WHY I FIGHT Allison Kemon “Fight (Like a Girl) Story”

WHY I FIGHT Allison Kemon “Fight (Like a Girl) Story”
November 4, 2015 EBF

Kemon – “I FIGHT FOR THOSE WHO NEVER GIVE UP”

Haymakers for Hope’s 2015 “Belles of the Brawl” took place on October 7th at the House of Blues.   Allison Kemon is one of our five female fighters who not only trained relentlessly at The Club for months, but raised funds for cancer research and treatment.

For many, the thought of stepping into the ring and fighting can be a terrifying thing.   Allison welcomed this fight, embraced it, embodied it, and won.  She fought for herself, she fought for The Club, but most of all, she fought for those who may not be able to fight for themselves.

To quote Allison, “You may not be aware, but every word spoken and every action that takes place inside the gym inspires each member and builds our community from the inside out.”

Allison, you inspire us.  We are so proud to have you represent the Club and the Everybodyfights community.   Thank you for your story, your inspiration, and for your help in the fight against cancer.

WHY I FIGHT – Kemonimage1

Fighting is not a sport—it’s a spirit and philosophy. Fighting is agony and ecstasy. It’s more than throwing punches and getting in the ring. It’s about being scared to death and conquering those fears and doubts anyway. It’s about turning your fight ON when you need to. Fighting is not a sport—it’s a spirit and philosophy. It builds you up and tears you down.  It brings out the best and worst in people.

On October 7th I fought in Haymakers for Hope – Belles of the Brawl, an all-female competitive boxing event at the House of Blues in Boston that raises money and awareness to literally KO cancer. This was an unforgettable, life-changing experience. People ask my reasons for participating in this particular event that would take a tremendous amount of time, discipline, blood, sweat and tears.

My answer is simple:

“You have cancer // Your child has cancer” is something no one should have to hear. I fought for those who live every day fighting their battle with cancer.  I fight for those who NEVER give up.

I dedicated my fight to the patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who touched my life while I had the wonderful opportunity to work in fundraising and event planning for their very special hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. I heard amazing stories and saw miracles happen just off of Beale Street. The hospital is a special kind of place, with some very special little fighters. While I worked there, I learned that St. Jude is really like no other research hospital. No family ever sees a bill. For anything. I fondly remember and I am reminded of each patient I got the chance to meet. I especially think of one little girl in particular who always wanted to play sports with her older brother. She reminded me of myself. She was a fighter and not just because she was fighting cancer, but because she was determined to show others she was going to excel and live the life she wanted, not how anyone told her to live.

My fight was for every daughter, mother, grandmother, and aunt who has been touched with breast cancer. It is the second most diagnosed cancer and I’ve had multiple friends, family friends, and friends of friends who have experienced personal battles with breast cancer. It is becoming increasingly more prevalent in my life. Which is scary in and of itself. I fought for my roommate’s mom, Suzanne Williams, who recently lost her battle with breast cancer. Jackie really said it best – her mom beat cancer by how she lived. I hope I made her family proud in the ring on October 7th in her memory.

By fighting, I hope I made a difference. I know I left a piece of something behind.  With my fundraising efforts I want to make sure that the research and treatment done with the money means something to me and something to others.

Yes, I wanted to win my fight, but I also want others to win as well.

The best way to talk about my fight story, my fight for Haymakers, my fight against cancer, and my fight for those who aren’t able to fight for themselves, is to go through my real-time experience in preparation for that fight. I chronicled my journey through my fight by committing to write a blog post every week. Every Friday (#FightLikeAGirlFriday), I would include a new story on my journey. Here are some of the posts from Fight Like A Girl:

PATIENCE VS. FRUSTRATION (Kemon)

Less than two months. October 7 is quickly approaching.

