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.

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