of	attention	and	attained	the	kind	
     sport	was	bigger	in	the	US	than	in	Australia,	but	I	       of	experience	that	men	take	for	granted.
     really	had	no	idea	of	the	scale.	Silverglade,	who	sat	         I	turned	to	Alicia	and	asked	‘Are	all	the	women	
     at	the	top	of	the	stairs	at	what	looked	like	a	prop	       here	this	good?’	and	she	threw	her	head	back	and	
     desk	from	Hill Street Blues,	told	me	there	were	300	       laughed.	 She	 reminded	 me	 that	 they	 were	 world	
     female	members	of	the	gym	and	thirty	of	them	were	         champions,	after	all	–	the	best	of	the	best.	Banners	
     active	fighters.                                           around	 the	 gym,	 hung	 up	 high	 in	 red	 and	 black	
         It	looked	like	more	than	that	to	me.	It	looked	like	   lettering,	testified	to	the	fact.
     women’s	boxing	had	reached	critical	mass	and	was	              I	imagined	sparring	with	these	gals	and	looking	
     now	normal	in	America.	No-one	turned	a	hair.               like	a	hack	by	comparison.	It	wasn’t	pain	that	wor-
         Since	 Silverglade	 sanctioned	 entry	 to	 women	      ried	me	so	much	as	humiliation.	I	imagined	punch-
     in	1986,	his	gym	has	become	well	known	for	its	            ing	thin	air	as	they	slipped	my	attempts	to	make	
     female	champions	–	amateur	and	professional.	I	            contact	and	countered	with	flurries	that	I	wouldn’t	
     had	already	made	email	contact	before	I	arrived	           see	coming.	The	mere	thought	made	my	heart	race.	
     with	Alicia	Ashley,	a	Jamaican-born	bantamweight	          This	was,	as	Australia’s	one-time	IBF	world	cham-
     world	champion	whom	I	had	watched	boxing	on	               pion	Robbie	‘Bomber’	Peden	described	it,	‘the	big	
     YouTube	with	giddy	admiration.	She	was	one	of	             pool’.	I	didn’t	want	to	look	like	dog	paddle	was	the	
     a	 group	 of	 five	 reigning	 female	 world	 champs	       best	I	could	manage.
     in	 the	 gym,	 including	 Maureen	‘Mo’	 Shea	 who	             Gleason’s	is	also	the	same	location	where	that	
     had	 recently	 defended	 her	 unblemished	 record	         icon	 of	 American	 letters,	 Joyce	 Carol	 Oates,	 re-
     at	 Madison	 Square	 Garden	 –	 where	 every	 male	        searched	her	famous	1987	essay	‘On	Boxing’.	It	was	
     boxing	champion	of	note	has	appeared	in	the	past	          in	this	place	twenty	years	ago	that	she	concluded,	
     hundred	years	since	John	L.	Sullivan	became	the	           ‘Boxing	is	a	purely	masculine	activity	and	it	inhab-
     first	 heavyweight	 champion	 there,	 in	 1882.	 Mo	       its	a	purely	masculine	world	...	Boxing	is	for	men,	


6   overland  192,  2008
Belinda	Laraquente	and	Ann-Marie	Sacurato	sparring	at	Gleason’s.   Left	to	right:	Camille	Currie,	Alicia	Ashley,	Mischa	
                                                                   Merz	(author)	and	Melodie	Yam.



and	is	about	men,	and	is	men.’	With	due	respect	to	           champion	Alesia	Graf	in	a	YouTube	clip	of	their	title	
Oates,	 one	 of	 my	 literary	 heroes,	 I	 couldn’t	 help	    fight	and	would	go	so	far	as	to	say	she	was	one	of	
thinking	 how	 monumentally	 wrong	 she	 was.	 So	            the	best	boxers	I’d	ever	seen	of	either	gender.
many	assumptions	about	gender	that	she	made	in	                   I	had	planned	to	train	with	her	during	my	time	
an	 erudite,	 compelling	 piece	 of	 writing	 were	 just	     in	New	York	and	hopefully	learn	a	thing	or	two.	
