Sunday, July 26, 2015

Life Lessons and My Experience at the 2015 Women's National Golden Gloves Tournament


One – Boxing is Family

We celebrate birthdays together, graduations, accomplishments, losses, we seek advice from each other, get frustrated with each other but at Buckhead Fight Club we are a family. Mean Jean, Terri “The Boss” Moss, and I were at a Kale Krunch’s girlfriend’s father’s funeral. After the funeral there was a pot-luck gathering of friends and family. We all stayed and hung out and talked as it had been a while since we’d been able to see Holly and Shecrazy. We were talking about Terri’s induction into the Hall of Fame when I asked her about who was fighting at Golden Gloves. Terri replied that Kelsey would be fighting and that I should go down and fight. I thought about it overnight and headed to the gym on Monday to start training. (I believe I’ll have “It seemed like a good idea at the time written on my gravestone.”)  I wanted something to help me focus on my weight loss and enjoyed the training and comradery when getting ready for a fight. We had about 6-7 weeks before leaving for Fort Lauderdale. Mean Jean decided to fight as well, this would be her first fight since having surgery on her ACL and meniscus. Brandi had already been talking about going to Golden Gloves and Makeba started coming to the gym in the mornings and had decided she was going to fight in Florida as well. We spent the next several weeks training, sparring, talking about frustrations/motivations, what we wanted to work on, most of us even did one of Terri’s famous weight loss boot camps. We spent the next several weeks bonding.

Two – It’s not a vacation

I was looking forward to getting out of town especially somewhere I hadn’t been before. Those of us who were driving down to Fort Lauderdale decided to meet at the gym Sunday and caravan down together. It wasn’t until we stopped for an early dinner/lunch that it finally kicked in for me that this was not going to be a typical vacation. “Killer” Kelsey Sanchez, Mean Jean, and I had to make weight for our fights. We stopped at Applebee’s because they have a light menu and Terri told us we could get a salad. We ordered the healthiest salad we could, Jean got the thai shrimp salad. I got the same thing but with chicken instead. It had edamame, almonds and was tossed in a chili lime vinaigrette and fresh cilantro.  Of course we had to get it without the peanut sauce. Then when the salad arrived Terri started picking the wonton strips off the salad. We saw a lot of gas stations and stopped every couple hours to stretch our legs.
When we were a couple hours out from Fort Lauderdale we stopped at a gas station/rest area off the turnpike. We had to weigh in on Monday, if we weighed in over more than 2 pounds of our declared weight we’d have to go up to the next weight class. Boom Boom, Kelsey, Mean Jean, and I all stripped down outside in the parking lot to check our weight. I had to make 141.0 lbs and was weighing in at 143. We weren’t weighing in until tomorrow in the late afternoon but that meant that skipping meals a little dehydration was in my future.


We all needed to get signed in. Makeba Da Machine was flying in around one and we were all going to register. Terri was taking the boys to breakfast and had said we were allowed to go and get a little something if we wanted to. I declined to go, I didn’t want to be around a bunch of food I couldn’t eat to be honest. Mean Jean and Kelsey went, I laughed when Jean came back and told me Terri had let her and Kelsey split an order of egg whites. Then when the egg whites came she took half of that as well. Making weight sucks sometimes, lol. From what I heard David and Abel torture each other and will send each other pictures of cheeseburgers, steaks, etc… when they have to cut weight. We all went to register and sign in that afternoon. We were all where we needed to be weight wise. We picked up our wristbands for the tournament, free t-shirts, and were told we needed to be at the coaches meeting that night where the brackets would be announced. We then went to grab a late luch/dinner at the beach. We ended up at the Rock bar then went back to the hotel to chill and get ready for the meeting at 8pm that night.

 At the meeting the tournament brackets were announced. Kelsey, Makeba, and me all had matches set for Wednesday. Boom Boom Brandi and Mean Jean were unopposed champions. (That means there was nobody in their weight class for them to fight). Both were disappointed to not have a match. They had both trained hard to come down and fight. Mean Jean would go on to start vacation mode and Kill Jill Wolterstorff would fight Da Machine Makeba on Wednesday and the was gracious enough to agree to give Brandi a non-tournament bout on Saturday.



Terri wanted us to meet up and do a light workout in the morning so we met early at the top of the Hyatt and worked out for about 30 minutes overlooking Fort Lauderdale. It was absolutely gorgeous.  We stopped by the lobby after, they had the scale open if you wanted to check your weight and were doing weigh-ins for the fighters who were fighting today. We’re glad we stopped by because we found out that Brandi and Jean would need to weigh in again to claim their unopposed medals. As we waited for them to get weighed in we went upstairs to get some coffee. After they weighed in we picked up a couple hitchhikers from the hotel who were there for the fights and went to get breakfast at IHOP. We should have gotten a sponsorship from IHOP with as many breakfasts we had there. After an egg white omelet, fruit and a side order of turkey bacon, Terri gave me and Kelsey instructions to stay out of the sun and that we could have a light salad for lunch and no water after 4pm to make our weight for Wednesday.

We went back to our rooms and decided to rest and relax before going to lunch and then we were going to meet up with the group to check out the fights that night. While waiting for time to pass I Facebook stalked my opponent I was fighting tomorrow night to try and find out what I could before going into the fight. I had already known she was from Texas because of the bout sheet. What I found out on her Facebook page was a picture of her with a belt from another tournament. It made me nervous because that meant I was fighting somebody that had already won some tournament in Louisiana. She also looked like she was kind of tall which I was not excited about.

The fights that night started with the junior bouts at 6pm so we decided to go a little later so we could see the elite fights. We showed up a little before 7pm and we were glad we did. Not even five minutes after we walked in Brandi and Jean were getting called into the ring to get their medals. We ended up watching a lot of good fights that night and left after the last fight around 10:30pm. We had weigh-ins and the morning and needed to get some rest before our fights tomorrow night.

