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Female boxer defying all odds

Student athlete holds a positive record as she attempts to sustain her newly found success.

When a title boxing camp was held near Fred Meyers, now sophomore Mikayla Sullivan decided to take part in the action. However, she would’ve never imagined how far it could take her. Being a part of Nomad Boxing Club near Sunset Hill has its benefits, but can also be daunting at times.

“I first started playing and didn’t think too much of it [boxing], but my coaches thought I had a lot of potential so I started practicing with a team,” Sullivan said. “I’ve played for about two years and the practice has started to get more intense.”

As Sullivan has learned through the years, finding matches for female boxers is not very common, and is much harder than finding a male boxing match.

While practice has become more frequent, getting to get in the ring is not always a guarantee.

“I train around three to four times a week, but the actual fights depend on if you have somebody who is in your age group and weight class, it doesn’t always happen and I’ve had about four fights so far,” Sullivan said. “In the beginning there wasn’t much pressure from my schedule, but now when you wanna do something else, it interferes with boxing even though I really enjoy it.”

When most people think about boxing, they think of iconic male figures, whether it be fictional characters like Creed and Rocky or real life figures such as Floyd Mayweather and Conner Mcgregor. According to zippia.com, the ratio of male to female boxers in the world is nearly 70 to 30, making Sullivan’s ascent even more of a feat.

There’s definitely more pressure in being a female boxer. The coaches are more used to training boys, and the guys get fights much more often than us.

— sophomore Mikayla Sullivan

“There’s definitely more pressure in being a female boxer,” Sullivan said. “The coaches are more used to training boys, and the guys get fights much more often than us — girls boxing is much more limited.”

One of the biggest reasons why boxing in general is frowned upon, is due to the constant violence and amount of injuries sustained by people. While Sullivan believes her competitive nature helps her overcome this, she still has had her doubts in the past.

“Most people don’t want to do it because of how scary it is, and in the beginning it was pretty scary for me,” Sullivan said. “You’re scared to be punched, but as you get used to it, you start to get a drive to go back at them, and you lose the fear of getting hurt.”

According to a study done by the association of neurological surgeons, 90% of boxers will sustain a concussion at some point in their career, and between 17 to 23.6 injuries are sustained per 100 fights for a boxer. That’s four injuries occurring over every 100 minutes.

Many parents around the world don’t feel that boxing is a safe sport for their kid to take part in. Sullivan understands and recognizes this concern, but also wants kids to be able to be free.

“I would say you should start off slow and do a class that’s less intense,” Sullivan said. “If the kid really enjoys it, take precautions, and find a coach who will learn to know your child.”

“The most important part is finding a good coach, and thankfully I have a really good one who pushes us past our limits in a safe way.”

Sharing a similar concern to many parents, when Sullivan started boxing, her mother was also worried about injuries. “She’s always had confidence in me but in the beginning she was kinda scared of the violence and the idea of me being new to the sport,” Sullivan said. “I haven’t been knocked out before, but last fight the towel was thrown in, and the girl I fought was about to turn 18 while I’m only 15, and had only three fights prior to that one.”

“I felt like I kept my own, but the fight was unmatched in the end.”

As far as boxing, Sullivan believes “The most important part is finding a good coach, and thankfully, I have a really good one who pushes us past our limits in a safe way.” (Mikayla Sullivan)

While boxing does present risks of injury, it also gives way for people to relieve stress, and fully get into the state of competitiveness.

“I think boxing is really helpful because working out produces happy endorphins, and sometimes I’m stressed out because of overthinking, but boxing helps me to relieve stress,” Sullivan said. “I love working out in general, boxing is definitely up there as one of my favorite hobbies.”

Youth boxing compared to professional boxing are two completely different levels, and Sullivan expressed her thoughts on amateur boxing.

“Boxing would be cooler if it was more widely known, amateurs don’t get enough praise and it’s really hard when you might have more frequent fights but less recognition,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think I see myself as a professional boxer, I don’t want to dedicate my entire life and body to one sport.”

Though she may not take her talents to the professional level, Sullivan has already had some life changing moments, as well as being able to travel as a result of the sport.

“I’ve been to Oregon and Canada a couple times for boxing and had a fight in Canada,” Sullivan said. “My worst, but biggest learning experience was probably my first spar where the other team was really advanced and I was very scared, but got back and just did it.”

All in all, the experiences of boxing have shown Sullivan that you can keep going and even though you might not always win, you should never give up.

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