Archive for September, 2011

30
Sep
11

Women’s Boxing: Ana Julaton’s WBO Super Bantamweight title defense, tonight (9/30/11)!

>>>>UPDATE>>>>

Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton handily defeated Jessica Villafranca to retain her WBO Super bantamweight title last night.  Julaton won a unanimous decision with the judges scoring the ten-round bout, 98-91, 96-93, and 97-20.  Julaton sustained a small cut to her forehead froms an accidental head butt.  The fight, however, was able to continue.  

Women’s Boxing: Ana Julaton’s WBO Super Bantamweight title defense, tonight (9/30/11)!

Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton (9-2-1, 1-KO) has been training her heart out at the UNLV Boxing Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada in preparation for her WBO Women’s Super Bantamweight title defense against the 18-year old Mexican fighter, Jessica Villafranca (12-3-0, 6 KOs).   The bout will be contested at the Polifuncional in Kanasin, Yucatan, Mexico.

As with Kaliesha West before her, Ana Julaton, is bringing her exciting lightening fast boxing style, honed by Freddie Roach to Mexico, in what appears to be a the beginnings of a trend for elite women fighters from the United States.

As Girlboxing has written before, Villafranca lost her last bout to Kaliesha West in a tough ten-round slug fest in August.  With Villafranca’s fight against Julaton, however, she will be fighting at her natural super bantamweight, so that may well mean that she will fight better and stronger.

Whatever the outcome, Julaton’s decision to take her game to Mexico will hopefully mean more opportunity and exposure as the fight will not only be televised on Mexico’s GMA-7, but on Philippine television as well — plus it will likely be easy to find on streaming video.

For some further insights into Ana Julaton’s life in and out of the ring, Chris Robinson has a terrific interview in the Las Vegas Examiner that is well worth the read.  The link is here.

27
Sep
11

Women’s Boxing Olympic Fever!

Women’s Boxing Olympic Fever!

The last couple of weeks have been amazing for Women’s Boxing in the United States as mainstream media has begun to pick up on the fact that we’ll actually be fielding a strong women’s team next summer in London.

The momentum will keep building too with the last round of competition before the February 2012 Women’s Olympic Trials coming up next week in Toledo, Ohio at the 2011 National PAL Championships.

The last three slots in each of the Olympic weight classes (112 lbs, 132 lbs, and 155 lbs.) will be selected, and it’s where boxers such as Cleveland’s own Cashmere Jackson will be duking it out to gain the opportunity to pursue their dreams of Olympic Gold.

Meanwhile, the fever pitch continues as seen in this fabulous ESPN piece on New Yorker, Christina Cruz’s dreams of not only winning gold as a member of the first Women’s boxing team to represent the United States at the Pan Am Games, but in her pursuit of the podium at next summer’s Olympic Games

If you have done so already, also check out Soledad O’Brien’s wonderful piece on Marlen Esparza that continues on October 1st on CNN. It is truly inspirational.

Here is the link to the teaser:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/09/13/latina.boxer.esparza/index.html

25
Sep
11

Short takes from my week.

Short takes from my week.

The past week or so has been a blur of too much to do and not enough time.  I mean I sparred with Lennox last Saturday (make that Saturday — a week ago) and think of it as having occurred months ago!

Casting back, however, I can truly say it was a fabulous four rounds of me getting popped in the head — a lot — ’cause I can’t seem to stay out-of-the-way of Len’s left hooks to my right side, but meanwhile I did manage to get one really sweet shot to Len’s nose that seemed to make up for it all.

Suffice to say, every time one gets in the ring there’s a moment or two of truth and mine was figuring out that I really did like landing that punch.  I mean really liked it, which reminded me that in spite of what of my general “nice person” demeanor, at the heart of it I will go for the jugular if given the opportunity.

So knowing all of that, I learned a tougher lesson two nights ago walking around the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn.  It was around 7:00 PM and very crowded.  As I walked through, I became aware of  child crying and yelling loudly.  At some point, coming into the main area near the entranceway (I had walked into the space from the LIRR side entrance), I saw a woman beating her four or five-year-old son with a belt.  There were people seated, standing and walking all around her and the child, and no one, and I mean no one said a word.  It was as if there was this women, her belt and the boy, and the rest of the world as two separate spheres.

Taking this all in, I screamed out, “stop beating that child” and seeing no effect, I yelled it out much louder.  The woman momentary stopped and shouted back at me, “I’ll beat your ass too.”  So, what happened next?  Did the crowd take up my denunciation?  Did they come to the aid of her child?  Give up?

Right.  They yelled at me for “interfering.”   Well.  I didn’t give up and kept yelling while looking for a police officer or a security cop.  None were to be found and meanwhile, the woman got tired of whaling her poor kid and left after nonchalantly putting her belt back on. The whole thing made me feel sick — and I realized that the killer instincts that I had in the ring sparring with Len were not the killer instincts I expressed at the mall.  Yes, I had expressed my outrage, loudly, but I had not put myself into the sphere of her seeming protected space.  In reflecting on it, I know that I was in shock at the surreal nature of what I saw — to the point of experiencing a sort of cognitive dissonance.  I also remember having a dialogue with myself, wondering if anyone else was going to interfere, how many people were with this woman (there were at least three other people with her), what the odds were that I would get into a huge physical altercation with her, what the crowd of seemingly disinterested people would do if I waded in.  In the calculus of those questions, I opted for calling attention to the acts in the hopes of getting the crowd to turn against her.  When that didn’t work, my tactical retreat was to find some sort of assistance to help me wade through. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to call 911 which was likely the best course because, really, if this woman felt that she could just beat this kid with impunity in the middle of a mall (which she did except for my shouts), what was she going to do to him at home.

