September 16, 2011 | 1:37 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Last night I went to the “Knocking out Addiction” boxing event that was held on the roof of the Peterson Automotive Museum here in LA. It was a fundraising event for Beit T’Shuvah, which is both a residential treatment center for addiction, as well as a temple. I volunteer there, and worship there, and think it is a special place. But that’s not why I went.
I went because I am obsessed with Manny Pacquiao, and my crush on him has developed into a love of boxing. Over my dead body would I ever allow my own son to be a boxer, but can I watch other mother’s babies get smacked in the ring? Yes! I love boxing, and in learning about Manny, have come to appreciate the sport and those who excel at it.
I asked Beit T’Shuvah’s Rabbi Mark Borovitz why the night was important and he said, “It gets the message of hope and help out to the world”. The Rabbi got in the ring last year against Tom Arnold, and when I questioned why he was not fighting again, he told me he was not allowed as it was too stressful for his wife and congregation. This is a cool Rabbi.
They had a killer silent auction of sports memorabilia. By killer of course I mean if you like sports, it was killer. I’m not a huge sports fan, unless it is hockey, and now boxing, but I am a very big fan of men who play and watch sports, and as a single lady, I was in heaven walking through a room of sports guys. It was the perfect mix of charity, babes, and Judaism.
Two cantors from the temple sang Hatikva and the national anthem. It was crazy good. People sang along, and it was a special way to start the night. At an event where anthems are sung, I like to watch the room and see reactions. Watching people tear up at Hatikva is wonderful, and people stand just a little taller for the Star Spangled Banner. It’s quite special.
The event was billed as a fun night of boxing to raise money for this worthy cause, but let me just say, if you are single, you need to be attending this event. It was fresh, exciting, and filled to the rim with really attractive people, of all ages. I fell in love with both a boxer who was 22, and famed attorney Robert Shapiro, who is not 22, but very sexy.
Tickets were $250 a pop, and they served really good food. Sushi bars, individual salad bars in little to go containers, and a sliders burger bar. As a vegetarian, I appreciated that they served veggie burgers in addition to beef and turkey. The food was fresh with vegetarian options for everything offering. Bravo to Contemporary Catering for the veggie shout out.
They also had a bar. One might be surprised that at an event for addiction recovery they have a bar, but not everyone is an addict. I have never had an addiction, other than reality television, and I had a glass of wine. It was nice because it was about celebrating the important work they do, and not about wondering if everyone has the disease of addiction.
In addition to the bar and food, they had a peanut guy, cotton candy, and popcorn to munch on during the fights. I was an event planner in this town for 15 years, and I have been to a lot of parties, and this one was really great. I dug the vibe, the message, and inspirational speeches. They were short but powerful, and the perfect balance of fun and fundraising.
As I walked around saying hello to people I knew, and getting introduced to people I didn’t know, a hush came across the party. I turned around and then I saw them. Six of the tallest, most attractive men I have ever seen walked into the room, and people were stopping to look. Not one of them was less than 6’2”, and they took your breath away.
Being the “journalist” that I am, I went over on “official” Jewish Journal business to say hello and ask, as I twirled my hair and batted my lashes, if they were boxers, and that is when the fun began. These boys were fascinating and talking to them about the sport they love was really, really, interesting. They are kids with a dream, and it’s great.
I truly didn’t think boxers were tall. I figured they were really strong and fit, but average in height. Wrong. These guys were from the All American Heaveyweights gym , also known as “The Rock”, and they were divine. Turns out heavyweight fighters are big. Really big. At 5’3” I looked like a munchkin and my neck still hurts from looking so high up.
Michael Arnwine, Demitrius Still, and Adam Stewcart are in their early 20’s, gorgeous men with plans of being heavyweight champions. They were all recruited from across the country to come to LA and train at All American Heavyweights in Torrance, CA. They live and breathe boxing and it’s exciting. Spending time with them was like a master class in boxing.
