Road to Rota Part Three: Ready to rumble

1 Dec 2000 | Cpl. Derek A. Shoemake 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

With less than a week before I step into the ring for Rumble in Rota 2000, it is finally time to start focusing on the most important aspects of a boxing match, like picking introduction music.The wrong song can convey the wrong message. It has to be fitting, but not overdone. Something that lets the opponent know: I am out for blood and I am a killer. I chose the Offspring's "Pretty Fly For a White Guy."What one wears is pivotal, as the crowd will judge on first appearance. Style is a must. My trunks are school-bus yellow with a blue stripe running down the side. I will also be wearing black shoes, black boot socks and a white shirt. Again, it is important to establish yourself as a serious and formidable opponent.It is also important to be selective about the men who run the corner. These are the go-to guys. They will guide you through the fight by correcting your mistakes. They are your experts on boxing and know your technique almost as well as you. My first corner man is friend and co-worker Cpl. Rick O'Connor. He has no boxing experience and has never watched me train. My second corner man is actually a woman. It is my boss Capt. Gabrielle Chapin. She also has no boxing experience and has never watched me train, though she claimed that should the fight fall out of my favor, she will jump in and assist.So I have the song, I have the clothes and I have the corner. All I need now is the skill. Lance Corporal Juan Salazar, my coach, seems confident I'll win against my opponent. Though I still have some holes. I have not been training as often as I should. My hooks and upper cuts lack enough power and I am still leaving myself a little open after the jab. My rhythm is still mechanical. Salazar gave up on my ever mastering the jump rope and has me simply hopping up and down.However, I have met my opponent. God has also blessed him with the gift of poor rhythm. He is a Sailor stationed aboard USS Saipan, which has caused an interesting and friendly Navy/Marine Corps rivalry. There a few exceptions to this as certain people have told me if I do not win they'll break my legs. I'm sure it was just their way of saying good luck. The Sailor is being trained by a two-time Golden Gloves Champion from New York, though he has not been his coach for very long. Insiders tell me he does not like to get hit. This information is of course useless because no one likes being hit. What is useful is that among an informal survey of people who think I will win, 100 percent of those surveyed said they think he will lose.Mine is one of ten fights that will make up the Rumble in Rota. Overall the event promises to be a pretty entertaining spectacle. According to event organizers, the winners will receive something for their efforts. The runners up, or losers as they are more commonly known, will also receive recognition. It will likely come in the form of friends who were not willing to fight themselves constantly rubbing that defeat in their face every day for the remainder of the deployment.Another unique fact about the Rumble is that all 20 fighters have no experience in the ring. Event planners had to cut the match down to 10 bouts, and decided to give those fighters who had no experience a chance to get in the ring. My coach, Salazar, who does have experience is as a kick boxer, will be one of the 20 contestants fighting.Am I ready? I'm as ready as a man with no inherent athletic ability can be before going into the boxing ring for the first time ever. Will I win? I don't know. The Sailor is smaller than me, but he's been training a little bit longer. Who will look better? With school-bus yellow trunks, a solid corner and great intro music, it's all me.
26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)