Posts Tagged ‘Sonya Lamonakis

26
Nov
16

77 Front Street

77 Front Street

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Gleason’s Gym, 77 Front Street, Brooklyn, November 26, 2016, Photo Credit: Malissa Smith

I first entered Gleason’s Gym at 77 Front Street in January 1997. It was a late morning, during the week, and I’d been working up the courage to cross the divide into a “real” boxing gym for some time.

Entering the second floor boxing emporium was like stepping into history. It fit every image of a boxing gym I’d ever had. It was somewhat dark, even with the light streaming through the wall of south-facing windows. It was cavernous and peopled inside and outside of the three rings with mostly men, but at least one women punching a heavy bag—who I later learned was Jo, wife of gym owner Bruce Silverglade.

The gym also had a smell to it of old sweat and new sweat, and steam heat and wringing wet gym clothes, that was in strong counterpoint to the almost antiseptic feel of every other gym I’d ever been in—health clubs really, which had been where I’d started my first rudimentary foray into the sweet science.

Standing in Gleason’s for the first time, taking in it all, with Bruce touring me around, I felt a mixture of awe and more awe and a dose of anxiety, watching real boxers spar and train, and finally a sense of triumph for having placed myself among the acolytes of a sport that had been contested since Homer had written about it in the 7th century BC.

It was then I came across the quote from Virgil that so lovingly adorns the wall at Gleason’s:

Now, whoever has courage, and a strong collected spirit to his breast, let him come forward, lace on the gloves and put up his hands.

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What I realized on that morning, was that was going to be me. I was going to face my fear. Face a lifetime of not having understood that I could always have crossed the divide of a boxing gym to box—even though I was a girl, it just took doing it to make it happen.

Back when Gleason’s Gym first opened in 1937 in the South Bronx at 149th Street and Westchester Avenue, it was the largest gym in New York City—no mean feat given the popularly of the sport in a town that had been associated with boxing since it first crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England in the 1820s. There were many, many gyms packed into every corner of the City back then, but Gleason’s became synonymous with boxing in the 1940s and 1950s when such champions as Jake LaMotta, Phil Terranova, and Jimmy Carter, called the gym home. Visiting boxers such as Mohammad Ali continued to give Gleason’s even greater cachet when they came up to the Bronx to train ahead of important fights at boxing’s Mecca, Madison Square Garden. The occasional woman boxed there too—including Jackie Tonawanda who trained there shortly before the gym relocated to West 30th Street in 1974.

Gleason’s continued to maintain its legendary status at its new location for the next 11 years before getting the boot when the building they were in turned co-op and they moved out of Manhattan to 77 Front Street in Brooklyn in 1985. Back then, before DUMBO was even a name, the industrial area was a pretty scary place. Bruce said, at the time, anyone coming to the gym was told to “get off in Brooklyn Heights at Clark Street on the 2 or 3 train and walk down along Henry Street.” He told them to walk the long way around rather than risking the walk through Cadman Park from the High Street A and C station or the route from the F train at York and Jay Streets.

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Bruce Silverglade, owner, Gleason’s Gym, November 26, 2016, Photo Credit: Malissa Smith

The new home while out of the way had everything a great boxing gym needed: space and lots of it, a new owner in Bruce Silverglade who having become a full-time partner with Ira Becker brought the enthusiasm needed to keep the sport going at a time when it was waning in the imagination of the public. Bruce also brought the foresight to commit to having women in the gym and at his insistence built a locker room for women and well as men so that women always felt welcome in the gym.

img_5623As place, however, Gleason’s has always meant more, at least to me. It’s the place where I came into my own physically. I learned to overcome fear not of the ordinary kind, but the fear of my own power. Of being able to release my full physical being onto a boxing bag, and eventually in the ring against a person. It’s also where I learned the generosity of boxers. Of the myriad of tips and tricks my fellow boxers offered, and of hearing the ubiquitous “hi ya’ champ,” from one person or another every time I walked through the gym.

Morning, noon, or night, weekdays or weekends, there’s always someone to offer encouragement–even as they may be breaking one’s “chops” so to speak. And if I happen to get something right in the ring, I’ll hear someone sing out about it.

These days, Gleason’s sports six female boxing champions: Alicia Ashley, Heather Hardy, Ronica Jeffries, Sonya Lamonakis, Keisher “Fire” McLeod, and Melissa St. Vil.  And if there’s one thing the gym has brought is a feeling of comfort for women from 6 to 60, and beyond.