Wednesday Weigh-ins

Wednesday I woke up and headed down to weigh-ins that started at 9am. I was the first of the group to get down there. They gathered all the tournament participants and trainers had a quick meeting, told us we’d have to meet with the doctor that at 5:30pm that night before the fights started, had a group prayer and began to arrange us to weigh in according to tournament bouts. Kelsey was the fifth bout, Makeba was the twelfth, and I was forth to the last, bout 16, so I was near the end of the line. 

I was really glad they grouped us together according to bouts because it gave me a chance to finally see who my competition was. I was ecstatic when I saw we were all around the same height. This one girl Jillian was a little taller than the rest of us but only by an inch or so. We started chatting and I found Jillian and I had a lot in common. She had dealt with addition issues in her family had battled with her weight and lost a hundred and twenty pounds as well. Jillian has hopes of one day being a professional fighter. I’ll be interested to see how her boxing career progresses. As we were making small talk my opponent Sierra mentioned that she had gone to fight in Louisiana and her opponent never showed and that this was her third fight. I instantly felt better because I realized the belt she had gotten was a walkover and also that she hadn’t had much ring experience as well.
The weigh–in process was pretty smooth. I weighed in at 138.8. One thing you have to do at weigh-ins however is prove you are not pregnant. Being a lesbian this isn’t anything I’ve ever had to worry about. Still needing proof however I had my first experience taking my first pregnancy test that morning. Grandma was disappointed when she saw a Facebook post that had determined I was indeed not pregnant.

After weigh-ins we made another breakfast stop at I-HOP, (Hello, sponsorship??? Lol.) We brought the two hitchhikers again from the hotel. We talked, hung out, and after a long wait/mix up over checks we headed back to the hotel to drop off some of the group, then Makeba, Kelsey and I went to find a salad/sandwich to pick up before our fights that night. The rest of the day was spent meditating, resting and relaxing.

Wednesday Quarter Finals and Championship Fights

Three – The Heart of a Champion: Killer Kelsey Sanchez versus Virginia Fuchs, 119lbs Elite

There are several classes in amateur boxing. I’m considered Novice because I’ve had less than ten fights and I’m under the age of 36. On your eleventh fight you have to move up to the elite category. Kelsey however moved up to elite on her last fight because her opponent that she was fighting had no choice but to move up. In boxing once you move up or declare a new class you can’t go back. So when Kelsey came down for the tournament she knew she would be fighting elite. At the end of April Terri held an international boxing tournament called Clash of the Champions. It pitted women boxers from Team USA and Team China against each other in a night of Olympic caliber boxing.  About 40 athletes, including Americans Claressa Shields and Marlen Espinoza, both medalists in the 2012 Olympics, were scheduled to take part. Most of the fighters have had fifty fights or more in their lifetime. Virginia Fuchs was one of the fighters who came down to participate with Team USA. Monday night we found out that Kelsey Smith and Virginia Fuchs would be fighting on Wednesday in the quarter finals. Whoever would win their bout would go onto fight for the championship on Saturday night. I would have never said anything to Kelsey but I would be terrified to step in the ring with an Olympic caliber boxer. Every time I saw Kelsey before her fight, whether at meals, working out, weigh-ins, or just chilling out she portrayed nothing but a positive demeanor and nerves of steel and complete focus.

I watched Kelsey warm up for her fight and work pads with Terri. She listened intently and focused on everything Terri was saying. T. Moss offered her advice and strategy before her fight and before I knew it Kelsey was grabbing gloves and they were headed to the ring. She walked to the ring with confidence and determination. They announced her and then her opponent. As they began to fight Kelsey was aggressive, she was throwing a lot, moving, and landing some shots. Virginia kept her cool, she was bobbing and weaving and landed some punches as well. The official stopped the fight in the first round for a standing eight count against Kelsey. A standing eight count, also known as a protection count, is a boxing judgment call made by a referee during a bout. When invoked, the referee stops the action and counts to eight. Typically, a boxer can take 3 standing eight counts in a round. During that time the referee will determine if the boxer can continue. He deemed her well enough to go on and she finished the round. The second round started much like the first, Kelsey seemed to be backing her up and with 1:22 left in the round the ref stopped the fight. Before we knew what had happened he had called the fight. Virginia won by TKO. Kelsey took the loss gracefully and made some fans during the process by showing her heart and tenacity. I am so proud of Kelsey and the way she fought, even though I believe the ref called the fight too soon and frankly without much of a reason. She was courageous and took the risk of stepping in the ring with an Olympic hopeful early in her boxing career and gained a once in a lifetime experience.

Four – Don’t Quit. Suffer Now and Live the Rest of Your Life as a Champion: Makeba “Da Machine” Reed Johnson versus Kill Jill Wolterstorff, 178+lbs Masters

Makeba worked pads and warmed up in true Terri fashion. There were songs, last minute advice, and a little laughter as Makeba prepared to get in the ring. Terri sent me outside to start warming up before Makeba’s match so I had to watch through the window while loosening up and shadow boxing outside. I wish I could have paid more attention to the fight. Makeba came out in the red corner, they touched gloves, and the fight began. Jill looked like she came on strong in the first round. She landed some hard shots and I think Makeba even lost her footing and was knocked backward at one point but Makeba never quit. She threw a lot of over-handed right hooks and landed her shots, blocked many shots and won the decision. Makeba “Da Machine” Reed Johnson won the 2015 Women’s National Golden Gloves Tournament in the 178+ weight class. Talking to “Da Machine” after working out back at Buckhead Fight Club after Nationals Makeba credits Terri to keeping her motivated during the fight. She said she was worn out after the first round and Terri kept asking her if she wanted to win this. She thought back to all the time she invested training in the gym, the money she spent to get down to Golden Gloves and decided that she would dig deep and do all she could to win her match.