Just as I learned something from sparring with Lennox, in my confrontation at the Atlantic Mall I learned that in the realm of real combat, my instincts are for the preservation of myself first and foremost.  I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that yet.  I remember in a first responder “first aid”  course I took once, the instructor kept saying that our first duty was to see to our own safety before jumping in to render aid.  Perhaps that was my instinct in a crowded space of uncertain people.  I still don’t feel good about it though — and even though my voice was the only voice speaking up for the child being beaten, the truth is, my voice wasn’t loud enough or definitive enough.  I guess I’m going to have to work on that too.

 

15
Sep
11

Fighting the numbers.

Fighting the numbers.

I went “natural” on my hair color a couple of years ago.

It was a combination of really hating all those chemicals on my hair and scalp tinged with a bit of laziness (every four weeks is a drag) coupled with the alternative — monthly appointments with a colorist which are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e, especially if you go for double-process (color plus highlights!)  Not to say that I was particularly bad with coloring my own hair — I did make it look pretty good with out the tell-tale home-brew color of really dark ends or the weirdest shade of red you’ve ever seen — but after a while, the silvery flecks got longer and longer at the roots until one day I just screamed enough at myself in the mirror.

To enhance my marker of aging, I do admit that I primp a lot in front of the mirror when it comes to getting the silvery white hairs to shimmer just so as a way of counteracting any perception that the crop of white hairs nudging out the chestnut browns is in any way a factor of tired-old-age.  What I did notice in my recent experiment with growing it longer, was that the shimmer wasn’t quite so shimmery and those white patches were beginning to look as if they were definitely gaining the upper hand — something I am not quite ready to embrace just yet.  So this week I went back to really short hair with lots of product to bring out the shine.

I bring all of this up because the white hair on my chestnut mane (what’s left of it) seems to be indicative of other changes as I make my way through the latter part of my 50’s. As an example, I applaud my recent loss of 12 pounds thanks to low-acid-diet living, but I still have some serious kilos to go if I’m to become youthfully svelte again. And yes, I can actually run a mile and keep going — albeit slow and steady to save my creaky, crackley knees — even with months of fairly vigorous workouts at Gleason’s I still start to crash somewhere in the middle rounds before finding my way back to renewed stamina and energy. This last is interesting because I used to be able to get into condition much faster and easier.

If there’s a cautionary tale at all in this for my younger friends out there — it is to consider keeping fairly steady with diet and exercise over the whole of your life, and as for my compatriots of a certain age, keep at it! Whether we like it or not things do change, all we can do it mitigate what we can with things like eating healthy foods, keeping our bodies lithe and strong through regular exercise and strengthening, keeping ahead of ailments large and small, and perhaps most importantly, keeping ourselves feeling great with whatever it is that gives us that extra bit of shimmer.

14
Sep
11

Wordless Wednesday – 9/14/2011

Wordless Wednesday – 9/14/2011

Mischa and Kristina, Gleason's Gym, September 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday is a group of bloggers who give words a rest once a week.

12
Sep
11

Boxing and me …

Boxing and me …

I’m at the official start of writing my thesis today.  It is the culmination of my course of studies towards a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies.  I bring it up because my thesis topic is Boundaries in motion: Women’s Boxing.  The study will  take a look at how women’s boxing is changing notions of the meaning of being “female” or in other words, what women are and what they are capable of.

Having been born in the mid-1950’s in the era of girls wearing dresses all the time — and I mean all the time — the idea of athleticism, muscles and so on were a seeming anathema. To the extent that there were “Lady” athletes that were at all visible to my young eyes, they seemed to only be slim-hipped tennis players, figure skaters, skiers and gymnasts — and while there were women’s roller derby, softball and bowling leagues, those sports were barely a blip on my consciousness.

Muscle-bound women were certainly viewed as something other — and in remembering back to my early childhood years on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, organized sport itself was entirely non-existent except for boy’s basketball and boxing at the local Boy’s Club on Avenue A and 10th Street.  The sports I played, such as they were consisted of punchball (with a spaulding ball or a pinkie), Newcomb (with a giant red playground ball), King (or Chinese handball), bottle caps, stoop ball (a pinkie bounced off a stoop, with a “base” counted for each bounce before the ball was caught), playing catch, riding a bike, roller skating (with metal skates attached to my sneakers) and general chase games.

The fact was, these weren’t even considered sports. These were things we just did either during recess (punchball and Newcomb and chase games) or as general play on the block.  My only experience of “organized” sports was at camp, and having gone to a “leftie” summer camp, our idea of sports was groaning through hot afternoons on the sports field playing pathetic versions of baseball (and fighting off the gnats), with some passable basketball thrown in, albeit mostly among the boys.

