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  • Dexter Hastings

Saturday book Club - Fear No Foe - chapter 18

Fear No Foe

chapter 18

Shay woke up the next day to Dexter banging on his door, Shay got up and let him in, Dexter told him to get ready and he would take him to the gym. Shay was still blurry eyed from lack of sleep and said to Dexter “I was going to go see the sights today, can’t we go to the gym after I’ve had a chance to settle in”.

Dexter shook his head and replied “You will have loads of time to see the sights son, but Paddy wants you down there today, anyway your fighting in 2 months time”.

This news woke Shay up and he said “I’m fighting in 2 months time? When was this sorted?”

Dexter smiled and said “As soon as I got Paddy on board to train you, I’ll give you the details on the way to the gym”.

Dexter took him from Manhattan over the Manhattan Bridge to Paddy’s gym in Brooklyn; they parked up outside a diner called the Brooklyn Bakery.

Shay asked Dexter “So where’s the gym then?”

Dexter pointed above the diner and said “It’s up there Shay, come on I’ll take you up”.

The entrance was at the side of the building, but Dexter took him though the main doors of the diner to get up there. As they walked in a big heavy set bloke from behind the counter welcomed Dexter.

He said in a Brooklyn accent “Yo Dexter how you doing man, how long are you back for?”

Dexter walked over and gave the bloke a hug and a kiss on both checks and replied “Alright Deano, I’m going to be back for awhile mate, this is Shay he’s going to be Champion of the World very soon”.

Deano looked at Shay and grabbed his hand and shook it and said “Ahh right so you’re the boxer Dexter has been talking about, nice to meet you Shay”.

Shay replied “Yeah mate nice to meet you too Deano”.

Shay looked round the diner, there were lots of boxing pictures on the walls, he looked down the diner and at one of the tables in the corner there were a lot of shady looking blokes just sitting there drinking coffee.

Shay turned back to Dexter and said “Dext is this place something to do with the mob?”

Dexter told him to keep his voice down and to follow him.

They walked over to the table where the shady blokes were and Dexter took out an envelope from his coat and handed it to an old man sitting there in a hat.

Dexter then carried on walking to a door at the back of the diner and up a set of stairs to the gym.

Shay asked him who the man in the hat was, Dexter replied “That’s Ken the hat, he runs thing round here.

Shay looked at him shocked.

Dexter then said “There’s no harm in having a devil in your corner son”.

Dexter and Shay walked into Paddy’s gym, the gym was massive it took the whole of the top of the building it was in up. Shay could see an array of bags all down the one wall of the gym, there were areas for exercising, skipping and shadow boxing. There was also a big section where they had all the weights you could need for boxing, but the thing that really court Shay’s eye was the 4 full size boxing ring in the centre of the room.

The place was buzzing with noise of bags being smashed and the sound of skipping ropes tapping the floor.

Dexter pointed over to one of the rings at this man with crazy white hair and said “There’s Paddy, come on I’ll introduce you”.

They walked over and Dexter taped Paddy on the shoulder and said “Hey Pad how you doing I’ve brought Shay to see you”.

Paddy turned round and looked at Shay and said “You got your kit with you kid?”

Shay replied “Yeah in my bag”.

Paddy turned back towards the ring and said “Well it’s no good in there kid, get changed and then come and see me”.

Shay looked at Dexter with a look that said what’s his problem? Dexter just said “Come on I’ll show you where the changing rooms are”.

As they walked towards the changing rooms Dexter asked Shay what he thought of Paddy and the gym.

Shay replied “The gym looks great, but Paddy reminds me of Doc from back to the future, are you sure he wants to train me?”

Dexter laughed and said “Shay he asked me if he could, he said he sees potential in you after watching some of your fights”.

Shay replied “Well he’s got a funny way of showing it”.

Shay got changed into his training gear and came back out to Dexter and Paddy who were chatting at the side of one of the rings.

Paddy looked over at Shay and told him to warm up for some open sparring with one of there up and coming pros.

Shay done a bit of skipping, some shadow boxing and then he had a couple of rounds on the bags.

