A few of you have been asking me great questions about my background and experience in boxing and I promised I would write up a post for you with the answers. There’s not much fancy going on, just a lot of hard work, a little bit of blood (woo-hoo!) and some great boxing community.
1. Does your family ever get worried you’ll get hurt? Have they ever watched you fight?
They may worry a little, but they’re mostly over it. If you are going to get in a boxing ring, you’re going to get injured once in a while. I’ve had a broken rib, an injured rotator cuff, and a couple of black eyes. I have a favorite Muy Thai girlfriend and when we kickbox I get some big bruises up and down my legs, of which I’m quite proud.
Everyone in my family has seen me in the ring at least for a few minutes or so. My three sons think it’s pretty cool, but nobody in my family is really “into” it like I am, so it’s pretty rare for me to see them ringside. At first I was a little miffed by this, but I love boxing so much I just don’t seem to mind any more. I box first and foremost for my own pleasure. It’s okay with me that they don’t get as stoked by it as I do. They’re happy for me to enjoy it!
2. What is the worst injury you ever had?
The busted rib. No doubt about it.
3. What is your win loss record sparring? Are you trying to go amateur or pro?
Here’s how boxing terms are generally used:
- Sparring: working in the ring with a partner
- Bout or Match: an officially sanctioned amateur match
- Fight: an officially sanctioned professional match
This is made confusing for everyone because all of us use the word “fight” for just about any match, amateur or professional. But we almost never say “I’m fighting tonight” just because we plan to get some ringtime in with someone on the boxing team or at the gym. That’s sparring. Makes sense once you hang out in the boxing universe for a while.
I am a registered amateur (not a pro) boxer, but I’ve never had an officially sanctioned bout, although I’ve had unofficial ones. This is mostly because there are only a handful of women in my category who are amateur boxers; in fact I am the only one even registered in the state of North Carolina.
To get an official amateur match, I would have to find a woman within 10 years of my age, within 10 pounds of my weight, within a day’s drive, and who has about the same level of experience as I have. In other words, my trainer would never put me in the ring for my first “official” match with a woman with 10 years experience and 30 bouts under her belt.
So, it may not happen, and I’m mostly okay with that. I discovered boxing late in life. Plus, getting ring time and great sparring in with my trainers and boxing teammates is a honest-to-God joy that I look forward to every single week.
Update: Of course, it’s been a little while since I first wrote this. Now I’ve had four sanctioned boxing matches and one exhibition. And I still feel just as good about boxing as the day I started! — Lisa
4. Do you spar with men?
I spar with everyone on the team at my gym (that’s me in the photo, sparring with one of the guys at my gym), and have also sparred with people at other gyms. I spar mostly with men, a few women, in any weight category, and I have hundreds of rounds under my belt. I also spar with pro boxers; that’s where I get the hardest and best work of all.
5. Did you ever knock or get knocked out?
No, but I’ve had to take a few 8 counts. When you are sparring with someone you aren’t trying to knock them out; you’re working. Our trainers are always cautioning the new boxers who want to show off in the ring that if they hurt their sparring partners, they won’t have anyone to spar with.
I’ve had good nights and bad ones (you can’t learn this sport without them), and a few rounds where I only had one good moment to cling to, but I’ve never seen anyone get knocked out except in officially sanctioned amateur or professional matches. I’m pretty sure it sucks!
I think it happens less in my weight class than in heavier ones. The heavier you are, the more pounds are behind your punch. I’m pretty careful when I get in the ring to spar with a heavyweight; they know not to use their full force on me because when the weights are that imbalanced, you could do some serious damage to someone.
6. Have you ever boxed barefoot?
Once. It was a disaster for me; I got awful blisters. Most of the MMA fighters do it though (that was why I tried it). I wear boxing shoes.
Once you’ve boxed for a while, you realize why boxing shoes — as opposed to running shoes — are so important. Regular shoes are too grippy and wide; boxing and wrestling shoes fit more closely to your foot and offer a little bit of grip while allowing you to slip lightly across the canvas. They don’t have much arch support or cushioning, though, so you don’t want to do much except box in them.
7. How do people react when they learn you are a boxer? Are they supportive or nasty?
I get mixed reactions. Most people are guardedly polite and try to change the subject. A few have asked me if I thought I was being irresponsible, given that I am a mom with three kids at home. One or two have been ugly, but all of my friends have slowly come to accept that this is just part of who I am, and if it bothers them some they’ll deal with it because they love me and we are friends.
I can’t over-emphasize how powerful becoming a part of a boxing community has been for me. I’ve also made so many new friends through boxing; and given the challenges and miseries and triumphs and tough spots of this crazy sport, that has been invaluable.
8. How’d you get started in this anyway?
Purely by accident! My husband brought home a heavy bag for our boys, but they weren’t interested. I was, and quickly injured myself because I didn’t know how to throw a punch properly. A girlfriend who heard me talking about it suggested I get connected with this world-class boxing woman she knew at a nearby gym and I called them up, scheduled my first class, and proceeded to fall in love.
I can’t say enough about how important it is to have the right trainer. Don’t stay at any gym unless you find someone you can trust completely. Big fist bumps to all the trainers I’ve had, but especially the one who introduced me to the sport and continues to inspire me: Bonnie Mann.
Image by Ken Hall of Ken Hall Photography