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SCENE ABOUT

Hit Parade

"Scene About" is an occasional look at the style of some of the city's haunts.

September 19, 1997|JEANNINE STEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sweat flies like water from a garden hose at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood. This clean, spare gym atop a Laundromat starts pulsing in the early morning with the pounding of gloves on a punching bag, the uneven cadence punctuated with an occasional grunt.

A trainer works his client in the ring, commanding him to hit "Left! Left again! Right! Harder!" A buzzer sounds, the boxer's arms drop, his chest heaves, sucking in oxygen. Ringside, his terrier waits patiently, looking vaguely bored.

Off in a corner, a thickly muscular man reveals a dancer's grace while jumping rope. A speed bag goes thacka-thacka-thacka-thacka over the trip-hop and techno tracks from the Groove that spill from the speakers.

Some Russian boxers stride into the gym; one is tall, lean, with a flattened nose only a plastic surgeon could love. He spars with an opponent and the entire gym stands watching, transfixed. If people are in the line of sweat, they don't seem to mind.

Boxing is rituals, from slowly and methodically wrapping yards of cloth around both hands to lacing the shin-high boots and black-smudged crimson gloves. And boxers do wear boxers--the baggier the better; loose, down-to-the-knee shorts with the requisite Adidas, Everlast, Fila or Nike logos. T-shirts are stretched out and ratty, workout bags oversized and packed with junk.

The best accessory happens to be a human one--a trainer at your side, towel slung over one shoulder, water bottle in hand. Nothing cooler.

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