The post was originally published on The Guerreiras.
Amanda Pavone of Burlington, Mass. recently captured the Lowell Golden Gloves boxing championship title for 119lb. weight division. She has high ambitions – including the Olympics and going pro – but also recognizes the struggles that come with being a female boxer.
Q: How did you get involved in boxing and how long have you been boxing?
A: I have been boxing for about 5 years now. Basically I had always been interested in boxing but never really got into it because classes and gym memberships were so expensive. Plus the fact that I had no idea how to box or anything about it.
To make a long story short, I was in a dive bar in Southie (Editor’s note: a neighborhood in Boston) one night after work and my friend had told me the owner of the bar (Danny Kelly) works with people boxing and his son is a boxer. He didn’t “train” anyone but he knew all the people on the boxing scene and would work with people in the little, hole in the wall bar in the back room.
The first night I met him I begged him to let me hit the mitts and of course he said absolutely not. This was the first time I had ever met this man, while I was intoxicated at his bar, and he was not about to bring me in the back room and let me start punching things.
Being the way that I am, I just wouldn’t let it go the whole night and didn’t stop asking until he finally gave in and let me hit the mitts a couple times. Immediately he noticed I had almost freakish power and strength and definite potential. The next day he introduced me to my first trainer Jimmy Farrell and I have never stopped training and fighting since.
Q: What do you love about boxing?
A: I’m so passionate about boxing because it keeps me disciplined. I was not in a very good place in my life and I can honestly say boxing saved my life. I quit many bad things and bad habits because of boxing and it is keeping me in line every day. It’s hard to get local fights and when I have too much time off from boxing it’s not good for me. I start eating and drinking excessively and next thing you know I’ve gained 15 lbs and feel like crap!! Without boxing I would be miserable.
Q: What were your challenges when you first started?
A: I would say the biggest challenge at first (and still is) is controlling my eating and drinking habits. When I started as a novice I fought at 132 and had no clue how to make weight. I also had no technique whatsoever and pretty much won all my fights by being extremely aggressive and just beasting through every fight. Although that worked before now that I fight more experienced fighters that strategy will not work. Now my weight class is at 119lbs, and I just fought my last tournament at 112lbs because 112 is an Olympic weight class. Never in my life have I thought I could EVER weigh 112lbs but I got there (not in the most healthy way, but I did). I work as a chef and I am absolutely OBSESSED with food. And I also like to drink so I would before, and now, making weight is my biggest struggle.
Q: What made you decide that you wanted to compete? Were you nervous at first?
A: Even before I started training I wanted to compete. Most people start off with classes or personal training and then make a decision about actually wanting to compete. Not me, I wanted to fight the very first second I started training. It’s funny because like I mentioned before I had no idea how to box whatsoever. I just got in there and was relentless.
I was extremely nervous to fight at first. To tell you the truth I’m extremely nervous still to fight. I always wonder if I will ever NOT get nervous before I fight. Hasn’t happened yet.
The more I fight the less nervous I am but I’m never not nervous. When it’s been awhile since my last fight, I’m a head case.
A: My first fight was crazy. It was at the Golden Gloves in Lowell. I weighed in and then me and my trainer and now boyfriend went to go get something eat. When we got back they were calling my name at the glove table. I wasn’t even wrapped up yet. My coach wrapped my hands so quickly and I didn’t or even warm up at all. I was almost DQ because it took me so long to go get my gloves. I didn’t even have one second to think about anything. I was so stressed. I got in there and there were soooo many people (there used to be tons of people that went to the gloves, no one goes now) I was so scared. But I ended knocking the girl out and winning! No game plan, no warmup, and a million things running through my head!
Q: Congrats on your recent title at Golden Gloves! What did it take to get there? Lots of training I’d imagine? Did you do anything different this time than in prior training?
