Hair gel and haymakers: Michael the Boxer kicks ass, buzzes heads

Pub date June 23, 2008
WriterMarke B.
SectionSF Blog

By Philip Eil

If you think You Don’t Mess With the Zohan is just another escapist summer fantasy, think again. Ass-kicking hairstylists, unlike talking panda bears and aging, yet acrobatic archaeologists, really do exist. Just ask Michael Onello, the owner of Michael the Boxer, the only boxing gym/barbershop in the Bay Area. Michael is a boxing trainer/barber who offers both services – boxing and barbering — at his SOMA shop. I headed over there last Friday, looking for a buzz cut and advice on my right hook.

Michael, with the uppercut

I’ll admit, I had no idea what to expect from a haircut/boxing joint. The Rocky IV and Shampoo montages playing in my head seemed highly incompatible. But when I hopped in the barber’s chair and started talking with Michael, the place started to make sense. “My grandfather was a barber, my father was a barber,” he told me as he was trimming my sideburns. During the haircut, I flipped through a copy of his book, Boxing: The American Martial Art, A 12-week Course. “How’s that look?” he asked, holding a mirror up to the back of my neck. “Excellent,” I said. “When can I throw some punches?”