Getting back on topic, as a young girl, I loved boxing, but had no clue that it was ever something that I could actually do. I didn’t get to watch the sport much, so as a substitute, my brother and I watched professional wrestling with the likes of Bruno Sammartino and Gorgeous George.

By the mid-1960’s I was a confirmed boxing fan of Mohammad Ali and remember names likes Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston as icons to be venerated though I never actually saw them fight until much later.  I just liked the idea of them and learned names from the snippets of conversation between men and boys on my block.

Fast forwarding to what seems like a million years later, it took me until 1996 to actually walk into a boxing gym. Having done so, and like many men and women before me, I fell in love with boxing almost to the point of tears at just thinking about it. In those early forays, I used to keep a log of punch counts (so many punch combinations x so many repetitions per round) and would get all sorts of heart fluttery every time I got near the gym.

More to the point, it began to change how I felt about myself.  I was 42 then — and in decent enough shape for someone who’d never been athletic except for stints of hour-long runs a few years before.  Beyond the improvements in physical conditioning, it felt great to feel my own power, something I’d spent a lifetime denying.  The most liberating sensation, however, was the physical act of hitting — and I mean really hitting with all the force and torque of my body. That was something I’d been denied all my life — the freedom to let things go with an explosive pop accompanied by a guttural grunt of release.

That certainly wasn’t in the manual of things girls could do when I was growing up and how extraordinary that I was 42 years old before I was even aware of having missed out.

Female boxers in Afghanistan, Credit: Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

In thinking about my own experience, it occurred to me that other women, younger or older, athletes or non-athletes, may also undergo transformative experiences as they box.  Those experiences have multiplied times all of the women who participate in the sport whether as professionals, amateurs or recreational boxers like myself.   Somewhere buried inside of those experiences are the transformations that affect how everyone sees and thinks of women who box and whether those interpretations are positive or negative, the changes that women make for themselves are here to stay.

Maybe that’s why I smile so much every time I read about the Afghanistan Women’s Boxing Team.

11
Sep
11

Ten years on …

Ten years on …

My first memory of the Twin Towers was of watching their construction caught in snippets while walking downtown.  It wasn’t  until construction was completed in April of 1973 that the buildings became something special to me.

I was walking in the village on a foggy evening.  One of those late spring nights with a warm dusting of rain that permeated the air with hints of the summer to come.  Walking down Bleecker Street crossing Sullivan I happend to look south and literally did a dead stop as I took in the magnificence of the two towers alight with a soft glow as they rose up into the mist.  There was something about the image of these two remarkable modern edifices set against the low buildings of the Village that created an indelible picture in my mind; one that I sought out over the years standing on that same spot to reclaim some of the magic of that first vision.

And those buildings did have magic.  The kind of magic that brought Philippe Petit all the way from France to walk between the towers if for no other reason than because they were they.

They were there — a seeming touchstone to my New Yorkness; to the New York I had created for myself all those years ago, standing on Sullivan Street at the threshold to my adulthood.

The towers stood there when I saw them from my grandmother’s kitchen window in Far Rockaway or every time I flew into Kennedy airport or walked across the Brooklyn Bridge or the day I shot several rolls of film photographing them, or the days I’d go to grab a sandwich there after I started working at the Woolworth Building.  All are memories that live as separate pictures in my mind.  Of seeing the buildings in the distance or as enormous edifices that seemed to rise forever as I stood at their edges staring up.

My last vision of them was seeing them on fire through my daughter’s window. And then they simply disappeared in clouds of terrible smoke and ash that lingered for months in our mouths and in our clothing.  A soot and smell that sickened us and killed our hearts.

That ash contained all of our memories and like a sacred fire, the tiny fragments of all of those lives that had been lost.

I truly can’t look at downtown without feeling the hole in the sky.  Even ten years on, I ache for those buildings as a lover who mourns the loss of an old dear friend, only in this case I also feel the loss of friends, colleagues and friends of friends who perished.  I feel the special pain that all New Yorkers feel for the people who died trying to help others escape.  That too is a hole that will never really heal — especially since day by day, those who came to help get sicker and sicker.

Perhaps I reserve the biggest hole in my heart for the lose of the America I loved — we weren’t quite as mean and angry then, and didn’t carry the outward signs of terrible vengeance.  Maybe we always did harbor a streak of Old Testament wrathfulness, but it just didn’t seem as apparent.  I’m sorry for that loss too.

My New Yorkness has had to adjust itself to the new skyline — just as my Americanness has had to adjust to endless war, Guantanamo Bay, financial meltdowns and the realities of the Tea Party.  None sit easily with me, but ever the optimist, I hope for a better day.

Ten years on, I admit to getting on with things and not keeping the memories as fresh wounds that endlessly bleed, still, if I happen to watch a movie from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s, I feel an incredible ache as I catch sight of their magnificence once more.

11
Sep
11

Amanda Serrano takes the IBF Super Featherweight Title!

Amanda Serrano takes the IBF Super Featherweight Title!

