Fight Night On Divisadero
It’s a bustling Friday evening on Divisadero. As the sun sets and the light fades, the Western Addition’s main thoroughfare fills with hip kids out for food, drink and entertainment. Just south of Oak Street, away from the main hullabaloo, a small, blue-tiled storefront churns as folks buzz in and out. Inside there’s a full house leaning on railings and gathered round a boxing ring. It’s fight night at the Hybrid Training gym.
The first fight is two youngsters, teenagers, full of piss and vinegar, throwing more punches than the last five fights you’ve seen. It’s mostly head shots but they throw a lot of them. This sparing just meant to get the ball rolling but it’s damn sure better than that dance-fest Mayweather and Pacquiao put on last year. After three, two-minute rounds the fighter named Jack is announced the winner, the audience cheers and the opponents hug it out.
The crowd mills about between fights, discussing the training they’re doing. Most of the audience seems to be gym members, having taken muay thai, conventional boxing or jiu jitsu classes at some point. Oliver, who helps run a computer store on Lower Haight says he’s been coming to the 6:30am Boxing Boot Camp and loves it.
“I get done and it’s 7:30 and I’m alert and ready for my day,” he says, and then adds, jokingly: “Time to go fix some computers.”
The next fight is a jiu jitsu match, which is slow but fascinating to watch. Somewhere between wrestling, chess and a math-problem, the 7-minute, submission-only round is focused so intensely between the grappling competitors that it’s hard to tell what’s going on. Sudden bursts of motion reveal a slight upper hand here, a minor escape there.
“Shrimp, shrimp!!” Yells Luke, a tall, tattooed jiu jitsu coach with a British accent. After the match, he explains that “shrimping” involves curling and twisting your hips in order to upset the balance of a fighter on top of you. “If you have powerful hips,” he says. “It can be a very strong move.”
The grapplers are very evenly matched. There are only a few moments, including a leg-wrapping lift from the mat, that spike the excitement. Even after a pair of two-minute bonus rounds, there’s no clear winner and the decision ends in a draw.
The next match features round cards held by sexy, well-dressed “Ring Card Girls,” which is a nice touch, yah know, if you like beautiful women — and, hey, who doesn’t? Jay from LA faces Enrique from Uruguay. Both the fighters pace themselves, not wasting many punches in a fight almost as technical as the jiu jitsu match. In the end, Enrique’s arm is raised in victory.
During the next break, folks wander in and out and kids play around in the confetti that litters the floor. “It’s victory dust,” says Liz, who trains in jiu jitsu at the gym, describing the tiny blue, gold and red scraps of plastic that litter the floor. Meanwhile, folks help themselves to nachos and drinks.
The fourth fight is a rematch of the gym’s last fight night and hands-down the best of the night. Phil from the Sunset squares off against Matt and immediately fist are flying and punches are landing, including some of the first real body shots we’ve seen tonight.
“That hurts worse than anything,” says a gym regular after a particularly nasty rib-shot. In the end, after three scorching rounds, Matt is declared the winner.
The final fight pits Trevor from Buffalo, NY against Edgar from SF. This fight offers a harsh connect to Edgar’s chin that momentarily halts the pugilism. After a short break, the round continues. But throughout the fight there are technical pauses. In the end, Edgar receives the win despite a heavy dominance by Buffalo Trevor. But it’s just sparring and who wins is less important that the fighters going through the ringer and coming out the other side with a little more experience.
To stay appraised of the next fight night, check out Hybrid Training at www.hybridtraining415.com