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Gleason’s Gym trainers Lennox Blackmoore and Hector Roca, November 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Malissa Smith

When I first stepped into Gleason’s I was 42. These days, at 62, having boxed at Gleason’s on and off for 20 years, I feel it’s my home. As home, however, it’s come to have many meanings: For one, it’s the place where I can feel truly ageless.

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It’s where I’ve penned my Girlboxing blog, and due to the true support and generosity of Bruce Silverglade, it’s where I wrote parts of my book, A History Of Women’s Boxing. More than anything, however, even more than boxing, Gleason’s Gym is where I came into my own as a writer.

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Today, November 26, 2016, marked the last full day of Gleason’s 31 year history at 77 Front Street.

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Come Monday, November 28th, the gym will begin its next incarnation around the corner at 130 Water Street. As Bruce put it, the gym in its fourth iteration is “starting a new chapter.”

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For those of us on the early Saturday morning crew who rattled around this morning, embracing each other and otherwise reminiscing, there was a feeling of camaraderie, awe, and for sure a twinge of sadness. Gleason’s is after all, our collective home, but as Heather Hardy said, “it’s exciting that we are all going over there. And this right here, it won’t be any different from today to Monday.”

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If place is location–then yeah, things will be different, but if place is a state of being then 77 Front Street, will live on for all of us that have called this iteration of Gleason’s Gym home. And sure the paint won’t be peeling in the new place, and it’ll be C-L-E-A-N clean, we all figure after a few weeks that special Gleason’s odor will start to permeate the space, and before we know it the paint will start to peel there too.

02
Nov
15

Melissa St. Vil – Ready to Rumble

Melissa St. Vil – Ready to Rumble

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Boxer Melissa St. Vill by the “wall” at Brooklyn’s world famous Gleason’s Gym. Photo credit: Malissa Smith

Melissa St. Vil is a boxer with plans.

Her first plan is to win the UBF World Female Super Featherweight title on November 12th at Martin’s Valley Mansion in Cockeysville, MD. With her 6-1-3 record, she’ll be fighting the more experienced Jennifer Salinas (17-3-0, 4-KOs), in her backyard, but that doesn’t seem to worry St. Vil. With just seven fights to her credit, she defeated Sarah Kuhn to win the International Women’s Boxing Federation (IWBF) World Welterweight title in August of 2013. And while St. Vil has only had two fights since them (in 2014), she feels confident that she has what it takes to win.

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The Royal Six boxers, Ronica Jeffrey (l) and Melissa St. Vil at the recent Breast Cancer event at Gleason’s Gym. Photo Credit: Malissa Smith

As a member of The Royal Six, a group of New York based female boxing champions (Alicia Ashley, Ronica Jeffrey, Sonya Lamonakis, Keisher “Fire” Mcleod, and Alicia Napoleon), she is actively engaged in promoting the sport, raising money for charity and helping to put together an all female boxing card in the spring.

Winning world championships and promoting female boxing arent’s her only plans. She also wants to give back. To make a place of safety and sanctuary for girls and women to overcome violence and to find a place for themselves in the world. With her infectious laugh, it is hard to imagine that St. Vil would have ever known pain or violence–but she did. As with many of us the world over, it’s the fighting back to take possession of one’s own life that is the biggest challenge.

Melissa was kind enough to take time from her training with Leon “Cat” Taylor and Juan Guzman to speak with Girlboxing readers about her upcoming fight. We didn’t touch upon the dark stuff at all–just talked about boxing, moving on in life and her passion for the sport.

Here’s what she had to say:

01
Jan
15

A Thousand Strikes

A Thousand Strikes

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Having been nursing a miserable cold over the last week that has left me a sniffling, sneezing, foggy-headed wreck, I’d almost lost sight of the looming New Year. Sure, I’ve been aware of it—and have even felt myself in an interregnum of sorts eschewing anything particularly new, or when it comes to writing, even engaging in anything more rigorous than pithy “all my best wishes of the season” notes on holiday cards.

