Exclusive Interview with Sonya Lamonakis set to fight on June 14th @ Roseland Ballroom!
Gleason’s Gym’sown scholar and favorite female heavyweight Sonya Lamonakis (6-0-1) will be returning to Dibella Entertainment’sBroadway Boxing in a rousing six-round rematch against Tiffany Woodard (4-6-2) on June 14, 2012 at the storied Roseland Ballroom.
Lamonakis and Woodard have met twice before. While Lamonakis has won both fights, their last outing also under the Broadway Boxing banner at Mechanic’s Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts in August 2011 resulted in a split decision win.
Lamonakis and Woodard, August 2011
While Lamonakis has been hard at work prepping for this bout, she’s also been finishing up the school year at the Family Academy school in Harlem. In between her busy schedule, Sonya agreed to do an interview with Girlboxing.
1. You’ve got a fight coming up against Tiffany Woodard on June 14th as Roseland Ballroom in NYC as part of the Broadway Boxing series. Your last time out with Tiffany you won by a split-decision over six rounds. What is your game plan against her this time out?
This will be our trilogy. She is a tough opponent not to be taken lightly. We are both coming off a draw and want a win. I plan on working angles and combinations. I will be more active than the last time I fought her.
2. You are 6-0-1 now, that’s quite an achievement. What are you looking to achieve with a win against Woodard?
A win! Again, I’m coming off a draw and I need to get that W and get ready for a title fight in the future.
3. What has your training been like for the fight? I know your semester is winding down, but you are still working full-time as a teacher in Harlem. How are you able to make things work?
Training has been a little crazy.
I fired my trainers and will have Buddy McGirtin my corner. He worked with me about two months ago when he was here training a fighter for a big fight for about a month. Unfortunately, he went back to his home in Florida and I was lost without him. I attempted to work with “Blimp” Delon Parsley and Lennox Blackmore, but neither of them were to aggressive with my training and took it too lightly. I felt I was not being taken seriously enough and needed a change.
Work is winding down and the summer is here. I am delighted to greet it. I do my best to balance my career and my hobby. I always put my students first. One Saturday a month I set up a trip for my students to take them out of the city on a hike, or adventure so they can breathe some clean air and work on confidence, self-esteem, and finding themselves.
4. Kaliesha “Wild Wild” West issued a press release with her father and trainer Juan West stating that while women work as hard as men in the fight game, they are not catching any kind of breaks for fight promotions or TV air time. I know that you’ve had a great relationship with Lou DiBella and Broadway Boxing here in New York, but do you feel that Kaliesha has a point? Are things really tough right now for female pro boxers trying to gain the experience, recognition and opportunity that comes with televised fights?
Unfortunately, women are not getting what they deserve. I have never been told or heard that my fights are boring or are not worthy of television. I dream of the day that I will fight onESPN Friday Night Fights, or even Showbox, or HBO Boxing. For now, I am thankful that Lou allows me on his cards and always gives me TV time on SNYand MSG. It’s baby steps for women. Even as an amateur I had to fight against the odds to create a path for the women to get where they are today. I am proud to be part of the movement that opened up women’s boxing at the amateur and professional level.
5. You’ve only fought two fights since last April, one in August one in January–can you tell us what’s been going on in the women’s heavyweight division and why there seem to be so few fights?
Boxing is an expensive sport. The promoters want to make money. There is not a lot of money in women’s boxing. With the more wins I get the harder it is to find opponents. There are a lot more heavyweights but not ones that want to fight me. They ask for a lot of money and my promoter can only pay so much. It’s not like Lou is making $100,000 off my fight. I sell tickets to cover my purse and my opponents. I’m waiting for an offer from a woman on her card so I don’t have to worry about tickets and I can be the guest on a show.
6. Sonya, you are an inspiration to so many people not only as a boxer, but as a teacher and in your work against bullying. Your personal story is also one of redemption, hope and faith. Tell Girlboxing readers about your work in the community and how it is affecting the lives of young people?
Teaching school and guiding children is something I’m good at. I am positive role model for the children academically and personally. I attended colleges and received masters degrees and hold five different New York State Education Certifications in a variety of fields. I’m also an athlete and the students can relate to me. I love all my children and find the good in each of them. I do my best to instill values and morals in them that will lead to towards successful lives. I tell them that if they want to have choices when they are older they need to have an education. Without an education you have no choices to make. You have to take whatever job you can and do your best to survive. As an example, remember that episode on the Cosby’s when Bill gave his son fake money and had him pay bills until he ran out quickly. At that point he wanted more things, but he had no money left. So without an education, your choices will be limited, but with an education you can go anywhere.
7. One last question — with the debut of women’s boxing at the 2012 London Olympic Games, what do you feel most proud of?
