Posts Tagged ‘2012 Women’s Olympic Boxing

30
Jul
14

Martha Salazar, still fighting, still going strong: Exclusive Q and A

Heavyweight boxer Martha Salazar, still fighting, still going strong: Exclusive Q and A

Martha Salazar

Martha Salazar, Photo Credit: Steven Solidarios

As Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis (9-1-2, 1-KO) and Carlette Ewell (15-7-1, 9-KOs) get ready for their heavyweight IBO title bout this coming Saturday, August 2nd at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, Martha “The Shadow” Salazar (12-4, 3 KOs), long considered a “fighter’s fighter” is waiting in the wings with the hope that she can take on the winner.

Girlboxing had the opportunity to pose some questions to Martha Salazar, a former kick-boxer who took to the professional boxing ring in March of 2001. Now at 44, having had a few breaks in her career, Martha hopes to continue in the sport she loves, both as a fighter pushing to gain recognition and a shot at another title fight, and as a mentor and coach to the young amateur women of Beautiful Brawlers Boxing who are striving to become the next generation of female boxing champions.

Here’s what Martha Salazar had to say.

1. When female boxers in the heavyweight division are discussed, your name inevitably comes up. You are considered one of the most skilled in the sport and your title wins were strong showings–not to mention the very close losses. With a career that began in 2001, you’ve had a chance to see the sport change considerably — and gain legitimacy with its inclusion in the London 2012 Olympics. What are your aspirations for your career at this point?

There are three aspirations I have for my career.  One, to become the WBC and the IBO world champion. The second to be in the women’s boxing hall of fame as one of the best heavyweights in the world of boxing. Third, to keep sharing the knowledge of boxing as others have shown me.  I want to keep inspiring young people to reach their goals in the sport of boxing and in life.

Sonya Lamonakis and Martha Salazar (r), April 2013

Sonya Lamonakis and Martha Salazar (r), April 2013

2. Your last fight was a six-rounder against Sonya Lamanokis in April of 2013.  You put on a strong showing in a fight with three-minute rounds, an almost unheard of event these days. What is your take on the controversy surrounding that bout and would you consider a rematch with two-minute rounds?

All I have to say about the controversy [of that] fight is that I train 110% for all my fights. Once I get in the ring all I am worried about is to make sure I am punching more [than] my opponent. I am not worried about how long the rounds are while I’m fighting. If I lose it is because I didn’t train hard enough or my opponent was better than me.  My team and I have told Lamonakis and her camp that we would give her the rematch anytime and anyplace but always get the same answer, “No. I don’t want anything to do with Martha.”

3. One of the most intriguing aspects of female boxing is the rise of young female amateur fighters. You’ve been very involved in working with Beautiful Brawlers Boxing — Girlboxing readers would love to know more about the organization and your part in it.

Beautiful Brawlers was created to provide a stage for the young boxers to shine on.  Our program consists of sparring and support for all female boxers no matter what age or experience. We mentor, coach, train and provide a safe sparring environment for any boxer who walks through that door.  We accept everyone for who they are. We create an environment of empowerment and strength for the younger female boxers. Veterans and world champions such as Me, Eliza Olson, World Champ Melissa McMorrow and more teach technique and give guidance.  There are also plenty of sparring opportunities. Girls come from all over California to spar with the best. It’s so much fun. Boxing brings us all together.

Martha Salazar4. Having begun your career in martial sports as a kick boxer before debuting as a boxer in 2001 — you’ve been a professional for a long time, and while you are entering your mid-forties, current WBC boxer Alicia Ashley is still going strong at 46.  Do you feel you still have it in you to continue professional boxing and if so, what can we expect from you over the coming year or so?

At 44 years old I still feel that I have it in me and continue in the sport of boxing. Expect me to have to fights one for a world title and the rematch with Sonya Lamonakis. If she wants it.

5. When you started in the sport, women were still appearing on ESPN and Showtime and on PPV — and now the drought of media opportunities for female boxers in the United States seems almost permanent. Not so in Mexico, Argentina, South Korea and Germany to name a few countries. What do you think has to happen to bring the sport back into the boxing’s mainstream in the US?

We need promoters to put more women’s fights on their shows and for us women to keep pushing as a group the movement of women boxing.  PERIOD.

beautifulbrawlers

Martha Salazar, Eliza Olson and Beautiful Brawlers, July 2014

6. As the Olympic Games in Rio loom — giving American amateur boxers a second shot at repeating their medal winning performances, from your vantage point with Beautiful Brawlers, do you feel enough is being done to support these young athletes?  What, in your view, are the things that need to happen to help further publicize and get the public behind these amazing young women?

I believe through the Beautiful Brawlers we are constantly helping girls reach their goals.  We have a few National champions that trained and sparred with us before the Nationals and were successful when they competed.  We have one Olympian Beautiful Brawlers Champion – Queen Underwood,  when we asked her if she would participate on the show she  said she wanted to take part because it was  an all-female show.  I believe her being the main event on our last show brought our event to a whole new level.  She was a huge role model for these younger boxers.  She is an incredible athlete who gives back to others.  We as a group share knowledge and that philosophy: to give back so that the younger boxers get better and better, and now that is happening. We have a very good USA Boxing program for women and some train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. Females are now given opportunities that have never been given before. These baby steps lead into much bigger things. I do believe that Claressa Shields should have more endorsements and should be given more exposure because she won the Gold medal and she is a beautiful young lady who deserves the credit.  Shows like the Beautiful Brawlers give these champions a place to shine because we match the best against the best.

7. It’s obvious that in your career, you’ve chosen to “give back” to other young people by offering your sage counsel and efforts at coaching. What do you hope for the future for yourself as you continue to play a role in the sport you love

For me,  I want to fight and win a World Title. I want to legitimize the Heavy Weight Division by showing there are very skilled boxers in our division. I will always give back to the girls what boxing has given to me. Boxing has always been my passion and it will always be.

Many thanks to Martha Salazar for sharing her thoughts with us!

***

Video of Martha Salazar in her WBC heavyweight title bout versus Vonda Ward from February 10, 2007. Vonda Ward, at 6’6″ had a large height and reach advantage over the 5’9″ Salazar who held her own throwing a succession of excellent overhand rights, in a well fought 10-round battle. Ward won a split-decision, 93-97 x 2, 95-95. You be the judge!

19
May
14

Alicia “Slick” Ashley “Q and A” ahead of her 5/21/2014 Bout!

Alicia “Slick” Ashley, “Q and A” ahead of her 5/21/2014 Bout!

Alicia "Slick" Ashley fighting on May 21, 2014

Alicia “Slick”Ashley (20-9-1) is a four-time world champion and current reigning WBC Female Super Bantamweight Title holder.  At 46 years of age she’s also a phenomenon in the ring who consistently out-points and out-maneuvers  her opponents, some of whom are more than half her age.  She’ll be facing Nohime Dennisson (5-3-2) in a six-round non-title fight on Uprising Promotions’ Future Stars fight card, Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at the Five Star Banquet Hall in Long Island City, Queens.  A last-minute addition to the card includes a super featherweight bout between Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano (20-1-1) versus Belinda “Brown Sugar” Laracuente (26-28-3) in what is certain to be an exciting bout.

Ahead of her fight, Alicia kindly agreed to a Q&A session with Girlboxing. Here’s what she had to say:

1.  At 46, you are the WBC female super bantamweight title holder and still going very, very strong! Tell us about your upcoming fight on Thursday, May 21st at the Five Star Banquet in Long Island City, NY.

I am fighting Nohime Dennisson, a woman 12 years my junior. This for me is a chance to get back into the ring and stay busy. That in no way means that this is an easy fight. Nohime has an unconventional style that sometimes confuses her opponents. I’m planning on utilizing my experience to maintain control in the ring.

