SHE FIGHTS FOUNDATION
IMAGE - AIBA, RIO 2016 OLYMPICS
by Missy Fitzwater
It is not a secret that boxing is a powerful sport. But, where does all of that power come from. Is it in the jab, or the technique? Is it in the hours of training? Or does it lie somewhere within the athlete themselves? Cristina Gonzalez of the She Fights Foundation believes the latter to be true.
She Fights was founded on the belief that boxing can help empower some of society’s bruised souls. Gonzalez, a long-time advocate for women’s rights, felt the power of boxing for herself while training in a gym in New York City. An idea began to form, and from this an ideal was born. Why not use boxing as a tool to tap in to the power that women, and more specifically, vulnerable women, have in their souls. Gonzalez approached the owner of her gym with her thoughts, and they decided to implement a youth boxing program. Over time, it evolved into a program specifically for young women. These were the ones who kept coming back week-after-week.
Gonzalez believes that boxing speaks to girls for many reasons. She feels that there are certain factors in society that make young girls question their strengths. This can leave young women vulnerable to self-esteem issues, bullying, and abuse. Boxing allows a girl to stand toe to toe with her own insecurities and tear them down one punch at a time. There is a pronounced strength that boxing fills these young women with. Lesly, one of the boxers at She Fights stated, “Boxing has changed me a lot. It’s made me less insecure; it is a constant reminder of knowing that I can become stronger, not only physically, but mentally as well.” With her new-found confidence in place, Lesly recently made a commitment to pursue her passion for film making.
A quick browse of the She Fights Instagram page, reveals a group of happy, healthy, strong young women whose motto appears to be “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me!”
Gonzalez is excited, but not surprised, by the growth of her boxers. Week after week, not only are the girls gaining confidence, they are honing their boxing technique. Their love and respect for this sport is apparent, and the sisterhood that they are creating is solid and remarkable. Gonzalez feels that an important component in her program will be for her veteran members to take on a mentoring role to help instill the love of boxing and the empowerment that comes with that to the new members in the program.
The program which commenced in May of 2016 is already experiencing rapid growth. There are more young women from different areas that have come to join the ranks of this empowering organization. The growth has been organic as one girl tells another and they enthusiastically join the movement. Gonzalez has secured papers of incorporation for her non-profit foundation She Fights. Her intent is to establish more of these programs in partnerships across the country to create a network of “bad-ass” young women who in themselves and want to pay that forward to other young women.
Missy Fitzwater is a passionate amateur boxer and writer for Boxing USA. Missy trains and competes in amateur tournaments and is an advocate for the positives both mentally and physically which Boxing can bring to any individual.