The Poetry of Boxing

Dave and I have gone by the Pan Am Boxing Club several times on our walks in our neighborhood.  The club which was founded just after Manitoba hosted the Pan Am Games in 1967 is a real community player. They are in the process of developing the building next door as living quarters for at risk youth in downtown Winnipeg who want to make a change in their lives. The young people who participate will be involved in a program that includes fitness, education and volunteerism.

The Pan Am Boxing Club is located in this beautiful old building on McDermot Avenue. I did a little research and found out it was built in 1893 and the top two floors were added a few years later. It was designed by Hugh McCowan and was home to the Stovel Printing and Publishing Company.  A German newspaper called Der Nordwestern also had its editorial offices in the building. It is an official historic site of Manitoba. In the 1940’s a dry goods firm bought the building. 

What I hadn’t noticed till I walked by the building on Saturday night was that the one side of it features the verses of a poem, a poem about boxing. The verses of the poem are tucked into window frames on the first two stories. 

The poem comes from a book called VS.  Kerry Ryan the poet  is described as a shy, bookish woman who decided to take up boxing for the physical and mental challenge and became enamored with the sport as well as with the people at the PanAm Boxing Club.  She wrote a book of poems about her boxing experiences which is available at McNally Robinson here in Winnipeg. 

As a highschool English teacher I am glad to see that more and more poetry is being written about sports. I have had students almost every year who tell me they have nothing to write poetry about but when I suggest they describe a sport they love, suddenly a poem takes shape.  Check out a couple written below by my former students. 

Ice Warrior

As I caress the disk with my tightly clenched composite blade

I gaze to the far end o f the battlefield

I push off, smoothly gliding on the surface of solidified liquid

Dodging and looking

Over one colored strip, I turn sharply, spraying fine particles

Up into the cool atmosphere

I see one warrior coming at me, so I execute a perfect toe drag

I leave him searching for his jock strap, moving faster yet

Towards the target.

My head is low, too low, I soon realize

Before I can react, another warrior leaps out in front of me,

The collision seems to register higher than six on the Richter Scale

Farther behind enemy lines I go,

Speeding past the last defender.

I lean on my stick, flexing it to the brink of destruction.

The energy is released,

The puck flies, 
Past the goaltender,

Off the far side post and in

The red light flashes on

The siren blares.

Hockey lives.

by Tyler Wollmann

Run

by Hannah Ma

 I am sitting

on the bus

our destination is………

the race

Everyone’s talking, talking, talking

to each other

they’re listening to music

to pump

themselves up

Before we know it

we’re at the

starting line

waiting, waiting, waiting

for the blast of sound that

signals us to run, run, run

We float, fly, flee

past every obstacle

thrown our way

uphill, downhill, flats

we keep on running

“You’re almost there,

just 100 meters left!”

everyone begins to sprint, sprint, sprint

I can hear close breathing

I bet she’s just

a step away

so I try, try, try

to push just a little harder

the finish line in sight

the crowd cheers wildly

it is finally over

the digit doesn’t

matter

all I need to know

is that I tried

my best

Other posts about poetry…….

Poetry and Teenagers

Rebellion Poems

Where I’m From

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Poetry, Sports, Winnipeg

One response to “The Poetry of Boxing

  1. Kerry Ryan

    Hi Mary Lou,

    Thanks so much for your promo of my poems and of Pan Am. You should stop in and visit the club sometime. It’s an amazing place from the inside too!

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