blown	to	dust.	And	in	the	very	same	place	in	which	           But,	on	my	first	day,	she	had	to	go	to	Manhattan	
they	had	been	formulated!                                     for	 sparring	 and	 so	 I	 was	 matched	 instead	 with	
    It	 gave	 me	 a	 strange	 and	 eerie	 feeling,	 and	      Hector	Roca.	The	Panamanian	veteran	trainer,	and	
demonstrated	that	so	little	is	fixed	in	what	we	call	         one-time	cycling	champion,	is	known	not	just	for	
culture.	An	idea	that	seems	immutable	and	true	in	            the	boxers	he	has	trained,	like	the	legendary	Arturo	
one	era	can	sound	laughable	to	the	next	generation.	          Gatti	and	Buddy	McGirt,	but	also	for	his	brushes	
Maybe	now	the	opposite	could	even	be	true.	Boxing	            with	Hollywood	fame.	He’d	trained	Hilary	Swank,	
might	be	for	women	and	about	women.	How	else	                 whose	picture	is	plastered	on	the	chaotic	walls	of	
could	small-statured	people,	who	weigh	no	more	               his	mouse-hole	office,	for	Million Dollar Baby.	He’d	
than	a	jockey,	exhibit	their	physical	power?	Most	            worked	with	Russell	Crowe	on	Cinderella Man	and	
sports	favour	height	and	size.	Boxing	is	matched	by	          didn’t	have	a	good	word	to	say	about	him.
weight	and	the	smaller	divisions	have	always	been	               ‘What	 about	 Clint	 Eastwood?’	 I	 asked,	 as	 he	
the	most	exciting.                                            wrapped	my	hands,	which	made	me	feel	a	little	like	
    Alicia	Ashley	weighs	somewhere	in	the	low	50	             a	celebrity	myself.	Hector	stuck	out	his	lower	lip	
kilogram	region	and	exemplifies	all	that	is	grace-            and	said	of	Clint:	‘Very	dry.	You	do	this,	go	there.	
ful	and	elegant	about	modern-day	boxing.	She	is	              Nothing.’	Already	I	could	tell	I	was	going	to	have	
like	 the	 love	 child	 of	 Sugar	 Ray	 Robinson	 (who	       trouble	understanding	his	accent.
famously	 quit	 boxing	 to	 become	 a	 dancer)	 and	              But	 before	 I	 knew	 it	 Hector	 took	 me	 through	
Josephine	Baker.	She	moves	with	a	seamless	danc-              some	punches.	He	wanted	loose	and	fast,	and	I	had	
er’s	grace;	her	toes,	unlike	most	fighters’,	turn	out	        to	fight	my	instinct	to	hit	the	pad	so	hard	he	would	
and	her	back	is	ramrod	straight.	She	came	to	New	             be	 astonished	 by	 my	 power.	 But	 Hector	 wasn’t	
York	 on	 scholarships	 to	 study	 with	 dancers	 and	        interested	in	strength.	He	wanted	speed.
choreographers	 Martha	 Graham	 and	Alvin	Ailey	                  ‘No,’	he	said,	deadpan.	‘Joo	pushin’.	Relax,	play	
before	 injury	 propelled	 her	 into	 pugilism	 when	         wid	joo	hands.’
her	 brother	 and	 current	 trainer,	 Devon	 Cormak,	             I	strained	to	follow	his	commands	and	began	to	
convinced	her	that	her	speed	and	flexibility	would	           worry	that	he	might	think	that	all	Aussies	were	as	
easily	transfer.                                              thick	as	Russell	Crowe.
