When I was 18 I worked in a very busy restaurant as a Hostess. It was not uncommon to have a 2 hour wait for a table at this popular place which was a local favourite for fajitas and margaritas.
On these particular evenings, the large bar was full and bustling with hungry patrons eagerly waiting for their name to be called over the microphone.
"Smith party of 2, your table is now ready, Smith party of 2"!!!
One evening as I was doing my usual banter on the mic, a customer approached me to ask if he could tell me something: I should be on radio he says. I have a radio voice and I should pursue a career in broadcasting. This took me by surprise and piqued my curiosity that this stranger saw something in me which I had never considered. I looked into it, I paid attention and although nothing came of it, it stuck with me for many years to come.
I got accepted into University, twice. I dropped out both times. It was a confusing time although I knew exactly what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be and it certainly was not in a classroom. It was in the gym, hands on, as a Personal Trainer. The last couple of years I had pushed and pulled my way through various fitness regimes to master the only thing I felt I had control over at that time, my body. I was fascinated and enthralled by the results. It was time to share this new knowledge with the world and venture into a career which I knew would be a fulfilling way to serve people in need of guidance.
Now 20 years old, I landed a desk job at a small local spot which would be the perfect place to immerse myself into the gym culture while studying an intense 1 year correspondence course to be certified as a Personal Trainer.
Boxing was not on my radar at the time. It never was actually. Although I grew up a huge sports fanatic, boxing never interested me. In fact, just the mere glimpse of it made me slightly uncomfortable. It appeared visually aggressive and blatantly violent. I didn’t understand it. But I was about to. Part of this humble facility included an incredibly sophisticated boxing program in the basement. Little did I know at that time how this room would continuously and persistently lure me into the world of the fight-game with all it’s blood sweat and tears that followed.
Day after day while working the front desk, I would watch as the fighters in training would file in with their coaches and sparring partners in tow, lining up for their daily rounds in the ring. Using the female washroom meant I had to pass the doorway of the boxing room where the stench was as powerful as the left hooks being thrown around. I was always welcome to sit on the bench and watch, the guys were always friendly. Considering the brute nature of their craft they were actually quite jovial and inviting.
I was in absolute awe: the athleticism, the required focus, the sleek movements, the dance. But I was especially taken by the sounds, the pitter patter of punches, skip of the rope, shuffling of feet, the tone of the bell. Pretty soon I found myself visiting the washroom more often. My casual observation turned into a deep curiosity for what exactly was happening beyond that doorway and between those ropes.
"You can do that" Says a voice, belonging to Everton McEwan: coach to the Pro’s and one of the most revered cut men in the game.
It was the nudge that I was looking for. It was a simple statement that changed everything. So I did it.
My amateur record finished at 6 wins 0 losses with 5 wins by way of knockout and 4 of them in the first round. After my fifth bout and winning the Ontario Championship, I was upgraded to Open Class fighting (usually a min requirement of 10 fights) where I took the unanimous decision over a much more experienced, bigger and younger opponent.
Women's boxing was not yet an Olympic sport at that time so I had limited options for my future as a fighter. I had little left to do in the amateurs so I decided to turn Professional in 2003, although competition, opportunity and female participation at that level was quite sparse.
Now deeply committed to my sport, I wanted to know where else it would take me and my career. With sponsorship secured and a spot lined up on the popular TSN show ‘off the record’, I was starting to realize the important marketing aspects of the game (before the days of social media). Unfortunately, my career ended before it began due to injury and the threat of possible surgery.
So I did the only thing I knew combining my fighting entrepreneurial spirit with the love for my sport and I registered my business. I stepped away from the competitive nature and focused on the fitness aspect of boxing training. Over the next 10 years (and counting) I worked tirelessly to educate people and introduce them to this sweet science and to not be afraid of it, but to embrace the beauty and power within it. I helped to change hundreds and hundreds of peoples lives using boxing philosophies and implementing its' training techniques.
With all of the ups and downs of entrepreneurship there were so many emotional highs and lows. At times I felt immense fear, moments of indecision, loneliness travelling this path as a single woman and doubt that I was able to sustain this career. What did the future hold for me?
One evening, I was invited to a very exclusive event called the Night of Champions which hosted an outstanding panel of Professional fighters. The event was high end, corporate crowd and pretty exclusive, not the usual place one would expect to run into old stablemates from the basement of the gym from back in the day.
And yet, there he was: Everton McEwan, the man who nudged me towards the ring so many years ago. This time instead of sporting his usual gym gear, he was donning a suit and tie for the occasion. We started chatting. I ended up sitting at his table, we had 10 years to catch up on after all.
By the end of the evening Everton had convinced me that I had another role to play in the sport: Ring Announcer and he was going to make it happen. Over the next 3 years we successfully promoted 9 very exciting and unique boxing shows which created such a buzz among the community and ultimately attracted new fans to the sport.
Eventually I was asked to announce my first Professional Boxing Event in 2018. It was and still is a dream come true that I can continue contributing to my sport and to be one of the first EVER and most consistent Professional FEMALE Boxing Ring Announcers EVER! Not only am I using the MIC in the ring but also in the studio with my own monthly Boxing Radio show called Squared Circle with Yvette Raposo.
I still think about that customer who when I was 18 years old suggested I should somehow be behind a MIC as a profession. I sure wish he could see me now:-)