I wrote this for my short story class in 2015 during my Bachelor degree. I received a high distinction for it, too. Language warning.
Thank you for reading!
A ‘one-two’ in boxing parlance refers to the ‘one’ being a jab with the left hand. A tactic to line up the opponent to gauge a striking range. The ‘two’ is a right cross. The left jab is thrown as a fake, in an attempt to confuse the opponent and blind them to the fact that there is a right cross to come. Hence, one and two.
‘Hey! Cell 35!’
Muhammed Ali was good at the one-two combo. Ali would go so far as to showboat with his left, twirling it in the face of his opponent. Then, a big right cross. It worked for Ali every single time.
‘Hey! Cell 35! Ya there?’
The elements that make a good fighter are: technique, speed and a reputation to rattle the opponent. Especially, the newcomers. In here? The professionals can smell a newcomer.
One important saying in boxing is ‘Hit and Don’t Get Hit.’ Naturally there is no avoiding getting hit in boxing, it happens, and happens repeatedly. It all comes down to how a boxer takes those hits that sees him be the victor.
’35! Ya alive in there?’
‘Fuckin’ what?!’ I said.
Spectators expect action, spectators expect to be on the edge of their seats. Nothing gets the crowds up and roaring more so when they are witnessing a true master of technique. After all, nothing rouses bloodlust than a good fight. Prison is full of bloodlust in a heartbeat.
‘Hey! Cell 35! Ya there?’
’35! Ya alive in there? Hey, cunt!’
‘What do ya want, fuckhead!?’ I said.
‘Ha – haaa… 35. Want you, baby!’
‘Oh cell 35, ya sound hot! I’m hangin’ for a fuck!’
‘I think I love you 35!’
In boxing, a ‘check hook’ is a technique used against an aggressive fighter. The difficulty with a check hook is executing it for full effect. The basics of the check hook are:
1. Throw a left or right hook depending on if you are; a ‘Southpaw’ (left handed stance) or an ‘Orthodox’ (right handed stance).
2. Throw another hook and pivot at the same time on your lead foot. This should cause the lunging aggressive fighter to miss their mark entirely, similar to a Matador dodging the raging bull.
‘Ya ready 35? Doors are opening and I am really fangin’ for a fuck!’
However, in street fighting, away from the art and techniques of boxing. Unskilled fighters will just rush on in. Street fighters will throw as many uncoordinated punches as fast as they can. Exerting all of their strength, hoping for that one big hit that will disable their opponent in seconds.
A commonly thrown punch in street fighting is that of the ‘Haymaker’ which is thrown wildly in the hope of it hitting the mark. It is also a pointless attack and can throw the fighter off balance immediately. Most street fights or bar brawls last all of about thirty seconds. No flair, no technique, and no rounds.
‘Come on 35! We doing this!’
Also, show no bravado, no mouthing off when facing a challenger. Just stand, and stand silently.
‘What you lookin’ at 35!? Is it me? Is it me?’
An opponent who is worked up will find this very perturbing and only make him all the more nervous as a silent person is hard to gauge. A fully composed fighter who is focused on the prize will be formulating his first moves, calculating and saving his energy.
‘I see you 35! You coming here or am I coming there?’
‘Too busy with your mum in here, mate!’ I said.
Typically, a boxer and his opponent weigh in before a bout. The weigh in is the perfect opportunity for both opponents to trash talk one another and get all the showboating out of the way before the serious event of the match takes place.
‘Who are you, 35? Who? Who? Don’t fuckin talk about my mums!’
An uppercut is an effective blow from a defensive stance upon that of the opponent. It is greatly effective in a close up situation. Vulnerable points to aim for when launching an uppercut are the nose, chin, jaw or the solar plexus. The opponent can’t predict an upper cut because it is conducted only at close range and for maximum impact.
‘Going to fuck you good, 35!’
Boxing comes down to a lot of physics. Any punch can be seen as ‘kinetic energy’ and the object possessing this energy are the fists of the boxer. Firstly, that kinetic energy is a connected chain reaction from feet to knees, from knees to hips to waist to core, from core to chest to shoulders to forearms to wrists to fists.
