By John J. Raspanti, DoghouseBoxing. Many professional fighters have turned a painful part of their lives into a positive influence.
Two of the most famous were former middleweight titleholders Rocky Graziano and Jake LaMotta.
a young age, both Graziano and LaMotta faced violent fathers who used
them as punching bags. With bitterness and hatred permeating their
souls, the boys grew up wild, and had many brushes with the law.
As young fighters, the pair used their embittered past as a building block to a world championship.
Shea was 19 when her boyfriend began to abuse her physically and
mentally. To escape the beatings, Shea found a gym, where she discovered
boxing. Like Graziano and LaMotta, she found a release for her anger
and resentment in the ring.
a short but successful amateur career, Shea turned professional. She
won her first 14 fights with seven of those wins by knockout. Shea lost
her bid for the WBA super featherweight title in 2009. In 2011, she
captured the interim WBC super featherweight title. As of this writing
,Shea, now 31, has compiled a professional record of 18 wins and only
a wide-ranging interview, the transplanted New Yorker, now living in
Southern California, discusses her boxing career, involvement in the
Academy Award winning film Million Dollar Baby, and her goals for the
John Raspanti: What is it about boxing that you like so much?
The people I meet. The fans. The ability to touch people’s lives, and
how they touch my life. And the challenges--boxing shows me how to push
limits people place on me.Boxing shows me who I am and I'm always
discovering things I didn't know about myself. And it's a great feeling.
JR: You started boxing at a very young age. What drew you to the sport?
I was drawn to boxing as a form of self-recovery. Boxing helped me heal
from an abusive relationship and some early life trauma. Boxing taught
me to depend on myself and to dig deep to find the answers to the
challenges life put in front of me.
JR: You had three fights in 2011, but none in 2012. Why haven’t you fought this year?
MS: We had scheduled fights that got bounced around from date to date in the beginning of 2012.
JR: A few weeks ago, you were stripped of your interim WBC female featherweight title. Did the news bother you?
WBC is a prestigious title, and I am grateful to them for their support
as I was an NABF Champion, and then given the opportunity to fight for a
World Championship. It was surprising that the title was vacated but
it doesn’t bother me. I am certainly at peace. I didn't fully understand
it myself, and finally put it all together when my representative,
Luigi Olcese,broke it all down for me.
were told after my fight in December that we would have to fight Ina
Menzer of Germany. Luigi had to wait until February to negotiate with
Menzer's representatives as she fought in late January, so
automatically, I had to sit out 3 months. I know we had a good fair
starting point in negotiations and my team was looking to counter that
offer when we were advised that Ina Menzer was out of the running for
the fight. My team assured me that we would make a strong effort to
bring the fight to Mexico or the US and I would have loved for that to
happen. I don't know why Menzer's team chose not to continue
negotiations but that decision came from the Menzer camp, not from mine.
I was looking forward to the possibility of fighting Menzer and still
WBC then informed us I would have to fight Jelena Mrdjenovich on short
notice in April. This meant I would have to fight in Canada for a purse
that was (25%) twenty-five percent less that my staring point of
negotiations with Menzer's camp. Mrdjenovich's team already had a date
set in April and we were not even given an opportunity for a purse
bid. So the WBC ordered Jelena to fight for the Featherweight Title and
I had the interim title. Because of these delays, we tried to schedule a
defense that got bounced from March to April and finally to May. Two
weeks before my scheduled May date, at a routine doctor's check up I was
advised to take a break from serious training by my doctor.
job is to focus on preparing to fight. The rest of my team handles
negotiations. I am looking to be back in Championship form very soon. I
am grateful to the WBC for the opportunity but sometimes blessings come
in strange ways. Right now, I have the freedom to fight and am not
bound or have to be put on hold awaiting any negotiations. I want to be
a world champion again but most important, I just want to fight.
JR: Do you think being associated with the Oscar winning film Million Dollar Baby - helped your career or hurt it?
was a mixed blessing. Obviously being thrust in the spotlight, you have
to deal with a lot and I tried to handle it all with humility and
grace. This opportunity presented itself to me, and a lot of people
couldn't or wouldn't accept it but I tried to make it positive for
myself and anyone else who I touched because of it.
JR: I say hurt it because of all the extra pressure. Was the pressure difficult at times?
MS: The expectations were confusing. I was an amateur fighter and a college
student thrust in a very public situation. I wasn't sure if people
wanted to know me for me, or for my involvement in the movie. I
questioned people being genuine. And as a fighter I didn't know my
abilities yet completely. I hadn't accepted my talent and wasn't
processing it mentally or emotionally.
JR: You lost two fights in a row in 2009. Do you think you’re a better fighter now because of the defeats?
Most definitely. I had to adjust- inside and outside of the ring. New
trainer, new environment. But I learned a lot about myself and what I
needed and, most of all, what I didn't need.
JR: Do you have a favorite punch?
I’d say my left hook, whether it lands to the head or the body. But I
must say since working with Joseph "Hoss" Janik at Knuckleheads Boxing,
my straight right is becoming my favorite punch.
JR: Will you be fighting in 2012?
MS: We're planning on two fights hopefully, by the end of 2012.
JR: Thank you very much, Maureen.
MS: Thank you, John.
Follow and visit John on Twitter: twitter.com/#!/johnboxing1
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