KATHY SULLIVAN vs KLAARTJE DE GRAAF
I started acting when I was just 6 years old. I watched the telly with my grandmother on weekend visits to her house - Nan was always found of the soaps and sitcoms. After one programme, they showed an advert for the show’s production company. They announced a casting call for primary school ages kids for extra for the next series taping. Nothing overly complex, just pretend to be on a field trip to the London zoo.
I asked my Nan, “Do you think I could do that?”
She looked at me and without hesitation jotted down the phone number they were flashing on screen. “You give that number to your mum and ask her permission. If she says it’s okay, you go for it.”
A big grin snapped onto my face. “Really?” She chuckled.
“Love, the only person who can ever tell you, ‘You can’t do that,’ is you.”
Those simple words have been a guiding light for me in both my acting career and my personal life. It helped me sort out bad auditions and disappointments. It kept me sturdy in an incredibly rocky marriage and a nasty divorce.
And now those words are with me as I bounce lightly on the balls of my feet in the corner of a boxing ring in Switzerland, ready to fight a fierce looking Dutch girl in a glamboxing match. Granted, I don’t think Nan ever envisioned me wearing boxing gloves about to start punching another woman in the face - and Marie than likely getting punched in the face myself - but I think her advice would be the same... with a quick little, “Kick her ass,” thrown in at the end. Nan had a rowdy streak.
I warm up, shadow boxing in my corner as the announcer introduces us to the crowd. I straighten the bright yellow Reebok top I’m wearing for the fight. It surprised me that the company wanted to sponsor me for this fight after technically losing my debut. But the reps told me they thought my former trainer had thrown in the towel too early as well. The gigantic row I stirred up after the fight probably also seemed enticing. I’ve been in television long enough to know that drama can print money if you spin it right. Plus I love what they printed on the top.
“Get it on!”
I meet my opponent, Klaart Je De Graaf, in the center of the ring for the final instructions. She pushes forward and gets right in my face. Alright bird, if you wanna play it that way, I push right back. We’re nose to nose, the words of the referee a feint buzz next to us.
“You better give me a real fight,” she whispers, “it don’t do nothing for me beating up weak old ladies like you.”
I smirk. She’s trying to psyche me out, but really? Pulling the age card? “Don’t worry love,” I whisper back, “I’m going to rock that body of yours all night... with my fists!”
We slam our gloves together then back up to our corners.
My new trainer rubs my shoulder to relax me before the first round. He goes ove the game plan. Klaart likes to fight up close, strong inside punches. But she’s a glass cannon, weak jaw. He tells me to pressure her from the outside, get my weight behind jabs and crosses, only get close when I hurt her... and I WILL hurt her. I bite down on my mouth guard and punch my gloves together.
The fight starts and I tighten up my guard, circling my opponent. The Dutch girl throws out jabs that I can easily parry. He form is a bit sloppy and she’s shuffling her feet instead of moving laterally. As she gets in my range, I start pumping the jab. My punches bounce off hr gloves, but she jerks to one side, spooked by my strikes. She’s jittery. I can use that.
I start to circle Klaart and pump my left jab. She attempts to counter, but she telegraphs her punches and I dodge them. Her hands drop down a bit and start peppering her pretty face with jabs. She tries to slip left and right but I deftly move to the side to tag her again.
She starts firing off her own jabs. I slip my head, but her hands are quick. “Aah!” Damn! Klaart has some hard fists, like getting hit with a brick. Okay old girl, show this upstart what you can do! I work my combinations into her head, twisting my core with my right straight. BAM! Yeah! Knocked you block off with that one you bint!
The bell soon rings, ending the first round. I walk to my corner and sit down as my trainer gives me water and rubs out my limbs. I’m doing good. Klaart is stiff in her movements and punches. I need to pace myself though. She hits really damn hard and if I start to lose steam later on in the match, a couple of her punches could put me on my arse.
I start circling again so I can... WHAP! “Ack!” What the... where the bloody hell did that come from? Klaart is much more aggressive this round. She pushes forward, swinging her muscular arms in big hooks and haymakers. Her form is bad, she’s flat footed, but that doesn’t mean her fists don’t hurt!
I start backing up, looking for ways to flank her. She follows me with the tenacity of an English bulldog which, while I can appreciate the irony, makes it hard to outmaneuver her. I fire off my jab to get distance, but she’s having none of that. She ups her speed as the round wears on and I’m forced to turtle up against the ropes. I keep my head moving and her punches slim off my gloves and forearms. I have to keep defending myself or the ref could get antsy.
She throws a wide right that leaves her a smidge off balance. I dart forward into a clinch and push her away from the ropes. I let go and dart back, smacking her in the face with a jab just before the round ends.
She sneers at me. “Coward,” she spits before heading to her corner.
My blood is starting to boil as I rest in my corner. But my trainer calms me down. Her assures me that I was in control and my rival is getting frustrated by my better boxing skills. He instructs me to keep landing clean shots to her head, mix in some body shots. I want her sucking wind by the end of the next round.
Klaart rushes me, looking to brawl again. Not this time love! I start sticking my jab, slamming it into her exposed face. She backs up a step or two, then tries to counter and I slap her back again. She’s single minded, looking to beat me up. Instead, I work around her, tagging her head with every ounce of my gloves.
She edges a little closer and I twist a good hook into her stomach. She backs up and I follow up with a 1-2 to her nose and chin. Still, the angry Dutch girl rushes forward into my waiting fists. She throws wild punches that skim the side of my head as I slip them. I pump the jab with about 50% strength to conserve energy.
