I used to fight in basketball shoes. My coach would always tell me that boxing boots would help me be so much lighter and faster in the ring but I was so stubborn and wanted to stick to my brand.
In the early 2000’s, #nike wasn't really in the business of boxing boots or at least not accessible to me at that time. I believe Roy Jones Jr was wearing air Jordans around that time but I was still comfy in my basketball kicks, my baby blues! I played basketball before boxing. I was never the best on the team, but i was definitely the scrappiest, and I hustled hard, traits which would have had me fouled out off the court but celebrated in the ring. So, boxing it was!
When I turned Pro in 2003, I reached out to Nike to sponsor me. It’s all I’ve worn since I was15 yrs old. Something about the swoosh resonated with me, as an athlete and as a consumer. Their cuts fit me and their shoe styles always got me excited. This coming from a girl who swore that her job HAD to revolve around wearing kicks which at 43 yrs old I've managed to maintain and yes, still representing the swoosh.
I had plenty of rituals when I was fighting just as a lot of athletes do. Habits and preferences that help us get in our zone and stay in that flow state. One of my most particular pleasures before training was lacing up my shoes. It was my time to mentally prepare and connect with the parts of my body which were fundamental to my game, my feet. Of course, wrapping my hands was a whole other ritual to prepare for battle but that is a whole other story.
I heard back from Nike and was told they 'don't do women's #boxing'. I realize that at the time women's boxing was not a popular draw, at all. In fact, it was one of the reasons I turned Pro and it's the same reason why I didn't end up with my first Pro fight. There wasn't much opportunity, especially for a girl from Canada with only 6 amateur fights who accelerated past all of her opponents straight to the big time. I was ahead of my time and there was no big time for me. I had other plans with boxing at that point. Mostly due to injury, I swapped competing with teaching boxing for fitness and never looked back. Just a few months later, I saw an adidas ad with Laila Ali swirling around the ring branded head to toe in stripes. I just had to smile at that. Well, I guess she was way more marketable than I was and adidas jumped all over it. If it wasn't going to be me, I'm so glad it was her or any other woman paving the way.
Before COVID hit, #womensboxing was on pace to having it's biggest year with it's biggest pay days ever. Main event match-ups, sports network coverage, sponsorship deals and a growing fan base. I hope that when we can come out of the corner safely again, we pick up the momentum where we left off. Sport is important for society and it has incredible benefits in developing self-esteem, personal power and physical prowess.
It turns out my coach was right, when I eventually caved and wore the appropriate footwear in the ring, I was faster and lighter on my feet. Good thing for my sparring partners that I didn't realize this until later on.
So, until the next sound of the bell: stay safe, keep strong, find hope and #justdoit.