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.

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