Paddy called him over and put his sparring gloves and head guard on him, Paddy then called over this young black lad who looked about the same weight as Shay and told him to get into the ring.

Shay looked at Paddy in shock and said “You want me to spar him? How many fights has he had?”

Paddy replied “That is Chad Benson he has his first pro fight in a month’s time, but he’s a Golden Gloves champion and I think he will be a good test for you”.

Shay smiled nodded his head and as Dexter put his gum shield in for him Shay winked at Dexter and said “I’ll go easy on him, he’s not even a pro”.

Dexter just looked at Shay and replied “I don’t think that’s a good idea”.

Shay just shook his head as he got in the ring ready to show Paddy what he could do.

The buzzer went to start the first round of open sparring, Shay touched gloves with Chad and they both moved round the ring. Chad was zipping around the ring; Shay was moving nicely and stepped in to throw a double jab. Chad saw it coming and before Shays first jab had been fully extended Chad had countered with a sweet one, two and moved away. Chad was like a ghost to Shay every time he got near Chad he would catch him with fast and sharp combinations then move out of range before Shay could do anything. When the buzzer went to finish the first round of sparring, Shay hadn’t even laid a glove on Chad.

Shay sat down in his corner shocked at how this young boxer was mugging him off.

Paddy gave Shay a drink of water and said “He’s quick isn’t he kid?” Shay spat the water into the bucket and replied “Quick? He’s like lightening”.

Paddy replied “Well kid that’s how you’re going to be in 2 months, but with the power to go with it. Now use some of your power to slow this kid down”.

They came out for the second round and Chad done the same thing, he was just too fast for Shay to catch with any power punches, Chad’s punches were nowhere near hard enough to bother Shay, but Shay just couldn’t get any clean shots off.

The buzzer went and Shay went and sat down in his corner, Paddy said to him “Look kid, he’s too fast for you to be chasing him, what you need to do is time him. You have had 2 rounds with him now; you know his main moves, time him coming in and then let that big right go”.

Shay nodded his head and got up for the 3rd round.

Chad came out really cocky and confident and started showboating for his friends who were all watching around the ring. His speed and movement was far superior to Shay’s, but Shay had taken on board what Paddy had said to him and took the middle of the ring and waited for the right moment. Chad moved in with a fast jab which Shay took on his glove’s and as Chad let his right go Shay timed it to perfection and let his own straight right go. Shay caught Chad flush on the jaw and put him flat on his back. The gym went silent from the sheer power Shay had just shown, the only noise you could hear was Paddy clapping and shouting “Now that’s what I’m talking about”. Paddy called Shay out of the ring; Chad’s people helped him up.

Chad was fine just a bit shocked at the power of the punch that floored him.

Dexter asked Paddy what he thought, Paddy said “Yeah the kids got the power to be a champ; we just got to get him moving a bit better”. Paddy took Shay’s gum shield out and gave him some water and said to him “You definitely got the tools kid, if you do what I tell you to; you can be one of the greats. You up for that kid?”

Shay nodded his head and replied “Yeah Paddy I’m up for that, but I can’t see how I will ever move round the ring like that, Chad’s movement was amazing”.

Paddy smiled and said “I’ll let you into a little secret kid”.

Shay turned to Paddy and listened intently in anticipation of a golden piece of advice.

Paddy said “If you can dance with a woman, you can fight like Chad”. Shay turned to Dexter and gave him a look like Paddy was mad, he continued “If you can lead a women round the dance floor you can lead your opponent around the ring to where you what him to be. That’s what Chad did to you until he got too cocky”.

Shay though about what Paddy had said and nodded in agreement, it may have sounded mad, but Shay could see what Paddy was saying.

Paddy told Shay to go back to his apartment and relax for the rest of the day and come back tomorrow.

Dexter took Shay back and told him that he had done well today and like Paddy had said if he listened he could be champ.

When Shay got into his apartment he called his Mom, Kenny and Kelly to tell them how he had got on at his first day of training. He told them all, that he was learning a lot and was enjoying his American adventure.

