Sometime in October, it was arranged that Buckhead Fight Club (my gym!) would host the 2014 Georgia USA Boxing State Championships! It was a two-day tournament held December 14 & 15, 2013. I signed myself up as soon as the registration form went live and entered the tournament as a female novice in the 119-pound weight class.
For the longest time, I didn’t have a match. Only three or four women entered this tournament, all in different weight classes. Luckily, we found me a match who was even willing to pay the late fee to enter just days before competition. We changed my weight class to 125 lbs to match her weight and make it happen.
I was excited and determined to train well for this tournament, especially because I was going through a rough time personally. I was going through a break-up, starting to catch a cold, and generally felt worn down and spent. For the three-or-so weeks leading right up to the tournament, I had problems both falling asleep and staying asleep at night. I wanted this fight to be a bright spot in a dark period of time—something that I could look forward to positively.
Day One (Saturday)
My opponent and I both showed up early to get our yearly physicals done. The weigh-in was technically much later, but the officials went ahead and weighed both of us to speed things up since we were the only female match. I weighed in at 124.8 lbs; my opponent was 124 on the dot.
After that, I manned a table of boxing memorabilia (t-shirts, mugs, watches, retired competition gloves, etc.) that the president of GABA brought to help raise money to send our open division winners to Nationals. I was getting sleepy while sitting there, but I was mostly hungry! Once someone showed up to relieve me, I took myself to Waffle House for a breakfast of champions. I had an awful waiter, but the food was good!
When I got back to the gym, my job was to sell tickets at the door. I had good company, including one of the kids in my kids’ boxing class. I guess he got bored of watching the fights, because he came up to the front and spent the rest of the night helping us. When the day’s bouts came to an end and people left, I finished up the VIP and Will Call assignments for the following day. After that, I headed home. Terri and some of the boxing chicks invited me to join them for dinner, but I was SO looking forward to bed. I wasn’t worried about my fight—I just needed one good, whole night of sleep to set me straight.
I literally read one page of a book to unwind, and then I crashed. I did finally sleep that night. I fell asleep easily AND stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which was a miracle. I don’t think that had happened since before December!
Day Two (Sunday)
I had set my alarm for 9:30 that morning because my coach and I planned to go to breakfast together. She ended up not being able to, so I tried to go back to sleep for a while, but couldn’t. Oh well! My morning started with a smile when I received a text message picture of a little baby that I babysit. She was holding a boxing glove, with a funny and confused look on her face. It made me smile! :)
Still, I started to feel down that morning and struggled to stay positive. Driving to Waffle House (a better one with friendlier service), I tried to turn my thoughts around. Finally, I told myself: “Screw it! I don’t care. I’ll rip her apart anyway.” It was sort of positive, but it was in an angry and grim way.
After breakfast, I went to the gym and laid down for a long time. I didn’t sleep, but I relaxed and got myself into a really good mood. My heart started pounding anytime I thought about throwing quick combinations, so I decided to mostly think of calmer things.
One of my friends handed me a Christmas tree cut from wrapping paper, saying that a boy in my kids’ class sent it to me to inspire me. I LOVE it and I’ll keep it forever! My mom sent me periodic text messages of quotes from the movie Cars, which cracked me up!! That’s one of my favorite movies ever, so I loved the quotes and appreciated the support.
It was finally time for me to get up and re-join the land of the living. I watched Terri wrap another boxer’s hands (she had two of us fighting), and then changed into my boxing jersey and trunks. He was bout #1; I was bout #5.
Boxing started! While I watched the first fight, I started warming up and getting loose. Our guy lost by TKO at the end of the third round, unfortunately, but he fought hard against an opponent much, much bigger than him. After his fight was over, Terri talked him through it some, which made me a little nervous about how much time we had left—even though I know it was important not to leave him hanging after his first fight. Then she wrapped my hands.
The third bout was in progress by the time I started warming up on pads, and then the fourth bout ended by a quick TKO before I was anywhere near warm enough. Terri asked me, “Are you feeling rushed?” I said, “Yes.” We inserted a brief intermission in the show. (The promoter can do that!) I felt pretty good on pads, but didn’t get sweaty or hot. I figured I was ready.
I walked to the ring with my song playing and heard cheers. I’ve never had so many people there for me at a fight before! Between the boxing chicks and the people who regularly come to the gym, a lot of people were wishing me luck and cheering me on. It was a good feeling, for sure! The fight started.
Round 1: Half-way through, I felt like my thighs had turned into jelly. I already felt that it would be hard to stick to the game plan (pressuring her) because I wouldn’t last. I was way too exhausted in the first round. Mentally, too. In the corner, Terri told me that I lost that round and asked if I wanted to win. I said yes, but I didn’t tell her that I already didn’t feel like I would be able to last. (And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end because I’d already decided. I was in despair even when I still had a fighting chance.)
Round 2: The ref gave me a standing 8 count, which was my first. This was also the first time I felt that I was behind. (My other two losses were close, but I knew this one.) Again, in the corner, Terri asked if I wanted to win. I knew I wouldn’t. She told me, in strong terms, to just put my head on her chest and throw punches.
Round 3: Which made for a desperate (and agonizingly long) third round where I think I might’ve thrown more punches than in the rest of the fight. I rallied some pounding body shots inside, but never went back up to the head—which she was open for. I was totally spent at the end!
Never once did I hear Terri’s instructions from the corner during the rounds, which is a bad, bad sign. After the fight, the ring announcer drew out the announcement a crazy-long time, so I took that as a sign that the bout was much closer than it was in my head. In my head, I lost by a long shot. However, after watching a video of the match, I saw that it was pretty close.
I cried some after leaving the ring. Got a lot of hugs from people saying I looked good, it was close, it was an exciting bout to watch, etc. I knew these things were true, which is why I felt like I should’ve won!
More than half of my kids’ boxing class was there. They surrounded me with hugs and excited chatter and questions. I had to pull myself together to be a good example. This helped me because then I could speak with people in a much more respectable, dry-eyed way. A lot of people, friends and strangers alike, came up to me to talk about my fight. I got all kinds of congratulations and compliments. Though they were difficult to accept right after a loss, they were encouraging!
After boxing was over and most people had cleared the venue, I went to be alone. Terri came in and talked with me for a while. A bunch of us went to our favorite Mexican restaurant across the street, and I stayed in good spirits even though I felt like a disappointment among friends. I was glad to have them there with me!
The Day After & Beyond
The morning after the tournament, I woke up with the usual sore muscles. Physically, this was the least painful fight I’ve been in, which I think is funny because the most painful fight I’ve been in so far was one that I won. At any rate, I drew an Epsom salt bath (which I’d never tried before) and soaked for twenty minutes. It sure felt good, and my muscle recovery in the following days was quicker than usual.
Right after this tournament, we looked at the GABA calendar to see what was coming up. Terri got to work finding me an opponent for a club show on February 1st. I had a match lined up, but that opponent back out. We also tried to set up a re-match with the girl that I just lost to, but we couldn’t get them to take it. Now I’m training for the GA Golden Gloves towards the end of March. I can’t wait!
I don’t feel like a disappointment because of this fight anymore. There was no shame in my effort, though I initially felt that there was because I wasn’t “up to snuff.” Of course it would’ve felt fantastic to win on my home field, but there’ll be other opportunities!! This fight taught me an important lesson about staying on top of my mental game, and I’ll gladly accept that as a boost that’s going to help me with every fight here on out. I’m nowhere near finished!
Evander Holyfield & Boxing Chicks on the first day of the tournament.