It makes my stomach flip over just to say it: I plan to fight in the Women’s National Golden Gloves Championships in Florida this July.
This will be a bonifide, grade A, kick ass and get your ass kicked tournament. Three days, single eliminations: keep winning, keep advancing; losers lay on the beach or watch the rest compete. I don’t plan to be laying on the beach much, myself.
The Golden Gloves tradition started in Chicago in 1928, and was so popular that the planned three-night tournament had to be extended to six nights to accommodate all the hopefuls who showed up to compete. The Golden Gloves tourneys have brought to the attention of the world such boxing greats as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Michael Spinks, and Floyd Mayweather. The women, who were barred from competing in the amateur boxing world until 1978, didn’t get in on the Golden Gloves until 1995, but went on to send Denise Lutrick, Patricia Alcivar, Melissa Salamone, Tanya Dean, Alicia Ashley, Jean Martin, Jamie McGrath, Veronica Simmons and Evelyn Rodriguez to other national and world titles. The simple fact that I recognize those men’s names but not the women’s says that there is still a long way to go for this sport.
There are a number of hurdles to clear before my fight opportunity becomes a reality: I have a physical to complete and forms to mail in order to get my passbook from USA Boxing, then I can begin the registration process for the Gloves. I need to get my training plan written and bump up my sparring time. At the tournament itself, I will have to wait until weigh-in to find out how many other women are in my weight/age category, and the matches will be determined by draw. Then we do it. Three rounds of two minutes each to prove myself or be schooled: six minutes of heaven or hell. Either way, the gloves are gonna fly, and one woman will advance to fight again.
This may be the biggest personal challenge I’ve ever faced. I’m ready to rock it.