Five – Just Keep Punching: Lindsey “Disaster” Struck versus Sierra Trevino, 141lbs, Novice

I was a little nervous but feeling pretty confident going into the fight. I felt like we were pretty evenly matched and our experience level was really similar. The fact that I was finely fighting somebody my height excited me. When the fight started we cautiously approached each other and then all hell broke loose. We were both aggressive pressure fighters. We both started swinging and didn’t stop. It was an exhausting fight, I’d never worked so hard. Sierra received a standing eight count in the first round, the first I’d ever given in a fight and it gave me an optimistic boost. As soon as the ref finished counting we went back to exchanging blows. She landed a solid punch against my face and knocked my contact out at one point. I was thankful when the round ended. I desperately wanted water and my breath back. The second round started and went much like the first minus the eight count. When it ended I remember going back to the corner and telling Terri I was exhausted. Terri wasn’t hearing it and told me that I wasn’t and to get back out there and win the fight. I just kept throwing and trying to move forward. The third round went like the other two except the fight was stopped because Sierra’s hair kept coming out of her head gear. I was secretly hoping they would call the fight and just DQ her. However after the fight was over I was glad it went all 3 rounds and I didn’t get my first win in my passbook by a disqualification. 

The official raised my hand in victory and honestly I had nothing but a sense of dread as soon as I was declared the winner. I’ve never fought so hard in my life and I think the thought of “Oh shit, I have to do this again tomorrow” literally drained me. As I walked out of the ring, the doctor cleared me, and I headed outside to take off my wraps and sit down. I was extremely out of breath, and could only see out of one eye because of the lost contact. I was over heated and because I was concerned about making weight for Thursday’s fight if I won I hadn’t drank much water that day. After some water and sitting the fights were over and we were on our way back to the room. Terri said I needed to eat something and could get in the hot tub for a little while if I wanted. The hot tub sounded amazing. Jean and I went back to the room whilst the rest of the gang went to celebrate Kelsey and Makeba’s fights. I grabbed an apple and banana and was ready to go. The pool/hot tub was closed but we stayed about ten minutes until security kicked us out. We went back to the room to the room to get some sleep for tomorrow. My head was throbbing. I eventually fell asleep but was wide awake at 4am with a migraine that wouldn’t quit. At 6am Jean woke up and was sweet enough to go pick me up some Advil. It worked because I was able to go back to sleep until it was time to go weigh in for Thursday’s fight.


I headed down to weigh-in at 9am after taking some more Advil. No pregnancy test today, I weighed in at 135.8. Kelsey, Makeba, and I then headed to breakfast. I was excited to not have to worry about my weight and decided to treat myself at breakfast. We took off to I-HOP. I had a chicken fajita omelet with rooty, tooty, pancakes (peaches and a little whip cream). It was delicious. We enjoyed our meals, talked about our fights, and headed back to the room to rest. I wasn’t making the mistake I made yesterday. I made sure to rest, drink lots of water and even meditated for the first time to a link Makeba sent me called, “Fuck That: A guided meditation” by Jason Headley. I really think he’s onto something.

I got really negative and scared before my fight. I started wondering why I was doing this and felt like I had gotten myself into more than I could handle. I got really mental. I was worried that I would get embarrassed in the ring, that I wouldn’t be able to last the fight. I had decided not to wear my contacts for the fight and was concerned I wouldn’t be able to see like I needed to. Terri assured me I would be fine without my contacts and I shouldn’t be wearing them anyways. She wrapped my hands and told me we wouldn’t need a long warm up before the fight. The team came outside and we turned on some music. The team helped me relax a little. There was dancing, and we even came up with a new version of Because I Got High, boxing edition (I’ve thrown in a couple verses below)…

I was gonna make weight before I got high
I shouldn’t have eaten that burger and shake but I got high
Now I’m a heavyweight and I know why
'Cause I got high
Because I got high
Because I got high

I was gonna slip some punches before I got high
I was gonna counter and jab but then I got high
Now I have a black eye and I know why
'Cause I got high
Because I got high
Because I got high

Six – Make the girl you were yesterday proud of the woman you are today: Lindsey “Disaster” Struck versus Christine Handley, 141lbs Novice Championship Fight

Terri could tell I was nervous, she asked me if I was scared and I said, “Yes.” She told me if I was scared that I shouldn’t get in the ring. That I needed to get my head straight, we did this for fun and I had no reason to be scared. I had made it to the championship fight and I could do this if I wanted to. I wasn’t sure I wanted to fight but there was no way I wasn’t not going to get in the ring. I was afraid but this is what I had come down to Florida for. We walked to the ring and I tried to focus on the advice Terri had given me. To slip, keep my hands up, throw, and keep moving forward.

The fight started and was off to a much slower pace than the night before. I was throwing punches but I was still a little nervous, I could hear Terri tell me not to back up early on. I started to get more confident as the fight went on and by the second round I felt like I was more present in the fight. I actually slipped some punches and was really excited about that. The third round came and I felt like I had given a pretty good fight, the last 20 seconds I got my first standing eight count against me. I’m not sure why the ref stopped the fight unless she just hit me repeatedly and he wanted to make sure I was okay but he let the fight continue. As soon as we started hitting each other again the fight was over. I didn’t win but I was proud of myself for getting in there. My opponent placed my silver medal around my neck, I placed hers’ and we climbed out of the ring, we had a brief evaluation by the doctor and then were met by our adoring fans. We even took a few pictures together. It was a good fight.

