Every couple of weeks, I embrace my personal mantra: getting punched in the face to bring me back to reality. This peculiar ritual unfolds during open sparring sessions at Hill Street Boxing in Southampton, where participants, armed with some experience, a willingness to sign a waiver, and perhaps a touch of craziness, step into a full boxing ring for mano y mano combat on Wednesday nights.
Boxing, beyond being an intense sport, is an exceptional workout. It engages every muscle in your body, even those you didn’t know existed. Facing off with an opponent in a two-minute bout feels like an all-out sprint, pushing your physical limits.
Hill Street Boxing stands out for its authenticity. It’s exclusively about boxing, attracting enthusiasts who not only train for fitness but also participate in citywide and Long Island boxing bouts, earning national rankings and recognition within boxing circles. The commitment to authenticity extends to workout classes and the boxing ring, creating an atmosphere that’s genuinely immersive.
The most challenging part for me is overcoming the initial anxiety of stepping into the ring. However, once inside, the experience is exhilarating. In sparring, you retain control, allowing you to halt the action, compose yourself, or ask your opponent to ease up when needed. Adhering to these unspoken rules becomes crucial, especially as age advances. Despite the occasional ego clash, boxing is fundamentally a sport. When sparring, the focus shifts from the intensity of punches to strategic considerations—counterattacks, maintaining a jab without exhaustion, gauging the distance. It becomes a mental escape from daily concerns, offering a pure thought: “Don’t get hit and try to hit that guy.”
My personal endurance test lasted three rounds before exhaustion set in. The first round pitted me against a smaller yet experienced opponent, adept at delivering body shots. The subsequent rounds were with a twenty-something enthusiast, proficient in UFC fighting and sparring. Managing the physical toll is key, and assessing your own state during the match ensures a safe and enjoyable experience.
Hill Street’s sparring sessions welcome participants of various age groups, provided they have boxing experience. To initiate your journey, attend Hill Street’s workout classes, collaborate with their trainers, and, depending on your athletic prowess and confidence, you can find yourself sparring sooner than you think.