Brooklyn’s own unbeaten NABF Featherweight Champion Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano has added to her string of victories by winning the vacant IBF Super Featherweight championship title with her second round TKO of Kimberly Conner  last night at Aviator Sports Complex in an event promoted by Boxing 360.

With this win the impressive 23-year old fighter improves her record to 12-0-1 with 8-KOs.

Cindy Serrano, Photo: Chris Lopez

Serrano has also joined her talented her older sister, Cindy “Checkmate” Serrano (15-3-2, 7-KOs) in bringing home championship belts, and will be cheering her on when Cindy fights Anne Sophie Mathis (24-1, 21-KO’s) this coming October 1st in France for the WIBA, WIBF and WBF welterweight championships.

Both sister train and spar together and wouldn’t be surprised if they faced each other in a professional bout somewhere in the future.

09
Sep
11

Ana Julaton set to fight Jessica Villafranca in Mexico!

>>>>UPDATE>>>>

Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton handily defeated Jessica Villafranca to retain her WBO Super bantamweight title last night.  Julaton won a unanimous decision with the judges scoring the ten-round bout, 98-91, 96-93, and 97-20.

Ana Julaton set to fight Jessica Villafranca in Mexico!

Current WBO Super Bantamweight champion, and the darling of California and the Philippines, Ana Julaton (9-2-1, 1-KO) will be defending her title against Mexico’s own Jessica Villafranca (12-3-0, 6-KOs) on September 30th at the Polifuncional in Kanasin, Yucatan, Mexico.

Ana Julaton

Julaton will be the second American championship boxer in as many months to defend her title in Mexico, following on the heals of Kaliesha West who successfully defeated Villafranca last month in a highly rated showdown broadcast on Mexico’s Televisio network.

“I want to show the Boxing World that I will fight anyone, anywhere, at any time and will do my utmost to represent the proud Filipino nation in the great traditions that they have come to expect,” said Julaton in a recent press release announcing the bout.

Kaliesha West and Jessica Villafranco, Photo: HG Boxing

With respect to the matchmaking for this bout, Villafranca is an interesting choice given her recent fight record.  The 18-year-old fighter lost a match to Erica Farias at 133-1/2 pounds this past February when she was dropped in the first round. Villafranca went down to 121 pounds for her next bout on August 7th against Maria Jimenez and won (purportedly near her natural weight), and then dropped down to 118 pounds to fight against Kaliesha West on August 20th.  Given Villafranca’s relative size, that’s a lot of weight to gain and lose over a short period and while she will be fighting Julaton at 122 pounds, her weight fluctuations may well affect her fighting abilities.

The other interesting aspect of this fight is the fact that as popular and well-promoted as Julaton’s fights have been — her fight team is electing to go to Mexico where women’s boxing is not only popular, but given the respect it deserves in terms of media exposure, live television coverage and fans in the stands.  The question is how self-fulling is this?  Is it a case of — if you promote it they will come?  It sure seems like it because by putting the product out there, fans have obviously voted with their support which would seem to be why women’s boxing has heated up of late.  It is also an impetus for women to take up the sweet science — which will only serve to improve the sport.

The Julaton-Villafranca bout is being promoted by Orion Sports Management and Yucatan Boxing and will be broadcast via the Philippines GMA Network worldwide. It is also expected that the bout will be televised on Mexican television as well as available via video streaming on-line.

08
Sep
11

My dinner with Mischa Merz!

My dinner with Mischa Merz!

Mischa Merz

Former Austrialian national champion Mischa Merz and author of the book, The Sweetest Thing: A Boxer’s Memoir has come to New York to meet up with old friends and promote her book.  She’ll be reading a chapter tonight (September 8th) at the Sidewalk Cafe (94 Avenue A @ 6th Street) in the East Village beginning at 6:30 PM.

Mischa will also be reading in at her Bookstore Boxing event along with author Binnie Klien, documentary filmmaker, Leyla Leidecker and for the “main event” a women’s boxing exhibition featuring WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Alicia Ashley and 2008 Golden Glove winner Camille Currie.  The event will be held at BookCourt  (163 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY) on Sunday, September 11th beginning at 7:00 PM.

Last night, I had the opportunity to meet up with Mischa at Gleason’s Gym and after a workout we headed over to Rice Restaurant on Washington Street for some well deserved dinner!

Generous with her time as always, Mischa talked about the process of writing her book noting that much of the book “wrote itself” because as she put it, “I have the luxury of this great reality I can write about.”

For those Girlboxing readers who have not read Mischa’s book, it is a personal journey through the world of women’s boxing in the United States at a particular place and time — and ends with an epilogue about the  2010 Women’s World Championships in Barbados.

In talking about how she came up with the concept for the book she wanted to write a contemporary history of women’s boxing so that the flashes of brilliance found in such fighters as Bonnie Canino wouldn’t be forgotten.  “In another five or ten years it’ll be like trying to dig out people that are just lost,” she said.

This germ of an idea expanded to become a more personal journey through the story, and as she says, a lived experienced. “The book was more about spending time with people and training with people I’d admired from a distance,” adding that in writing the book, “it was a matter of producing, it was a matter of tying it up.  It was a very tight deadline I had 6 months to write it and live it.  I spent 5 weeks here fighting, writing up notes every night in cafes about what was happening and then from August to December I had to turn it into a manuscript.”

