Nicknames are one of the coolest things about boxing.
They range from frightening (John "The Beast" Mugabi) to cool (Hector "Macho" Comacho) to sublime ("Marvelous" Marvin Hagler).
So you would think I would be happy that I have already earned a nickname just two weeks into my boxing career.
Well, not so much.
After throwing a pair of wimpy two-handed punches in training sessions, I have taken on the unfortunate moniker Chris "Pattycake" Bieri.
It's probably better than the handle one of my trainers, Erik Kendrick, wanted to give me - Chris "The Candle" Bieri (i.e. I go out with one blow).
But despite being regarded as a tomato can at this point, I have stuck with the boxing training and have seen some improvement.
I can jump rope well enough to make any fifth-grade girl jealous (Well any fifth-grade girl from 1985. I don't think kids jump rope anymore). I have made some strides in my footwork and have improved my punching technique.
I worked a little on defense last week and have done some shadow boxing. I have been hitting the heavy bag and even the speed bag (although the latter with minimal success).
So Wednesday I took the next step in my training. I got in the ring for a sparring session.
I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. It'd been quite a while since I got punched so one of my top goals for the session was to overcome the fear of being hit, which virtually every fighter has to do.
Kendrick has done a fair share of amateur boxing, and at over 200 pounds, a pretty big dude as well.
I knew that there wasn't much I could throw at him that he wouldn't see coming and conversely, I probably couldn't stop much of what he wanted to throw.
But I felt that my cardio fitness was probably pretty decent and I could at least make it through a few rounds without wheezing like an asthmatic.
Once again, not so much.
Midway through the first 2-minute round, I was gasping and thought I might swallow my mouthpiece whole.
That was probably in part due to the wild punches I was throwing, trying to land a righthanded haymaker on Kendrick. I think that it's probably considered bad form to try to throw as hard as you can at a sparring partnter, but I didn't figure I could hurt him anyway.
As the rounds progressed, I settled in a little more, but I was still gassed at the end of each round. My form broke down and more than a few times I turned my back to try to get out of the way of punches (bad idea).
Kendrick stuck me with a few good shots to show me what I was doing wrong but didn't absolutely tattoo me.
I can't say I landed any really good combinations against him. The best shot I got in was when I accidentally grazed him in the chin with an elbow (turned my back again).
He landed his best shot at toward the end of final round, smashing me with a hook to the midsection. That one is still hurting.
But like in most ventures, experience is the best way to improve.
So in the next few weeks, I'll be getting back into the ring for more sparring. It's about the only way I can get a better nickname.
(Chris Bieri is a sportswriter for the Minot Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)