Float like a butterfly…

“…sting like a bee.”

–Muhamad Ali

A lot of times when we were bored or something, we’d box or slap-box. We’d put on the gloves and fight a few rounds in the house. Not that I wanted to fight my brother, but only because he thought it’d be fun. (He knew he was gonna kick my a** and I knew he was gonna kick my a**, so other than getting an a**-kicking I never really saw the point.)

“Keep your guard up,” he’d say. “Lead with a straight punch: jab, like this.”

Those boxing sessions came in handy. I had plenty of fights growing up, but I’m not even referring to those. I remember years later when I was a little older, a group of the older guys from the neighborhood were outside with two sets of boxing gloves. Big Ray was there and a few other guys. They had a history of ‘toughening us up’. By the time my friends and I realized what they were up to it was too late to avoid them: they spotted us. We knew all too well that if Big Ray told you to do something, you better do it. On this day we were lucky enough to be offered two choices: a) box someone for a 3 minute round, or b) get a beatdown from him. We boxed.

My brother happened to be walking by that day and decided to join the spectators. I had to box some dude from the other building who was hanging out with Big Ray and them. He was a couple of years older than me. How would I fare? To make a long story short, it was a one-sided fight. Big Ray and the guys were impressed. My brother was smiling. All the boxing matches and play fights I had with him did me a lot of good, and we both knew it; Big Ray and them knew it, and they knew my brother was responsible.

“Damn! Whatcha been teachin’ him, Louie?” they asked.

He just smiled at me, and I smiled back. The kind of knowing smiles only two brothers could share.

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