The book is also a sojourn through a personal passion best stated in the preface to her book:

My relationship with boxing has been like one you would have with another human being.  I have loathed it and adored it.  It has both invaded my dreams and turned my stomach.  I have resolved to reduce its significance in my life only to see my passionf or it intensify.  Boxing is my man. Even my husband will tell you so. (ix)

Sitting across a dinner table, Mischa is no less passionate about the sport. Talking about the 2010 Women’s World Championships in Barbados she said, “Barbados really was a dramatic seismic shift in my mind.  It was like every where you looked the women boxers were really great: explosive, technical, hitting hard.  Many women don’t know that they can be much more explosive, but these women were amazing. There were 300 or so and they were fighters, not just women, but great fighters.”

When Mischa isn’t taking fights or working as a boxing trainer in Melbourne, Australia, she writes.

“As a journalist, I continue to write about women’s boxing, but I like to write about other things as well, not get stuck too much.  I’ve discovered another potential book, but it’s much more Australian.  It’s about an aboriginal boxing gym, in Melbourne.  It’s history is actually connected to the Black Panthers movement here, and the [American]  civil rights movement, was its inpsiration.  That movement has been completely derailed in Australia. The gym has got the boxing at its core, but the ripples go beyond. It’ll be more of a historical book, but again, I may need to write it in the same way, by being inside.”

Having spent a lovely evening talking about boxing – not to mention a fabulous meal, we headed off in our separate directions.  If you can make it through the water logged streets of New York, do try and catch her reading tonight @ the Sidewalk Cafe and for you Brooklynites (or folks who just love a great time), do try and make it BookCourt on Sunday evening.  Otherwise, R-E-A-D Mischa’s book, its great!

 

07
Sep
11

Wordless Wednesday, 9/7/2011

Wordless Wednesday, 9/7/2011

 

 

 

All Female Fight Card, Gleason’s Gym, April 2011

Wordless Wednesday is a group of bloggers who give words a rest once a week.

06
Sep
11

Ann-Marie Saccurato: Consumate women’s boxing professional!

Ann-Marie Saccurato: Consumate women’s boxing professional!
Ann-Marie Saccurato (15-6-2, 6-KO’s) is a consumate boxing professional. Shaking off her recent upset loss against Argentinian fighter Erica Farias, Ann-Marie has arisen to take on new challenges with a new city, West Palm Beach, Florida, and a new job as a personal trainer and coach with the Institute of Human Performance.
Taking time from her busy schedule (new city, new home, new job!), Ann-Marie has graciously shared her thoughts and plans through a series of emails. She is not only inspirational, but gets to the core of what boxing is all about.
We thank Ann-Marie for her taking the time to give so much of herself to Girlboxing readers!

***

Your story is particularly inspirational in terms of what you’ve overcome in your life both physically and mentally. Given where you are now as a professional, how does having overcome such odds affect you now?

Overcoming the odds is something that has been a part of my life since I was a kid. I always knew that I had something very different and special inside me. I had this hunger and drive that was burning inside, along with a knowledge, not just a feeling, that I was meant for something more in this life.

I always wanted to be a professional athlete because I thought it meant I would make enough at what I love to take care of my mother and brother (lol…definitely not the case), but I also had a very strong urge to make it as a professional athlete because I wanted to use it as a way to pass along what was inside of me to others, to be able to be an inspiration to other kids or anyone else going through struggles. And, now I am doing that through motivational speaking, and through my job as a performance coach/trainer at the Institute of Human Performance in Boca Raton, Florida.

Overcoming odds in and out of the ring has made me soo much stronger not only on the outside, but more so, and more importantly within myself. It has caused me to look at things, choices, obstacles and life in general in a whole other perspective. And by following what I feel within, and by staying positive, focused, determined, and continuously believing in my dreams I have slowly brought them all into my life. It’s an incredible feeling of fulfillment and blessings that I want to pass on to others and help them to achieve. And the best part is, my journey in and out of the ring is still far from over, and in many ways I’m just starting…just like a Phoenix I’m continuously reborn growing stronger every time with every step.

***

How has boxing helped you? What is it about boxing you feel can help other women overcome their problems and challenges?

Boxing has helped me to really look within myself. Stepping into that ring causes you to really face yourself, it’s your truth, and will give you all the answers to what you really have inside. The training takes you on the journey of how far you are willing to push yourself and what you are truly capable of. How far beyond your limits can you push yourself. You realize if you are just a “boxer” or truly a warrior, a fighter.

Boxing gives women a chance to really grow stronger within, not just on a physical level, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. It gives them a sense of empowerment, inner strength, self confidence, and self esteem that they may have never had. And from that they will grow and transform in not only their personal but professional lives as well.

***

What are you feelings about the sport of women’s boxing now? Have you seen it change in the 12 years since you first donned gloves as an amateur? Do you feel that the the inclusion of women’s boxing in the Olympics will have a positive effect?