    Her	fighting	name	is	‘Slick’	for	a	good	reason:	             But	 Bruce	 reassured	 me.	 He	 told	 me	 he’d	 had	
she	is	one	of	the	finest	female	fighters	of	her	genera-       whole	 conversations	 with	 Hector,	 whom	 he’d	
tion.	I	had	already	seen	Alicia	humiliate	the	German	         known	for	thirty	years,	and	sometimes	wasn’t	sure	


                                                                                               overland  192,  2008        7
     himself	what	they	had	been	about.	Yet	almost	eve-               even	 if	 he	 has	 gone	 twelve	 rounds	 with	 Vernon	
     ryone	 to	 whom	 I	 spoke	 credited	 him	 with	 laying	         Forrest	twice	for	a	world	title.	Raul’s	chivalry	was	
     the	foundations	of	their	boxing	technique.	When	I	              switched	on	and,	after	three	or	four	light	rounds,	he	
     asked	him	what	he	thought	about	women	boxing,	                  said	to	me:	‘You	should	fight.	You’ve	got	the	talent.	
     he	impressed	upon	me	the	sheer	redundant	nature	                You	just	need	some	conditioning.’
     of	that	question.                                                   Flattered	and	panting	I	thanked	him	but	declined	
         ‘We	all	human’,	he	said.	‘Man,	woman.	No	dif-               the	 offer	 to	 run	 with	 him	 around	 Prospect	 Park,	
     ference.’                                                       which	would	give	him	the	chance	to	discover	exactly	
         Yet	the	question	about	whether	women	should	                how	 out	 of	 condition	 I	 was.	Although	 I’ve	 never	
     or	 shouldn’t	 box,	 and	 whether	 it	 is	 more	 or	 less	      stopped,	 I	 had,	 at	 that	 stage,	 slowed	 right	 down.	
     dangerous	for	them	than	men,	is	getting	asked	often	            My	routine	had	been	pared	back	so	much	that	I	was	
     enough.	The	International	Olympic	Committee	still	              almost	ready	to	surrender	to	Father	Time.
     cannot	bring	itself	to	include	women	boxers	in	the	                 Next	 time	 I	 saw	 Alicia,	 she	 said,	‘I	 hear	 you	
     Games	in	2008.	It	seems	to	me	that	boxing	won’t	                sparred	Raul.’
     make	it	into	the	modern	era	until	they	do.                          ‘Oh,’	I	said	sheepishly,	‘he	was	just	playing	with	
         After	 Hector,	 training	 with	 Alicia	 was	 a	 little	     me.’
     like	getting	my	hearing	back,	although	it	mightn’t	                 She	 smiled	 kindly	 and	 said,	‘That’s	 what	 we	
     have	seemed	so	to	her,	since	I	was	again	battling	              would	all	do.’
     my	 instincts	 to	 hit	 like	 a	 train	 while	 she	 told	 me	       I	 didn’t	 know	 whether	 to	 be	 reassured	 or	 in-
     repeatedly	to	be	fast	and	loose.	It	is	the	downfall	            sulted.	 But	 Alicia’s	 thousand-watt	 smile	 didn’t	
     of	Australian	boxers	to	assume	that	power	is	the	               seem	to	be	hiding	any	ulterior	motive	or	implying	
     winning	ingredient	over	speed;	it	is	also	part	of	some	         anything	 snide.	 She	 was	 merely	 telling	 it	 like	 it	
     people’s	body	chemistry	and	psychology.	In	my	own	              was.	World	champs	had	nothing	to	prove	against	
     case,	I	think	I	try	to	hit	hard	in	part	because	I	am	           middle-aged,	 slightly	 out	 of	 condition	 journalists	
     a	woman	and,	since	I	began	boxing,	it	has	usually	              from	Australia.
     been	a	man	holding	the	pads	for	me.	I	want	them	                    Our	 next	 training	 session,	 she	 strapped	 my	
     to	know	that	I’m	no	powder	puff.	And,	like	a	kid,	              hands	into	16-ounce	gloves,	lent	me	a	head-guard	
     it	gives	me	a	little	thrill	seeing	them	‘ooh’	and	‘aah’	        and	shaped	up	to	me	in	the	ring	herself.	A	natural	
     when	they	feel	my	strength.                                     southpaw,	she	was	kind	enough	to	spar	with	me	in	
         At	Gleason’s	no-one	gave	a	toss.                            orthodox	stance	and	at	least	give	me	a	sliver	of	a	
         After	 our	 second	 or	 third	 session	 Alicia	 held	       chance.	I	had	imagined	that	I	wouldn’t	be	able	to	
     my	gaze	for	a	few	extra	seconds	and	said,	‘Do	you	              lay	a	glove	on	her	and	had	told	her	that	many	times.	
     spar?’                                                          And	she	smiled	as	if	she	knew	I	was	right.