Rocky Balboa said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” Wow. Was he right? As a fighter you come to terms with it. Not everything is easy. This is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Otherwise everyone would be doing it.

image1These last couple weeks were tough. I couldn’t put in as much work at the gym. I couldn’t grasp some of the footwork and skill concepts. On top of all that, work was absolutely consuming me. I wasn’t focused on training and I wasn’t focused on work. My brain was trying so hard to be in two places at once. It wasn’t working. I felt frustrated. It was the first ti
me I felt that way through training…and it didn’t feel great.

The speed bag – aka the “patience bag” – as my trainer Edwin has now named it in my defense or to humor me – I am unsure which…was giving me the worst time. I had absolutely no patience for the “patience bag.” I had multiple trainers telling me different tactics and how they learned. Each had a different theory. Each had a different experience with it.

I began to realize that I had no confidence and I doubted my ability. No confidence = No patience. 

So I begin my theory about the speed bag. Practice. Practice. Practice. The movement is not what I am used to with boxing. Your elbows are away from your rib cage, your hands away from your face. I began with just one hand and listened to the slow beat…1, 2, 3…1, 2, 3. STOP. Start again. I stayed at the gym until 10:00PM every night until the pace got quicker 123123123123. I was determined to gain my confidence back and to gain patience back.

I STAY DETERMINED

Most days I am as sore as I am blonde. After training I step into the shower, letting the water pour down on me. Then I adopt my fighting stance and shadowbox in the shower, throwing punches at water droplets.

Tomorrow, I will be better. I gain confidence. I gain patience. With every punch I throw and every speed bag I hit.

I imagine this is how the fight versus cancer goes. You have your ups & downs. You have your days you feel like you can take on anything and anyone and then the next day, week, or year you can’t imagine going forward. I fight for others feeling this way day in and day out. I can’t imagine feeling like this. I didn’t want to feel like this so I kept going. That is what I hope to instill in others.

SHOW ME MY OPPONENT

“I am Allison Kemon. I am queen of my kingdom. I will not let anyone come into my kingdom and reign. Repeat after me.”

AllisonThese words were recanted to me by Edwin. Repeated three times as he wrapped my hands. This ritual continued with each hand. I normally wrap my own hands but as they shook with anxious energy, I looked to Edwin to calm my nerves.

I stood at ringside at The Club like I have so many times. Hands wrapped. Headgear on. But this time was different. I step inside the ring. Light shadow boxing with just 1’s and 2’s. I awaited my opponent’s arrival.

She and her team step ringside and converse. I stop what I am doing immediately and just stare. Never taking my eyes off of her for even a moment. I compare myself to a lioness watching and waiting in the grass of the Serengeti.

Deep inhales and exhales are the only thing that calm me down. Even though I compare myself with a lioness, I felt more like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I was ready, but the wait was killing me. It was the anticipation of attack.

She stepped inside the ring and I immediately brought my full focus on her only to be interrupted by Edwin saying I need my gloves and mouth guard in. As I put my last “accessories” on {you know, girls love to accessorize an outfit}, Edwin said “What are you thinking?” Without skipping a beat I said, “WWRD?” He looked confused, either because he couldn’t understand me talking with my mouthguard in or I didn’t bother to explain. I turned my back and looked back to the opposite corner, where my opponent stood. A banged my gloves together, almost as a territorial warning sound.

And so it began… my first and last time I would spar my opponent before October 7th. The video camera began to roll and I claimed the center of the ring.

Knowing I have an opponent. A date set. I have seen what she has in the ring. Makes everything all real. So I begin to think back to what I said to Edwin… “WWRD?”

What. Would. Ronda. Do?”

Well, I am not a professional MMA fighter, so I can’t do exactly what she does since I have a job and I am not getting paid to fight. But I will tell you – I have been training two times a day, lifting, running, cycling, punching, jabbing, hooking… you name it. I’ve been making it happen. If I am sore, tired or just not mentally there, I think not only WWRD but also what is my opponent doing. I think the best of her – she is probably doing twice as much work as me.  One thing I’ve learned – you have got to respect your opponent.

Another thing I learned – no one is easy until after you beat them.