As I went outside to gather my stuff and take off my hand wraps I was a little upset. I was disappointed with my attitude before the fight. I felt like I’d let myself down. That even though getting nervous before a fight was normal that I’d let it consume me. I found a quote about fear that I believe Mike Tyson said “Fear is your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s like fire. If you can control it, it can cook for you; it can heat your house. If you can’t control it, it will burn everything around you and destroy you”. I had Jean call my folks and I talked to them for a little bit to tell them the news. Terri took the time to talk to me for a while on the walk back to the hotel. She gave me a lot of perspective. I knew Terri had gotten into boxing at an unheard of age but she told me about her first couple of professional fights, where her opponent was newly crowned WIBA Intercontinental Champion, her second fight against IFBA and WIBA World Champion. She began her boxing career at 0-3. She lost all the fights in unanimous decisions. She told me how people would tell her she’s too old, that she shouldn’t be boxing but Terri took the losses and used it as fuel for the fire. She never quit. She was determined to make it as a boxer. She went onto win world titles and showed everybody that “Hey, look what I can do, what about my age”. Terri helped me look at what happened during the week and change my perspective. Most the women who fight at Golden Gloves have hopes of fighting at the professional level or going onto the Olympics. I went down for an experience and managed to make it to the Championship fight. It was only my second and third fight. I can’t take back how I felt before my last fight but I can learn from it. I will definitely fight again and I don’t want to take that attitude with me again.

Time to PARTY


After the fights because it was so late we went to the hotel bar to grab some dinner. The BFC gang had been up there several times during the week and it was like cheers. Kill Jill and Malissa Smith (who wrote the History of Women’s Boxing) joined us. Ricardo the bartender had taken care of our group earlier in the week, he was a big fan of the women who come down to the tournament to box every year. I ordered a celebratory cheeseburger and fries, which was delicious, and we talked and hung out enjoying our meal. I got the chance to feel like a celebrity, Ricardo had a copy of Malissa’s book and was getting the boxers and trainers to sign it for him, so I gave him my autograph. I was exhausted, so after dinner we headed back to the room to get some rest.

Friday – Vacation!

We slept in and headed to Miami Beach for the day to enjoy the water and the city. We stopped for gas and picked up a little something, something for breakfast. Terri called and the boys wanted to visit the legendary 5th Street Gym (which is apparently where Muhammed Ali trained). The owners Dino Spencer and Jack Dempsey’s grandson, Joshua Dempsey was there. Unfortunately we weren’t even there for ten minutes and our friend called. Our van was being towed. Apparently we parked in a lot that we weren’t supposed to. We cut the trip short and went to bail it out. Honestly with the shenanigans this group usually pulls we were lucky the van was the only one that got arrested on the trip. We arrived at the beach later and got some cabanas. We hung out and a few of us even did a Jet Ski tour which was amazing. Mean Jean ended up spraining her ankle when she was trying to show off going 50+ miles an hour on the wave runner. She knocked me off so I took her with me. We spent the day people watching and taking obscene pictures until they closed up. Even Terri flirting with the locals didn’t get us much extra beach time. We journeyed back to the hotel to shower and change and get some dinner. We were starving, Terri wanted to try this burger place in Fort Lauderdale but it was packed so we ended up at Tilted Kilt. The band was good, they played lots of hits to sing along to. I think Sweet Caroline was my favorite, there might even be some video somewhere of Terri and me rocking it out. It was past midnight when we left and Holly and Shecrazy were coming in from the airport for the Hall of Fame in the morning.


Women’s International Boxing Hall of Fame 2015 – Terri “The Boss” Moss Gets Inducted

The main reason we came to Fort Lauderdale was because Terri was getting inducted into the Women’s International Hall of Fame. I can’t think of anybody more deserving of the honor. Terri had 18 bouts during a busy five year career. Since retiring from boxing she has stayed involved in the sport outside the ring. “The Boss” now puts much of her time into her boxers, the gym (Buckhead Fight Club), Atlanta Corporate Fight Night, and her shows, it’s exciting to see her recognized for it. She is a highly regarded trainer. I’ve seen her introduce boxing to not only me but countless other men and women that have wandered through her doors.

Terri was being celebrated with seven others honorees:

  • Laila Ali, who carried a revered name into the sport of female boxing and lived up to that name with a record of 24 wins without a loss, including 21 KOs
  • Laura Serrano of Mexico, whose 18 year, 25 bout career included wins over Chevelle Hallbeck and Kelsey Jeffries along with her debut bout, in 1994, against Christy Martin, adjudged a draw but a bout many ringsiders considered a win for Serrano  
  • Dierdre Gogarty of Ireland who compiled a 16-5-2 record over a seven year career and was a participant in what is often considered the first "major" female bout, a six round loss to Christy Martin in Las Vegas in 1996 
  • Jeannine Garside, a hard punching Canadian, who compiled a 10-3-1 record, capping her six year career with a 2010 win over Ina Menzer for the WBC featherweight title. (In my brief meeting with Jeannine she noticed my black eye and told me how she missed those days. How awesome is that!)
  • Ann Wolfe (She didn’t attend the Hall of Fame but it would have been amazing to meet/see her) a hard punching middleweight who has surely set the sport's record for You Tube views of her spectacular one punch KO of Vonda Ward. In an eight year career, Wolfe, ranked close behind Lalia Ali in the middleweight ranks, put up a record of 24 wins, one loss, generating 16 KOs. Following her retirement, Wolfe has had a successful managing career most notably guiding middleweight James Kirkland.   
  • Sparkle Lee (non-boxer category) progressed from refereeing in the amateur ranks to become the first female referee appointed to the NY State Athletic Commission where she has been arbiter in several world championship bouts. 
  • Phyliss Kugler (posthumous pioneer boxer category) compiled a reported 55-1 record during the 1950s, her lone loss coming against Barbara Buttrick in a return bout following a four round draw with Buttrick, last July's IWBHF pioneer boxer inductee.
It was amazing to hear these women’s stories and what they had overcome so they could do something they loved. Phyliss Kugler’s story was unbelievable. She was boxing at a time when it was unheard of for women to be boxing. She made a name for herself under the name of “Phil” Kugler until it was discovered that she was a woman. I was most taken with boxing official Sparkle Lee whose moving speech advocated for equality for women boxers. Terri’s speech was delivered in true Terri fashion. She was funny and humble. Even wearing an “Autographs for Cocktails” sign for the remainder of the night. After the ceremony “The Boss” didn’t even stick around to socialize, Boom Boom had a non-tournament fight. With no hesitation or second thought Terri left the ceremony to prepare Brandi for her fight. That’s the type of person Terri is and why she is so loved. Her boxers come first and she’ll do whatever it takes to help others achieve their goals. Brandi fought hard and went onto win her match against Kill Jill. After Brandi’s bout we went out to celebrate after watching a few more fights. There was food and music, possibly even another rendition of Sweet Caroline. It was a great way to round out the trip.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Frustration Before Florida