Alicia "Slick" Ashley, Tijuana, Mexico, October 2013

Alicia “Slick” Ashley handily defeated Zenny Sotomayor in Tijuana, Mexico, October 2013

 2.  In your last outing, you defended your WBC title against Zenny Sotomayor in Tijuana winning by TKO in the 5th round. Given that she was so much younger, what was your key to staying on top?

At this junction due to my age my opponents tend to be a decade or two younger than I am. With that in mind, my experience in the ring is the key. The phrase ‘youth is wasted on the young’ always comes to mind whenever I step into the ring. Other than my opponents being more energetic, I believe that I’m more well-rounded in my boxing ability. They might be more energetic but it doesn’t mean they have more stamina or are as smart.

3. Having turned pro in 1999, and having fought such superstar female boxers as Bonnie Canino (who is about to be inducted into the first class of the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame), Laura Serrano, Layla McCarter and Argentina’s Marcela Elena Acuna with whom you have a 2-1 record–in Argentina, what would you say are the changes you’ve experienced in the sport.

For me, the caliber of boxers have gotten better only in the sense that more women are taking advantage of the amateurs to hone their skills. Currently boxers turning pro have more amateur fights than I have amateur and pro fights combined! Its great seeing the influx of females in the gym and the fact that coaches take them seriously, which was a big problem when I started boxing.

Alicia "Slick" Ashley moves out of range against Elena Reid, Photo Credit: Mary Ann Owen

Alicia “Slick” Ashley moves out of range against Elena Reid, March 23, 2005. Photo Credit: Mary Ann Owen

4.  Your known as “Slick” in the ring — and watching you fight is truly a clinic in the art of defensive boxing. What have been the keys to your longevity in the sport?

Exactly that, my defense. I’ve spent years honing my defense with over 238 rounds boxed and never knocked down. Earlier in my career my legs was my focal point but now its body movement and efficiency. 

5.  Your career has spanned a generation of female fighting and more, and yet the promise of female boxing as a staple of ESPN, Showtime and HBO has fallen off the map–even as it has gained in popularity and visibility in places like Mexico, Argentina and Germany.  In your view what accounts for this disparity and what has to happen to elevate the sport in the US.

It is simple. Promoters have to realize that there is money to be made and add women to the card. All the other countries that feature women on their television cards reap the benefits. The fights are generally highly competitive match-ups and tend to be fight of the night. I’ve traveled the world to fight and those fights are usually the main event. Why is it that the USA, supposedly the most progressive country in the world, is so far behind other countries in supporting their female boxers? 

Alicia "Slick" Ashley

6. As a case in point, even though you first won your WBC super bantamweight title in the United States when you defeated Christina Ruiz by unanimous decision in 2011, your last three title defenses have been in Mexico, Panama and Mexico respectively.  What would you say are the biggest challenges to putting on a title defense in the United States?

The challenges will always be the people that put on the shows. If they don’t get behind the women boxers with money and coverage then there will be less defenses here. Not only am I the main event in those countries but I’m paid way better than if I fought in the US. So other than for my fans, why would I fight here? If I was male and a 4-time world champion I wouldn’t have to need a day job to survive. This continued disparity is holding the women back and its definitely time to change. 

7. Aside from your work as a professional boxer, you are one of the premier trainers at Gleason’s Gym teaching men and women the art of the sweet science.  If you do ever retire from the ring, will your life still revolve around the sport?

I definitely will continue to work in some capacity in boxing. I enjoy imparting my knowledge on the next generation of boxers be it competitors or individuals who just want to get the most enjoyment out of a workout.

8. What would you say are the biggest changes in the sport for women that you’ve seen — and do you have hope that more opportunities will open up? In other words, do you have any last inspiring words for young women who may have caught the boxing bug?  

I believe the biggest change was made on the amateur level. There are so many more opportunities for women to compete than when I first stepped into the sport. In fact, I am proud to say that I won the very first US Women’s National featherweight championship and now they finally include women in the Olympics. I always want women who express an interest in pursuing the sport to be aware that it can be the most exhilarating feeling to win but the defeats can also be gut wrenching. This sport is not just physical but mental and it builds or breaks individuals. This is a sport you cannot do halfheartedly. Make sure you enjoy it!  

 

30
Apr
14

K.O. Mequinonoag Reis: Exclusive Q & A Ahead Of Her May 3, 2014 Fight!

K.O. Mequinonoag Reis: Exclusive Q & A Ahead Of Her May 3, 2014 Fight!

Kali Reis fights on May 3, 2014 at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, MA.

Kali Reis (5-2-0), known in the ring as K.O. Mequinonoag Reis, will be fighting Marva Dash (0-2) on May 3, 2014 at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, Massechussetts. Promoted by Big Six Boxing Entertainment, the bout will be on mixed card of boxing and MMA bouts–and the only female fight on the card. Reis defeated Dash by unanimous decision in a previous four-rounder.

In the words of her manager Mary Del Pino, “Kali Reis is one of the first Native American professional female boxers to come out of New England.  Her rich heritage includes Cherokee, Nipmunk and Wampanoag blood.”

Kali also had a challenging upbringing in the tougher areas of Providence, Rhode Island, but it didn’t keep her down, and she used her athletic abilities and keen intellect to push through adversity. She started boxing at a young age, learning the rudiments of the game on a heavy bag with her coach, the Native American boxer, Domingo Tall Dog. In her late teens, she trained with Peter Manfredo Sr. and eventually with Dr. Roland Estrada at Big Six Boxing Academy. Reis is currently back in training with Manfredo.

Kali Reis, Photo Credit: Christopher Annino

Last fall, Reis shocked the boxing world with her high credible showing against seasoned boxer, Tori Nelson, in a ten-round WIBA Welterweight Title fight in Cockeysville, Maryland on November 7, 2013. While Reis lost the fight, she gained respect for her obvious boxing talent, especially since she’d been out of commission following a serious motorcycle accident in 2012. It was also her first 10-rounder.

When she isn’t fighting, Reis works as a trainer at the Striking Beauties Boxing Gym for Women in North Attleboro, MA, teaching adults and children how to box.

Ahead of her fight on May 3rd, Girlboxing had a chance to catch up with her:

1. You’ve got a 6-round fight coming up on May 3, 2014 against Marva Dash — what can we expect to see on fight night?
You can expect to see a totally different fighter on my end, from the lay time we fought in 2012. I’ve made some serious adjustments to my training camp and the results have proved to be successful thus far. I am very happy with the way I am feeling and looking in the ring.
2. What do you want to tell your fans about your upcoming bout and what motivates you to fight?
I want to tell all my fans IM BACK!! :) I hope you all missed me!!! Dust off your purple and lime green attire lol!! I’ve been away from boxing for a while and I haven’t fought in New England for far too long. I came back in November and it’s my time now. I’ve been training harder than ever and I’m ready to show my fans what I can do in there
Kali Reis & Tori Nelson fight toe-to-toe during the ten-round WIBA title bout on November 7, 2013, Photo Credit: Mike Greenhill3.  The 10-round WIBA welterweight title fight last November against Tori Nelson was quite a bold fight for you — especially since it was your first bout after your serious motorcycle accident.  What did it take to walk into the ring that night?
It took EVERYTHING!! I had been back in training since last July and was scheduled for a come back fight locally in Rhode Island in October. We got the call about the Nelson Title fight about a week after she defeated Alex Lopes for the vacant title in early September and I jumped right on it! It was perfect timing because of the scheduled “tune-up” fight in Oct, but that fight fell thru. So I was going into a 10-round world title fight from over a year lay off. Physically I was in great shape and did what I had to do, mentally I wasn’t all there. Personally I was going thru a few changes and there were a lot of new things for me going into this fight. I had Peter Manfredo back on my corner with Dr. Roland Estrada and I hadn’t had Pete in my corner in years. I had never fought 10 rounds or a main event or in Maryland lol. Not to mention the “ring rust” I didn’t have a chance to shake off prior to this fight. The only mistake I made with that fight is not letting my hands go. I picked it up In the fourth round and every round following but it was a little too late. I want the rematch most definitely.
4. You surprised a lot of fans and boxing aficionados with your ring skills that night — and now you’re ranked number ten at welterweight. Where do you see your career going from here?  Are you working towards another title shot? 
I see nothing but positive moves being made toward that number 1 spot. Especially after the recent positive changes I’ve made. I seem to have finally found my rhythm and I’m focused on doing what ever is necessary to secure my place as a top contender in the female welterweight division. I also have other plans to make some noise in Native Country. I want to (and will) start an all Native cross country boxing tournament. It’s just thoughts and conversation right now but I am determined to make it happen. I do what we as a Nation of people have been doing for centuries, I FIGHT!! Another title shot is in the works right now and hopefully everything goes thru smoothly.
Kali Reis 5. You’ve been around boxing for over ten years first as an amateur and now as a pro — what motivates you to keep in the boxing game?
My love for the sport. I’m definitely not in it for the money lol. I’m not too bad at it either. I look at boxing as an art and I haven’t mastered that art yet; or in better terms I haven’t achieved what I want to achieve from boxing yet. Boxing is one of those skills were you will never know it all and there’s always something new to learn or an area to improve in.
6.  As a proud Native American woman with a rich heritage that includes Cherokee, Nipmunk and Wampanoag ancestry — and one of the few in boxing today — you are a role model for other young women.  How has your experience in boxing helped you — and what can your experiences offer by way of guidance to younger women and girls?
Boxing has definitely helped me to channel and control certain emotions. It has also given me patience in general because I am also a boxing coach and fitness/boxing instructor for all ages and teaching takes a lot of patience. Boxing is a very demanding sport and it teaches you commitment, discipline and offers a feeling of success as you learn more and more. I always teach my girls/students to be humble to the sport and don’t cheat on yourself by taking the easy way out. Boxing isn’t a team sport so if YOU don’t do something it’s YOUR fault, there’s no one else to blame.
7. With the Olympics in 2012 — and Claressa Shields’ success at bringing home the gold, there was a lot of hope that the sport of women’s boxing would find its way back to the mainstream.  Your fight on May 3rd is actually on a mixed card with boxing and MMA — a format that has been used in California as well when Ana Julaton fought on a mixed card. From your perspective, do you think there is reason for optimism?  Certainly the coverage is more positive … the question is why aren’t female boxing matches making it to the mainstream in the U. S.?
When Claressa Shields brought home that gold I thought for sure women’s boxing would get the push it’s been wiring for but it fizzled out quick and no one made any significant noise about it! I think mixing the MMA with boxing is a smart idea from a promoters standpoint to get more fans on board and back to being classic boxing fans as well as cater to the fight fans who aren’t into the brutality that MMA offers. I think the reason female fights aren’t making it to the mainstream is because the fights that happened to be showcased are the wrong fights. They’re unskilled sloppy “pull your hair” slap fest that no one cares to watch. We need the caliber of fighters like the era of Lucia Rijker, Laila Ali, Christy Martin when fight fans wanted those females on main big name cards.

A few tickets are still available for what is anticipated to be a sold-out show.  Tickets are $40, $75 Ringside, available through Kali at 401-368-4294.

23
Feb
14

Last Woman Standing …

Last Woman Standing …

LAST WOMAN STANDING

First time documentary filmmakers Juliet Lammers & Lorraine Price have crafted an engaging film about two of Canada’s great national amateur boxing champions, Mary Spencer and Ariane Fortin, both of whom vied for a spot to represent Canada in the 2012 London Games in the 75 kg weight class.

From the opening frame of Last Woman Standing, the cheers of women’s boxing fans can be heard overlaying the film’s energetic score along with the images of the two feature fighters as they go about their hard training regimens.

The importance of the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in agreement with the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to limit female boxing to three weight classes in their debut games in 2012 (as distinct from the original request for five weigth classes), provides the tension in the film as the ramification of the decision begins to weigh on both women. (The three Olympic weight classes for women remain, Featherweight (51kg-112 lbs.), Lightweight (60kg-132 lbs), and Middleweight (75kg-165 lbs.).

Prior to the decision, Spencer and Fortin, boxed in different weight classes. They were also the closest of friends who cheered each other on to national and international titles. With the decision by the IOC, however, it meant that the only way for either of them to compete in the Olympics was to jump up in weight class to 75kg — and as Mary Spencer said, “We never could have imagined that it would come down to us fighting for one spot.”

wdr-620-spencer-fortin

Structured around the events that propelled both women into successive collisions in the ring, the film covers their experiences inside and outside the squared circle as they both fought hard to represent Canada in 2012. What the films depicts is their great courage, fortitude and a will to succeed at all odds — that unfortunately, put so much emphasis on winning a spot, that in Mary’s own estimation it left her thinking that gaining the coveted spot meant her fight had already been won leading to disappointment when she actually fought in her Olympic debut.

Given that women’s boxing in the 2016 Rio Games is still limited to three weight classes, the tremendous pressure that the female fighters undergo for just 36 coveted spots is almost too much to bear. The film also brings home the importance of the Olympics as the one great competition that truly legitimizes the sport for the public as well as the athletes themselves.

Juliet Lammers & Lorraine Price have crafted an elegant, sensitive portrayal of the struggles the two friends underwent in the run up to 2012 — as well as the continuing problems that plague female practitioners of the sport.  

Last Woman Standing had its premier in the United States at the Hot Springs Documentary film festival and was a featured entry at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Montana in mid-February.  The film, an absolute must see, is now available for rental or purchase on multiple platforms including  iTunesAmazon.com instant video, and others. The film continues to screen at various times in Canada. The film’s distributer, Film Buff, is also arranging showings in New York City and Los Angeles.

What the documentary does best, is remind us just how fabulous women’s boxing truly is–and of the immense pride and dedication female boxers bring every time they put on the gloves.

For further information, please refer the Last Woman Standing Facebook page at the link:

LastWomanStandingDocumentary

04
Jun
13

Speaking to power …

Speaking to power …

Superwoman!

Having gotten back into my boxing groove starting at the end of December when my surgeon gave me the all clear to whale away, my body has begun to find its power again. It’s not all the time or even some of the time, but an occasional thing when I’ll come upon something that I can lift with ease even though I know it’s really heavy, or when I’m about to finish up my light run from my house to the gym and realize that I could keep going for quite a ways.

That sense of comfort with my body or the sense that it has power is not something I’ve had very often in my life. Growing up in NYC in the 1960s meant very little by way of sports–as in punch ball, stoop ball and King, a kind of hand ball where each person had one concrete square in the sidewalk as their “box.”

At summer camp I swam and otherwise did what I could *not* to have to play softball in the heat of the afternoon in a field swarming with no-see-ums. As for basketball, I was hopeless when it came to anything but drippling the ball. The only running I ever did in those days were “chase” games and aside from tap dancing lessons at the age of 12 (for three months at Charlie Lowe’s School where I learned to use my “personality”), I didn’t do much of anything until my mid-thirties when I began to run.

Jogging in the 1970sThe jogging craze that began in the 1970s seemed to pass me by. Sure I tried it, but huffing and puffing for a block or two along the East River of Manhattan on the Upper East Side near where I used to live (and admittedly sucking back a cigarette or two), even along side a boyfriend, just wasn’t for me. Aerobics in cute white Reeboks was also “not my thing,” and if I exercised at all it was disco dancing at places like The Salty Dog, where I could happily gyrate for hours at a time.