Women’s boxing has definitely grown in the depth of it’s athletes and their level of skill, and the popularity of the sport, but it still has a way to go. The amount of support and the exposure of the sport and the boxers in it is far from where it should, and deserves to be. There are more coaches in the sport giving female boxers the time, coaching, and respect they deserve as boxers, not as women. However, promoters across the board are still not allowing females the spotlight to shine, although it has gotten better. Yet it still seems that main stream television is continuing to shut out women’s boxing, even though they’ve started televising women’s MMA.

We need television behind to add more exposure to the sport and the quality fighters in it. The problem is that way too many times female fighters are so mismatched on televised fights it has not shown the quality of where the bar has been raised in the sport. I’m hopeful that the inclusion of the sport in the Olympics will elevate the exposure and support, as well as the popularity of the sport. The inclusion is long overdue, but at the same time the sport really needs the promoters and television stations to get behind it, and for their to better match ups on major fight undercards.

***

You’ve been such a stalwart of the New York women’s boxing scene, what is prompting your move to West Palm Beach, Florida? Will you continue your work as a personal trainer and giving motivational talks in addition to professional boxing?  (And will you visit us from time to time! BTW, I love seeing your championship banner hanging @ Gleason’s Gym!)

Ann-Marie Saccurato, Gleason's Gym

I am and forever will be not only a New Yorker, but a New York fighter inside. And, I am so incredibly proud to have a World Champion banner bearing my name at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. That is something that is soo heartfelt and special to me, especially coming from the life and struggles I’ve been through, but I guess at the same time that is exactly what makes not just boxers, but fighters, and champions. Because, it is not what we go through or have gone through, but what we do to overcome and where we take ourselves, in and out of the ring. So, that banner is not only an honor but also extremely symbolic.

And, yes I have just moved to West Palm Beach, Florida because of another dream coming true in my life. I have been given the opportunity to work for world-renowned performance coach, my own performance coach, and the man whose school of thought and teachings I’ve studied under as a performance coach, Juan Carlos Santana, at the Institute of Human Performance (IHP), in Boca Raton, Florida. I am a performance coach there now, which is something I have dreamt of doing for years. It is an incredible opportunity for growth as a trainer, and gives me the opportunity to train not only elite athletes, but also to train elite fighters, including many American Top Team fighters. And to work under, and alongside JC is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so blessed to have. I also will continue to do motivational speaking on my own, as well as with IHP. And, yes I will miss Gleason’s and it will always have a special place in my heart, and I will be sure to visit on my tips back home.

***

In your last fight with Erica Farias, you sustained a cut that continued to bleed through a couple of rounds which led to the Referee calling the fight. Do you feel he jumped the gun on that or on balance, was that the right call?  As a follow-up the fight until that point was tremendously exciting, are you in talks for a rematch?
My last fight with Erica Farias was truly devastating. I was in the very best shape of my life, and added a great deal to my game in terms of technical changes. However, my warmup was cut short and I just couldn’t get into my rythym until the 4th/5th round.  That’s when I started landing the shots I needed to, and when I started to put together what I needed to and started to fall into my game. However, then the clash of heads in the 7th. I knew I didn’t do enough, nor did I do anything close to what I came to do, trained to do, or am capable of.
I felt completely fine, physically better then I have ever felt in a fight, I did not feel that the fight should have been stopped at all, but it was, and I am what I am which is a champion and a fighter. So, I will do what I do…come back harder, stronger, and hungrier.
This has given me a whole new focus, a whole new drive, and so I welcome the challenge and just say…BRING IT ON 😉 and yes I want a re-match and Erica did agree after the fight. However, it is up to her promoter or any American promoter with interest to make it happen. But, outside of that fight, I’m here and I’m hungry.

***

What are your longer term goals in the sport and for yourself as a role model in the sport?

As for my goals in the sport, I just want to keep seeing how far I can take myself, and hope to continue to be a positive force and an inspiration through my career and my journey in and out of the ring. Boxing may not give you all the money in the world, but what it has given me inside, the journey it has taken me on, challenges it has strengthened me through, lessons it has taught me, and the lives it has allowed me to touch is something money could never buy, and what I am so grateful to have as part of my personal journey and hopefully part of the legacy I hope to leave behind. What the future holds I do not know, but I do know that I am going after it full speed, back on the climb to the top, embracing each moment and each challenge with open arms, grateful for the life I have, blessed for the lives I touch, and hungry for what lies ahead.

This life is a gift, it’s yours to do and go after what you want, so LIVE IT! Believe in those dreams, stay true to them, and follow what is in your heart, listen to what your soul yearns for, because you can have it ALL. Welcome all haters and obstacles because they are there for you to overcome and grow stronger from, so welcome the challenges to see what you are capable of within. We may not all be boxers, but we all have the opportunity to be a fighter, so look within yourself, dig down deep, face your fears and truths, and make your dreams reality.

LIVE, LOVE, LEARN, LEAVE A LEGACY, STAY STRONG, AND ALWAYS BELIEVE!!!

05
Sep
11

Honoring Women’s Labor: Elizabeth Wilkinson-Stokes, 18th Century Boxer!

Honoring women’s labor: Elizabeth Wilkinson-Stokes, 18th Century Boxer!

