ERROL LABORDEWhat surprises me is that I actually have two stories on the subject of women fighting each other in Avoyelles Parish. The first is from my youth when, so the family story goes, an uncle who was a justice of the peace was called one Saturday to “The Lane” – a side road known as the home of rough characters – to break up a fight between two women. My uncle handled the situation with diplomatic aplomb: He took one of the women to his truck, reminded her that it was Election Day and that he was up for re-election and needed her vote. With what would could pass as patriotic fervor he drove her to the polls. By the time my uncle got the woman back home the situation had sobered to the point where they were now friendly.
Now the scene shifts dramatically to a recent Saturday night at the lush Paragon Casino & Resort in Marksville. It was fight night: the International Boxing Association’s bout for the women’s Super Bantamweight world championship. (Formerly referred to as “Junior Featherweight,” Super Bantamweight means that the maximum weight of the boxers is around 122 pounds.)
With much fanfare from the announcer, the two fighters entered the ring, each wearing a warm-up jacket and each with hands heavily taped in preparation for the gloves that would be slipped on them. The theater echoed with the names of the fighters, Puerto Rican Ada “The Ace” Velez and Lafayette’s Kasha “The Fighting Marine” Chamblin.
Here then was a philosophical question worthy of the world’s great debating societies: When placed in a controlled condition with equal circumstances, which is tougher, a Marine or a Puerto Rican? A squad of uniformed Marines who entered the ring in support of their fighter left no doubt where they stood on the issue. Ada “ The Ace” merely glared quietly, though with a different idea, After instructions from the referee and the gratuitous shaking of gloved hands, the bell rang and the women came out fighting. Those in the crowd, nourished for the occasion by buckets of beer at their feet, began to cheer.
At the far end of the casino in the lobby area of the elegant new hotel the scene was much more passive. Young alligators and turtles glided in the waters of an indoor man-made swamp. On loan from a Natchitoches alligator farm, the critters are well pampered and even have their own moment of fame each afternoon when passers-by gather to watch them being fed.
Back in the ring life was more violent. The two women ducked and swung at each other occasionally landing a big blow. Through 10 rounds they battled in pursuit of bantamweight glory.
Then the final bell rang. By a unanimous decision, the winner, Ada “The Ace” Velez!
Dean Chance, a former major league pitcher, who is now the boxing association’s commissioner, handed “The Ace” a glistening, jewel-studded Championship belt that might’ve added another 122 pounds to her frame.
One could sense the relief throughout the world as it now had a new Women’s Super Bantamweight Champion. There was now one less void; one less problem. As the auditorium emptied, Ada “The Ace” and Kasha “The Fighting Marine” hugged each other and walked away. All was calm; all was peaceful – and it wasn’t even election day.