For the German girls who box

Girls who box are everywhere.

In their February 2016 issue Hamburger street magazine Hinz & Kunzt featured various women who follow the sweet science. These are women of all ages and backgrounds which is the beauty of the sport. It can gets in shape, challenges and provides much need fun and outlet for who ever is up for the challenge.

I discovered that it hasn’t been for very long that women are even allowed to box. Only since 1990 in the United States and 1995 in Germany has it been legal for women to box. That took long enough. It is just a sport as any other – only more enticing as you my fellow boxer girls well know. Go, get your gloves on and fight.

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Meet the gwb’s becomes the German train

It wasn’t long till I got my fighter name, i.e. the nickname which uniquely fits my personality and box style. I got mine in Brazil, in my first ever gym.

I am locomotiva alemã (port.), the German train.

Being German in Brazil of course had me stand out and easily made for a good description. Why train you might wonder? It could be the consistency, accuracy or precision of German engineering which earned me the title. You could even think of me being known for punctuality in an otherwise flighty society. Surely all possible explanations, but no.

In my carioca (adjective and demonym for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) gym, we would be thrown into the water without hesitation and sparred against experienced and often much bigger boxers. Unimpressed and fearless I unleashed unknown capabilities. With uninterrupted pulsating hits I pushed my adversaries backwards into the corner once they left me an opening. Like an unstoppable train in full motion at high speed I easily hit 10, 20 times in a row.

Hence, German train.

Meet Ina Menzer

Former German professional boxer and up to 2010 WIBF, WBC and WBO world champion in the featherweight division.
More often than not, things do fall into place. Shortly into starting this blog through the alumni club of my university I was presented with the opportunity to train a day with Ina Menzer in Hamburg, Germany. Taking time by the forelock I include this training session into this blog.
Ina, ethnic German born in Kazakhstan in 1980, started training at the age of 14. She won the first German women’s tournament in 2003 and gave her professional debut in 2004. In her career she fought 32 fights of which she won 31. Ina ended her professional career in 2013 as superchampion of WIBF. She continues to promote boxing as personal and event trainer.

Training with a pro was extraordinary and natural at the same time. Ina is great, completely approachable and doesn’t make any fuss about her person. Ina warmed up just as the rest of us did. As this was an introductory session with most participants having zero box experience, Ina explained the fundamentals in detail. For me this was valuable as well. I started boxing being thrown in at the deep end with basic instruction and training from day 1 with an experienced group. Neither way is the superior way. You learn and improve quickly by doing. Nevertheless, even a few months in, any thorough explication is a welcome reminder for advancement. For example, I have never given thought to the correct fist clench. You will read about it in an upcoming post.

GWB meet Ina punch bag

In this session we received an overview of all 4 basic punches which we trained in pairs of two and against the punching bag. Ina gave every participant individual attention as well as cheering us to give our all. The 1.5 hours session ended with a 2 minute sparring round for every one, followed by prolongation and closing talk.

GWB meet Ina ring     GWB meet Ina fight

Credits: ALUHH e.V.

Strangely, the session didn’t feel as tough as my regular ones, probably owing to the beginner’s constitution of part of the group. If you have a good trainer at your gym you learn just as much and push yourself way beyond what you believed you are capable of. Training with a pro though, seeing them in real life, will actually let you believe you can.

Meet the girl who boxes

A girl shoe box? No, the shoe just dropped.

Girl who boxes

Credits: ALUHH e.V.

I start by sharing my story and what makes boxing such a life changing workout. It have been only 5 months since I started boxing, but the spirit grapples me every time I’m about to go to training. The reward of boxing is immense for body and mind.

I have always been slim and exercised to some extend, but am far from being an athletic person. Sports I recreationally – as in irregularly – practice are running, hiking and volleyball. My starting position was favorable, but nothing to brag about either. I could run my 5 miles and still feel good about it or hike for 3 to 4 hours. I could do a few sit-ups and push-ups. My My goal isn’t becoming a competitive boxer. Instead I simply love the training and how much better I feel with it in my life. I am 32 years and have never been in better shape than now after just a short period of time.

Why I started boxing just now was as many things in life random. In a way it has become a game changer, as it keeps me fit while being the welcoming distraction when things don’t go as planned. Also it inspired me to my very first blog. Hello world, this is me. You see, I’m a peaceful one, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have fun as a child fake fighting with my older brother in a ring made up by a rectangular blanket in the living room. Mittens served as our boxing gloves. It’s not boxing, but watching the big mean guys like Hulk Hogan wrestle was a reason to turn on the TV during my childhood.
When I got into gym exercising at 18, my favorite class was Tae Bo. A late 90’s craze which combines aerobics with martial arts elements, like Zumba did with Latin dancing a decade later. I loved the high energy from kicking it to deep sweats. After moving to the city for being closer to college other gyms didn’t have Tae Bo in their program, not to omit that I lazed around and didn’t follow through with gym exercising as much. Running became a regular habit, where I didn’t need a membership, the roads were always open for me.
Nevertheless, the small seed to fully power out with punches was planted in my head, it just needed that last push of opportunity of an inviting gym nearby. I grew up in Hamburg where male boxing is big, but it is also something underground and shady. Could that be the right ambience for a sunny girl like me? General piece of advice, if you like something say it. Opportunities come with speaking out. As I did the casual mentioning, friends pointed me towards a studio just 3 blocks from where I lived. It wasn’t dubious at all, bright yellow to the contrary. Eventually I passed by, did a free session and after overcoming a memorable muscle soreness, I was in for the long-run.