chapter  7
16 Pages

The social logic of sparring: On the body as practical strategist

Initiation (15 October 1988) I enter the gym from the back. DeeDee’s sitting in the office, along with big Butch and three youngsters. I greet everyone and shake hands (we always do: it’s a daily ritual and a much-valued mark of respect). Right away DeeDee asks me: ‘Louie, you got yo’ mouthpiece withchou?’ ‘Yeah, I got it, why?’ The old coach nods slowly with his chin, a gleam in his eye. I realize that today is my baptism by fire: I’m going to do my first tryout in the ring! I hadn’t expected it and I’m worried about not being in very good shape; what’s more, I still have a tenacious pain in my right wrist. But I just can’t back out now. Besides, I’m eager to get it on; after all, I’ve been waiting for this moment for weeks – is it not strange to get all excited at the prospect of getting smacked in the noggin? . . .