When I think of Hoosierweight Boxing, I think of one word: backyard.
I'm always filled with such a sense of sadness that I missed those early fights in Steve's backyard, in Roberto's. The idea of those fights fills me with this sense of what this city should be, and oddly, it always has. You wanna talk about a good show-- Steve gets it. The man puts on a good show.
Much of that has carried over into the Royale, and I understand I speak with a great amount of bias here. But when I look at the Royale, we have recreated a similar type of space, one where all the disparate elements of a place come together and fit somehow seemlessly, enriching the view. Last night was a good example. Friday night: the grill's lit up outside, the belly dancers were in doing their thing, the potholder people were there selling their crafts. It's a strange restaurant-cum-open air market with entertainment, almost more like a fairway or a street carnival. The mix of people at times makes me think of some strange futuristic Gibson novel where everything just blends, yet individuals remain somehow distinct. And I think it's somehow significant that this all goes down in what happens to be Steve's backyard, even if the Royale sign is out front.
That's why I have always loved the backyard fights: they're organic. They grew out of Steve's ideas, out of the fighters' enthusiasm, out of audience comments. They grew from a sense of desire and urgency, from a whimsey and a love. Everything that happened was about doing something differently and having a good time. And Steve is hitting that idea again, gloves flyin'.
On August 12, at midnight, Steve is throwing a round robin night of fights at the Panda. And I love the Panda. I love that Steven used to have a chicken there and would make the kids chase it. I love his office with the glass window, the espresso machine and the booze. I love watching the kids work and the coaches do what they are clearly so good at. I don't box, but I love all that the Panda is... especially the loading dock off the back. And so, fittingly, in August when it's hotter than hot anyway, Steve is having some folks over for a bit of sparring. These are not title fights. These are not even judged fights. But it's boxing, in all the glory of what it used to be in the backyard. It's boxing in all the spirit of why people do it and why people want to watch.
Last night, I got a strange preview. 2:15 am and Don, "Pride of the Southside" Beasley was moppin' the floors. I was washing glasses. The other usual suspects were doing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, taking out the trash, and before I knew it, a challenge was leveled. Steven, on his way out the door, hat on and Caddy ready, stops to meet Don's challenge of wrestling. I called to Sarah and as we watched Steve and Don wrestle, alternately laughing, cheering, and cringing when they came close to furniture, I felt that same sense of thrill. There's something exciting about things just happening. There's something exciting about having someone to root for. And there's a strange sense of community about bearing witness to the spectacle. I'm not going to say who won, nor will I repeat any of the comments that the ragtag group of viewers yelled during the grappling, but I will say that it made me want to go sweat in the heat at the Panda and see that sparring on the 12th... and it made me wish that Steve's backyard would one day hold a fight again.