Whether I’m training for a fight or not, I always go to work out at Buckhead Fight Club. Boxing has given me a sense of accomplishment after every workout. However when training for a fight the intensity picks up as well as the technical aspect (which it should). We work more footwork and spar a lot more. I normally enjoy this but Monday, a week away from the 2015 Women’s Golden Gloves tournament I’ll be fighting in I found myself extremely frustrated at myself.

We had just finished with one of Terri’s famous weight loss boot camps the weekend before. It’s 3 days, 5 training sessions and she provides all the meals. It’s guaranteed to help/make you lose weight. If you’re ever looking for a quick way to lose weight I highly recommend you try it. One girl at the past boot camp lost 11 pounds in 3 days. Even though I was unable to attend every work out session due to work I still lost a couple pounds. Her boot camp can be extremely fatiguing but seeing as how I didn’t do all the workouts for me it was just like working out once a day just more cardio than I’m used to.  That Saturday night after the last workout there was a sparring session for those who wanted to partake. I got to spar with Killer Kelsey Sanchez and also with Jackie, who is so tough she doesn’t even need a nickname. I’ve sparred many times with Kelsey which I really enjoy because she’s been boxing for a while and is always a tough opponent. This was my first time sparring with Jackie, (who has fought professionally), so I was a little bit nervous to get in the ring with her. I really enjoyed working with Jackie though and when we were done she gave me some advice, it’s really beneficial to hear what somebody you are working with in the ring has to say.

Monday was our last day of sparring before our tournament. I was paired up with “Boom Boom”. Brandi participated in Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 8 and is fighting at Golden Gloves as well. She is one of the tallest opponents that I’ve gotten in the ring with. The sparring went well enough but Terri kept stopping us trying to get me to work on a move to get on the inside. I started training for my first fight in November and Terri has been telling me the same thing since then when I was trying to get ready for that fight. By the time we were done sparring I was over it. I was extremely frustrated because I couldn’t seem to get the move down and kept doing it wrong. I often don’t lose my temper but I resorted to acting like I was 8 years old again. After we finished I threw my head gear off and punched a wall on my way to the locker room. Before changing I apologized to Terri for losing my temper and she offered up some advice which made me feel a little better. I still have a lot to learn but it’s disappointing to still be working on the same things especially when you’ve been training. I took a shower and was getting ready for work when “Boom Boom” tried to offer me some encouragement. At the time I was angry with myself and not in the mood to listen to anybody, especially any kind words.

I believe I got so frustrated because Terri seems to be giving clear directions and demonstrations. So why when I get in the ring do I seem to be repeating the same wrong behaviors over and over? Chances are I will this bad habit worked out before my upcoming fight this week but I will continue to work on it. For my fight however I’m going to try not to get irritated. I’m going to relax and remember to breathe. I’m going to try and pay attention to my behavior. I’m going to try and be present during my fight and do the best I can. I will listen to my coach. I will not take any criticisms personally. I’m only human and I know what happened in the ring wasn’t as big of an issue as I made out of it. I was caught up in the heat of the moment and lost my temper. I’m looking forward to competing in Florida. This will be my first tournament and I’m looking forward to seeing the boxing talent out there.
Terri and Me at the Photo Shoot for Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 9
(I'm listening intently) 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Be The Change You Want To See

I got an email this morning from somebody that got me thinking about my past, about change and specifically how far I've come from the person I used to be. I believe everything in life happens for a reason. If anybody had told me ten years ago I'd weigh half my weight and enjoy playing sports like ice hockey and boxing, and I'd do it sober. I'd have laughed in their face. My life used to be a mess. I used to spend my days at work then hit up the bars and get drunk most nights. I thought I was having fun. I had several nights that made me realize I had a problem but one night in particular ended with me in handcuffs. It's the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It made me realize how much I had to lose and how my actions could impact others. I'm thankful everyday that nobody was hurt in many of my drunken hazes. That first year was painstakingly difficult for me.  It wasn't until later after I got sober that I realized I didn't know how to socialize without alcohol, for me that was the most difficult part of trying to sober up. What helped me to sober up besides family and friends, the court/work appointed out patient rehab, and attending AA for a couple years... I think that what has helped me to stay sober was knowing that for me I couldn't take a drink, I drank to get drunk and when I was drunk I was completely irresponsible.

A few years later after sobering up, a few weeks before my 31st birthday, I was desperate to try something new. I contacted the Lady Thrashers and decided to try ice hockey even though I had never ice skated before. I had a humiliating experience trying to squeeze into some loaner equipment and it dawned on me that my weight was a problem. I'd been a big girl all my life. Even in high school I was over 200 pounds. Deciding to change I tried Nutra-system for a couple months, it helped me learn about portion control and fats. I started eating more sensibly, did some 5k's that year, tried roller derby and even did a mud run and managed to lose 50 pounds that year. In January, I received a two month gym membership to Buckhead Fight Club. Boxing, cardio, coupled with a much stricter diet I lost another 70 pounds within a year. At my lowest weight I had lost a little over 120 pounds.