‘Don’t leave hangin’, 35!’
A well trained boxer will be able to finally expel all that explosive built up kinetic energy. The finality being the compounded force exerted through the fist/s and into the opponent’s face and or body. True and raw power. Primal.
‘Come on, 35!’
‘That’s what your mum said!’ I said.
Fights in prison are an extremely brutal form of fighting that still maintains a certain level of technique and style. There is no weigh in, but, you do have to wade in. A fight in prison is more often than not conducted in an enclosed space, such as a cell, that doesn’t allow for a lot of room for movement, especially footwork. The technique one has to adopt when faced with the prospect of a fight in prison is ‘force’ and ‘offense.’
Now, with prison fights. They are not announced. An impending attack from one inmate on another is fast and silent. Inmates who gesticulate their intent, mouth off and showboat are already showing signs of fear and weakness. It is also a call for help and protection. Obviously, if guards are alerted to the fact, the threat will be eliminated, and the inmates separated.
When a challenge is brought forward, an inmate has no choice but to accept and step up to the challenge. A challenge ignored can find the challenged inmate suffering on going derision thus branding him a target by other inmates once word gets around that he backed out from the challenge.
‘We doing this? 35!’
The spectators in prison are going to be there, but. Silently watching from various vantage points. This is done in a manner as to not draw attention to the fight taking place. Like any purveyors of a violent sport, the air is always electric with the expectation of bloodshed. In prison, this excitement must be suffocated and contained until the fight is in full swing. Once it is on, it is on.
‘What?!’ I said.
‘I love you, 35!’
‘That’s what your mum said, again,’ I said.
‘Shut up about my mums!’
‘A sore point, mate?’ I said.
The only approach to a challenge in prison is not to hesitate. Advantage over your opponent is tantamount to achieving a successful outcome. There are many variables to weigh up as one launches an assault. Obviously, size up the challenger. Does he look as though he could take a punch to the face? Check your surroundings. Look at his hands to ensure that there are no weapons in them. Use your peripheral vision. Switch off your fear. Aim for greatest impact. And pray under your breath that you walk out of this alive.
‘What you got, 35?! Is your cherry popped! Ya hung or what, 35?!’
This is getting ridiculous.
Prison fights are fast and furious and violent. Adrenaline drives the fury, fear drives the fury, pent up rage at a foul and diseased system and the circumstances of one landing in prison fuels the fury. Your opponent doesn’t matter. He was just stupid enough to challenge someone he doesn’t know what they’re in prison for.
Dozens of scenarios were rolling and scrolling through my head for when my cell door opened, and his. Everything in life has an action and reaction. That is how life goes whether you like it or not. Control the controllable and don’t try to control the uncontrollable. I stood, eyeing my antagonist through my slim cell window. His moon faced grinning mug and wild eyes staring back at me. Gesturing for me to come over.
‘I see you, 35!’
‘And? Your point? I see you too, Princess,’ I said.
I could smell my own sweat. My fear, my adrenalin. My throat constricted so tight as I tried to put on my toughest voice. Actions and reactions. Causes and consequences. Right and wrong.
My door was the first to open, and, for one tiny moment I felt the fear let go. I didn’t know the doors were automatic. With one step I crossed the corridor with my face pressed up to the glass of his cell window.
I say nothing. I just press my head against the cold glass of his cell window, and grin.
The pale washed over effect I saw on his pudgy moon face from his hairline down was enough of an indication to me he had been all mouth. I stepped back as his cell door swung open. His eyes followed his door as it swung outward. In the same motion he stepped backward and raised his fists. He tripped. I was in his cell. My first left jab landed square on his face. He cried out as the impact of my right hook caught him on his ear. He went down. I followed. I had knocked him out cold.
I spent my first week in prison confined to the isolation ward. No TV. No radio. Locked down for twenty-three hours a day.
I’m still learning.