Flashing forward to the late 1980s, my body still woefully unexercised, I decided to take up running in a bid to quit smoking. My first runs, attempts to run around Central Park were pathetic. I barely made it down two blocks, never mind to the park, while my chest heaved in pain and spasmed from coughing fits. Knowing that I needed to rid my lungs of years of inhaling junk into them, however, gave me the motivation to persevere. The remarkable thing was that by the end of the first week of daily runs, I was able to run ten blocks and by the end of a month I began to eschew distance for time having ran for thirty full minutes. By the second month my runs were taking me the full circuit around Central Park including the famed 110th Street Hill–a run that took me an hour door-to-door to cover the seven miles. Throughout that Spring I pounded my way through the Park, testing myself with brief sprints, and feeling for the first time in my life, the power of the body.  The experience was humbling, if a little frightening, because I had spent so many years in denial of my physical sphere. But there I was, running as long as an hour and a half, my legs and arms toned, and feeling for very brief moments as if I was invincible.

Life interceded and I quit running after a while, but when I found my way to boxing a decade later, the sense of myself as a physical being began to kick back in. Even now, as I begin to live out the last of my 50s, I find the body’s capacity to renew itself to be truly remarkable.

Sometimes speaking to power has to do with embracing those parts of oneself that extend out in a giant roar of confidence and well-being. My younger self would never have believed that I was capable of saying that–which tells me that whether it’s through the pounding of feet along a path in the park or the extension of a jab in a boxing ring, the magic of finding an alignment of all the parts of one’s being is always within the realm of the possible. All one has to do is take the first step to try.

 

02
Jun
13

The Accidental Boxing Manager: Mary del Pino Morgan

The Accidental Boxing Manager: Mary del Pino Morgan

Mary del Pino Morgan

As a boxing manager, Mary del Pino Morgan is pretty unlikely.

She first walked into the Striking Beauties all-women’s boxing gym in North Attleboro, Massachusetts nearly four years ago wanting to lose weight. She’d been a boxing fan and remembers watching fights with her Argentinean father. One of her uncles was a champion boxer as well, “so, it’s in my blood,” she said in a recent interview with Girlboxing, “if not one way, than another.”

Still, during her first forays in training, Mary did not envision herself as the boxing manager for Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent, a rising star in the East Coast professional women’s boxing world, whose perfect 9-0 record and most recent win against boxer Angel Gladney have netted Shelito the Women’s International Boxing Association (WIBA) super bantamweight title and a fan base that seems to grow exponentially with every foray into the ring.

The latter, Shelito’s fan base though has a lot to do with her manager, and friend Mary del Pino Morgan.

Shelito Vincent, February 2013, Credit: Mary del Pino Morgan

As Mary tells it, her growing love of boxing and dedication to the sport and the women who practice it led her down a path she never expected.

“I was there [at Striking Beauties] all the time and got to know everyone. It was more like a club than a gym and pretty intimate. At first I volunteered there,” she said, wanting women coming into the gym for the first time to “feel comfortable especially with losing weight.” She felt good about introducing them to an environment that was really safe and supportive no matter what their body type or skill level.

Mary, in her “other” life as a personal chef and wedding cake designer was so good at customer service that she the owner of the gym, Dena Paolino, offered her a job managing Striking Beauties. With several National champions, including two 2010 National Golden Gloves title holders coming out of the gym, Mary became pretty excited about the sport and the possibilities for women. It also brought her to the fights and an awareness of Shelito Vincent who was making a name for herself as an amateur boxer in the New England area. This led Mary to strike up a casual friendship with her on Facebook.

Mary del Pino Morgan and Shelito Vincent. Credit: Mary del Pino MorganOne fateful night, Shelito wrote a post on Facebook that struck a chord with Mary. “She put up a message that said she was in a car accident and stuck. And it was like, January and raining and at night. I checked back in a few minutes to see if anyone was helping her and Shelly had put another message on that said her car was dead and her phone was almost out and I thought, that’s it.

“I wrote ‘You’re in Connecticut right?’ and she wrote back, ‘No. I’m in Providence.’ And then I wrote her to say I’d get in my car to pick her up. A couple of minutes later she got back to me and said, ‘somebody is right down the street, so I’m okay, but I have your back now. You were going to come get me and you don’t even know me!’ and I thought, wow, Shelito Vincent’s got my back.” By then Shelito had won her October 2011 debut match by decision against Karen Dulin and was looking forward to a rematch in March 2012.

Shortly before that fight Mary and Shelito finally met at a boxing match that had women on the card. “We were sitting behind a couple of gentlemen who were having a great time.” After a lot of banter back and forth Mary said, “You need to see one of her fights, she’s really great.”

Of the meeting Mary said, “It really blew his mind that she was a woman and a professional boxer.” At the end of the night, Mary took his email address and she wrote him to let him know the particulars of Shelito’s upcoming bout. As Mary tells it, “He bought a whole bunch of tickets and the night of the fight Shelly said, ‘you’re my manager now,’ and I thought, ‘what does that mean,’ and said yes.”

Mary del Pino Morgan and Shelito Vincent, Credit: Mary del Pino Morgan

Pretty immediately it meant helping Shelito set up for her upcoming fights. Shelito had already inked her deal with CES Boxing (Classic Entertainment Sports) (where she is one of two female fighters on their roster), guaranteeing her five fights a year for each of three years for 4-6-8 and 10 round bouts, though most of her nine fights to date have been four- and six-rounders with the exception of her eight-round title fight this past May. It has also meant working full-time helping to keep Shelito in the public’s eye.

Shelito Vincent Victory Bash 7/28/2012Mary spends hours and hours drumming up publicity for Shelito’s fights working closely with CES. She sifts through speaking engagements, interviews and photo shoots, and lots of press relations with local papers, regional television and radio news outlets, and boxing websites and bloggers–not to mention her forays on social media such as her active Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Mary is also a one woman machine getting fans to pep rallies, pre-fight and post-fight victory parties, as well as keeping Shelito on track with her motivational speaking appearances with school kids which are a true labor of love. The combination of activities can bite into her gym time with famed boxing trainer Peter Manfredo, Sr. and her hours as a trainer at Striking Beauties, but between Mary and Shelito, they make it work.

Peter Manfredo, Sr. and Shelito Vincent, May 17, 2013, Credit: Kelly McDonaldIt has also meant gaining sponsorships for Shelito to help defray the costs, which include the $20 and more in gas money a day needed for Shelito to get back and forth from training and to her various appointments. Mary’s success at that has been phenomenal, having landed several sponsorship deals including the well-known Havoc Boxing who custom make all of Shelito’s boxing trunks, tops and robes for her fights. In the scheme of things when considering paychecks such as Floyd Mayweather’s recent $32 million dollar guarantee for fighting Robert Guerrero this may not seem like a lot, but in the world of women’s boxing where the margins are that close, it is the difference between being able to pursue a professional career and being shut out completely.Havoc Boxing with Shelito Vincent and Mary del Pino Morgan, Credit: Mary del Pino Morgan

But for all of that Mary sees her main job as ensuring that Shelito’s best interests are always in focus.

“I help her negotiate … I have to look out for her. That is my motivation. It is not for anything else. Not for money, it is all for Shelly.” Mary also feels that the other important component is “having a loving trusting relationship with your team,” saying further “that trust has to be there so she knows we are not going to take advantage of her.” That team is Mary, Peter Manfredo Sr. and his trainers, and the folks at CES Boxing who have come through for her at every turn.

As for the frustrations, probably one of the biggest is the lack of exposure for women’s boxing on broadcast and cable television. Mary put it this way, “I don’t know why and I don’t know how to fix it, but I am getting her out there in front of people. CES has been great getting her on their bigger cards on ESPN, Friday Night Fights and NBC’s Main Event, but we haven’t gotten on television yet. It’s really disappointing. We’re all just going to have to find the right people to try to push the envelope. Probably the next generation of girls because they really work hard and women are definitely gaining respect. The Olympics is helping too and bringing new girls up.”

Being a boxing manager who happens to be a woman also has its downside. “I wasn’t getting taken very seriously … they see what we’re doing and see that we’re professional … and then there’s that whole thing about being a woman around all these guys … it happens all the time.”

