Between the Ropes

Two teenagers who will do whatever it takes to help those in need of protection.

AnnaMaria Corona, Reporter

     Imagine being trapped between four ropes, in a room where thousands of people are staring at you and every move you make, battling someone to win a belt that proves what harm men can do. Don’t forget the one you are battling is bigger, stronger and faster than you are.

     Imagine you have to fight this battle every week to convince people that you have what it takes to compete against the best boxers in your division. This sport is not like any other popular American sport. Some people are against boxing, while others have huge parties just to watch a few rounds of two men beating the crap out of each other till the last man is standing in the 12th round.

     You are in high school, just a kid going against 25-year old adults, and you’re knocking them out.

     It would make you feel marevelous, like you could do anything, but no, you can’t get too far ahead of yourself because if you get sidetracked for even a second you would be knocked out the next.

     If the other competitor gets a few good punches in and your left eye gets so swollen you can’t see out of it, you can’t just give up. If you made a commitment to this sport for the long run, there is no backing out. You have to give your 110% in that ring at all times or you will just be another punching bag to that competitor.

     For Norman Afridi, this isn’t just a sport that you can fantasize about, this is a phenomenon that he has to train and put in several hours for so he doesn’t end up like a boxing dummy.

     “River City has every other sport but boxing and I want to start it.” said Afridi

Afridi is a 17 year old senior at River City High School who wants to share and teach the sport he loves to other’s. He came to America at 15 years old with his three brothers, only sister and his parents from Pakistan.

     Afridi can prove to other people that he is a great boxer not by experience but by how early he gets to practice how late he stays after practice because in Afridi’s mind every second of practicing counts.

     The biggest goal for the boxer at this time in his life is that he wants to start a boxing club to help kids who can’t defend themselves or who are in the need of security. He wants the kids to have a place to take their anger out instead of people.   

     “Some kids don’t know how to defend themselves, there are things that school teaches but I don’t think it’s good enough.” explained Afridi as he was answering, how would this benefit the kids in the school?

     “He only started about a year ago I can’t believe how good he is and how much he is motivated about it,” said Afridi’s boxing friend, Idrees Bahrimi.

     As Afridi stood between the ropes, under the lights causing him to cast his lengthy shadow, he was throwing punches at his competitor as if he were fighting for his life. His swing was like a catapult, he had a slow wind up as he shifted his body weight back then let go with all of his strength and force applying massive pressure upon the competitor’s face. Every time he would swing those long yet muscular arms of his you could feel his sweat whip around him hitting you in the face because of the speed he is moving at.

     Even though he began his career a year ago, he has been fighting his whole life.

     In Pakistan, as a young boy Afridi would challenge the other boys in the neighborhood to a game of cricket. He and his friends made a rule up that if you lose the game the winner gets to fight the losers. Afridi said as he was laughing, “I sucked at cricket but I was good at fighting so everyone wanted me on their team.”

     When he came to America he had bullies because he could not speak fluent English. One time he was trying to defend his friend that had recently got jumped, the next day there was four men who were suspects and Afridi being tough he tried to take four against one and still managed to beat them all with no serious injuries.   

     Even with Afridi not being that experienced because he is a beginner he is already knocking out 24 year old men.

     Just last week on Wednesday at Muscle System, the gym he practices at, he had his first knockout against a 24 year old adult who wanted to test the teenager if he was ready for his upcoming match.

     Afridi explained that the match was a warm up for an approaching match he has. His coaches asked the adult to come out during practice and next thing he knows he is passed out on the floor of the ring.

     So early in the boxing life, Afridi already wants to share it with others who don’t know how to use their strength or don’t even know they have it.

     He doesn’t want other kids to go through the pain that he had to because of bullies. His argument is that kids shouldn’t have to deal with bullies anymore. He also believes that presentations and telling kids not bullying is not going to change the bullies.

     With all this hard work and wanting to help other people comes a great deal of spending money and figuring out how to raise enough.

     Although Afridi wants to encourage kids of RCHS to join his club he doesn’t know how he is going to raise enough money to pay for all sorts of equipment that is required to keep the kids safe. He has the idea that he might be able to get Muscle System, 24 Hour Fitness and Fitness System to sponsor and loan some equipment to the club.

     Afridi’s argument for him to use against those who say no to the club is that he thinks that Rugby is just as dangerous if not more dangerous than boxing.

     “I think Boxing is more dangerous because it’s literally punches to your face and body.” Said Kate Forman, a English Teacher and the Rugby Coach of RCHS.

     Forman is a fan of getting this boxing club started but she does have her doubts against the kids who might turn it into something more than just a club. She is worried that kids might be starting more fights than we already have at school. She thinks that is a good idea if Afridi can get a good coach and the right equipment because if not Afridi could get in huge trouble.

     Afridi’s response to that is, “I would kick them out of the group because that would bring bad reputation to my name and the club.”

     Forman explained that she doesn’t see the club as security so the kids can learn to protect themselves, she sees it as an outlet, a way so kids can take their anger out on a punching bag instead of someone’s face.  

     She also interpreted that she has to give props for people who are willing to play this sport. “There is a mental toughness and grit that both rugby and boxing have,” said Forman as she was getting ready to teach her next class.

     Afridi is not the only one who is passionate about boxing his best Friend had given him the idea to encourage others to box by starting a club.

     Anand Sharma is a 16 year old senior at RCHS and is the owner of the mind whose idea it was to start a boxing club. He is Afridi’s best friend and best boxing buddy, they always practice with together and push one another to make each other better at the sport as they grow and get stronger.

     Sharma has the same ideas as Afridi in regards to the club but Sharma is not too sure if the district will let them start their dream club. Sharma is really passionate about starting the club but he has other activities that he is more interested in. Sharma likes to dance rather than box, “I like dancing more but I think it would be cool that we could have generations of students keeping the club going,” said Sharma.

     Sharma clarified that he will always stay by his friends side when it comes to boxing and will do anything he can to get this club up and running. When asked, what would your club motto be? Sharma replied, “Train insane or remain the same.”

     Now you now what struggles the two students will go through to help other people you can try to help these kids. If kids say they want to do something they will do anything it takes to do that task.

     “I know I will have haters but so does everyone else and I won’t let them stop me,” said Afridi as he made a face of determination.