Monday, October 26, 2015

The Best Thing About Being a Boxer

My name is Nyisha Goodluck. I’m 21 years old, and I’m a female boxer from Atlas Cops & Kids. Almost every time when I’m on my way to the gym, strangers notice my equipment, and they always ask what’s my reason to be a fighter. 

For a long time I hung out with a lot of negative people who had little to no respect for anyone but themselves. I’ve never really fit into the “cool” groups, because I was way too shy and lacked confidence. One time the “bad guys” tried to belittle me, and I held my ground. They couldn’t beat me, so they apologized and kissed my butt until I finally agreed to be cool with them. We’d get into a lot of fights just off of bad rep, but we were all good kids dealing with our own troubles and insecurities. Being tough made me feel like an alpha; I’d fight if we pretend argued and the other person mentioned “yo’ mama.” Being tough even when I was nervous brought me a new confidence. I felt invincible. I fell in love with the feeling of being the better fighter before things even got real.

I found Cops & Kids through a friend who was an amateur boxer with his own gym. I walked into Cops & Kids with plans on staying in shape and sharp (as a Street Fighter) so that if I was tested on the block I’d be able to do damage. My first day training I met so many champs I knew that this was exactly where I wanted to be. I also realized how out of shape I was because after a day of training I puked all over the girls’ bathroom. I hated the feeling. 

The very next day I quit smoking cold turkey, and I stopped hanging out on the streets. Everything became work, gym, training. Sosa, Sarah, Quiro, and Wayne invested a year of their time building me into a real hard working fighter. 

Now I rarely hang out with my old crew, and I have never returned to my old habits. Every day I sit down when alone reflecting on everything I’ve been through in the past and thinking on where I want to be in the future. Becoming a pro fighter never crossed my mind until my coach Sarah set me up with some sparring with WBC champion Heather “The Heat” Hardy. Although I got my ass kicked, I found out my purpose. 

I won my first fight at a club show held by Gleasons Gym by a unanimous 3-0 decision. I was ready, and I didn’t really feel nervous. My mom was there, and I was more anxious and worried about looking good for her and a few supporters I had met randomly through social media. I almost had my first TKO, but my opponent Jalena Hay was extremely tough, and she fought through that beating. There was no question about it: She had earned my respect. When the referee held my hand up high and the crowd screamed in applause as if they’d known me for years, it was a feeling I wanted to embrace forever. It was completely indescribable but the best feeling in my whole life. 

As much as I enjoy the feeling of winning, being a champion is never solely based on being a winner. This was one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my amateur career. After a three-bout winning streak, I took my first loss to amateur boxer Andrea Tosto from Gleason’s Gym in the finals for the New York Boxing Tournament. I did not feel like she was the better fighter, but she outworked me and the judges were aware of that. I lost by a split decision, but I showed a tremendous amount of “good sportsmanship” and even asked to set up sparring in the future. I then took two more losses, one in the semifinals at the Ringside World Championships and another at a club show to an opponent whom I had already defeated. I became very discouraged and disappointed in myself. What I feared most was getting in the ring and losing again for the same reason: poor conditioning. 

I kept getting tired in the ring and outboxed, so I worked hard on the qualities and traits that make a boxer more effective in the ring day in and day out. I changed up my training routines. I took my strength and conditioning training to the next level. I sparred nearly every day and began running twice a day, and believe me when I mention that it took every ounce of power in me. Finally, my coach Sosa told me that it was time to get busy. I had previously been turning down fights he tried setting up for me. I dug down deep and told myself it was time. 

I had developed a new strand of confidence and took it with me into the Metro Championships. I faced the girl I had taken my first loss to and straight annihilated her. Of course, the referee made us shake hands after the bout. I tried to speak to her afterwards, and let’s just say she wasn’t as nice as I was when I first lost to her. It was then I had this strong moment of honesty with myself, and I realized God wanted me to experience those losses, because no champion is a champion if she can’t behave as one in both victory and defeat. The best thing about being a boxer is that you can never lose, you just learn.