|January 24, 2013
Lacey Crawford gets in the arena of women’s professional boxing
By Alyssa Nenemay
Lacey Crawford is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. She recently launched her career as a professional boxer. (Courtesy Photo)
OKLAHOMA — Women’s boxing is an up and coming sport gaining popularity throughout the world. Athletes can compete against international opponents to earn titles from the World Boxing Council and during the 2012 Olympics women’s boxing debuted as an official competition.
Lacey Crawford, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, has found her own success with the sport. Crawford is a 135 lb. lightweight title boxer and has had five major fights since her professional-licensed debut in 2011.
With a 2-3 record, Crawford said she was a late bloomer. The fighter began training at the age 24, when she joined an amateur boxing club in Great Falls. “I didn’t know a darned thing about boxing but I thought I could try it to see what it was like. I got my butt kicked the first time,” she recalled.
Crawford (Right) poses with her third career opponent Jacky B. in Atlanta, GA. “I got my opponent to smile,” she says. (Courtesy Photo)
Intrigued with the sport, Crawford trained for three years in Great Falls before moving to Tahlequah, Oklahoma to care for her grandmother. When she was two weeks old, Bobby and Reva Crawford adopted Lacey. The family moved frequently before settling in Oklahoma. Bobby is a member of the Cherokee tribe and Reva is a member of the Shawnee tribe.
After a year of living in Cherokee County, Crawford heard there was a volunteer trainer for women’s boxing at the local Cherokee Nation Gym. The trainer was Melissa Drywater, an amateur kick boxer/boxer. “Melissa Drywater changed my life as I knew it,” said Crawford.
With 18 years experience in the sport and as a 28-0 record holding kick boxer, Drywater had an eye for talent. Seeing Crawford’s skills in a few exhibition bouts, Drywater suggested the amateur boxer go pro.
“There is a saying among boxing trainers: ‘Out of the 100 people that you’ll work with over the years, you’re lucky if you get one that will actually make it in boxing!’ I’ve always believed that Lacey Crawford is my one. She possesses things that a coach cannot teach: heart and an incredibly strong chin. I see Lacey becoming a world champion,” said Drywater.
Crawford says a perk to launching her boxing career has been meeting influential people. Her coach/trainer Melissa Drywater (Right) poses with professional female boxer Mia St. John (Left). (Courtesy Photo)
Drywater took on the role as Crawford’s trainer/manager and began booking fights throughout Oklahoma and Atlanta. Most recently, Crawford fought in the Native Pride match at the First Council Casino. She was the first, official, Native woman included on the card.
“I’ve attended two boxing events in Atlanta, Georgia and lost by points to their finest competitors. One opponent was a Golden Gloves Title holder. I almost knocked her out. But sadly, the bell rang,” Crawford recalled.
Crawford said a perk to her launching boxing career has been the travel and opportunities to meet influential people. “I’ve met female boxer Mia St. john, The Camanche Boy George, and Flavor Flave!” she said. “I’ve been in the presence of the great Iron Mike Tyson and Julio Caesar Chavez (junior and senior).”
Aside from boxing, Crawford cares for her Yorkie dog Peaches and is a wild land firefighter with the Forest Service. She began working with the Cherokee Fire Dancers in 1997 and is anticipating a promotion to the dispatch office. “I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Moving to dispatch is making it a little more challenging to stay in shape!” she said.
Aside from boxing, Crawford is a wild land fire fighter with the Forest Service. “I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she says. (Courtesy Photo)
Now 36, Crawford has been training rigorously with a 3-a-day regime. The fighter takes a jog mid-morning, which is followed by boxing training (footwork drills, heavy bag, speed bag, double end bag, and mitt work). She ends her days with cardio/strength and endurance training at the tribal gym.
“Eating is my toughest contender,” Crawford said of the challenges she faces during training. “Having lived in the south forever, it’s so hard to resist biscuits and gravy! It’s awesome when I get my diet down to a science. (Boxing) has allowed me to be more in tune with my body. I believe I’ve gained confidence through the sport.”
Crawford is preparing for ten-round title-fight with the Native American Boxing Council where she will be fighting another Native woman. Should Crawford win, she will be crowned the first ever Native American woman to win the lightweight title.
“I want my tribe to be proud of me,” said Crawford. “I want to encourage all young ladies to be active and not be afraid to take part in any sporting event. Team building and being a part of something can really change a person’s perspective. For some, it may save a life.”
Lacey Crawford’s fights can be found on www.youtube.com, keywords: “Lacey Crawford boxing.”