I feel proud to be a part of the movement that accomplished this mission. I attended meetings, competed in the Nationals, signed petitions, advocated for the women and being an amateur boxer allowed me to be part of the debut of women’s boxing. I look forward to the Olympics and hope that it opens the doors for more women in the future of boxing.
Kate Sekules and The Boxer’s Heart: A Woman Fighting!
As Kate Sekules says of her love affair with boxing in her memoir, The Boxer’s Heart: A Woman Fighting, “I wonder myself what set this obsession in motion.” Kate never stops describing it either, from her affection for the sport on through her experiences beginning with her early forays into the gym and what it felt like the first time she stepped into the ring to fight. As she says,
“Training to box is one of the toughest physical challenges you can set yourself, and it is clean. But once you step through the ropes, a dimension rears up that is not pure at all. To compete as a runner, a swimmer, a player of tennis, golf, basketball, football-any noncombat sport-what you do is an extension of what you did in training, only more intense; but to compete as a boxer, your aims are suddenly quite distinct from those of your training sessions. You hope to inflict so much pain on your opponents that they fall over and can’t get up.”
Kate’s book is a warm, colorful homage to her years training at Gleason’s Gym — and of the women she trained along side beginning in 1992 on through the late 1990’s. Originally published in 2000, Kate has reissued her memoir with a new afterward to coincide with the historical debut of Women’s Boxing at the 2012 Olympics.
As for the ensuing 11 years, Kate notes the sport has “actually become less visible.” Something we all feel with “more female mis-matches … and more neglect of women’s bouts by mainstream media.”
What comes across, however, in Kate’s highly engaging book is truly the viewpoint of a boxer’s heart. She shows us her love of the sport, the camaraderie of her fellow boxers and an intimate perspective of the journey of a boxer. As Kate said recently in an interview with Girlboxing, “We confront through boxing the same issues every woman faces,” only in the case of a female boxer we add a touch of “rebellion perhaps and a counter to mainstream culture.”
Kate also made the point that the “book is for men and women about gender roles as much as about the sport.” Still what Kate provides is a treasure trove of details about the sport at a certain time and place — as well as an intimate portrait of Kate and her cohort of boxing friends all working hard to practice the art they love so much.
These days, Kate can be found back at Gleason’s Gym once a week — after having worked out at Chelsea Piers for a while doing their “Lunchbox”series which she swears was “amazing, he’s really, really good.” She’s also the owner of Refashioner, a marketplace for pre-owned couture.
The Boxer’s Heart: A Woman Fighting will be hitting bookstores this week — and if you happen to live in Brooklyn, be sure and stop by BookCourton Friday, June 1st for a live reading! Details are as follows:
Shelito Vincent vs Carmen Cruz (female bantamweights) – Bringing a good vibe and an infectious smile, the wildly popular Shelito Vincent (3-0 from Providence RI) pounded out her third win as a professional, defeating the debuting Carmen Cruz (0-1 from Fort Meyers, FL) over four easy rounds. Vincent came on strong in the final round, rocking her opponent with a nifty combination to close the show and leave no doubts. Unanimous shutout scores of 40-36 in favor of Vincent serve to illustrate just how dominant she was.
Shelito Vincent set to fight her third bout on May 24th!
BantamweightShelito Vincent(2-0) is set to fight her third bout as a pro boxer on May 24th at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Vincent’s opponent in the ring will be Carmen Cruz in her first professional fight. (Contact Lew Beasley to purchase tickets at 860-501-4703. Seats are $35.00)
Before her professional debut against Karen Dulin this past October, Vincent had an 11-4 amateur career, capped by winning the 2011 National Golden Gloves Bantamweight Title at 119 lbs.
Shelito has recently begun training with the legendary Peter Manfredo Sr. She credits him with pushing her to the next level as a fighter, but more importantly, helping her to believe in her own potential.
A native of Connecticut, Shelito has not had it easy. She has overcome tragedy, disillusionment and incarceration, but has found herself back on a more positive road. Her transformation will see her to speak on May 14th at the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London, CT as part of their “Hope Week” Effective Leadership Conference. Shelito will share her life experiences, struggles, and talk about what she has done to overcome her demons to move on to a better life.
Girlboxinghad the opportunity to pose a series of questions to Shelito about her upcoming fight, but more importantly, about her inspirational story. This is what Shelito had to say.
Q1: Your first started boxing as an 18 year old and then found your way back to boxing later in your life having made a renewed commitment to training and to your amateur and professional competitive career. What has boxing come to mean to you?