Before: Hotlanta Softball League

After: Boxing ACFN 9
Unfortunately, I seem to be one of those people that has to learn from their own mistakes. Today I'm happy and proud of where I've come from to get where I am today. When we workout in boxing we workout in round and go by a bell. The rounds last 3 minutes and there's a 30 second warning bell before you get a break. We joke when working out, you'll here someone yell "THIRTY SECONDS," the mentality is its almost over and you can do anything for thirty seconds. In AA its similar, they say take it one day at a time (if you can't take that time frame you break it down more than that, one hour, one minute, etc..).  I know its not always that easy but the minutes add up, they turn into hours, which turn into days, they turn into weeks, it turns into months, which turns into years. Everything adds up and you look back and that thing that seemed impossible like not drinking, its suddenly six years later without one.  What I've realized through getting sober and losing weight is to just stick with it. Make small changes gradually, don't always try to do everything at once. Make it a habit. Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Have a good support system. I have a great girlfriend, friends and family that are their for me, and when I have a problem I can go to them. When trying to lose my weight I have an amazing trainer who helps me workout and gives me diet and nutrition advice. Terri has become a part of our family. I got part of a quote tattooed on my arm for my one year sobriety, "Don't let your past dictate who you are" the rest of the quote goes "But let it become a part of who you are." I got it off the movie My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, but I always loved what it said. As goofy as where I got the quote from it is something that hit home for me and I try to live by it everyday.

Since I started boxing there are always difficult days. I keep waiting for it to get easier. When I first started boxing I hated jump roping. We warm-up by jumping 3 rounds. I spent more time trying to get the rope untangled, out of breath and stepping on the rope during warm-ups then I did actually jumping. I stuck with it and now I'll jump 5-6 rounds in the morning (usually because everybody is running late or I get there way too early). I couldn't climb the rope in the gym when Terri first put it up, now I do it every morning just because I can. Getting ready for this Golden Gloves tournament I've had frustrating days, like last week, Killer Kelsey Sanchez knocked out one of my contacts and "Boom Boom" Brandi Ansley gave me a slightly busted lip with a great shot to my face. But just showing up and being there and being present I know I'll keep getting better. I have too much of a recreation background to be concerned with whether I'll win at Golden Gloves or not. But one thing I've learned is win or lose I'm a fighter... and "One thing about a fighter is the fighter may not always win, but the fighter never stops fighting." - Larry Cowell

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"Disaster" Is Gearing Up To Strike Again!

My trainer Terri "The Boss" Moss is getting inducted into the International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame and I couldn't think of anyone more deserving. She had a remarkable career fighting for five world titles in three weight divisions. On May 10, 2007 she won the WIBF Strawweight World Title, and the WIBA mini flyweight Intercontinental Title in Tulsa, Oklahoma, against Stephanie Dobbs. T. Moss was 41 years old at the time, and Dobbs was only 28, two years older than her own daughter. A documentary is coming out "Boxing Chicks" which chronicles Terri and the female fighters, both pros and amateurs, whom she now trains. She busts our butts in her gym, Buckhead Fight Club, and promotes a high-end white collar boxing show she founded called Atlanta Corporate Fight Night. She has done so much for the sport of boxing and getting women involved.  On July 11, she'll be inducted with Laila Ali and Anne Wolfe to just name a couple. Terri is more than a trainer, she's part of our family. When we found out she was getting inducted into the Hall of Fame of course we were going to go.

I can't believe it's been almost four months since I did Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 9. It was my first official fight since I started boxing in January of 2014. Although I lost my fight I feel I learned a lot and I'm very proud that even though I didn't win I didn't get killed in the ring either. In addition I met all my other goals that I had set regarding my fight including weighing in at 133 lbs, the lowest weight I've ever been in my adult life and raising a little over $5,500 in sponsorship goals which some went to Children's Health Care of Atlanta and the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. I've still been going to the gym since my fight, unfortunately I've had a few too many nachos since then and have gained a little weight back. So what better motivation to get back in fighting shape then to fight again. No worries friends and family I won't be hitting y'all up for any money or donations unless you're just in the giving spirit then I could always use extra. Encouraged by Terri, I along with my training partners and gym rats will be going to Ft Lauderdale, Florida  to compete in the 2015 Women's National Golden Gloves.

If you wondering what the Golden Gloves is it's a tournament that promotes amateur boxing in the United States and has produced the majority of competitors for America’s boxing teams in the Pan-Am and Olympic Games. Since the first Golden Gloves tournament in 1923, the Golden Gloves of America, Inc. and its member franchises have provided an opportunity and environment for young athletes to develop lifetime skills. Hundreds of dedicated administrators, coaches, trainers and counselors have unselfishly spent countless times and effort to assist young people in the development of personal character and athletic skills. The tournament ends with an awards ceremony and the International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame which Terri will be inducted at.

I've officially been training for less than a week and the tournament will be held July 6-11 so I'm nervous I won't be in as good of shape as I was for ACFN9.  I paid my registration fee today, purchased the required clothing, and booked my hotel room last week. I feel that this is a once in a lifetime experience and can't wait to prepare for it. One thing I loved in getting ready for Fight Night 9 was training with Holly "Kale Krunch" Levine and Morgan "Huckleberry" Salas. This time around I'll have whole new sparring partners to train with. My girlfriend, Mean Jean, and Makeba "The Machine" Reed Johnson are both coming off pretty intense knee injuries to fight in Florida. (Side note - Mean Jean and Makeba fought in ACFN7. I think it's awesome Makeba has recently started coming to our gym and I'm looking forward to getting to know her better). Because of Mean Jean's surgery in December I didn't see her much in my preparation for ACFN9, so I'm excited to train with her for this tournament.  "Boom Boom" Brandi Ansley is also competing and has something to prove to herself. I'll also be sparring with Killer Kelsey Sanchez, she is by far my favorite person to get in the ring with, I feel that she pushes me when I step in the ring with her. Hopefully Alicia Turner will be able to come some mornings as well. I've rarely gotten to work with her but would love the opportunity. It's great to get to work other people and we are extremely lucky to have so many strong women fighters at our gym! Wish us luck as we get ready for Golden Gloves!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What I Learned From Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 9

My first experience with Corporate Fight Night was back in 2013, I had experienced it second hand through my girlfriend, Mean Jean, when she did Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 7 so I knew a lot of what I would be taking on. Basically it takes white collar, ordinary people and lets them train for ten weeks, raise money, and experince what its like to be a profeesional boxer, complete with press conferences and phot shoots for media and promotional purposes. Even after knowing how hard my girlfriend worked and everything that was entailed in Corporate Fight Night (she lost 40 pounds in 10 weeks to make weight for her fight) it still didn't stop me from reading and rereading my contract over and over again when Terri Moss, my trainer and promoter of Atlanta Corporate Fight Night, asked me to be a part of Fight Night 9 and gave it to me in early December of last year.