I want to keep beating her up for four more rounds.
After the bell, I see Klaart panting slightly and I know my punches are working. My trainer and I go over the round in my corner. She’s already getting tired and I’m showing the judges I’m the better boxer in this ring. I need to keep at it.
He slips in my mouth guard and I lightly bounce on the balls of my feet, ready to get back to work on my sexy Dutch punching bag.
I get back on the bike, working my jab-cross combos. I think Klaart’s trainer gave her a good dressing down, cause she’s actually boxing me this round. She. Ives her head effectively and co inters well, pushing up from her toe. So you can actually boxing instead of just flailing your arms in front of your face? I smirk.
And then her right glove smashes into my face.
Stars erupt in front of me as I stagger back a bit. I’m woozy as she continues her assault. Blurs ram agains my face. She punches my cheeks and jaw until they sting in pain. I keep backing up as her punches dig deeper into me. I feel the ropes against my back. I’m in trouble.
I keep my defenses up, but she’s knocking them away. I clinch her to wrestle her off the ropes, but she pushes me back onto the ropes and smacks me with another punch. I try and counter, smacking her with a couple good hooks, but she’s undeterred. Several of her punches break through my guard, clobbering the side of my head.
In desperation, I whip a right punch into her unprotected stomach. She staggers. Her eyes widen a little bit. In the split second I grab her into another clinch and lean back into the ropes, riding out the remainder of the round like I’m in a romantic embrace with a date I really REALLY can’t stand.
I sit down in my corner and my trainer admonishes me about that round. “You’ve got to stop dropping your guard! This punk gets another lucky punch or two in and you’re in trouble. You saw how she stammered when you got her in the gut. She’s soft in the belly!”
I nod as he daps the sweat out of my eyes and puts ice on the swelling under my eye. I cast my attention to my rival who, despite thumping me in the previous round, is breathing hard.
“I’ll knock the wind right out of you, missy!”
I know my pace has slowed down substantially since the start of the fight, but Klaart is even slower. She goes back to those sloppy punches of hers and I just dodge. I tag her exposed midsection several times, but with nothing too strong. I need to get closer.
Then I see it. When she throws a right cross, she widens her guard for a split second as she draws her arm back in. There’s enough room for me to swarm in and start pummeling those abs of hers. But am I quick enough?
I keep dodging her strikes, biding my time - popping her in that smug face of hers when I can. Then, she goes for that right cross. I lean back to dodge it and in the millisecond her arm starts to move back I bound forward like a gazelle. I’m in! I plant my lead foot and thrust up with my body weight behind an uppercut to her bread basket!
“OOO!” Oh that moan of pain is sweet to hear!
She staggers back a pace or two and I can see that her legs are starting to shake. I dart forward and land two more jabs before the bell rings.
She’s wobbly as she walks to her corner and I grin. My trainer and I know the plan has worked, but I need to keep up the pressure, keep her on the defensive for the rest of the fight.
Klaart is as slow as a snail getting out of her corner. I pounce on her and start working her over. She tries to counter my punches, but with her lower body still fuzzy, she can’t get her weight behind any of her punches. They’re creme puffs against my face and body.
I work over her stomach some more until she drops her right fist to protect her tummy. Then I twist hooks into her exposed jaw. She staggers left and I follow, eating a couple of her puny jabs. I keep her backpedaling, in retreat. My boxing gloves slam against exposed flesh or her guard, then snap back to my defense.
You aren’t getting anymore lucky shots this fight!
I stay aggressive until the bell rings. I’m so energized by the match my trainer has to calm me down. He tells me to stay focused, that I’m winning the fight, but that anything can happen in the final round. I nod as he cools me down.
I look over my exhausted and beaten rival I her corner. Time to polish her off!
Klaart moves like a rock in the ring, slow, stiff, and flat. Makes her the perfect punching bag. She throws a few pitiful jabs and crosses that I deflect. I respond with my own strikes to her head that she occasionally blocks, but enough go through to rattle her sweat soaked head.
I pummel her beautiful body a bit to make her back up a bit, then I go to work with clubbing lefts and rights to her head. I’m tired, but I keep my form right, rotating my hips pushing off my toe. My fists rain down on this young girl as I humble her in my ring!
The fight draws to a close and I drop my fists, panting slightly. Klaart leans back onto the ropes, swollen and dripping in sweat. I offer her a smile and a glove tap. “Good match.” She returns it in kind and heads back to her corner to rest. I head to mine and wait for the results.
I win the match by Unanimous Decision! I hug my trainer then pump my fists into the air. I’ve got a win on my glamboxing record!
Backstage, I’m getting cleaned up and run into a co pulse of fans from the fight who ask for a picture. I’m happy to oblige. As I get ready, the young man with the phone asks, “Wanted to mention, I’m digging that shirt you wore in the ring.”
I smile and point to my shirt. He snaps the pic, then I tell him, “Add this when you post that. Say, ‘Kathy Sullivan is stepping into the glamboxing ring for one reason... to Get It On! Put all the middleweights on notice. Sandipta, Antonella, the Leroux’s, even the champ Patrizia. I’m coming for you all! But first, I’m gonna get it on with Margaret Williamson again. There’s no wussy cornerman to throw in the towel and give you a free win. We will fight again and I will beat you and knock you out!’”