This spring, among the usual faculty sponsored activities of photography, rugby, golf, and cycling, there is a new FSA quite unique to the Circle. While most of us are out on the fields or on the river, Kasumi Quinlan ’15 and Leah Mozzer ’14 are spending their afternoons at the West End Gym in Lowell, Massachusetts, learning how to box.
After hearing about Jennifer Wallace’s experiences at the same gym, Kasumi got this idea while pondering activities for a spring FSA, but at first she was hesitant to try the new activity; after rethinking the idea, however, Kasumi talked to Ms. Wallace and Leah, who was also interested in boxing, and together, the three teamed up to put the plan in motion.
They contacted the gym famous for training the boxer Mickey Ward, and the owner, Art Ramalho, was enthusiastic. The Fifth and Sixth Formers are the only girls currently at the gym, and it’s a quite inspiring environment to train in, says Leah. At the core of Ramalho’s motives for running the gym is his dedication to using boxing to help keep local kids off the often dangerous streets of Lowell. He teaches them to channel their energy into boxing, as it demands both physical and mental strength.
At the beginning of each session, Kasumi and Leah warm up by jump roping, an integral part of learning how to best utilize one’s feet in the sport. “Boxing is about being able to punch, of course,” says Kasumi, “but there’s a lot more to it.”
Footwork and overall posture and stance play an enormous role in being successful at this sport, and it is imperative that every minute muscle is in just the right place.
After jumping rope, they move onto hitting the punching bags and then do some shadowboxing, which are important exercises in training muscles for actual combat. Shadowboxing is a singular affair – you just throw punches in the air at no one in particular, but the repeated actions develop the muscle memory that is crucial in such a grueling sport.
After their lengthy warm-up, it is time to get in the ring. The two have been working mostly with one of the three instructors at the gym to further work on technique, specifically footwork. While Leah and Kasumi have not actually started to fight yet, the work that they do daily prepares them for what they hope will lead to the two fighting in the ring as a culmination of the FSA.
For now, however, they will continue to push themselves and test all of their strength, and possibly catch a glimpse of Mickey Ward, who still frequents the now-famous gym to train his son.