 The contract consisted of about 4 pages that covers everything that is expected of you should you decide to compete and go toe-to-toe with an opponent in the ring. I want to touch on some of these and tell you what it was like for me to fulfill these obligations.

I'll start with the sponsorship requirement. What I really like about the show is that for each show a percentage of the net proceeds are donated to whatever charity maybe involved. For ACFN9 it was Children's Health Care of Atlanta and also the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. Both really help impact children's lives and their families. This was one of the hardest and most stressful for me. As a competitor in ACFN get to experience the pressure of a real fighter. You must sell sponsorships and/or tickets/seats to raise funds for the bout. You must try to obtain promotional and managerial sponsors by using business savvy and connections to fulfill your sponsorship requirements. Every Georgia boxer that competes has a sponsorship goal of $5,000. Go Sports Warehouse gave me a donation and also printed me promotional "DISASTER STRUCK" t-shirts which friends and family bought to help support me. Special thanks to Laura Payne's amazing graphic design skills that helped me digitize my sketch and put it on the shirt.  The Decatur Women's Sports League sponsored me but also has a history of supporting other boxers like "Mean" Jean Frantom, Holly "Kale  Krunch" Levine, and Brandi "BOOM BOOM" Ansley. As always my parents, my family and friends were huge supporters and bought seats and/or gave donations to help me. Even Cameron from Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 8 bought seats and helped me out. Thanks to everybody's generosity and support I exceeded raising my goal by raising $5,500. It was an honor to step in the ring and help raise money for such worthy causes.

My contract weight for this fight was 130-138. I didn't have a whole lot of weight to lose for this fight. I think I was a little over 145 when the challenge started. I will confess it was tough though with all the holidays so I had to be very careful not to enjoy lots of holiday treats. Training started right after Thanksgiving and went through Christmas, New Year's, I even had a birthday during training. My personal goal for the fight was to weigh in at 135 pounds because 2 years ago in January of 2013 I was at 255 pounds. It was two years ago when I began my weight loss journey and  I was overjoyed at the weigh in when I stepped on the scale and weighed in at 133.8 pounds. Over 120 pounds! I am so thankful for Terri "The Boss" Moss and know that had it not been for her and Buckhead Fight Club I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am today and we may not fully see eye to eye at what a reasonable fighting weight will be in the future I know that she'll push me and help me get to where ever I decide to be in the future.

Overcoming public speaking was a huge step for me as well. (Well... maybe not overcoming it but doing it). During my press conference I was nervous and after watching the video a friend took of me you could tell I was. But guess what? I did it. For somebody who has a tendency to puke before parents meetings at work I was relatively calm. It helped that Vince Bailey is an amazing announcer and emcee and has a way of making you feel comfortable. I even stripped down in front of a crowd for the weigh in. I'm not anxious to do anything like that again though.

It's funny training for Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 9 seemed to be the easy part for me. (Although I lost so maybe I should have worked harder on that. Just kidding, I did work extremely hard preparing for this fight. Kelsey Fox just had the reach and I didn't do some of the things I trained and worked on. I definitely learned from this fight though and will continue to work on things before my next fight). I had the privledge of training in the mornings at Buckhead Fight Club with Holly "Kale Krunch" Levine and Morgan "Huckleberry" Salas. I was good friends with Hols before the fight but it was an amazing experience to get to know Morgan and Holly even better and to go through this experience with both of them. We bonded over workouts, diets, and conversations in a way that I can't articulate. All while punching each other in the face and cheering each other on. It's surreal. We celebrated birthdays together and built friendships. There's a power in bonding through shared experince that I believe we will always carry with us. The last week of training we were instructed to rest up for the fight so we even got together for a long brunch where we just sat and talked for hours about the anticipation of the upcoming fight.

Stepping in the ring on Fight Night...  I'm still shocked at how calm and just relaxed I was before the fight. I felt like anything I could of done to prepare was over and whatever was going to happen that night was going to happen. ( I may have had a little false hope, I won roller derby tickets for the upcoming weekend that morning and took it as a sign that I was going to have an incredible day, which for the record, I did.) I hung out with my friend Boston that morning and got a chance to catch up with her which was nice since she had moved out of state last year and flew in town for the fights. Then spent the rest of the morning/afternoon running errands and got to the hotel around 3:30pm. I didn't feel like resting, I had been doing that all week, so I hung out in Terri's hotel room with some of the Buckhead Fight Club peeps. To keep me occupied I helped set up for the fight a little by putting out chairs and programs. It was fun to see everything before people got there. I was looking forward to getting in the ring, however I never really got psyched up. No crazy, mad bursts of energy theat needed to be released. I've was so even keeled it wasn't even funny.