         In	boxing,	sparring	means	many	different	things	                I	 had	 spent	 my	 hours	 at	 Gleason’s	 trying	 to	
     to	different	people,	depending	on	a	gym’s	culture.	             secure	a	sound	underdog	position	for	myself,	let-
     It	can	be	anything	from	friendly	tippy-tapping	to	              ting	everyone	know	that	I	was	old,	unfit	and	had	
     trench	 warfare,	 so	 I	 mumbled	 my	 answer:	‘Well,	           only	Australian	championship	titles,	compared	to	
     yes,	but	…’                                                     the	many	pairs	of	national	and	state	golden	gloves	
         In	 truth,	 I	 spar	 just	 about	 every	 week,	 but	 on	    and	regional,	national	and	international	titles	that	
     home	 turf	 I	 know	 the	 unwritten	 rules	 and,	 more	         seemed	to	belong	to	everyone	else.
     importantly,	 I	 know	 my	 sparring	 partners.	 Here,	              ‘But	you	Aussies	are	tough,’	said	Melissa	Her-
     I	didn’t	know	if	Alicia	meant	for	me	to	be	target	              nandez	 who	 had	 just	 recently	 secured	 the	 world	
     practice	for	Ann-Marie	before	her	upcoming	title	               featherweight	title.
     fight	with	‘Raging’	Jessica	Rakoczy	or	wanted	me	                   ‘But	you	guys	are	good.’	
     to	help	a	beginner	learn	the	ropes.                                 ‘Nah,’	she	said,	sounding	like	a	character	from	
         In	the	meantime,	training	alone	one	afternoon,	             West Side Story.	‘We’re	not	that	good.	We’re	flashy,	
     I	got	an	offer	from	Raul	Frank,	a	top	ten	rated	IBF	            is	all.	We	like	to	show	off.’
     light	 middleweight	 originally	 from	 Guyana.	 My	                 And	 that	 was	 true.	 Each	 day	 seemed	 like	 a	
     years	in	boxing	have	also	taught	me	that	it’s	safer	for	        fashion	 parade	 for	 most	 of	 the	 professionals	 at	
     a	woman	to	spar	with	a	man	than	another	woman,	                 Gleason’s.	There	were	so	many	colours	and	styles	


8   overland  192,  2008
of	 boxing	 boots	 and	 bandanas	 and	 training	 gear	        as	well	as	unequivocal	confirmation	of	what	my	
it	 felt	 like	 we	 were	 in	 the	 Adidas	 Superstore	 on	    own	gender	was	capable	of	in	the	ring	–	something	
Broadway,	 instead	 of	 the	 former	 mean	 streets	 of	       so	often	the	subject	of	guesswork.
waterfront	Brooklyn.                                              If	only	I	could	stay!	It	seemed	like	such	a	luxury,	
     Alicia	hit	me	with	the	lightest	of	controlled	taps	      while	for	men	who	box,	it	is	a	given	to	test	them-
and,	 when	 I	 returned	 fire	 and	 tagged	 her,	 I	 think	   selves	in	these	realistic	encounters	which,	to	me,	
we	were	both	a	little	shocked.	The	sparring	session	          have	become	so	much	more	the	essence	of	the	sport	
continued	for	a	few	rounds	and	I	felt	myself	reaching	        than	the	sanctioned	fight.	I’ve	always	felt	more	at	
another	level	just	being	in	the	same	ring	as	her.             home	and	done	my	best	boxing	in	the	gym.
     She	told	me	to	come	back	Saturday	and	mix	it	                On	 my	 final	 training	 session	 with	 Alicia,	 she	
up	with	a	group.                                              told	me	that	it	was	all	a	matter	of	ironing	out	the	
     I	 have	 a	 photo	 of	 myself	 with	 my	 sparring	       glitches,	that	with	a	little	more	time,	I	would	reach	
partners	 of	 that	 day	 –	 Camille	 Currie,	 Melodie	        that	next	level.