Still she has garnered respect where it matters, and when it comes to Shelito is most proud of being told that “I was good for boxing because I really took care of my fighter.”

05
Apr
13

USA Boxing Nationals! April 4, 2013 Women’s Boxing Results

USA Boxing Nationals! April 4, 2013 Women’s Boxing Results

Raquel Miller throws a straigh right in the USA Boxing Semifinals. Credit: Norcalboxing.net

Another exciting day of bouts brought some veterans of last year’s Olympic trials in Spokane, WA forward and one defeat. As it stands, Olympian Queen Underwood will be facing Tiara Brown in the Finals on Saturday. Underwood managed a decisive 3-0 win over Melissa Parker, while Brown, won by decision over teammate and fellow Olympic Trials veteran Mikaela Mayer, 2-1. Other big wins in the morning session included Christina Cruz who defeated Amanda Pavone, 3-0 by decision. Cruz, who is also making a bid for her seventh history making NY Daily News Golden Gloves title moves on to the final against Ayanna Vasquez.

Olympian Marlen Esparza with her hand raised after her second round stoppage. Credit:  Julie GoldstickerOlympian Marlen Esparza handily won her semi-final bout by TKO at 1:59 of the second round over Maureeca Lambert. She will face Virginia Fuchs in the finals who won her bout 3-0. Also advancing as expected were Bertha Aracil defeating Aleah Dillard, 2-1, Raquel Miller over Alicia Napoleon, 3-0 and crowd favorite Franchon Crews who will face Miller after getting the nod by a walk-over.

Jen Hamann making her first bid at Nationals also came out a winner by defeating Monayah Patterson, 3-0. Hamann will face Rianna Rios who defeated her opponent, Karla Herrera 2-1.

For information on upcoming bouts click here for the USA Boxing Website

You can also watch all the action live HERE! Final bouts on April 6, 2013!

11 a.m. Session

Elite Women’s Division
119 lbs: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., dec. Amanda Pavone, Burlington, Maine, 3-0
119 lbs: Ayanna Vasquez, Las Cruces, N.M., dec. Carissa Morton, San Francisco, Calif., 3-0
152 lbs: Danyelle Wolf, San Diego, Calif., dec. Nisa Rodriguez, Bronx, N.Y., 2-1
152 lbs: Fallon Farrar, Staten Island, N.Y., won on a TB over Amournix Stamps, Milwaukee, Wisc., TB
106 lbs: Elisah Halstead, Philadelphia, Pa., dec. Lisa Ha, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2-1
106 lbs: Alejandra Mercado, Rockford, Ill., dec. Melissa Kaye, New York, N.Y., 3-0
132 lbs: Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash., dec. Melissa Parker, Spring, Texas, 3-0
132 lbs: Tiara Brown, Hyattsville, Md., dec. Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif., 2-1

Youth Women’s Division
106 lbs: Marisol Lopez, Stratford, Calif., dec. Monica Van Pelt, Toledo, Ohio, 2-1
106 lbs: Monica Suazo, Tucson, Ariz., dec. Yajaira Ramirez, McKinney, Texas, 2-1

5 p.m. Session

Elite Women’s Division
112 lbs: Virgina Fuchs, Kemah, Texas, dec. Ayesha Green, Trenton, N.J., 3-0
112 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas, won on TKO over Maureeca Lambert, Glen Ellyn, Ill., TKO-2(1:59)
125 lbs: Rianna Rios, Alice, Texas, dec. Karla Herrera, Los Angeles, Calif., 2-1
125 lbs: Jennifer Hamann, Seattle, Wash., dec. Monayah Patterson, Warren, Mich., 3-0
141 lbs: Faith Franco, Duarte, Calif., won on a TKO over Griselda Madrigal Santana, East Wenatchee, Wash., TKO-3(0:47)
141 lbs: Bertha Aracil, Yonkers, N.Y., dec. Aleah Dillard, Dallas, Texas, 2-1
165 lbs: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md., won on a walkover over Jasmine Acevedo, Beeville, Texas, W/O
165 lbs: Raquel Miller, San Francisco, Calif., dec. Alicia Napoleon, Lindenhurst, N.Y., 3-0

03
Apr
13

USA Boxing Nationals! April 2, 2013 and April 3, 2013 Results

USA Boxing Nationals! Women’s Boxing Results April 2, 2013 & April 3, 2013 – FULL RESULTS (UPDATED)

Tiara Brown, Coach Roque & Claressa Shields, Spokane, Wa., Credit: USA Boxing

The USA Boxing Nationals are underway in Spokane, Washington! The bouts are under the new rules originally promulgated by the AIBA and include many changes.  Foremost is the change in the designation of Youth, Senior and Elite boxing men and women.

For one, Youth male and female fighters are now 16-18 years of age. This has meant that gold medal Olympian Claressa Shields was unable to compete in the Elite Women division.  The Elite Men’s and Women’s divisions are also changed with the age spread from 19-40. Most significantly, Elite Men compete without headgear, a decision many feel was made in part to attract more viewers to the competitions after the lackluster support at the Olympics.

The justification is increasing evidence that boxing headgear does not add to the safety of boxers from head trauma in any significant way.  Questions being raised, however, ask what the impact will be on the potential for cuts … and … why, why, why, are Elite Women’s Division fighters still required to wear headgear. Hmmm…

Another big change is the change in the scoring to the ten-point must system.

Time will tell how all of this shakes out … meanwhile, the Elite Women’s Division fights are underway.

Queen Underwood defeated Maritza Guillen, by decision 3-0, 4/3/2013,  USA Boxing National Championships

Big winners so far have included Olympian, Queen Underwood in the 132 lb. weight class who defeated Maritza Guillen 3-0 under the new scoring system. Also fighting at 132 lbs, Tiara Brown won her bout by decision over Kristin Carlson, 3-0, and Mikaela Mayer won by decision over LaKesha Springle, 3-0.

For information on upcoming bouts click here for the USA Boxing Website

You can also watch all the action live HERE!  Next fights at 5:00 PM PST 4/3/2013!

Results for April 2, 2013 & April 3, 2013:

ELITE WOMEN: APRIL 2, 2013, 5:00 PM SESSION

125 lbs: Haley Pasion, Aiea, Hawaii, dec. Taversha Norwood, Oxnard, Calif., 2-1
125 lbs: Jasmedh Rosales, Los Angeles, Calif., dec. Alyssa Rivera, Lamont, Ill., 3-0

ELITE WOMEN: APRIL 3, 2013, 11:00 AM SESSION

106 lbs: Elisha Halstead, Philadelphia, Pa., dec. Leah Mitchem, Savannah, Ga., 3-0
119 lbs: Amanda Pavone, Burlington, Mass., dec. Monica Alvarez, San Antonio, Texas, 3-0
119 lbs: Carissa Morton, San Francisco, Calif., dec. Rory Santos, Anchorage, Alaska, 3-0
132 lbs: Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash., dec. Maritza Guillen, Reno, Nev., 3-0
132 lbs: Melissa Parker, Spring, Texas, dec. Lisa Porter, Valley Village, Calif., 3-0
132 lbs: Tiara Brown, Hyattsville, Md., dec. Kristin Carlson, Chicago, 3-0
132 lbs: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif., dec. LaKesha Springle, Martinez, Ga., 3-0

ELITE WOMEN: APRIL 3, 2013, 5:oo PM SESSION

125 lbs: Karla Herrera, Los Angeles, Calif. dec. Haley Pasion, Aiea, Hawaii, 3-0
125 lbs: Rianna Rios, Alice, Texas, dec. Michelle Cook, Massena, N.Y., 3-0
125 lbs: Monayah Patterson, Warren, Mich., dec. Amorena Baca, Denver, Colo., 3-0
125 lbs: Jennifer Hamann, Seattle, Wash., dec. Jasmedh Rosales, Los Angeles, Calif., 3-0
152 lbs: Nisa Rodriguez, Bronx, N.Y., dec. Jenah Smith, Seattle, Wash., 3-0
14
Mar
13

Women’s Boxing: Jen Hamann’s “road to gold”

Women’s Boxing: Jen Hamann’s “Road to Gold” 

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Jen Hamann

The 2012 London Olympic Games which featured the introduction of women’s boxing has come and gone. The distinctive honor of having participated as one of the first thirty-six women to compete is also certainly singular. But that has not diminished the hopes and dreams of a new generation of female boxers who have already begun to train for the 2016 Games in Brazil.