Now that the first day of 2015 has arrived, I can certainly say that I have been busy for a good portion of it taking care of chores (laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, and attending to social media), making New Year’s Hoppin’ John (the vegetarian version—an anathema, I’m sure, to the memory of my mother-in-law, and anyone with southern roots for that matter, who’d have surely had a fair amount of fat back added to it), continuing to nurse my cold (finally, seemingly, on the mend, though I’m still pretty foggy), and even catching a bit of a bowl game with my husband.

With all of that done, along with a few naps, it’s time to tackle the real part of my day—which is to ponder the boldness that a new year can bring to one’s life, along with the grand gestures that can punctuate one’s entry into them.

A Thousand Bokken Strikes on Rockaway Beach 01012015Whether it’s a thousand word blog post, a thousand strikes with a Japanese wooden bokken on Rockaway Beach, a thousand folded paper cranes to commemorate peace, a thousand jabs to start off a trip back to the boxing gym, or a thousand crisp cramp rolls on a tap dancing board, embracing the things one loves, by doing it to the count of one thousand is a brilliant way to begin or reaffirm one’s commitment to it.

Let’s face it, our lives get away from us and with rare exception most of us are at least tripled up with commitments at any given moment—not to mention our feelings of disappointment, angst, grief, anger and guilt at our inability to put the time in to the things that we consider are at the heart of what’s important to us.

Given the year I’ve just had, which was nothing short of miraculous when I consider that I published a book on the sport of women’s boxing, not to mention having reengaged in my own boxing pretty much every week all year—oh, and taken up tap dancing too—there were still the bits that I hadn’t done, such as blog regularly, work consistently on my next book and ensure that my family is taken care of in the way they should be.

With the New Year though, I have the opportunity to sort through those things that have meaning and the things that can be jettisoned, and having distilled it down—my thousand “somethings” are the thousand words of this post which constitute my way of saying writing’s the thing.

Blog posts about women’s boxing and whatever else catches my fancy, poems, essays, diatribes, and yep, “the book” are the purview of my reaffirmation to wordsmithing. And not just writing, but also finding the fun in writing and dare I say it, the joy of writing because, yes, it is a joy. A tremendous I-can-say-anything-I-want, action of plucking goodness knows what out of my thought processes and having it translated onto the page through fingers that dance and clickety-clack over the keys of my laptop.

Yes, JOY damn it! Writing can be joy—not a chore, not working to a deadline, not what the editor says or wants—but writing for the sake of it, because one can, because words can bring out ideas one never knew one had, because words have a magic and are, in my estimation as potent as anything an alchemist can conjure up. And importantly, because this year I am sixty, and if I can’t embrace the go-where-my-mind-wants-to-take-me journey that writing can be now—then when?

And, at least for me—and perhaps for all of us—that is the point, isn’t it? If not now, then when, whatever one’s passion, be it pottery, politics, winning a world championship belt (the way Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis did this past year) or being the best-damned cramp roller in the world.

All of these things amount to wonderful journeys—akin in some ways to the great pilgrimages. One sets out on a journey from point A to point B and through that process one can experience each point along the arc of A to B as transformative. Perform a jab a thousand times, and one begins to feel what it is like to really throw a jab. One will also have the chance to notice that jab number 10 will be different than jab number 860—tiredness aside, one will have a fluidity of action, an ease, a sense of accomplishment and the momentum to carry on forward to one’s goal.

For each one thousand “somethings,” one can journey on to the next one thousand or to whatever constituent sets one decides upon, but one will have already made one’s start, one’s leap into the thing that gives energy and joy and a myriad of other emotions and feelings that commitment can bring.

One can also find how those things tie in together. For me while writing is the thing, boxing and tap dancing are the physical embodiments of letting words unfold on the keyboard. By learning to maneuver in the ring with my trainer, Lennox Blackmoore, or by learning new tap dance sequences and steps from Michaela Marino-Lerman, I’m enacting ways to trust my instincts and my ability to do so with fluidity—all of a piece when I think about it, because for me writing is an exercise in being bold, brave and fearless without which, the writing process ends up being a lot like cheating at solitaire.

If I can offer anything, it is to say that if one possibly can, do attempt to embrace the things that have meaning, and then do it a thousand times!

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.

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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!

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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!

20
Jul
13

A hot night at the fights …

A Hot Night at the Fights

Gleason's Gym - Gloving Up, Jul 19, 2013

Okay so it was a truly hot night.

