The challenger

 

Yanni Stephenson

At arm's length: Yanni Stephenson.

 

My boxing classes at Doherty’s gym are really starting to fire up. I looked around me last night and I liked what I saw. People were moving like boxers, shadow boxing and working hard, pushing themselves and finding that drive from within. Then when I asked who wanted to spar, all but one person raised their hands.

The first hand to shoot up was that of Yanni Stephenson, who has enough enthusiasm for a whole team of boxers. He has all the attributes of an eager hound, but actually, he’s my 75kg guinea pig and I couldn’t ask for a better litmus test for myself as a coach. Yanni is hard working, thoughtful, fit, reliable and almost fearless. Better than that he’s got the longest arms on dry land which has probably helped him keep up with his customers at his busy little Bar Etiquette in Brunswick,

http://www.baretiquette.com.au/

 

where all the cool dudes and dudettes of the inner city hang out. A few bar regulars have come my way thanks to Yanni’s recommendations.

If he’s not serving boutique brews he’s usually alone in the boxing room or diving head first into either my Monday or Wednesday night class or doing a one-on-one session with me.

 

battle groud

Crowd pleaser: Hammer's Gym.

 

And now he’s decided to take the plunge and compete in an interclub spar, scheduled for November 21 at Hammer’s Gym in Burwood. The interclub  events are great for boxers and kickboxers at pre-novice level, who think they might want to fight but need some experience in front of a crowd to see how they handle the nerves. There’s usually always a huge crowd too since there can be as many as 100 boxers competing. You can cut the nervous energy with  a knife. I’m sure Yanni will have a crowd of his own cheering him on and I’ve got a feeling he’ll rise to the occasion.

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About mischamerz

Mischa Merz is an Australian journalist, author, amateur boxer and painter. She is the author of the memoir, The Sweetest Thing, published by Seven Stories Press as well as Bruising, published in Australia first by Picador then re-issued by Vulgar Press in 2008. She has written for a range of newspaper, magazines, specialist publications, literary journals and websites. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Peter.
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