18th Century Female Bare-Knuckle Fighting

As a Labor Day treat, I thought it might be fun to share historical accounts and commentary about Elizabeth Wilkinson Stokes, generally accepted as the first recorded female boxing champion who took her fists and whatever weapons were handy into the streets of London in the early part of the 18th Century!  And yes, that’s 18th Century!

Beginning in the early 1700’s organized “street”-fighting became an early popular form of entertainment in England, and while it had been around even earlier, “bare-knuckle fighting” as it was known then became popularized by James Figg who elevated the sport from one of a working-class free-for-all to a form closer to today’s boxing at his School of Arms and Self Defense.

To quote an article entitled Prize Fighters: Elizabeth Wilkinson-Stokes: The “London Journal” for June 23, 1722, refers to a battle between “two of the feminine gender” who “maintained the battle with great valour for a long time, to the no small satisfaction of the spectators.” After this description the advertisement appeared: “I, Elizabeth Wilkinson of Clerkenwell, who had earlier had some words with Hannah Hyfield, ‘challenged and invited’ her adversary to meet her on the stage for three guineas. Each fighter would hold half-a-crown in each hand and the first to drop the money would lose the battle. Elizabeth Wilkinson won on that day. Shortly after this she beat another lady pugilist from Billingsgate – Martha Jones. The only details of this contest are that it lasted 22 minutes.” 

Christopher James Shelton’s article about Elizabeth Wilkinson Stokes entitled 1720’s English MMA Fighter cites numerous historical accounts of her remarkable achievements fighting both men and women. Shelton’s article is informative and details her exploits and the historical context for the 18th Century’s version of pugilism.

Shelton was also recently interviewed on the Ringside Boxing Show about Elizabeth Wilkinson Stokes. To give a listen, the link is here:  First Female Fighter, Circa 1720.

An article penned by Lucy, on the Georgian London website provides other fascinating quotes from newspapers and other sources to include this account from 1728 in the Daily Post:

At Mr Stokes’s Amphitheatre in Islington Road, this present Monday, being the 7th of October, will be a complete Boxing Match, by the two following Championesses: Whereas I, Ann Field, of Stoke Newington, ass driver, well-known for my abilities in my own defence, whenever it happened in my way, having been affronted by Mrs Stokes, styled the European Championess, do fairly invite her to a trial of her best skill in Boxing, for 10 pounds; fair rise and fall…I, Elizabeth Stokes, of the City of London, have not fought this way since I fought the famous Boxing Woman of Billingsgate 29 minutes and gained a complete victory….but as the famous ass-woman of Stowe Newington dares me to fight her for the 10 pounds, I do assure her I shall not tail meeting her for the said sum, and doubt not that the blows I shall present her with will be more difficult to digest than any she ever gave her asses. 

And how about the fact that Stokes earned ten pounds for a fight!  That would be the equivalent of tens of thousands by today’s standards if not more!  I’ll add that there are many other sources on the web, so enjoy your American Labor Day with a bit of history!
04
Sep
11

Tricia Turton: Boxer, Coach and Evangelist for Boxing!

Tricia Turton: Boxer, Coach and Evangelist for Boxing!

Tricia Turton, as an Amateur Boxer in 2003. Photo Credit: Ellen N. Banner/The Seattle Times

Tricia Turton (8-4, 3-KO’s) took up boxing after her successful amateur career as a member of the United States Women’s Rugby Team making it all the way to the World Cup.  She has subsequently had a fabulous career in amateur and professional women’s boxing, but has found her true calling as a coach and trainer at Cappy’s Gym in Seattle, Washington.

Recently, Tricia was kind enough to enter into an email correspondence to talk about her life in boxing and her feelings about the sport.  Her interview follows.

***

For Girlboxing readers who may be unfamiliar with your career as a professional boxer, please tell us how you got started in women’s boxing? What drew you to boxing in the first place?  What keeps you in the sport now as a trainer? 

A friend and previous rugby teammate told me about Cappy’s Boxing Gym and what a great workout it was. I was retiring from my rugby career and wanted something else to do.  After attending my first lesson, I was hooked.  Coach Cap asked me if I was interested in competing and the rest is history.

***

You had a 16-2 amateur boxing career including winning the 2004 USA National Title in the 176 lb.+ weight division. How did that desire to box motivate you to take the plunge from amateur to professional?

In 2004 I was 34 yrs old and the Masters division did not exist. I had quit my job at United Parcel Service to commit to a coaching career at Cappy’s Gym. But, I had a lot in the basement about competition and wasn’t ready to give it up, so turning pro seemed like a logical step.

***

You fought some pretty tough opponents including Mary Jo Saunders and Holly Holm, and you even fought Dakota Stone who just got the decision against Christie Martin. What was it like to fight at that level of boxing? 

Tricia Turton (L) sparring with Dakota Stone, Photo: Ellen N. Banner/The Seattle Times

Not only did I fight tough opponents, I fought in their home towns for 10-round title fights!

My biggest opponent and toughest matches were versus Lisa Holewyne. The first match was only my 5th fight and around her 40th. It was also my first main event at home and my first 8-rounder. I won our first bout by unanimous decision and she accused me of running. We re-matched and I was motivated to take away her excuse. I stood toe-to-toe with someone who outweighed me by 10 lbs. and again won by unanimous decision.