A1: Boxing means everything to me. I owe my life to boxing. It got me out of depression, out the streets, off booze. When I was incarcerated all I thought about was what if I took it serious would I be here.. Everyone told me I was good enough to get somewhere. Think back then I didn’t believe in myself. Life is a everyday battle some harder then others… I look to boxing as if I can take blows everyday then emotional pains and blows are nothing… I survive beatings everyday… When you win a tough fight u feel great… Same with battles of life… So to me they symbolize the same.
Q2: A recent article about you discussed how your mother’s untimely death caused you to spiral into a deep depression and eventually some run-ins with the law. What can you tell Girlboxing readers about your road to recovery and how your story can be inspirational to others who have encountered similar setbacks?
A2: Nothing is too big to overcome… Pain is temporary.. You can’t let anything keep you down… With me being openly gay and at a time gay was not accepted like it is she and my Great Grandmother were all I had at that time I lost my grandmother shortly after also… Talk to someone! There’s always someone there… Channel the emotions… These are all things I’ve come to learn… It was a Lil bit deeper then just my that though that pushed me over the edge.. I had a tramatic thing happen to me at 13. Which I’m not ready to let out yet… My team Dena, Mary an Peter my best friend an corner Marcia an Brother Lew keep me focused and on point now…
Q3: You have a loving partner with a four year old son. How has raising a child affected you and what can you share with us about the stability of your family life as you embark upon your professional boxing career?
A3: They make me a better person! Keep me pushing and make me want to obtain bigger goals to build us a better future… His room has all my trophys an accomplishment… I think maybe if these were things I seen everyday maybe that’s what I’d of worked for… Just a theory lol hope it works… He’s a great kid wants to be a ninja an boxer when he grows up lol.. And my woman takes care a me as well as my corner in Peter, Mary, Dena, Marcia, an Lew my Grandmother’s an Father also my family in the Hadley’s an Vincent’s and all my friends that come out an support… I feel complete again… They are my “new family” as well… I have my nieces an newphews that look up to me heavy now… Have to show them what hard work will get you and NEVER let them down!!!
Q4: It has been quite a year for you. You won the 2011 Golden Gloves National Bantamweight title this past July, and then made your pro debut in October. You are also training for your third professional fight on May 24th with a perfect 2-0 record. What has been the secret to your success in the ring?
A4: Listening to Peter with Hard work an Dedication… An respect for the game… Also listening to what the rest a my team and what they suggest… They all have strong points an roles.. I take it all in.
Q5: Your trainer, the legendary Peter Manfredo, Sr. has described you by saying. “She’ll do anything a man will do and more. She’s looking to show everybody, ‘I’m here.'” How do you react to that? What does the gym give you?
A5: Always remaining that person… I have so much respect for Pete… I promise to always give him a 110%… He makes me believe in me and I know we are just going to keep building and getting stronger I mean look at our guys we got Falowo, Ayala, Toca Kahn who is about to shine as a pro! Missy the fury Fiorentino… Look at what JR. did… Being in that building gets me pumped… I love Peter he’s the best… I feel like I found my nest there.
Q6: Women’s professional boxing is replete with women who are finding success in the ring well into their 40s and yet, it is hard to earn a living as a professional fighter. What challenges are you overcoming in order to pursue your dreams of winning a professional world title?
A6: Traveling but it’s worth it… Failure is not an option for me anymore!!! TEAMWORK make a DREAM WORK… I’m chasing my dreams, no obstacles will stop the kid no more!!!!
Q7: As you look into the future, what do you hope to achieve?
A7: Happiness, RESPECT, become a role model an counselor to troubled youth… And WORLD TITLES!!!!!! I know this will take a lot of work but I have great support in my team with Dena and Mary an Zack at Striking Beauties an the girls there… And Peter, Diego Periera and Ron, my dudes at Manfredo’s… I give thanks to Jaime Clampitt everyday also, she pulled me back into the sport!!!
AIBA, the International Boxing Association, has come out with their first world rankings. The rankings are based on AIBA’s scoring formula as of April 1, 2012. It makes for interesting reading ahead of the 2012 Women’s World Championships especially as the top eight of each of the Olympic weight categories will be selected to compete at the Olympics in July. It should be noted that the rankings do not reflect the recently completed 2012 Women’s Elite Continental Boxing Championships.
Here are the top five in each of the Olympic weight categories:
51 KG Top Five Rankings
51KG, #1 Ranked, Ren Cancan, China
#1. Ren Cancan, China
#2. Nicola Adams, England
#3. Alice Kate Aparri, Philippines
#4. Karolina Michalczuk, Polank
#5. Tetyana Kob, Ukraine
USA Boxing champion Marlen Esparza is ranked 7th overall, just behind India’s great champion Mary Kom who is ranked 6th.