A: I was actually just in Washington state for a national tournament (the one at 112lbs), I got back on Jan 25. Then I fought at 119 on February 5 for that title. The girl I fought, I have fought 12 times already… It’s impossible to get local fights. So basically I was already all set, training-wise, and sharp from nationals. This was the one time in my life that making weight was easy since I was so much lower a couple weeks earlier. Although I did still have to cut some because I couldn’t stop eating when I got back! But it was MUCH easier cutting the weight this time.
Q: What is your training regimen like in the weeks leading up to a fight?
A: I am in the gym almost every day. Unfortunately I overtrain a lot, which I really need to stop doing because it hurts my performance. I rarely take days off until it’s too late. I spar about 3 times a week. I run anywhere from 3-5 days a week. I go to hot yoga a couple times a week. I just started lifting for the first time ever and I do that 2-3 times a week. Then I also take conditioning classes and get my mitt work in as well. All while working a full time job as a chef. To be honest it’s extremely hard fitting it all in.
Q: Have you found a women’s community in boxing? Do you train with other women? Is it a supportive environment? Have you seen a change over the years of more and more women coming interested in it?
A: Since I have been boxing for 5 years I know all the girls in the boxing community. There are not many, but there are more than there were before. There is one girl I train with a lot at my gym and then everyone else is pretty much for sparring. Everyone is extremely supportive. Even when some of us don’t have fights coming up, we will be there in the gym for each other to spar to help the other person get ready.
It’s funny, I was just thinking the other day how I’m not very in touch with any of my old girlfriends anymore. They all still hang out together all the time even after all these years. I don’t have a big group of girlfriends. But then I thought about it and all my boxing girls are my big group of girlfriends. We just spend our time together in the gym punching each other in the face instead of going out!!!
Q: What’s the biggest obstacle for you as a woman in boxing?
A: Well as I said before making weight is the hardest thing. Especially being a woman making weight is much harder because of our menstrual cycle. I would say though that we are “inferior” to the men.
In amateur as well as pro, the women are not treated as well as the men. For example, the Olympics. They take every weight class for men to the Olympics. Last Olympics was the first year they even took women’s boxing and they only take 3 weight classes. 112, 132, and 165. So people like myself who fight at 119 (and struggle to make that weight) are screwed. 112 is too low and 132 is way too big. Regardless, I don’t think it’s fair that the men have every weight class, and we have 3.
As for pros, as a man you need to be extremely talented and lucky to make any sort of decent money, but if you get there, there is some serious money to be made. Guys fighting for world titles can make anywhere from maybe $20,000 to millions of dollars. For women, we would be lucky to get $5 or $10,000 for a title shot. I plan on going pro someday but it really sucks knowing I’ll never make any money doing it.
Q: What was the best piece of advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?
A: I guess one of the best things that I’ve been told is that sometimes less is more. Rest is so important. Doing more and more when you are tired and training too much is just going to set you back and actually make things worse.
I dish this out to one of my training partners that just doesn’t stop. I get so mad at her but then when it comes to myself I do the same damn thing. I’ve gotten much better thank use to be but still need to listen to my own advice!
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to any woman in this sport right now?
A: If its not making you happy don’t do it. Obviously this sport makes you crazy and really sucks at times believe me I know. But if it doesn’t truly make you happy then don’t do it.
Q: How do you get pumped up before a fight? Any pre-fight rituals?
A: I listen to loud fast music! Most of all I like to be around people making me laugh and cracking jokes. It makes me calm down and less nervous, and it takes my mind off the fight.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure food?
A: I love all and every food. There’s nothing I don’t like! Healthy and disgusting. All of it.
After a fight I usually crave wings, nachos, and a burger. I don’t know why. That definitely is not my favorite but I usually crave that after fighting. And beer!
Q: What are the top three songs on your workout playlist?
A: I don’t have any music but my go to is usually rage against the machine, wu-tang, or Nas pandora stations.
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: I’ve always loved Almost Famous. Can’t say I have a favorite.
Q: What are your hobbies outside the ring?
A: I don’t really do much besides train and work. My favorite thing is probably going out to a nice dinner. I like to snowboard and go out on the boat in the summertime. Although I don’t get to do that much, usually.