Getting kicked and boxed in Lansing.

Posted: September 13, 2012 by captaingonzo in Sports

How I found myself ringside on my knees with a camera with muay thai kick boxers in my face in Lansing deserves a little explanation.

“If they dimmed the lights a bit this would be like ‘Kickboxer’” Roobs said. Shit, if they dimmed the lights a bit, this would be something that would only happen in the pornos from the 1970s.

No, it wasn’t like that.

This was a round of kick boxing.

Roobs was right in a way because amid the booming muay thai fighting music, the packing sounds of kicks against shins, gloves against faces, grunts within a 2-minute round and sweat falling off people’s ball sacks, this kind of was like the final scene of the movie “Kickboxer” starring Jean Claude Van Damme.

In that movie you could see the sweat falling off people’s ball sacks. But that’s because they were wearing next to nothing when they were fighting during that last fight, with the glass and the glue and that fucking psycho opponent who would kick a cement pillar for practice. Yeah, I saw that when I was a kid. I loved “Kickboxer.” One of his better movies. Rent JCVD if you want to get the faith back. Then play the song by Baby Huey “Hard Times” on loop.

But let me start earlier.

On a random Saturday, a journalist and a photographer were knee deep on their way straight towards Indiana to cover a muay thai kickboxing tournament held at Active Edge fitness gym, 3314 Ridge Road, Lansing. Yes. We were heading towards Lansing, passing billboard after billboard after billboard on that wonderful highway to the other state.

“That’s America. Fast food, health insurance and fireworks.” Roobs said. He was commenting on the bland scene of the highway to Indiana, which we eventually wound up in because it seemed like a swell idea to buy cigarettes. “We’re not that far off.” Take that Governor Quinn.

Indiana the sign said. 

“Alright take the first exit. Exit 1. That’s how you know you are in a different state. What exit is it? Exit 1,” Roobs said.

That must piss people off in legislature. Which exit? Oh, exit 1. The first one right after the state line, then we double back and maybe we can still catch the “Wheel of Fortune” if the traffic is moving.

But while in Indiana, the situation turned grim when we realized that we weren’t wanted there. Take any gas station in the state, and when you go in there you realize that you are in a different country. People don’t like you. They don’t. They can smell that “You ain’t from around here” vibe that you got going. And they know that you are there to get whatever is cheap there or available. Gas, fireworks, cigarettes.

They hate the fact that to you it feels like you are saving money, but to them, it feels just like it does for you in your own fucking state. Broke. They don’t have the money either. To them, $5 a pack is a lot. Especially when everyone is out of work.

This followed us back into Lansing. And as we walked around the town, a sense of “Back to the Future” in 1955 crept up our backs. There was a clock tower. A slew of attorney’s offices, classic cars rolling by, shoe repair shops, bakeries, old time milkshake places, and an old school barber shop. A fine place I’m sure, a place where you can get a really close shave. Or they slit your throat.

“We are strangers in a strange town at a stranger time to cover a fight without a reason,” I said. There was a reason. We needed to dust off those shoes and get back into the game by covering sports. Sports is everything. A teacher at Columbia once told me that.

And the fights were true to its label. Pure muay thai fighting.

While the first two weren’t memorable, which is in no way a disrespect to the fighters because they were just feeling each other out by ways of kicks to the shins, it begs to ask the question, “What does it take to step into the ring?”

An answer like that does not come lightly. All of the fighters were volunteers who choose to do this. Most of them want to go into professional sports. That is a given. But what does it take to actually want to step into the ring? We have no “real” wars that need to be fought now. The only wars we fight now is our personal wars. We fight our demons.

The answer only comes in the ring.

We didn’t find the answer. We tried with tequila. But it only led to more problems. The point is that men will do strange things in order to feel like men. Our society tells men to not feel like real men. I guess these guys were trying to take it back. Even in Lansing, macho still exists. No pussies allowed.

But out of respect for the fighters, here are the results for the 3-round fights.

Alberto Rodriguez, 153 pounds, Chicago Muay Thai, bested a valiant effort by Iszak Morgan, 148 pounds, Team Colon.

Rosario Aybar, 155 pounds, Chicago Muay Thai, beat Monika Reginova, 155 pounds, Hyper Fight Club, during a painful bout.

Andrii Potapenko, 185 pounds, Counterstrike, traded powerful combinations with Carlos Castaneda, 199 pounds, Active Edge, and won.

Yahya Ahmed, 164 pounds, Chicago Muay Thai, overcame Michael Huffer, 205 pounds, Active Edge, with a referee decision to not continue the fight. Huffer was heard as saying that “I had 40 pounds on him.”

Big man Hercules Hayes, 330 pounds, Counterstrike, was outperformed by Steven Lyons, 200 pounds, Midland Muay Thai, during a violent and worthy fight.

An exhibition match between two fighters was also held before the fight lineup.

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