Yam	and	Alicia	–	in	the	dark	interior	of	Gleason’s.	              By	that	stage,	Ann-Marie	was	greeting	me	with	
Compared	to	them	I	look	like	I	have	climbed	out	of	           hugs,	I	had	bought	Belinda’s	old	boots	from	her	
a	tanker	of	milk:	I’m	so	white.	And	I	like	to	think	I	        –	and	she	had	signed	them	for	me	–	and	Raul	was	
did	all	right	for	a	white	girl.	A	tiny	glove	mark	was	        calling	me	‘champ’.
forming	on	my	cheek	and	I	started	to	lament	the	                  While	Alicia	was	talking,	I	was	distracted	from	
fact	that	I	wouldn’t	have	Camille’s	long	reach	and	           what	she	was	saying	by	yet	another	boxing	genius	


           When I asked him what he thought about women boxing,
      he impressed upon me the sheer redundant nature of that question.
            ‘We all human’, he said. ‘Man, woman. No difference.’

athleticism	to	test	me	back	home,	nor	Alicia’s	speed	         with	the	speed	of	a	wizard	when	I	heard	her	say,	
and	finesse	to	emulate,	nor	Melodie’s	determination	          ‘I	mean,	you	move	great.’
to	counter.	And	there	were	many	more	women	to	                   ‘Sorry,’	I	said,	‘who	moves	great?’
spar	and	so	many	more	opportunities	to	improve.	                 ‘You	do,’	she	said.
I	could	have	sparred	with	a	different	woman	every	               ‘Me?’
session,	 whereas	 in	Australia	 I	 had	 sparred	 with	          ‘Yeah,	you!’	she	said,	smiling	that	million-dollar	
the	same	woman	each	week,	a	multiple	Australian	              smile.	It	was	one	of	the	sweetest	things	I’ve	ever	
amateur	 champ	 called	 Flic	 Purdie.	This	 went	 on	         heard.	After	all	these	years	of	struggle,	of	trying	to	
for	a	couple	of	years.	It	was	like	a	hundred-round	           look	convincingly	like	I	knew	my	craft,	after	all	the	
fight	with	week-long	breaks	in	between.                       black	eyes	and	broken	noses	and	crises	of	charac-
   Only	occasionally	would	there	be	another	woman	            ter	and	doubts	about	my	athleticism	and	courage,	
for	me	to	mix	it	up	with.	Often	they	were	beginners	          after	all	the	dodgy	judges’	decisions	and	thousands	
and	I	had	to	hold	back.	The	best	matches	I	could	find,	       of	kilometres	of	bitumen	and	concrete	I	had	run;	
aside	 from	 Flic,	 were	 teenage	 boys	 whose	 muscle	       after	all	the	niggling	injuries	and	frustrations,	to	
density	was	often	on	a	par	with	my	own.	They	hadn’t	          hear	the	female	equivalent	of	Floyd	Mayweather	
yet	caught	on	to	the	adult	male	game	of	chivalry	and,	        Jnr	tell	me	I	‘move	great’	was	perhaps	the	greatest	
more	than	anything,	didn’t	want	to	look	like	they	            reward	of	all.
were	being	beat	up	by	a	girl	in	front	of	their	friends.	         And	 with	 those	 words	 echoing	 in	 my	 head	 I	
And	so	they	were	genuinely	competitive.                       am	starting	to	plot	my	comeback	…	to	Gleason’s,	
   While	I	was	fighting	I	usually	had	to	imagine	             that	is.
what	my	opponents	would	do	since	I	could	only	                   Like	I	said,	I’m	already	over	the	hill.
mostly	find	approximations.	In	New	York	I	would	
never	run	out	of	women	with	whom	to	spar:	infinite	           Mischa Merz’s 2001 book Bruising will be republished, 
variations	of	style,	experience	and	weight	divisions	         with additional material, by vulgar Press in 2009.



                                                                                            overland  192,  2008          9

				
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