Awesome tricks from 85-year-old speed bag WIZARD
He hits the speed bag faster than the rat-a-tat of a drum roll. His fists become a blur as a smile slowly moves over his face. He is in his element and lost in the rhythm of the bag.
But this isn’t a teenager with an exercise induced adrenalin rush. This is a man of a certain age. Don’t let that throw you. The only thing old about 85-year-old Ernie Oriente is that he is old-school; the kind of man you see in movies about boxers and men of an era when fedoras were de rigueur and women were called “doll.”
Ernie fell in love with boxing more than 65 years ago. “We didn’t have television back then, so we had to find out where the fun was going to be. Some gyms opened up in town that were free, it was beautiful and we had professional fighters come to teach us how to box and fight and how to hit the bag.”
Ernie said boxing kept him out of trouble, gave him somewhere to be and something to do. He likened it to karate and having a black belt on.
“When you have that belt on, no one is gonna mess with you,” he said. “The same thing with boxing. I was born in the concrete jungle. If you didn’t know how to handle yourself in boxing, you were in bad shape.”
Now, he teaches others how to hit the speed-bag and attributes his good health and mental clarity to his training.
Although Ernie trained to be a boxer, he never actually boxed. He loves to train and teach and is nationally and internationally certified through Alan Khan, the master of the speed bag.
Among his other accomplishments, he built speed bag installations at a university in Prague, where he taught 7,500 people. Ernie has been a YMCA member since 1955, a Big Brother for 10 years and worked with Special Olympics athletes as a speed skater.
(H/T Alex Redmonde, Herald-Tribune)