Courtesy of Colon Family

Happier Days: Keith Colon, seen mid-bout, at the 60th Annual Puerto Rican Heritage Festival in Jersey City in August. Colon, a nationally ranked amateur boxer, won the match.

With Gym Closed, Boxer Perseveres to Stay in Shape

I am a UD2 at St. Benedict’s but a big part of my life is boxing. I am an amateur boxer and I fight at 123 pounds. Last year, I was ranked number two in the country at 110 pounds by the U.S.A. Boxing Organization. My long-term goal is to be the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

 Under ordinary circumstances, I train six to seven days out of the week. My workout consists of high-intensity exercises. The workouts that I do are very much doable, but doing what is doable will not allow you to be the best. When I do these doable workouts I act like my opponent is right next to me doing the workout; and he is going just as hard as I am.

This is what pushing yourself to the limit is. Working hard past the bell. Punching the bag harder and faster every time. Working on perfecting my form and doing it as fast as I can over and over again until I get it right. That is what I’m used to.  I’m used to hearing bells ringing, the sounds of bags being punched, sweat dipping on the floor.

But now I do not have that. Now, I see a different scene. From my room in my home in Newark, I see birds flying from tree to tree. I hear sirens and horns honking and all kinds of other things. 

My gym, the Ironbound Boxing Academy in Newark, has been shut down due to the coronavirus. And now I have to shadow box outside while the birds chirp. I never knew the difficulty of working out outside. It is like cleaning your house with no music or even driving five hours away without any passenger and a radio. Having to change the scenery and how I work out has been difficult. 

I’m not the only boxer feeling this loss. A lot of people from my gym continuously call and text me asking me what is next. Some fighters from my gym were supposed to fight one weekend recently in Paterson, N.J., but their fight was cancelled. You can imagine their frustration and disbelief. They trained hard for nearly two months, only to find out a few days before their fight that it was canceled. One boxer from my gym, Brian, has been focusing on one thing for the last two months –to redeem himself after losing in the finals of the Golden Gloves Tournament. For now, he can’t.

A cancelled match does not merely mean disappointment. Boxers need to stay in shape. By canceling a fight, it may cause a fighter to slacken his efforts and get off course. That is the main reason why fighters decline in this sport.

The gym where I train is known throughout the city and it is a place where many people feel safe and loved. The Ironbound Boxing Academy is a place where people cope with their feelings and emotions. Now this safe haven has been restricted to everyone and it is affecting everyone greatly.

This coronavirus is affecting me and my friends in a terrible way. Of course, everyone is being affected because we are not allowed at school, work, and public places. But, speaking from my perspective, which is all I can do, this extended quarantine has been a major change for me because most of my daily routines have been changed, altered, or postponed.

This is part of a continuing blog tracking the highs and lows of life in the St. Benedict’s community as its members weather the effects of a worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

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