Great boxing video by artist and amateur boxer Desiree D’Alessandro!
Talk about a must see video, please take the time to watch this wonderful visual tone-poem to boxing as an art form entitled Artistic Performance, Amateur Boxing and “A People To Come”as part of the Digital (De-)(Re-) Territorializations Conference by artist and amateur boxer Desiree D’Alessandro!
I’d also like to send a huge shout out to the Daniel Martinez Boxing website for posting this remarkable artist’s work. The link to Desiree’s original post is here.
Boxing has long been considered a hypermasculine sport harnessing masculine ideals of virility and aggression. It has resonated across millennia as an icon of sacred tradition that stretches as far back as the ancient Greeks with even earlier references to the sport in Mesopotamian cultures.
The earliest known literary reference to boxing is Homer’s depiction of the boxing match at the Funeral of Patroclus in The Illiad. Homer begins this section with the older Nestor’s talk with the Greek hero, Achilles:
My legs no longer firm, my friend, dead on my feet,
Nor do my arms go shooting from my shoulders—
the stunning punch, the left and right are gone.
Oh make me young again, and the strength inside me
steady as a rock! (Homer, The Iliad 579)
When thinking about martial contests, however, what might not be so readily apparent is that women have also enacted one or another form of martial ritual including boxing for just as long.
Accounts of Spartan educational regimens for young women in the same time period as TheIliad show that young female Spartans were trained for fighting in the same short tunic as young men and competed against them during training on a regular basis. The Roman poet Propertius also wrote of women with their “arms [bound] with thongs for boxing.”
Other forms of Greco-Roman cultural representations include the marble relief sculpture depicting two female gladiators known as the Missio of Halicarnassus from the first or second century CE and the black-figured hydria of Atalanta and Peleus Wrestling from 550 BCE.
Based on the myth of Atalanta, the hydria depicts her defeat of Peleus in a wrestling match at the funeral games of King Pelias. Given the importance of Funeral Games as “symbolic conflict” that both stand in for actual combat (the physical clashing of the bodies) and as a contest of honor, wherein the vanquished is raised up by the victor, the inclusion of female figures in such representations is certainly provocative.
However, given that Atalanta is also depicted as a particular favorite of Artemis, Goddess of both the hunt and maidenhood, we can begin to tease out a notion of gender identity in Greco-Roman culture which allows for a “third way” if you will: that of the maiden huntress/warrioress that also links to the myth of the Amazons.
The warrior women, variously described as a tribe of gyno-centric warrior females were quoted by Herodotus as saying “We would find it impossible to live with [other] women, because our practices are completely different from theirs. We haven’t learnt women’s work. We shoot arrows, wild javelins, ride horses—things which your women never have anything to do with.”
It can be argued that such depictions are liminal, based on a time between girlhood and motherhood. In this in-between space these young women are depicted as small breasted and virginal, thus creating an otherness between maleness and femaleness, on the order of Goddess Artemis and Diana. The status of these figures makes them free to hunt and even pursue martial enactments of maleness, however, the price of doing so is to remain pre-sexual.
Statue of a wounded Amazon, 1st–2nd century A.D. Roman copy of a Greek bronze statue, ca. 450–425 B.C. Marble. Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The myth of Atalanta is a perfect embodiment of this ideal. Atalanta enacts warriorness side-by-side with her shipmates Jason and the Argonauts, but can only do so as long as she remains a virgin. The depiction of the mythic women also inevitably shows them in short tunics rather than in long ankle length skirts – thus clearly mimicking the dress of Artemis and Diana. And in some cases, representing a depiction of actual cross-dressing: wearing a short tunic skirt instead of a long skirt. It should be noted that there are figures of Artemis in a long gown, however, those skirts typically open and show that she is free to run.
To my way of thinking, these are important threads in considering the significant place of female fighting figures historically.
 Spartan training of young girls was also under the influence of the Goddess Artemis who was often depicted in a short tunic. Throughout Greece, girls participated in formal Games (though not the Olympics) primarily in foot races with aspects of religious ritual associated with such participation.
Boddy, Kasia. Boxing: A Cultural History. London: Reaktion Books Ltd. 2008. Print.
Herodotus. The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories. Fifth Impression Edition. Eds. Robert B. Strassler. Trans. Andrea L. Purvis. New York: Pantheon (2007). Print.
Homer. The Iliad. Deluxe Edition. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. Print.
Murray, Stephen. “Female Gladiators of the Ancient Roman World.” Journal of Combative Sport. July 2003. Web. 12 Mar. 2012.
Papadopoulos, Maria. “The Women in Ancient Sparta: The Dialogue between the Divine and the Human.” SPARTA 6.2 (2010): 5-10. Print.