Tricia Turton: Boxer, Coach and Evangelist for Boxing!
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?
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.
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.