It is more about the training to fight at the 8-10 round and title level than it is the actual fight. This realization has motivated me as a Coach more than ever. At Cappy’s another motto is, “Training is Your Trophy.” My fights versus the other top boxers in my weight class solidified my belief in this motto.

***

You retired from fighting in 2007 after your loss to Miriam Brakache having fought twelve professional fights. Looking back on it now, do you feel you left at the right time?

I definitely left at the right time. Balancing coaching and competing was too difficult. I needed to pursue one with my all. After my performance with Brakache, Coach Cap and I decided that it was time to take on matches outside the ring.

***

You’ve been at the legendary Cappy’s Gym for some time and it seems as if it has become a real home for you. Tell us about the gym and what its like to be a trainer there. 

Tricia Turton, training a boxer at Cappy's Gym

I love my Coaching Job at Cappy’s. We have a rigorous coaching training track – at least 1 year before you can become a coach. We work with Boxers from 6 years of age to 70+ and we train competitive and recreational boxers at all levels. Our specialty is our Everyday Fitness Program, where we teach people how to train and take on personal matches in life.

My entire life has changed because of boxing, and specifically from becoming a coach. I have hit the mat, gotten back up and become stronger for facing all the matches that I have experienced in life and coaching. I have found my home and my career at Cappy’s. There is a lot of pride and passion in our Gym and neighborhood, The Central District, and I love being a part of it.

It feels natural to express myself through coaching. One of our coach training principles is to take on yourself what you ask your boxers to do. This training principle helped me in my transition from competitor to coach. Through coaching and training at Cappy’s, I learn a lot about taking out personal stuff so the boxers can be themselves.

 ***

Switching gears a bit to talk about women’s boxing in general, I’ve read that you were on the US Women’s National Rugby Team. That got me to thinking that there must be some challenges for women crossing over from a team sport to an individual sport such as boxing. It would be great if you’d talk to that for those readers who may be in a similar position.  

Yes, I played for the U.S. Eagles Rugby team and played in the 1998 Rugby World Cup. It was an awesome experience and I still tear up when I think about standing on the field listening to our National Anthem. My rugby team experience prepared me for boxing. I have found that boxing is much more a team sport than an individual sport. You don’t do anything alone, even after the bell rings.

At Cappy’s we model this concept with a team coaching staff. If it weren’t for the team, getting in the ring would be near impossible. I do think that team athletes can cross over to boxing, because, if you have the mindset of training, a lot is possible. Everyone can find a home in boxing and boxing training.  At Cappy’s we call it a Boxer’s Lifestyle. We also believe that a Boxer must live a Boxing Lifestyle to achieve the elite status of going to the Olympics.

 ***

Do you think that the inclusion of women’s boxing in the Olympics will change the sport irrevocably or will there still be space for women athletes to cross over to become competitive amateurs and professionals after having trained and competed in other sports.

As the sport progresses, I believe the level of competition will require that women athletes start out younger.

***

For those women reading this who may not be experienced boxers, what advise can you give the novice who is just coming into the sport? Are there any specifics related to general fitness, diet and so on that you feel it is important for women to incorporate into their boxing regimen.  

The most important thing is finding the coach and training style you want to work with and stick with it no matter what. I found my home as a boxer and as a coach at Cappy’s and the possibilities are endless. The second thing is, give over to boxing. If you are going to get in the ring and give and take punches, then boxing is all you can think about — it has to be your lifestyle.

 ***

For the last question, I’ll note that you obviously have tremendous love for the sport of women’s boxing. What has the sport given you and what are you trying to give back?

I have tremendous love for the sport of boxing. I appreciate that Cap and Cappy’s have given me a career that I can believe in. This belief in boxing helps me grow and increase my overall life skills. I want to give back so that others have the opportunity to follow that path.

***

If you happen to be in the Seattle area, be sure and stop by Cappy’s Gym to shout out a big hello to Tricia, Cappy and the rest of the crew.  They are located at 1408 22nd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122.  Telephone: (206) 322-6410.

03
Sep
11

Great gym morning!

Great gym morning!

There’s nothing like a great morning at the gym to start off the day.  This morning did not disappoint either — between working out with Lennox focusing on pushing off the body to throw a right dig, straight right, left hook combination and watching everyone work through the heat and humidity of the gym to shake of the summer doldrums, the focus and energy seemed to shake everyone awake.

It’s as if everyone felt inspired by the work of everyone else too.  Punches seemed a little bit crisper, body work a bit more dug in, and the sparring seemed more like dance than boxing. Even the mirror work felt fun with lots of talking and instruction through the rounds and a genuine feeling of camaraderie to add an extra something to everyone’s work out.

I started off with a slow and steady one mile run and then did my usual sweet 16, though I admit to flagging hard in my third round with Len.  Still, I pulled it out and after allowing myself a round off, started to work the double-ended bag with renewed vigor especially went it came to doubling up the left hooks.

All I can say is count me lucky to have had such a great way to ease into the last weekend of summer.




September 2011
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