Michael explained the difference between an offensive fighter and a defensive one. An offensive guy is going to be aggressive and get in there to hit often, while a defensive fighter is going to be brilliant at blocking shots, and go in for the hit when it counts. It is the belief of these young fighters, that if Manny and Floyd ever get in the ring, Floyd will win.
Clearly they have been hit in the head one too many times if they think my beloved Manny would lose to Floyd. Listening to these kids talk about their sport, and their dreams, is inspiring. They fight to win in the ring, and my friends who are in recovery from addiction, fight to win their battles everyday. The connection between the two fights is compelling.
There were a lot of fights last night and one of them ended in round one with a knock out. It was all very exciting, and even though I have to close my eyes sometimes as the hits are brutal, and plug my ears as the sound of a glove connecting with a man’s face is creepy, this is a great sport. These men are true athletes, and I love the Pacman even more now.
I am quickly becoming a fan of boxing. I was writing notes from my chat with the boys when Nina Haller approached me. Nina is my friend, and also the Major Gifts Director for Beit T’Shuvah. We chatted about the event, the men, and the fact that this was a much needed event for the young LA crowd. Then Nina changed my life in a profound way.
She thanked me for giving the event a shout out in my blog, and said my story about Ryan O’Neal was funny. I of course responded the way I always respond when someone mentions Ryan O’Neil, I professed my love for him. She then took me by the hand, and led me to the Promised Land. We walked to the very back of the event, through a curtain, and there he was.
I was face to face with Ryan O’Neal. He was warming up for his fight against boxer Jimmy Lange, and Nina walked right over and introduced me. She told him I was from the Jewish Journal and he let me know he both liked and read the Journal. He actually has a Jewish grandmother, which I did not know. He shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said hello.
I lost my mind and before I could regain my composure, I was telling him that I loved him and used to dream he would see me, and it would be love at first sight. He then put his arm around me, told me my story was sweet, and I hugged him back. Tightly. Then it happened. He kissed me. Ryan O’Neil kissed me.
Though it’s been years since I fell in love with Oliver Barrett, Ryan is still very attractive. He was charming and funny and I’ve decided to keep the details of our conversation to myself for the moment, so I can treasure them all to myself. That will last about a day, and then I will want to tell the world, but for today he is all mine.
Have you ever loved someone from a far, then met them and been disappointed? Well there was none of that. Ryan was charming, funny, gracious and kind. It’s one more thing off my bucket list and a memory I will always remember. I had a fantasy in my head about Ryan O’Neal, and meeting him as I did was perfect. Except for one thing.
Ryan was fighting against boxer Jimmy Lange. Jimmy is a very sweet guy, and was outside warming up with Ryan. He said hello and let me know how honored he was to be participating. No ego with this guy, just an inherent kindness that you feel instantly. While he has not struggled with addiction, he knows people who have, and was happy to be there in support of recovery.
I really liked Jimmy, until I passed him my phone and asked him to take a picture of me and my new boyfriend Ryan. I have an iPhone, which requires one tap of a camera icon, but Jimmy messed up my photo op. There is no picture of Ryan and me. As I stood there, tearing up at the joy of the moment, I looked at my photo album, but alas, there was no picture.
I have the picture I took of Jimmy and Ryan, which is nice for Jimmy, but who cares? Did Jimmy dream of dancing with Ryan when he was a young boy? I don’t think so. One picture Jimmy! That’s all I asked. Oh well. With the match now over, I imagine Ryan will hunt me down as if I were Cinderella. If Jimmy Lange were not so fabulous, I’d be pissed right now.
Last night I learned that in a crowded room you cannot tell who is an addict, but you can tell who is a boxer. I learned that beyond a sport, boxing is an art form. I learned that people matter, and addiction is to be treated, not judged. I learned that dreams come true, even if they are silly. Shabbat shalom, have a great weekend, and keep the faith.
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