One such fighter is 27-year-old Jen Hamann. Based out of Seattle, Jen is a two-time Golden Gloves winner who emerged this year as the 2013 Outstanding Female Boxer at the Jr. Golden Gloves.

Jen HamannJen has amassed an 18-2 record since taking up the gloves in 2009. She is currently counting down to this year’s 2013 USA Boxing National Championships beginning on April 1st, challenging for a spot on the podium at 125 lbs. Jen trains under head coach Tricia Turton, herself a former professional boxer, who recently began Arcaro Boxing. Together, they are forging a partnership to help prepare Jen for the competitive challenges that lie ahead.

Jen Hamann & Tricia Turton

Though no stranger to high-stakes competition as a Division-1 athlete in soccer, track & field and cross-country for Seattle University, Jen relies on Turton to help keep her focused and on point. Hamann also works through her experiences by maintaining a blog that recounts her feelings about the sport that has become so much a part of who she is. The link is here: Hamann Road to Boxing Gold. 

Recently, Girlboxing had the opportunity to enter a dialogue with Jen Hamann about her Olympic dreams. Here’s what she had to say:

1. Boxing is not for the faint of heart, what is it about boxing that has driven you to want to spend the next three and a half years of your life dedicated to gaining a berth on the USA’s women’s boxing team fighting at the Brazil 2016 Olympics?

Boxing has given me an outlet to express myself. There’s something satisfying about letting it all go on a heavy bag.  I also have a bit of a sassy temper, and when I suppress this short fuse, it eventually comes out on others in some other way. Boxing doesn’t change my personality – I’m still sassy as ever, it just lets me express it everyday.  Sports and exercise do this for many people, but boxing does it for me. As for the 2016 Olympics, that’s easy – I can never do anything half-heartedly. Whether a good thing or a bad thing, I have to consume my life what I am passionate about – the Olympics are the principle of amateur boxing. Who wouldn’t want to put on a USA uniform and represent their country? 

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Alan Berner, The Seattle Times2. You’ve written that you “see boxing as a tool for self-expression, passion, and awareness.” As you embark on your goal of winning a place on the Brazil 2016 team, how will those three attributes take you through the next four years?

Sometimes I get frustrated for being frustrated at practice. I can be a perfectionist in training, and this narrows my view of possibilities. When I fight my personal style of boxing by fixing bad habits, I loose my passion and I end up working to correct something rather than express something, trust my hands and let them go. The 2016 Olympics is a long road and right now, this is a distance race. The more you can be yourself the longer you will last. Being amateur is hard enough; the more awareness you can have of your self, what you love and how you express yourself, the better boxer you will become.

3. You also see boxing as playing an important role in your personal development. How is that expressed as you go through the day-to-day work of being an amateur fighter?

Being an amateur fighter is hard – especially now. I’m not currently on the radar and no one really knows me, I’m pretty new to the National scene. Since training for the Olympics is a full-time job you can imagine how hard it is right now. I have to walk into fundraisers and local events saying that “I am training for the 2016 Olympics” without much of a resume to back it up. It’s like claiming the title before earning the position. But the more I can say it, the more confidence I have in the ring. Since I’ve started writing about it, my boxing has improved.

Jen Hamann, Photo Credit: Alan Berner, The Seattle Times

4. As an accomplished athlete since high school and as a Division-1 college athlete in Track & Field, Cross Country and Soccer, you are no stranger to high-stakes competition. How have you incorporated those experiences into the training and mental focus you need for the ring?

Soccer was my first love. But the difference between the athlete I was in college and the athlete I am now is my confidence. I was a great practice player, for some reason, I couldn’t translate it into the games – I was so afraid of messing up that it messed me up! In boxing, I went into it as an underdog looking for a new hobby without any pressure of college ball. Clearly things have changed! The difference now is that I’m not afraid to show confidence and passion in the ring like I was in soccer. In boxing I have no problem in front of a crowd and I have fun with it – the performance is no longer a burden but a blessing and I’m lucky to participate everyday.

Jen Hamann5. You maintain an active blog recounting your experiences in and out of the ring, as well as your philosophical inquiries as you train. You recently wrote, “Just like in a boxing fight – we continue to put ourselves in a situation of fear and panic in the ring because we want to simultaneously feel the power of recreating the meaning and intention behind each punch.” What is the practical application of that idea as you train in the ring?

If I can push myself in the ring, push through fear, reactions, and comfort boundaries, then I can do this is real life. Creating these sort of fake situations in the ring makes you more likely to put yourself out there in life – you take on situations that you normally wouldn’t. Taking this perspective, I’ve personally grown a lot – I’m more expressive, more confident, more open to talking about what I want, what I need, what my opinions are, taking risks, and taking stances. The only way to go somewhere new both in boxing and in your life is to experience discomfort.  It’s uncomfortable sometimes to take risks – announcing myself as an 2016 Olympic hopeful, or applying to grad school this year, but without the risk and the fear, the success is far less exciting.

6. You’ve mapped out competitive goals that include winning a USA Boxing National Championship, the National Golden Gloves Championship and the National PAL Championship. While you fight at 125 pounds, it can still be difficult to find competitive amateur fights. How have you and your trainer mapped out your competitive options so that you can continue to compete at the highest echelons of the sport?

Finding good fights can be challenging. Luckily, I have a coach who will fly to the end of the world and back with me to find a fight. As a former professional boxer and a former member of the USA women’s rugby team, coach Tricia knows what it feels like to put on that USA jersey and represent your country. Now retired from competition, she wants to give me that same feeling at the 2016 Olympics. As far as finding fights now, this is why we are doing our best to make it to all the national events around the U.S. – experience is almost everything for a boxer.

Jen Hamann "Skittles"

7. You’ve been fighting out of Cappy’s Gym since you started in the sport, but are following your trainer Tricia Turton to Arcaro Boxing. How is that transition going and what do you both see as your goals as you begin this new chapter in your career as a fighter?

Timely question – I just wrote something about this transition on my blog here: The Adventures of Moose and Kid Skittles. Tricia has always been the brains behind the boxing skills, the mentoring and the person passionate about boxing in her community, so it would be crazy of me not to follow her.  The transition is only difficult because she still doesn’t have four walls where she can hang a heavy bag. Luckily, my community has been amazing at helping us out with places to train and funding trips for fights. If we can get through this, we can get through anything in the future. 

Jen Hamann8.  You have chosen to fight among an elite group of women boxers who are all striving for a place in the Brazil 2016 Olympics.  How would you describe your relationships and what you have to offer each other as you embark on your journey together?

Currently, I am not on the USA team so I don’t know any of them personally. I do know that traveling, making weight, and working towards huge athletic goals cannot be done alone. I feel that the best Olympic contenders for the US will come out of a strong, respectful and hard working National team.  We have to be willing to work together, push each other and respect each other for anyone to push their skills – our teammates can be our best trainers.

