4 Months And Counting - Women's Boxing Debuts At The Olympics
PITTSBURGH (Ivanhoe Newswire) --This month, 24 women will duke it out in hopes of making the Olympic debut in women’s boxing this summer in London. The U.S Olympic trials begin February 13th. Only twelve will make it to London. We’ll introduce you to one of the contenders as she shows us what it takes to make it to the top.
She's 24 years old, 165 pounds, 5 foot 7. Underneath Tika Hemingway’s protective wraps, and hard hitting gloves, there’s a secret she shares with very few, something hidden on her hands.
“It’s Psalm 144, ‘Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”’ Tika Hemingway, Olympic boxing hopeful told Ivanhoe.
Today, Hemingway seems worlds away from the restless teen that grew up in a rough Pittsburgh neighborhood.
“I got into trouble a lot. I used to fight a lot. Fight in the streets a lot,” Tika Hemingway said.
A chance encounter on one of those streets opened up a whole new world. Hemingway bumped into boxing trainer Sheldon Stoudemire, and asked him to train her. At first, he refused.
“I never wanted to box before, but once he told me no, that’s when the fire was lit, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Hemingway said.
Hemingway persisted, and landed at an old Pittsburgh fire station, converted into a neighborhood gym. The first and only woman to box there.
“I told her though, it’s gonna be hard. You’re gonna get thrashed. You’re gonna be in here with men. Each step of the process, she just kept getting better and better,” George Heinlein, a boxing trainer, told Ivanhoe.
Fighting in the women’s light heavyweight division, Hemingway started racking up titles, a national golden glove championship, gold medalist at the Pan-American games, and for the last two years, she’s been chasing down the biggest dream of all.
“I turned on the TV, and they said female boxing would be included in the 2012 Olympic Games. I was so ecstatic, I broke down and cried,” Hemingway said.
The few hours she’s not in the ring, you might find Hemingway in the halls of a local high school, mentoring teens who could use a role model.
“One of my goals is to make an impact on as many people’s lives as possible. I’m gonna use whatever I can to make that happen,” Hemingway added.
“She just inspires me to do better. Work harder. Always persevere,” Joel Macklin, a Pittsburgh high school student told Ivanhoe.
Perseverance was the key to Hemingway’s start in the ring. She hopes it takes her to London-and a worldwide audience for the sport.
“We can box. We can fight. We are athletes and we’re gonna get a chance to showcase this,” Hemingway concluded.
Using her heart, her head and her hands for a shot at sports history.
Tika Hemingway will be competing in the 165 pound division, one of the three Olympic weight classes. Four women from each of the weight divisions will go on to compete in London this summer.