River pictures

Climbing the Mountain

We are the ones who do not forget our bodies.

We are the ones who climb the mountain
not because it is there,
but because it will be difficult
and climbing it will not only
bring us closer to the heavens
but it will make us stronger.

..Ran across this forgotten poem in the back of my training journal last night...

The constant

It's not that it's more important than everything else.

It's that every other thing in my life may be transient, but as long as I am able to do it, I will always be weightlifting. At the end of the work day, on my day off, on vacation, during a crisis, before a trip, after a trip, before the laundry is done, whether the housekeeping is done, before I return phone calls, after I return phone calls, before the sun sets, into the dark.

If I lose my job, I will still be weightlifting.
If I lose my house, I will still be weightlifting.
If my loved ones fade away, I will still be weightlifting.

Whether my mind is upheaved or my soul is quiet, the bar is my constant. It never wavers. It never leaves. It is always ready. Whether I succeed or fail, it is ready. When I am spent, it is still ready.

As singular and private as my love for the bar is my love for those who help me grasp it, who return to the bar themselves when I am not there, who live in this space between the rest of life's incidents, who tomorrow and tomorrow, will still be weightlifting, just like me.

Caged - 1950 prison film

This award-winning film has haunted me since I stumbled across it as a child and watched it on the small B&W TV in the kitchen. I never knew what it was called until recently. This must have been my first exposure to the idea of prison in general and women's prison in particular.

Caged on IMDB

Outcast Fitness in Fairview, Ohio

Weightlifters, CrossFitters, and minions of the physical subculture, there is a place to train if you're in the Cleveland area - Outcast Fitness in Fairview, Ohio. It's humble, earnest, and full of soul, with all the basics and then some - Eleiko and Pendlay bars; Eleiko, Kraiburg, and Rogue bumper plates; a TRX system; a Muay Thai bag hung over a big mat; two benches, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls and a generally thoughtful and well-chosen assortment of fun things.

It's got a cool name, and also happens to be the only gym I've been in with a microbrew bottle collection in the window. Let me be the first to announce that a wine bottle collection is about to begin as well.

Outcast Fitness is owned and operated by Paul Zagaria and his wife Nancy. I had the pleasure of working out alongside Paul. He's a beast! and one of the nicest guys a weightlifter could know. Besides a slew of creds from USA Weightlifting to CrossFit, Paul is also a Cleveland Police Officer and Sergeant-in-Charge of the Cleveland Division of Police's Physical Conditioning and Defensive Tactics programs.

If you live in the area, I'm sure you'd be lucky to train under Paul - if intensity, strength and stamina are anything you're interested in. If you're passing through, like I was, he'll go out of his way to make sure you have a place to train and everything you need.

Freddie Roach has a book coming out!

OMG OMG OMG! Look what's coming out! Slated to drop March 2012 - up for preorder now...

The inspiring and amusing autobiography of the greatest trainer in boxing today, Freddie Roach.

It May End up Killing You is the inspiring and amusing autobiography of boxing’s greatest trainer, Freddie Roach: an ex-pug living with Parkinson’s, the most famous white man in the Philippines, a formidable street fighter, and a millionaire who slept for years in a makeshift apartment within his Los Angeles gym, The Wild Card.

The book is organized into four parts: Boy, Fighter, Man, and Gray Eminence, beginning with tales of his abusive youth, his own boxing career, and his apprenticeship under legendary trainer Eddie Futch (trainer of Joe Frazier), before moving on to his courageous battle against Parkinson’s Disease, his relationship with Hollywood celebrities (Mickey Rourke, Mark Wahlberg), and his rise to the top of his profession as a trainer for world champions like Lucia Rijker, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Wladimir Klitchko, and his prized pupil, the pound-for-pound #1 fighter in the world, Manny Pacquiao.

Roach relates the lessons of his life as he learned them over time and muses over how they can each be integrated and applied to strategies for winning. For each chapter Roach writes, connections are drawn to larger themes or settings, enriched with research, interviews, and other anecdotes. Eventually Roach weaves these various life lessons through his work with his signature fighter, Manny Pacquiao, revealing the difference in simply identifying raw talent versus cultivating it, and how both are equally vital to success. 25 full-color photographs

About the Author

Freddie Roach is the #1 trainer in boxing today, having been named trainer of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2003, 2006, and 2008. A former professional fighter himself, he currently trains light welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao, who is widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Other champion boxers Roach has trained include Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, and James Toney. He is a 2007 inductee of the World Boxing Hall of Fame and makes his home in Los Angeles, California.

Text from product description on Amazon.com

Sugar Ray Leonard pimps memoir on Colbert Report

Sugar Ray Leonard has an autobiography out The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring (HINT HINT - Who loves me??). Here's a terrific interview he gave on the Colbert Report.

me & Sugar Ray

Women better suited to weightlifting & boxing?

A while back, I mentioned that in reading, I'd come across theories that females are better suited to weightlifting and boxing than males. Jeff, who apparently stops by my blog (a reader! How nice!), asked me to elaborate. It's taken me a while to get around to it, but here goes.


I'd read the weightlifting reference at Iron Samurai, the blog of PDX Weightlifting coach and erudite writer Nick Horton. I asked him to elaborate, and he has obliged me. Here's an excerpt. You can read the full post here.

I’ve had a theory rattling around in my head for a number of years that I think has at least some merit: I think women may be better suited to the sport of Olympic Weightlifting than men are. I’m not saying that some men won’t make fantastic weightlifters. I’m just saying that statistically, women are more likely to be good at it than men are.

A couple of things I'll add.

Females are better structured for the second pull. The second pull requires keeping the bar close to the body over the thighs and into the abdomen. Ironworks coach and legend tom Hirtz has said that a good pull should tear up your underwear and rip up your shirt. Now, I am flat-out bewildered as to how men can pull this off, because their junk is in the way (read: junk interference). I could word that more P.C., but let's be frank. There is a bump in the road! Females have a smoother plane until the chest (read: girls interference).

We've all heard that females are generally built for greater lower body strength development than upper body, an inversely proportionate relationship to males. (Now I'm reporting what I believe to be scientifically accurate there, but since this has never applied to me, I can't say I buy this in my heart.) That suits the lifts.

I am interested in Nick's point that females tend to be more psychologically suited for longterm commitment to learning the minutia of proper lift execution. That's a new idea to me.


I ran across the boxing piece in Mischa Merz's enlightening and enjoyable book The Sweetest Thing: A Boxer's Memoir. The entire passage is on pages 11 - 12. Excerpt is coming, check back if you're interested...