I think that there are a lot of youth female boxers who are also under the radar, being over looked. Again, we still have 3 years of training and some of my most recent fights against youth boxers entering the senior class have been hard. They are hungry, they are motivated by the 2012 Olympics, and they will not stop challenging us. Gold Medalist Claressa Shields is a perfect example of this. Which also reminds me of a recent blog piece I wrote: Does it matter how you play the game

9. In closing, what has boxing given you — and in turn what do you hope to give to the sport?

Mostly, boxing has given me a medium to express myself without feeling bad about it. It’s also given me confidence. I used to only like those famous athletes that were polite and politically correct in the media – because I used to think that expressing confidence and self-esteem was synonymous to extreme arrogance. But this is completely untrue! My favorite boxer Melissa Hernandez really expresses this well, both for herself and for other women in boxing. I think she boxes because she loves the sport, but she puts on a great show in the ring because she really does care about promoting the sport of women boxing.

I really just want others to experience what I have experienced through boxing. Though I’m not in the spotlight right now, I hope that the blog captures the ups and downs of working towards a huge goal – something that both boxers and non-boxers can relate to. The blog, sometimes a little too revealing, is right now, my way of giving back because I write pretty honestly about the whole experience. 

Be certain to check out Jen Hamann’s Blog:  Hamann Road to Boxing Gold

18
Jan
13

Heather Hardy Interview ahead of her January 23rd Fight at BB Kings!

Update!!!

Heather Hardy makes it a perfect 4-0 after defeating Canada’s own Peggy Maerz in a hard fought battle. Hardy won by unanimous decision:  40-36, 39-37, 39-37. Maerz will still fight for the Canadian flyweight title in April.

Heather Hardy & Peggy Maerz

 

Heather Hardy Interview ahead of her January 23rd Fight at BB Kings!

Heather Hardy @ BB Kings 1/23/2013

Heather “The Heat” Hardy (3-0) has been hard at work training at Gleason’s Gym.

She has an upcoming fight against Canadian boxer Peggy Maerz (2-2-1) on January 23, 2013 at B. B. Kings Blues Club & Grill in New York. Promoted by DiBella Entertainment as part of the Broadway Boxing series, Hardy will box Maerz in a four-rounder.

Tickets for her upcoming bout are available from Gleason’s Gym 718-797-2872 or from Nelly Spillanes 212-792-9672.

Also on the card are Yuri Foreman (28-2, 8-KOs) making his comeback appearance against Brandon Baue (12-8, 10-KOs) and Delen Parsely (9-0, 2 KOs) fighting Tyrone Selders (8-4, 6-KOs).

Recently, Hardy agreed to an interview with Girlboxing about her upcoming fight.

Here’s what she had to say.

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Q1. Since turning pro in August you’ve racked up an impressive 3-0 record. In Peggy Maerz you’re fighting a boxer with a 2-2-1 record out of Canada. Maerz is known for her long reach and quick jabs. She also has had an impressive amateur career in Western Canada. What do you hope to show the boxing world in choosing Maerz as your next opponent.

I want to show that I’m ready, willing, and able to fight anyone that’s put in front of me. I work hard, I train hard and I fight even harder.

Q2. You’ve put a lot on the line to turn pro having made your mark on the amateur world with you Golden Gloves wins and appearance in the USA Nationals. What motivated you to turn professional when the odds are so tough against women in the sport — even after the great success of the debut of women’s boxing at the London Games in 2012?

I have faith, that one day the girls will get the same respect (and PAY) as the boys. You can’t put your heart and soul into something day in and day out and not expect to make a difference. I want to be the difference, and believe that I have the talent and work ethic to do so.

Heather Hardy & Melissa Hernandez, Gleason's Gym, December 2012, Credit: Malissa Smith

Heather Hardy & Melissa Hernandez, Gleason’s Gym, December 2012, Credit: Malissa Smith

Q3. Aside from boxing, you’re also a talented trainer with a wide range of clients with varying boxing abilities. What has your work as a trainer and mentor taught you about fighting and being successful in the ring?

It has definitely added to my success. I live boxing! I’m in the gym 15 hours a day! I see my girls walking the same path I did and I get to watch them make all the same mistakes. It’s so rewarding to be able to pass my passion onto those who share it. I love what I do.
Heather Hardy and Trainer, Devon Cormack, @ Gleason's Gym, December 2012

Heather Hardy and Trainer, Devon Cormack, @ Gleason’s Gym, December 2012, Credit: Heather Hardy

Q4. In a recent interview, you described boxing as more “training on the mind.”  Can you elaborate on how you prepare yourself mentally for a fight and for coping with the unexpected during a tense professional bout?

I know how to fight, so when I train it’s a matter of correcting bad habits and fixing parts of my game that aren’t quite perfect. Fine tuning, aligning my punches, stepping properly, etc. My coach always says there are only four punches, so learn how to throw each one perfect every time. You can only be the best when you make no mistakes.

Q5. You’ve made it no secret that you want to be a world champion. Given the crowded field in the bantamweight division, what is your strategy for gaining a title shot at one of the more prestigious world championship belts?

Keep winning! My plan is to stay focused and keep winning. Keep training and perfecting my game. Keep myself challenged. I’m ready for the road ahead of me. I’ve been on an uphill climb since the day I walked into this gym, since I started so late at 28.

Q6.  You turned pro days after Claressa Shields won gold in the Olympics, but considered turning pro long before the Olympics. Do you see any differences in how promoters approach booking and promoting female boxing matches or does it still seem more of the same?

Unfortunately, I do not see that it has made a difference in the professional sense. I am still making considerably less than my male counterparts and doing the exact same job.

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Heather Hardy v. Ivana Coleman, 12/8/12. Photo Credit: Jason Shaltz

Q7.  Finally, what should we expect to see in your fight against Peggy Maerz on January 23rd at BB Kings?

Expect the same as always :)

This will be a fight from bell to bell.

31
Dec
12

Of endings and beginnings …

Of endings and beginnings …

2012 USA Women's Boxing Team

As is inevitable for this time of year, we relive our triumphs and disappointments and much like the wisdom espoused by the rituals of the Jewish High Holidays, may even set about examining those aspects of our lives we are most proud of and those we may be at a loss to explain.

In considering my own 2012 I certainly ran the gamut from graduating with my master’s degree to emerging from surgery on my shoulder with a pathetic wing that has taken months to set right.

Meanwhile, my own highs, lows and in-betweens are graced by the luxury of lots of comfort, a loving family and a Brooklyn home that experienced nary a sprinkle during Hurricane Sandy.

I’ve also gotten a book contract, my straight right back and a husband who even squired me to the movies two days running over the weekend!

Counting myself among the luckiest of the lucky, I also keep in mind the triumph and trials of my pals at Gleason’s Gym, the thirty-six young women who courageously took up the gloves to box at the London 2012 Olympic Games and another year in the history of women’s fight for equality whether it be in the boxing ring or the hope that a bus ride home in New Delhi doesn’t result in a brutal gang-rape and death.

Maybe it’s the latter that saddens me most.

I’ve been around a long time and the fact that a woman still isn’t safe whether it’s in New Delhi, Johannesburg, London or the Bronx reminds that me that for all our female bravura at embracing martial sports, the fact remains that there is always some part of what we do that is informed by our need for self-defense.

Talk to my thirteen-year-old about it and she’ll regale you with how to leg sweep a potential attacker or such street savvy stratagems as using big glass store front windows to check on who is walking behind her. The operative thing here is that she is thirteen and has already experienced men saying gross things to her on her short walk between school and home. And while her martial art, Aikido, is defensive in nature, it hasn’t stopped her from figuring out that sometimes the best defense is offense: that and the sense to scream, act crazy and run like hell.

So if we are talking New Year’s wishes, mine is to end assault with the first toll of midnight … that said, keep up the fight to claim the boundaries of the ring as your own, whatever your ring happens to be.

Happy 2013!

 

10
Dec
12

Katie Taylor, “Women’s Boxing Ambassador”

Katie Taylor, “Women’s Boxing Ambassador”

Katie Taylor, Gold Medal Women's Lightweight, 2012 Olympic Gold Winner, Credit: Leinster Leader

The news that Katie Taylor has been named the “Women’s Boxing Ambassador” by AIBA, (the governing international amateur boxing organization), in the run up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil is a big boost for the sport.