About 5:30ish-6pm I went back to the dressing rooms where I would pretty much stay until my fight was called. I did leave to say hello to family who had gotten there. My mom, dad, brother, and family friends wished me luck and offered me advice and we talked and joked. They are always supportive of whatever I decide to do and I'm glad I got to see them before stepping in the ring. Backstage in the red corner's dressing room, I got a chance to spend time with Holly and Morgan as we joked and got ready for our fights. Kendra Cuffe was the first bout of the night. I watched eagerly as she warmed up, I could tell she was focused. Jean's job for the night was to get the fighters and make sure they were ready to get into the ring. She left with Kendra and it seemed like an eternity before Kendra returned. Kendra came back with tears running down her face. She had won her fight and seemed overwhelmed that it was all over. I got to watch part of her fight on somebody's phone that recorded it. She fought hard and was well prepared. My only regret for fight night was that I wasn't able to watch Holly's and Morgan's fights. Both won and I'm so proud of them. We still have yet to have a viewing party but will definitely have to get together for that. One by one I watched boxers leave, some came back victorious, some cut and bleeding, and some with bruises to wear as a badge of honor in a hard fought fight. Then it was my turn.

Jackie gave me the gloves I'd be wearing that night and I warmed up on pads with the guy who taped my hands. Everything from this point on is kind of a blur. Jean came and got me and Terri worked the pads with me as we waited for my fight song to come on for the walk to the ring. Terri gave me advice and reminded me of our strategy. Before I knew it I could hear "Thunderstruck" by ACDC come on and Terri, me, Jean, and Spooky made our way to the ring. I did my walk around the ring, trying to spot those I could. It was a sea of people. Months of preparation came down to the next 15 minutes. All the advice and strategy Terri had given me flew out the door in the first round. I used my face to block a lot. I feel like the second and third rounds went much better. There was no standing eight counts, no stoppages during the fight. It was a tough fight but ultimately Kelsey won. Looking back on the fight footage there are a lot of should of, would of, could of moments.  I didn't do what I needed to in order to get my hand raised in the end but when it was over I had a huge sense of achievement. It won't be the last time I step in the ring and know the experience I gained from this fight will help me in the next.

I wish I could articulately explain everything that I've been through these past couple months, the training, the preparing, the sponsorship, and the support I've received. It's been absolutely amazing. I can definitely say that I'm not the same person I was when I started this. I couldn't have done any of this without Terri "The Boss" Moss. Even before I did ACFN9 she helped me with my weight loss and work out goals. She's an amazing trainer, fighter, and friend. I can't thank "Mean" Jean enough. She inspired me to take on this challenge. She supported me in more ways than she knows. She had ACL surgery in December and it would have been nice to train together but I have no doubt we'll have our chance. My family's love and support both financially and emotionally means more than they'll ever know. I was overwhelmed by my friends, family, and coworkers that offered words of encouragement, bought t-shirts, tickets and made donations. I can't thank you enough. A big THANK YOU to The Decatur Women's Sports League and Go Sports Warehouse for their sponsorships. Since doing Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 9 I feel more confident, empowered, and am absolutely ecstatic about what other challenges may lie ahead in my future.

Ernest Hemingway wrote, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” For me doing Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 9 was a culmination of several journeys that I've been striving towards, some for many years, and even though my fight night has ended it is something that I will continue to work on.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weigh-in at the Hard Rock

Ever had one of those dreams when you had to give a presentation, or take a test, and you realize you forgot your pants, or aren't wearing any clothes? Your hearts racing as you realize you're standing practically naked in front of a large group of people. Well... welcome to the weigh-in at the Hard Rock for Atlanta Corporate Fight Night 9!  

When you sign up to do a fight night you sign a contract agreeing to a certain weight class. So depending on who you are you either have lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your weight. My contracted weight class that I had to be at for fight night was 130-138 pounds. When I started this journey back in December I was around 145 pounds. So I only needed to lose between five and ten pounds in ten weeks. Part of my motivation for this fight was to lose a couple more pounds and also to be in the best shape I could be in.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. It's a little daunting to think about getting in front of a room full of people and stripping down to your skivvies  The week before weigh-in I cut out protein, in addition to everything else I haven't been eating, and was drinking smooth move every night. (If you don't know what smooth move is, the name kind of tells it all, I will spare you the details).  I thought a lot about what I would be, or should I say wouldn't be wearing in front of everyone for the weigh-in.

Crowd at the Weigh-In

Weigh-in (In all my glory!)
The weigh-in was a milestone for me. I found the perfect outfit I had tirelessly been looking for at Wal-Mart of all places. I went with a wonder woman outfit because I wanted to have some fun with it, plus the added bonus of if people started laughing I would think it was the outfit and not me! Topping the scale two years ago at 255 pounds  I am not confident with the way my body looks so stripping down in a crowded room is not my idea of a good time. I can honestly say when I weighed in on February 18 it's the lowest I have ever been. My goal was to weigh in at 135 pounds. I exceeded that by stepping on the scale that night and officially weighing in at 133.8 pounds. I'm proud of who I am and what I have accomplished over the past couple years and my weight loss journey has been a part of that.

Me and Vince Bailey
Face - Off


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Official Weigh-in and After Party of ACFN9 at the Hard Rock Cafe!

Atlanta Corporate Fight Night is THRILLED to host ACFN 9's OFFICIAL WEIGH-IN and our AFTER PARTY at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Atlanta!
I know everyone can't wait to see me strip down to my skivvies so here's your chance!
Mean Jean Smoking HOT at her weigh in August 7, 2013! 
Wednesday, February 18 at 6 PM
Come join the boxers on Wednesday, 2/18 as they OFFICIALLY MAKE WEIGHT for ACFN 9! Entry is free and the event is open to the public, so feel free to bring friends and enjoy the night! Food and drink will be available for purchase from the Hard Rock Cafe - check out their menu here!

After Party
Thursday, February 19 beginning at 10:30 PM
After Fight Night, come celebrate and unwind with the boxers at ACFN 9's OFFICIAL AFTER PARTY, conveniently located 2 blocks from the Atlanta Marriott Marquis! Come early for complimentary hors d'oeuvres! A full bar and dinner menu will also be available!

Make your Fight Night experience memorable - DON'T MISS either of these AWESOME events!

Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta
215 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
For directions click here!