The culmination of the heat wave that has left New York City sweltering and gasping with the kind of air that is so hard to breathe the only way to deal with it is to dodge in and out of air-conditioned stores as so many leapfrogged pit stops for crisp cool breaths.

None of that seemed to matter though to the crowd at Gleason’s Gym who’d come out to support their friends, family and gym pals competing at the second weekend of the New York State Amateur championships.

Heading over there to cheer on my fellow Gleason’s gym rats, I was grateful for the breezes moving bits of that heavy NYC summer air through the streets of Dumbo. I was looking forward to the chaos that is a fight night at the gym with fighters and their trainers, crowds and officials, milling around in the run up to the bouts–all in the pre-air conditioned splendor that is a boxing gym with its windows wide open, while the ceiling fans and industrial sized floor fans moved warm humid air from point to point intermingled with the faint hint of hot dog smell and sweat.

Gleasons Gym.Gloving Up.07192013This to me is boxing at its purest: a club show with none of the attendant hoopla of a pro-fight, and where the motivation comes from a love of the sport and the possibility of a trophy at the end.

Arriving there, snagging seats for my husband and I, waiting out the hour or so before the fights actually started was an opportunity to watch a world in motion. Friends embraced, young junior olympics kids nonchalantly hung near their families before being beckoned by coaches and trainers, and the novice and open fighters circled about. Having already made their weigh-ins, fighters, some nervously, were calculating just how much longer they’d have to wait before they fought.

“I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go now,” one fighter said.

Gleason's Gym, Christina Cruz waiting for her fight, July 19, 2013In this interregnum, I hung for a few minutes with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore who had three young fighters, ran into my fellow Women’s Boxing Symposium pal Sarah Deming who was there with her Cops n’ Kids fighters (one of whom I saw win later) and otherwise sat with a silly smile on my face as I watched the scenes unfold–admittedly in between gulps of water.

At some point, the crowd getting thicker and thicker, and the action at the gloves table heating up, pro-fighter and Gleason’s denizen Sonya Lamonakis took on her duties as ringmaster of the two rings of boxing. Tinkering with the a mic covered in gaffer’s tape, she finally managed to get the equipment working and began making announcements that reverberated with a tinny echo over the heads of the crowd. With two rings going and 15 or so fights in each, the sound, difficult enough to hear, was still something for the fighters and their trainers to key into. They had to wait for their call to the glove table two or three fights before they were due in the ring, and then their second call to get ready for their fight.

Seated right behind Sonya, I had a perfect view of both rings and of the fighters as they had their wrapped hands inspected by the officials before handing over their red USA Boxing Metro books and being gloved-up by their trainer: this done once the proceedings started as the fighting raged in both rings.

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Sitting there, I was not so much aware of the individual fighters (though I had friends I cheered on), as the ebb and flow of boxers as they readied, plied the canvas with everything they had, and then in turn alighted as winners or losers. The crowd too had an ebb and flow. Each of us covered in sweat, focused on one or both of the rings, with syncopated cheers and whistles, claps and exhortations coming as one or another pas de deux engaged in some new ferocity of purpose won the attention of the spectators.

Gleason's Gym, Female JO Fighters, July 19, 2013

My friend Michal Perlstein was up in the sixth fight. This was to be her third amateur fight. Having made her weigh-in with ounces to spare she was elated at the prospect of getting into the ring. Her ring hopes, however, were somewhat dashed by the prospect of fighting others in her 152-lb weight class. Two were former national champions, and one woman, a Polish fighter, was said to have had over 200 amateur fights in Poland, although she claimed she’d only had 3. We all figured the 3 were “here,” with no mention of “there,” with nary a word on her purported MMA experience.

And that is women’s boxing in a nutshell I thought. Not enough fighters for an open and novice division that allows for the opportunity to gain experience in the ring without getting outclassed at the onset. As Michal put it, “the other two American women were asked how many fights they had and they said, like 26 or 27 and I had 2.”

Still, she was game and had a set purpose in her face as she stood outside ring number 1 near the red corner waiting to be called. Indeed she had drawn the Polish ringer in the blue corner, who stood in a shiny black gladiator skirt with all of the confidence of a seasoned pro, her legs, perfectly formed and massive–the kind that can support an onslaught of body shots a la Mike Tyson. Called into the ring, they fought cleanly and hard, but within thirty seconds it was obvious that Michal was outclassed and by a minute in she was unable to really defend herself.