Her appointment is important and when Taylor says, “I want to help elevate women’s boxing to ensure it sits at the pinnacle of sporting achievement,” these are not mere words echoed by the Irish Gold Medal Olympian for the press release.

Nor are Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu’s, President of AIBA’s sentiments when he stated, “She has inspired a generation of women boxers and the acceptance of women’s boxing in the Olympic program has been in part a result of her outstanding achievements.”

Taylor’s amateur boxing career in an out of the ring exemplifies what it means to forge forward using her talent, gumption and immense athletic skills as an entree into a larger world as her following in Europe and Asia shows.

Beyond that, in her native Ireland, a scan of local headlines gives a sense of her importance:  “Boxing Sensation Katie Taylor to Visit Limerick” read a recent one in the Limerick Leader, while another touted readers to  “Win a VIP meet and greet with Olympic Boxing champ Katie Taylor at Whitewater this Sunday,” in the Leinster Leader.

And she is so beloved in Ireland that a couple of years ago Taylor was the Grand Marshal of the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade – no mean feat for a girlboxer from Bray representing a sport that was illegal in Ireland twenty years ago.

What she is now is not only the pride of Ireland, but the face of women’s boxing to the world; a young woman who through her boxing will help continue to push the barriers that have led to a wide acceptance of women’s boxing in her native country.

We can only hope that she is as successful on the international stage.

Girlboxing offers our heartfelt congratulations!

19
Nov
12

The first time …

The first time …

Boxing at Gleason's Gym. Credit: Malissa Smith

The first time I walked into Gleason’s Gym in January of 1997, I had a feeling of trepidation mixed with excitement and a healthy dose of exhilaration. This was a real boxing gym complete with the sites, sounds and smells I’d gleaned from a mixture of old boxing movies and my imagination.

Having lived on the Lower East Side as a child, I’d grown up watching men play dominos, so as my eyes took in three enormous boxing rings, my ears were honed in on the thwack of a domino clicking on a small table with three men, each looking like someone out of central casting for the part of boxing trainer, animatedly playing the game.

From the sounds of the dominos to the rhythmic beating of heavy bags, speed bags, focus mitts and bodies, each to its own beat punctuated by the loud dings of the ring clock that kept time at three-minute intervals with a warning at two and a half minutes and a ding at four minutes to start the clock all over again, I was hooked.

The sounds alone were an improvisational cacophony worthy of the best of John Coltrane or Rahssan Roland Kirk — still I felt a bit intimidated asking myself why in the world I was there and what had possessed me to think that I could actually box in a real gym. Sure, I’d taken a boxing class at Eastern Athletic Health Club in Brooklyn Heights and yes, I still remembered the old one-two my uncle had taught me when I was twelve, but this was different. This meant that I’d have to be serious, that the years of watching boxing and thinking about boxing were culminating in my taking those first concrete steps up to the second floor of the Gleason’s Gym building in DUMBO long before it was trendy and filled with cute coffee bars and babies riding around in eight hundred-dollar strollers.

If I’d thought I’d have a fight on my hands as a women crossing the divide of what even I thought of as a male domain I was mistaken.  Quite to the contrary, I was greeted by Bruce Silverglade, the owner of Gleason’s Gym who touring me around made a point to make me feel welcome.

I’d come that day to actually box having brought handwraps and a pair of boxing gloves and while I didn’t really know what I was doing yet, wrapping my hands that afternoon was the beginning of a physical and emotional journey I could not have imagined.

Within a week of that first visit, I’d been taken on for 7:30 AM training sessions three days a week with Johnny Grinnage, a trainer of the OLD old school who didn’t believe in new-fangled things like focus mitts or even the speed bag. His idea of training was beginning a workout using a broom stick for stretches before jumping rope for three rounds. From there it was onto a wall bag to learn how to throw a jab, a straight right and a left hook for three rounds. Those early weeks we’d end the training with three rounds walking up and down the slip rope and it had to have been a least two months before I actually hit a heavy bag.

After those first training sessions I took to writing out my punch counts and found myself punching the air and slipping whenever I could. I also found myself tearing up at the oddest times finding in the extension of my body a connection to a physical power I never knew I possessed–one that left me feeling bereft at the years and years of having never understood how much strength I actually had.

It was the first of many lessons boxing taught me and continues to teach me and while I’ve had an on-again off-again relationship with boxing in the ensuing sixteen years, Gleason’s Gym remains my home and the sport still gives me a warm glow that courses through me when I need a dose of something wonderful.

23
Aug
12

Righting and wronging: Chevelle Hallback

Righting and wronging: Chevelle Hallback

The great Chevelle Hallback (28-8-2, 11-KOs) was to have been the main event battling former foe Victoria Cisneros (6-13-2, 2-KOs), for the WIBA World Junior Welterweight Championship belt this coming Friday, August 24, 2012 at the Whitehall Armory in Whitehall, NY.

The fight was canceled, no word yet on why.

Hallback had a lot to prove to herself and her fans: that she could still bring it in the tough world of women’s boxing where the purses are lousy and the chances for promotion hard to come by at a time when the focus of the sport is trained on Claressa Shield‘s Olympic Gold medal and the future.

Hallback was also coming into the fight with some tough losses behind her, notably against Cecilia Braekhus (17-0) who has been seemingly unstoppable and France’s widely popular Myriam Lamare (19-3). PLUS her last fight had been canceled at the last moment as well.

Having fought two of the toughest opponents in her division and lost–the forty-year-old Hallback needed the win, and a decisive one, if she was to remain one of the top ranked in her division (she is currently ranked #2 by WIBA and #1 by Ringside) with a chance to obtain her goal of being the first women to fight on HBO Boxing. More to the point, if she is to contend with Braekhus and Lamare again, Hallback needs to defeat Cisneros whom she fought two years ago in Albuquerque in an 8-rounder. Hallback took a split-decision in that fight, but for her to remain on top now she needed to defeat Cisneros decisively with a display of splendid skills and heart-in-your-mouth passion.

On learning the news of her Ringside ranking she had said, “Number one! Yeah I’m excited at the news, but I’m not taking my eyes off what I still have to do.”

She also said, “I have to win each round convincingly, or just plain stop her. This needs to be a dominating win for me.”

Unfortunately, Hallback is not only fighting in the ring, but out of the ring, all symptomatic of how disgraceful professional women’s boxing is these days with promoters that don’t care and a fan base hot to watch with no outlets.

This is a real blow to Hallback, but more to the point, it is a real blow to women’s boxing. Truly, these women deserve better.

Here’s an interview with Chevelle from August 2nd. She sounds great!

20
Aug
12

Summer …

Summer …

Maybe its because I’ve had a weird bunch of weeks recouping from shoulder surgery, but this summer just feels slow and uninervating. Yes, of course there was the incredible HIGH of seeing the debut of women’s boxing at the Olympics, but now that it’s over, I feel as if I’ve fallen off a cliff!

I was in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for a week. It had a restorative feel and my husband and I reunited with our prodigal picking her up from camp. Still, back in Brooklyn, the weather kind of humid and unappealing, I’m hard pressed for motivation and as much as I am loath to say this, I’m ready to put an “amen” to summer.

What I’d like is a hard workout at the gym to wake me up.

Like a huge jolt of high-octane joe, hard-core gym time rocks my world with an instant shock treatment to the body and the brain. Perhaps it’s all the sweat pouring the accumulated junk out of my pores or the sudden remembrance that things can be done despite feeling otherwise. I’m not even talking endorphins here because that seems to come over time–what I’m after is the boom, boom, boom of going at something 100%.

It’s the reminder that your bones, young or old still have something in them. I forget that I have it in me from time to time, but like any shift, all it takes is a bit of movement to get going again.




August 2014
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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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