YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

50 pounds and 2 inches away from glory

January 08, 2004|Nancy Rommelmann

I am going to admit what few women will in print, that I weigh 137 pounds, but right about now I wish it were 100 more. This is because I have my head buried in Danila's solar plexus and am pushing so hard that everything from my ears to the arches of my feet is straining to move her, but Danila, a solid 183, isn't budging.

"Spin! Turn!" I hear people call from the sidelines, people who are more than 250 pounds, some of them sumo champs, whereas I've never done this before in my life, the only wrestler I can name is Gorgeous George, whom my grandmother used to make me watch on her black and white television set ...

"Squat! Lower!" I register the voice of Troy Collins, a 2003 middleweight sumo gold medalist, who, when it was our turn to wrestle, gallantly let me push him out of the ring. Then he'd given me some advice: "When you're in the proverbial stare down," the time just before opponents grapple, "a lot of people will look eye to eye and try to have a psych-out contest. I don't look anybody in the eye; I focus on where I'm going to attack the person. You're not going to scare somebody by staring at them; you're going to get their attention and respect by your technique and by beating them."

And so when Danila and I entered the ring, I did not affect a Steven Seagal squint or slap my belt, as I'd seen the other wrestlers do. I stared at Danila's chest and told myself, I will plant my head there and push and I will not stop, and I have not, not when she entwined her ankle with mine and tried to trip me, not when she jabbed her palm beneath my chin, not when I emitted what sounded like someone stepping on a baby pig.

"Grab from underneath!" I hear someone shout and manage to wedge my fingers under Danila's belt, and push her, and push, until she is tottering backward, if I can just move her two more inches ...

And then she is outside the ring, laughing. Everyone is laughing. What's so funny?

"We're not laughing at you," says Troy. "You did well; you didn't stop."

"You're scrappy," says Danila.

I assume the traditional winner's pose, and as I stand back up, I glimpse my next opponent, a man more than 300 pounds, on whom Troy had landed after knocking him out of the ring, a strategy to ensure one's opponent will be in worse shape if you have to fight him later in the day. And as I envision for the first time in my life a sweating, nearly naked 300-pound man falling on top of me, the sweet taste of victory vanishes.

Los Angeles Times Articles