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The ref wisely called an eight-count after she sustained a series of head shots and her corner consisting of two great pro-trainers Delon “Blimp” Parsely and Don Saxby had seen enough and called it off.

Gleasons Gym.#152.July 19, 2013Michal having worked for weeks and weeks preparing for the fight with hours in the ring boxing whomever she could was bummed at having been stopped–even though she clearly understood why. As she put it on Facebook later that night “I’m all for a challenge, but it’s a shame that most tournaments don’t separate women’s novice and open divisions to give the newer boxers an opportunity to safely get competition experience. I’m looking forward to better matching at club shows.”

Talking to Blimp a few minutes after the fight he just shook his head and indicating the other corner said, “it wasn’t worth her getting hurt.”

And that is the thing about the amateurs too. It’s not about suffering devastating losses in the ring, but the sport itself and the chance to hone skills and learn the craft and science of the game (although after I left, Sonya told me one of the women fighting in the semifinals for the 141 pound weight class allegedly bit her opponent in the third round and was disqualified, Lennox though was not so certain that it actually happened).

Knowing Michal, she’ll be back at it today or tomorrow. She’s that kind of competitor, one who is truly motivated by her love of boxing.

So many others of the fighters who alighted into the ring last night, including USA National Boxing Champion and Golden Gloves champion Christina Cruz (who won her 125 pound semifinal match) gave everything they had as well, and will no doubt feel the same way whether they won their fights or tasted disappointment.

They’ll be in the gym as soon as they are able to pick up the gloves again with all of the attendant pride, humility and fortitude that it implies.

30
Sep
12

Back in the ring with Sonya

Back in the ring with Sonya

Girlboxing friend Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis won a tough hard-fought battle last night against Tanzee Daniels at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut.  This brings her record to 7-0-2. Two judges scored the bout 59-55 with the third scoring it 57-57.

Steve Smoger was the referee and as Sonya put it he told her “it’s an honor to work your fight.”  Sonya of course was thinking the opposite, feeling all the more humbled because Smoger was set to ref the Edwin Rodriguez-Jason Escalera main event.

Sonya Lamonakis and Tanzee Daniels, March 2011, Photo: Claudia Bocanegra

Humble is par for the course with Sonya who busts her butt all day teaching kids she loves up in Harlem before humping it to the gym to put in all the hours she needs to work out the stuff from the day and keep herself on the path towards her goal: a women’s heavyweight title, and hey why not, an actual chance to show her stuff on HBO on something other than an undercard bout that doesn’t get aired.

Last night was tougher though. Sonya has been through two bouts in the ring that were both ruled a draw by the judges. This past June she fought Tiffany Woodard with the scores 56-58, 58-56 & 57-57 and in January she fought Carlette Ewell with the same spread.

In the midst of it all, Sonya has been fighting through issues in her corner that led her to rethink her training style and to take on perhaps the toughest fight of all — seeing her way clear to the changes she needed to make to get herself back on track with a win.

Well, if she had any doubts they were dispelled last night. More than anything though, stepping back into the ring meant that she was going to fight through it all no matter what the outcome. That kind of courage is was makes boxing the sport that it is. A sport where each fighter truly puts herself or himself on the line.

For the moment, Sonya is slated for a WBF heavyweight title fight this coming December in Australia against Lisa Marie Vizaniari (5-0, 2 KOs). Knowing Sonya, she’ll work like crazy and then work some more to get into the kind of shape she’ll need for the win and the title. Along the way, she’ll throw us all lot of inspiration as we watch her suck back the tough things in life to bring it all into the ring, but then again, that’s Sonya.

10
Jun
12

Exclusive Interview with Sonya Lamonakis set to fight on June 14th @ Roseland Ballroom!

Exclusive Interview with Sonya Lamonakis set to fight on June 14th @ Roseland Ballroom!

Gleason’s Gym’s own scholar and favorite female heavyweight Sonya Lamonakis (6-0-1) will be returning to Dibella Entertainment’s Broadway 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 McGirt in 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 on ESPN 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 SNY and 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.

Check out Sonya’s new sponsor website here!

For tickets to Sonya Lamonakis’ Broadway Boxing fight at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City contact Gleason’s Gym: 718-797-2872.  Tickets are: $45, $65 and $85.  The first bout is at 7:00 PM.




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