As I have gone through the last several years of my journey of boxing, most people hear snippets of stories from my life in the boxing world and pretty much always end it by saying something along the lines of, “wow…you should write a book…”. Actually, that’s the general reaction to a lot of my life stories as well—and trust me, I’m not a great story teller! The stories are just usually insane all by themselves.
The thing that I always tell them though is that I’m really not unusual if you’re serious about your competition and are also a female in the boxing world. In fact, I read Leah Hagar Cohen’s Without Apology (something I seriously recommend and have added a link for at the end of this. Click on the picture to take you to Amazon, or use the link provided under the picture.) a few years ago, and I couldn’t stop crying. Not because it was so “sad”, but because that book was written 17 years ago now, and Coach Raphaella’s story took place long before that, yet absolutely every detail in that story hit home with me. She might as well have been writing about my experiences in the boxing world. How is it, that almost 40 years ago now, it is still basically the same story for women inside the boxing world?
We have had huge wins! Please don’t misunderstand me for belittling the huge wins that we've all fought hard for - like finally being allowed into the Olympics in 2012. I'm simply saying, it's not enough. Don't stop. Because there are still so many things that we’re not even ALLOWED to do. And once we're allowed to do something, what about the painful experiences the majority of us go through when we exercise our newfound rights? I hope you all know what I’m talking about. That stage in society where we’ve won the “right”, but everyone is still going to make it as awful and discouraging as possible for you to actually practice that “right”? I word it like that because it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about race rights, gender rights, sexual rights...our world does not change with the passing of one law. The hearts of people have to change first no matter what the laws say. And there is NO law that can walk into a boxing gym and just have people nicely “comply”.
Number 1, I know that from what I see around the world that Indiana, USA is behind the times even for the times inside the boxing world to be moving so slowly for women. It’s rough here if you’re not 6-foot-tall and boxing is inside of you. Number 2, I see women from all over the USA starting to push back in really huge ways—ways that everyone is seeing and that the rest of us are drawing on your strength. I just read about a woman in New York who started her own gym exclusively for competitive women. I can’t applaud and thank you all enough. You give me strength when I’m down that we’re all not actually alone no matter how much it feels like it. So, I’m trying to do my part. I don’t have much as a single mom of 2, trying to just do what’s inside of me, but I stand with all of you scattered around the country and want to bring any source of strength I can. For me, that means starting our little gym here in Indiana where more than that one token 6-foot-tall woman is allowed to train, getting as much coaching education as I can (I’ll have my masters in December), and writing this blog and website. The more we can unite in any way possible the stronger we can become.
My goal is just to write my experiences as a female head coach, as a female competitor from the past, as I see my women have new and different challenges and growth. I hope that you’ll see our experiences change and grow as we dig ourselves out a little place of respect inside the Indiana Boxing world, and eventually beyond that. I hope that you’ll find strength in solidarity, and hope in the fact that your experiences aren’t just you. There’s oppressive power in making you feel alone, and I’m here to stomp that power out and in return to give you the power of strength that comes from fighting together. I hope this can be a place where all female fighters and coaches can come together to solve problems, find each other, and work together to grow our numbers and strength.