I doubt Cinderella was a good boxer

Friday night I celebrated the end of a very average week by going to boxing, to get into the zone for my sparring session with Cap on Saturday morning. Cap, being Cap, wasted no time in commenting on my presence: “Are you sure you’re ready for tomorrow? You seem a little hesitant. It’s ok, I’d be scared to fight me too.”

Because of the sparring session the following morning, a quiet Friday night was in order. My friend and fellow fighter DD (short for Deceptive Dimples – she has the most charming dimples imaginable, and a really innocent-looking face which masks her fierce, assertive personality and her great fighting spirit) agreed to watch the new Cinderella movie with me, on condition we indulge in popcorn and M&Ms, to make it a proper girly evening.

I was really excited to see this Cinderella movie. It is directed by Kenneth Branagh, the great Shakespearian actor and director, and boasts an excellent cast and costume designers; the reviews are very good. More importantly, I’ve always loved this fairytale. As a toddler, I asked my mother to read me the Disney Cinderella storybook every day, sometimes 2-3 times in succession, in the exact same way. If my mother deviated even slightly for the script, to try spice things up for herself, Baby-me would stare at her reproachfully, point to the page and wait for her to start over. She’d help me dress up as Cinderella, draping me in her most luxurious dresses and costume jewelry; we came up with a Cinderella theme song. Once, when I was 4, my godfather visited us, and we decided to enact our own version of the fairytale – I was Cinderella, my mother was the evil stepmother, my father was the prince and, by process of elimination, I assume my godfather was the fairy godmother. When my mother tried to be evil (“Cinderella, you will not go to the ball!”) I’d burst into tears, no matter how many times my mother explained to me that we were acting, that she wasn’t actually angry with me. In our final version of the play, Cinderella’s evil godmother kindly asked Cinderella to please skip the ball, and offered her a cookie and a glass of milk. Artistic licence, you know.

It was with a great deal of nostalgia that I settled into my seat at the movie theatre on Friday. A few minutes into the movie, Cinderella’s mother sang the same lullaby (“Lavender’s Blue”) to Cinderella, as my mother used to sing to me: from that point on, I stopped being a grown-up watching a child’s fairytale, and slipped right back to being a little girl. I cried 3 times during the movie, and was swept away by the romance and visual beauty of the story. As the movie progressed, it became harder to ignore just how much I missed my mother, knowing full well that had she been alive, we would have undoubtedly watched this movie together, munching on an absurd number of cookies.

Although I left the theatre content that fairytales and happy endings existed, I had vivid, unpleasant dreams at night, revisiting the movie, yet haunted that something was missing, and not quite right. I woke up emotionally exhausted on Saturday morning: I needed a good 15 minute cuddle with my childhood teddybears to reconcile myself to the prospect of getting out of bed.

At the gym, I struggled to get into the mental zone for sparring. Even after warming up, I was more inclined to day dream about ball gowns than to shadow box. My teammates shook their heads in bewilderment at both my choice of movie (slightly at odds with my boxing persona) and my emotional reaction, and suggested I “get over it” before sparring Cap. Luckily, Cap helped me snap out of my funk, by showing me the blood stains on his sparring gloves, and describing in detail how he’d given a bloody nose to his previous sparring partner.

I survived sparring Cap! Good man that he is, he gave me a hug at the end of it. I can’t help but feel that a hug is the perfect ending to a 24 hour period of extremes, from Disney movies to bloody sparring.

I now know to never watch a Disney movie the night before a boxing match or sparring session. I’m immune to outrageous trash-talking, but a little bit of Disney magic completely undoes me. #trainingcamp



  1. My dearest June, I started reading your words and then tears came to my eyes. Sadness for your loss, and profound happiness for the memories you have. You are a little girl for me and could cry together or simply come over for a glass of wine or a chocolate cookie. Please always feel free to stop by our home, to simply do nothing, watch a movie or … Love you.


  2. Because they know your soft spot if they want to get you off your game !
    (I guess friendly sparring is still possible though – but not a trash-talking high-intensity round)


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