I am preparing for battle. I am preparing for war. Shannon had better get her armor.

ARE YOU READY?

This is a question I’ve been asked upwards of 100 times by now as the weeks, more like days, draw near. Friends, family, coworkers, fellow Club members who have watched me progress from BoxFiit regular to standing in the ring on my own all ask the same question with the same level of exciting inquisition.

My answer is the same each time.

“Yes, I’m prepared.”

The truth is I am prepared. I have enjoyed working to become better in every sense of the word when it comes to boxing. I’ve done countless runs, lifting workouts, Fight Club, footwork, sparring, Bags and Body, spin classes, and BoxFiit.  You name it and I’ve done it.  I mean, I threw up at my workout last night…But was it enough? I have a small (the tiniest) voice asking myself if everything I have done to prepare is enough. I consider a few days a wash when I was mentally too tired to comprehend what I was doing, too sore to get up in the morning, sick, busy with work…excuses can go on and on.

From here, I have less than 19 days to knockout (pun intended) that voice. I am a fighter. A brawler. And now I have exactly 19 days | 456 hours | 27,360 minutes to fight for what is mine. I will do whatever it takes to make sure my hand is raised at the end of the fight.

So now it’s my turn to ask. Are YOU ready?

FINAL COUNTDOWN

“I have so much passion, it’s hard to hold in.”

This couldn’t be a more valid statement to this day. The passion I had on day one has only transformed and morphed over time. Boxing is my passion. I knew that this experience – training for my first fight – was going to be a long process. I knew that the long nights, early mornings, and sore muscles would be hard to take. But my passion grew with every night of punching heavy bags and jumping rope at 10PM, every 4:45AM alarm that went off, and every sore muscle (some I didn’t even know I had).

“I LOVE THE PERSON THAT I HAVE BECOME BECAUSE I FOUGHT TO BECOME HER.”

I don’t think others understand or comprehend. People ask me, “Aren’t you excited for this fight to be done so you can be normal again?” My response, “What’s normal? I love what I do and I wouldn’t be committed to this unless I was passionate about it.”

It’s consumed me. Every book, movie, documentary, TV show that pertained to it; I wanted to absorb. I still want to. It’s my purpose to take this passion and turn it into purpose. I often think your purpose in life is not to be happy, but to leave the world a better place.

When you are as passionate as I am, it’s like a force to be reckoned with. Nature. So just like the hurricane that is headed for the East Coast, my passion rumbles as the days dwindle. And I continue to remember… Once you’re a fighter, you’re always a fighter.

Monday and Tuesday seemed to creep by slower than usual as Wednesday (fight day) approached. I was calm. Keeping my emotions even throughout each day. When I made an appearance at the gym I was told I had “ice in my veins.” I was ready. There’s nothing more I could’ve done in that moment that would have made me better inside the ring. I did the hard part. I put in the work.

Wednesday. My body ever so used to being on a schedule woke me up at 5:00am for a workout that was not taking place. I lay in bed and watched “The Wonder Years” on Netflix {huge crush on Kevin Arnold; wanted to be Winnie Cooper}. After an emotional episode called “Daddy’s Little Girl” when the eldest, Karen, goes off to college – the waterworks began. My Dad and I are very close. This hit home. It was the only time I allowed myself to feel that before my fight. No other waste of emotion would happen. I found myself turning to that moment of feeling and using it to fuel me.

Weight. I woke up – weighed in on the dot. 125. Hallelujah! Now just to maintain all day… Great (insert sarcasm). I ate chia seeds and water to help fill me up and headed to the grocery store with a stop along the way to get iced coffee. I mean, even Ronda Rousey can’t cut coffee out of the diet. Now, the grocery store when you’re starving. Hell on Earth. Alas – I got eat whatever I wanted after weigh in. I needed to fuel my body properly. No buffalo chicken wings – those were for post fight! I researched what nutritionists said were the best food groups. I went with solid choices: peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, orange slices, dark chocolate, organic and all natural beef jerky, and homemade PB&J energy balls. Liquids: Pedialyte and Gatorade {not just for hangovers, people}.

