Monday, August 17, 2009

She Doesn't Hit Like a Girl...

A couple years ago I was at one of the local boxing gyms for a story we were doing on an upcoming story about a local boxing match. While I was there I asked Geno, the guy who ran the gym if he had any female boxers. At the time he didn't. A few years later, in May, I ran into Geno again while I was covering one of the local church's Cinco de Mayo celebrations. He mentioned that he had "plenty" of females boxing now and to come by any Tuesday night and he'd introduce my to some if I was still interested in doing a story about them.
My photo column series was just around the corner and I'm always looking for interesting stories to work on for these. So in June I showed up and was introduced to Karissa. She was not at all what I expected. I was expecting someone who looked more like a boxer rather than a high school girl who's favorite color was pink.
Since there aren't many girls who fight, and none of the others in her gym are at her level, her coaches often have her spar against the boys. And, she certainly holds her own. So much so that the only guy who will regularly fight with her is her boyfriend. She's even beaten a few of them up so good while sparring that they have been afraid to come back!
I will admit, just from looking at her I didn't think she was going to be much of a fighter but after having watched her spar a few time both with her coach and boyfriend, I'm not sure I'd mess with her. When she was hitting the gloves with her coach you could hear how loud her punches were landing. It was obvious this girl was a really hard hitter.
While watching her training I was really impressed by how hard she works out. For a 15-year-old kid she put plenty of time and effort into her workouts. I remember when I was that age, I'm not sure I would have done so much... especially the running in 100 degree weather. But, she did it and never complained about it beyond mentioning how hot it was, but everyone here complains about that though.
One of my favorite things about this though was the gym. The Old School Boxing gym really lives up to its name, old school. Geno, the owner, is proud of its no frills look. There are no expensive treadmills, they run instead. The weights are actual weights with bars and a bench, there are no bowflex machines or any of that other stuff you see at the high end gyms. Geno mentioned how he liked to keep it old school without the air conditioning, and added that often during the winter he'll crank up the heat even higher to keep everyone sweating during their workouts! I think it actually helped out the story more than if it was in some upscale gym that was sparkly clean. Although all three times I walked out of there my shirt was completely soaked from sweating, I think I even may have lost a few pounds just shooting photos.
Normally I don't have a whole lot of time to work on these, they need to be turned around pretty quick, but I made sure to make time to work on this story. It did help that summer nights aren't nearly as busy as the rest of the year. One thing I was hoping for was her to get a fight. But, that has been her problem since she started. There just isn't a lot of girls who box, so finding her an actual fight is tough. She's only had one real fight. I'm hoping she'll get another one in the next few months and doing a follow up story on her. Here is the link to the full story I wrote for the paper.


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