He got up the next day ready for whatever Paddy wanted him to do. Shay ran the 7 miles to the gym in Brooklyn, and Paddy had him first working on the heavy bag shooting out different combinations, but had him wearing 5 pound weights around his wrists while he done it. He also had him skip for nearly an hour while he blasted out some pumping Latin music on the stereo and then do 30 minutes of shadow boxing moving round the ring with the weight on his wrists and ankles. After this grueling session, Paddy took him on the pads for 6 fast rounds with the weights still on and then spar six rounds with them off. Shay had never worked so hard and was glad when the session was over; Paddy then told him to come to the gym that night as he wanted to do some extra training with him.

Shay got a cab back to his apartment; he was completely shattered and couldn’t believe on only his second day of training he had to go back to the gym on the night.

He had a good sleep then headed back to the gym, when he got there he went up the stairs, most of the lights where off except for one set of lights above one of the rings. He saw Paddy standing next to this ring with a young lady, Paddy saw Shay and told him to go and get changed into his kit. When he came out he walked over to Paddy and the young lady, and as he got closer Shay couldn’t believe his eyes as he could now make out the ladies face. She was a stunning looking Latino woman with long jet black hair gorgeous big brown eyes and olive skin and a body to die for.

Paddy said to Shay “Kid I’d like to introduce you to Isabella, your dance instructor”.

Shay looked at Paddy confused and replied “Is this some kind of joke Pad? I’m a boxer not a dancer”.

Paddy laughed and said “Kid what did I say earlier about if you could dance with a woman?”

Shay replied “Yeah I know what you said Pad, but I thought that was some kind of metaphor or something”.

Paddy told Shay to get into the ring, Isabella also got into the ring as well. Isabella walked up to Shay grabbed his right hand and put it tightly around her waist, she took his left hand, pointed it out in a typical dance style and in a very sexy Hispanic voice said “now lead me”.

Paddy turned on the music and Shay tried his hardest to lead his gorgeous instructor.

To start off with it didn’t go very well, his movement was stiff and he stood on Isabella’s feet more than once. Isabella just kept telling him to relax and flow with the Latin sounds coming from the stereo. He did start to improve as the night went on, and Paddy told him that this was going to be part of his training every other day until he could lead Isabella properly.

Shay was quite happy to do this as this dance instructor was stunning looking and seemed really down to earth taking the time after lessons to get to know Shay. Shay didn’t tell anyone back home about his dance classes as he thought it didn’t suit his image, but had really started to enjoy them and started getting pretty close to his gorgeous instructor.

Over the next month Shay improved in all areas of his boxing, his hand speed had become unbelievably quick, he was fitter than he had ever been, but it was his foot work that had came on leaps and bounds, which was all down to the dance lesions. When Shay sparred, he would lead his opponent round the ring to the place’s he wanted and if they got close to him his new found skills could get him out of trouble.

Dexter was really impressed when he came to see Shay train, Dexter told him that he had now got the name of his first opponent on American soil.

Shay said to Dexter eagerly “Who is it? Is it anyone I would have heard of?”

Dexter smiled and replied “You’re fighting Mason ‘Pretty Boy’ Mathews in a 10 rounder at the plaza in Atlantic City”.

Shay was shocked when he heard this; Mason Mathews was Americans great hope for the super middle weight title. The 25 year old had a perfect record of 20 wins with 15 of them coming by the way of knockout and was tipped to be the man to topple Jimmy Tarnna’s grip on all the world titles.

Paddy could see by the look on Shay’s face that Shay was a bit nervous and said “Well done Dext, that’s the perfect match for Shay” Paddy then looked at Shay and said “Kid your wipe the floor with him, his record has been boosted by a lot of easy fights, you’ll stop him early kid no problem”.

Shay took real heart from what Paddy had said and replied to Dexter “Nice one Dext, beating him should boost me up the world rankings”. Dexter smiled and said “It sure will son”,

Dexter then went into his coat pocket and took out a piece of paper and showed it to Shay and said “Oh yeah, I’ve been doing some digging around into your family tree and your Dad was right you are related to the great Jack Dempsey”.