Time to pack. I was the last fight so I came heavily prepared. One pre-fight mix that was more music I grew up on and then one that came on before the fight. I brought “The Bible” aka “My Fight/Your Fight” by Ronda Rousey. My folded pages of inspiring quotes and pictures felt like they would pop off the page and become reality in a few short hours. I even brought my hockey stick and a golf ball to play around in the hallways with.

It was time. My teammate Jordan had just gotten the 4th win for our team and I began to warm up in the back stage hallway. Every slip of a punch came with a jab to the body, triple jabs up top, left hook, hard right hand, or a combo of all. Each punch thrown – I felt power. I was ready. I was determined.

Entrance. I entered the ring and everything around me motivated me. The ring card women were cancer survivors.  My friends and family showed their support by cheering as loud as possible and wearing their AK47 shirts, bearing my nickname.  My entrance song blaring over the speakers. Everything was white noise to what I was focused on across the ring. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I wanted to look into her eyes and strip everything out of her. Her breath. Her will. Her soul. This was technically a cage and I was ready to unleash the wild animal.

The first bell rang and I claimed my territory. I remember the first punch that she landed and it sent me into a spiral. My feet and fists didn’t stop moving. Then all of a sudden it was the third round… I wanted to leave everything in the ring. Just like training, I did not want to question whether I could’ve done anything different. The first thirty seconds in. I brought multiple left jabs to her nose and felt a crack when my glove impacted. I saw blood and my Jaws instinct came out. Keep punching her nose. For survival against a shark this is what you do, but also being a shark you keep attacking when blood is in the water.

Her legs felt wobbly when I began to throw my right hook. She was drowning and the next moment the ref saved her with a standing eight count. She passed the test but it was the last minute that I knew would count. The final 10 seconds came quick. I threw everything I had left. My legs gassed. My arms like wet spaghetti noodles. Ding ding.

All I could think about was how hard she worked as well.  I thought about what we were here to really fight, which was not each other.   We were there to fight cancer.  We were a team too, raising over $15,000 between just the two of us. I gave her a hug and said I was proud that she was my opponent.  She’s an excellent fighter, and she did a great job.  She walked away, not returning compliments but I understood. I had been there before. Defeat. I can honestly say it’s my least favorite emotion. It’s crushing. Walking to her corner with her I tapped my gloves with her coaches.  When walking back to my corner, I saw two things:  My trainer and my brother in the crowd.  Both proud.

My story has all been told. First fight – check it off. But I was asked the question: how much better is life when you have a day circled on the calendar? How much better is life when you have a team of people on your side helping you reach a goal, train, bringing nothing but positive energy and feedback into your life? My life continues to be about passion and purpose. With this new passion – I’ve found purpose.thank you

THANK YOU

The coaches and trainers at EverybodyFights inspire me to represent a gym that believes in each and every member no matter what their journey may be. Everyone truly fights for something they believe in, something they want to prove, and something inside themselves. You may not be aware, but every word spoken and every action that takes place inside the gym inspires each member and builds our community from the inside out.

The outpouring of support, kind words, messages of inspiration, love, admiration… I don’t think any day will ever compare. I know some girls dream of their wedding day, living up to that expectation, but I now know that this will far surpass it. {Sorry in advance, Future Husband, wherever you are…} In this moment in time, I was able to be in the one percent of women. That one percent of women who are intangible. I felt powerful. I felt strong. I felt in control. I was queen of my kingdom. (Kemon)

By fighting, I hope I made a difference. I know I left a piece of something behind.  With my fundraising efforts I want to make sure that the funds raised, which will go towards cancer research and treatment, have tremendous meaning to me and to those who need it.

Yes, I wanted to win my fight, but I also want others to win as well. – Kemon

 

To Read the Full Story Check out Allison’s Blog: https://fightlikeagirlak47.wordpress.com/

 

 

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