by Daegyo Seo
The ringside machine beeps loudly, the red light glows, and everybody stops, huffing and puffing. Carlos Hernandez considers the machine to be his “assistant”: green, alerts everybody that a three-minute round has started: yellow, lets everybody know that only thirty seconds are remaining in the round and pushes them to go even harder for the last thirty seconds: and finally red, gives everybody time to catch their breath. Even when the light changed to red, it was not the time for us to get a good rest. The irritating beeping sound did not end until the end of the class. The exercises we did changed, but not the irritating “beep” sound.
Carlos Hernandez voluntarily teaches a boxing class for SCCC students who are enthusiastic about learning every Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30pm to 3:30pm in Mitchell Activity Center (MAC) only with his passion.
On January 8, 2013, the first day of the club, as I went into the room 206 in MAC around 2:30 pm, I saw about 20 students jumping ropes all over the class. Despite my prejudiced thoughts of boxing as an extreme sports which requires physical strength, the class surprisingly has a sex ratio of somewhere around 50-50.
After three three-minute rounds of jumping rope, I was putting on boxing gloves. My legs were sore. The gloves reeked of sweat. But it was not disgusting at all. I could imagine how many passionate students might have learned boxing in these gloves. Besides, there was no time to spare but to catch my breath for the next punch throwing three-minute rounds.
You might think that you could do better if you have a chance in the octagon. However, the stark reality is that you might not be able to stand properly after, not even a real fight, just a three-minute practice round with Carlos’ assistant. With the first beep, you are full of passion to stand strong for the entire round. You continuously throw your left and right gloves to the other person’s mitts. Even though you cannot bear the weight on your arms and the punches are slowing down, the cheerful loud sound on the mitt when you throw a perfect punch is all you need to keep you go on for the round. When the green light turns to yellow with a loud beep, blowing a whistle loudly, Carlos starts yelling at students to go faster and harder for the last thirty seconds and not to quit. “Thirty seconds left! Go!” Carlos says. No laziness is allowed in Carlos’ class. The genuine rest that you seek will only be achieved after the last beep when the yellow light turns into red.
Carlos Hernandez is a supervisor specifically in charge of the fitness area in the Mitchell Activity Center. He proudly says that he was very athletic as a young boy. During his career, he coached a basketball team, taught many football players on the Seahawks and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters as well.
He mentioned that he always had the desire of going back to the beginning of the learning cycle and distributing his skill to the beginners. Surprisingly, the boxing class he is in charge of is volunteer work. For a coach with such a high reputation, it might not be easy to put the well paid job behind and put himself into a nonpaid beginner’s boxing class.
This boxing class is not his first. He taught the students boxing few years ago in the exact same room in the Mitchell Activity Center building, but stopped teaching the beginners for a while to travel around and train the pro MMA fighters. There are two very famous MMA fighters whom most people would recognize if they are interested in MMA even just a little bit: Cheick Kongo and Rampage Jackson.
“Not like beginners, the pro fighters have too many egos.” Carlos explained. The fighters might follow Carlos’ way for the first few months but soon they got to the point where they think they knew more than the coach. All of a sudden the coaching style shifts from the fighters adjusting to the coach’s style to the situation where the coach has to follow the fighter’s style. Carlos said, “Then it is time to say goodbye to the fighters.”
Also he could not take numerous travels all over the world for the fight and training camp anymore. With too many egos from the pro fighters and the exhausting travels, he got tired of living as a coach. After coaching for the UFC fight in Oct 2012, he decided to give what he had back to the people who needed it.
There might be some other reasons for Carlos to start teaching boxing again in SCCC. However he points out that he has always thought that he will give it back to the people who needs what he knows. In this case, he wants the students to experience the new field while experiencing something that they cannot learn inside the class. The benefits the students could get from meeting students from other cultures and get to see what they are like in a setting where everybody is working out and covered with sweat might be humongous. For that, despite of numerous love calls from the managers of the MMA fighters, Carlos decides to stick with SCCC for a while.
Taking the class for only two weeks now, Nancy Cheng said, “The boxing class is definitely one of the leading classes among many valuable classes that SCCC offers to the students. For those students who always wanted to learn boxing or get in shape but did not with numerous excuses, like ‘oh, it’s too costly’, ‘I didn’t have time’ and so on, this boxing class is the place for you to be.” She has taken some other fitness classes at SCCC, like body conditioning, and says without hesitation that the boxing class is the best one.
As the poster of the boxing class shows, it is a fitness boxing class. The class seems like it is for the students who are newly introduced to boxing. However, it is not only for new boxers. James Black, who learned boxing for four years in China, says Carlos Hernandez has a great teaching method. Rather than showing all the moves in one time and tells the students to copy the moves, Carlos Hernandez guides the students by showing and explaining the moves step by step for the beginners. However, the moves are not only for the beginners.
“Carlos tries to keep the moves real easy for the beginners, but once you get to know it they are not only for the beginners but the routines can also be used to train the amateur boxers,” Black says “I am very lucky to find a boxing class like this in Seattle.”