Shay looked at the paper and said “So he’s my great, great, great uncle then?”

Dexter smiled and replied “no son you aint that closely related, he something like you great, great cousin by marriage, but we can definitely use that to promote you over here”.

Shay smiled and thought of all the times he had laughed at his Dad when he used to tell him he was related to Jack Dempsey.

Dexter then said to Shay “Also I want to change your nickname from The Hammer to Irish; we’ll get loads of support just on that”.

Shay nodded his head and replied “Whatever you want to do Dext you’re the boss”.

When he got back to his apartment he called home to tell his Mom, Kenny and Kelly the news about the fight and about the Dempsey family tree. He asked his Mom if she wanted to come over for it, she told him that as much as she did she didn’t feel up to the long flight. Shay understood about this, he asked Kenny the same thing and he replied “Son I’d love to come but some of the lads from the gym are fighting round the same time so I’ll be busy with them”.

When he talked to Kelly she was really excited and told Shay she wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Kelly said to Shay jokingly “I’ll come over a few days before and stay a few days after, but I would have to make sure it was o.k. with my boss”.

Shay laughed and replied “Well I’m sure he will be very understanding, how is the restaurant going anyway?”

Kelly told him they were fully booked for the next 6 months and Mark was now thinking of writing a cook book. Shay was happy that his business was in such good hands and told Kelly he couldn’t wait to see her at the end of the month.

For the next 3 weeks Shay trained hard with his sessions at Paddy’s Gym and his lesions with Isabella, Shay and Isabella were starting to get pretty close, but Shay didn’t want any detraction and tried to stay focus on his pending fight. Shay was looking sharper and fitter than ever and still was a bit suspicious of any woman who tried to get close to him.

Shay met Kelly at Newark airport and took her back to his apartment; Kelly was stopping there with Shay and then heading off to Atlantic City the next day with them. Shay insisted on taking her out and they went to one of Dexter’s clubs to eat. Dexter met them there accompanied by Samantha, Emma’s ex employer who had come over to watch Shay fight. They enjoyed a great meal except for Shay who only ate something light and enjoyed the live show. After the live show the band played music for all the people at the club to dance to, Shay took his opportunity to show off his new skills and asked Kelly if she wanted to dance. Kelly looked at Shay quite shocked the only time she had ever seen Shay dance before was at raves in England over 10 years ago and the Salsa sound that was playing wasn’t really the kind of music you could throw shapes too.

Before Kelly could say anything else Shay took her by the hand and led her to the dance floor, he wrapped his right hand tightly around her waist and led her across the dance floor in a mesmerizing show of foot work and control. Kelly was stunned by how good Shay was as he twirled her round and gyrated his hips next to her. When the band finished the song, Kelly was speechless; they went back to the table where Dexter and Samantha applauded them.

Kelly asked Shay “Where the hell did you learn to dance like that Shay? That was amazing”.

Shay smiled at Kelly and replied “It’s part of my training Kell, I’ve been having lessons with this lovely lady called Isabella, she’s away for a dance contest at the moment or I’d introduce you, your see how I use it when you see me fight”.

Kelly who was still in shock replied “Well this Isabella sounds like an interesting person, shame I won’t get to meet her, but I can’t wait to see you in the ring now, that was unbelievable”.

They enjoyed the rest of their night and Shay and Kelly went back to his apartment and got some sleep for the big trip to Atlantic City.

Early the next day Dexter and Samantha pulled up in a stretched limo to pick them up for their drive to Atlantic City. The trip there took them just over an hour and a half out of New York across the bridge to the far end of New Jersey, as they pulled up outside the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City; Paddy was waiting there with the rest of the corner men.

Shay pointed out Paddy to Kelly as they walked towards them; the first thing Kelly said as they walked to them was “That Paddy? He don’t half look like the Doc out of back to the future”.

Shay laughed and replied “That’s what I said the first time I saw him”.