There's no denying that athletic "callings" can come at any age, but when Holly Lawson decided to take a boxing class for personal fitness in her twenties, she had no idea it would lead to a professional boxing career at 32-years old. But, she fell in love with her class and was encouraged by her instructor to pursue the sport further. Just a few years later, in 2010, she won her first amateur fight by unanimous decision for the California State Golden Gloves. She's now training for the chance to become a World Champion boxer. Check out our exclusive interview with this impressive athlete and get in her corner to cheer her on as the sport of Women's Boxing continues to grow.
- Age: 33
- Number of years in professional boxing: 1
- Other professional pursuits: Personal trainer, art gallery curator and rap group manager
- Biggest accomplishments: Winning the 2010 California State Golden Gloves, my first professional match
A little friendly sparring
GirlsGoneSporty (GGS): You started boxing relatively recently – how did it come about that you decided to take up the sport?
Holly 'Lil Bear' Lawson (HL): I started boxing in my twenties, taking a class for fitness and to lose weight. I had always been a fan of the sport, and I had a natural affinity for it. The teacher of the class encouraged me to go to a real boxing gym because he saw some talent in me. It became an obsession and something that was a large part of my life.
GGS: What pushed you to turn boxing for exercise into boxing for a career?
HL: I didn’t look at it as a viable career choice until 3 years ago. That's when I realized that I had all the tools to become a champion and I admitted to myself that it was my passion. It was then that I decided to pursue my passion full-time. I also think that it is important to show young girls in particular that it is never too late to pursue your passion and that you can do whatever it is that you want to, regardless of what people say or think.
GGS: There are lots of women out there who would like to take up a new sport, but find the prospect intimidating. What advice would you give them?
HL: This is something that I am really passionate about, I believe that no matter what it is that you want to do, sports or otherwise, the best that we can ever do for ourselves is to follow what makes us happy, what we are driven to do. Life is about experiences and growth and the lessons we learn along the way. One of my favorite quotes is “ A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what they are built for." I believe this to be true for people as well. A person will not succeed in everything they do, it is in the trial that we learn what we are made of. How can you ever know what you like if you don’t broaden your experiences?
When it comes to trying new sports, find someone to try it out with you, things are never as daunting if you have a sidekick. And, do some research. See if there is a woman in your area that teaches or trains, or find a professional athlete to mentor you. Nothing makes me happier than teaching girls how to box.
GGS: Were you fairly active before you took up boxing?
HL: I actually took the boxing classes to lose weight because I was overweight. Throughout my life I always played sports, but I never tried. I was always content to be “good enough” without trying. Boxing was the first sport in which not only did I push myself to my limits, but I also wanted to be the best.
When away from the ring
GGS: Boxing isn’t your only professional pursuit – how do you balance boxing with your other careers and interests?
HL: It is hard because boxing is such a time-consuming sport - it requires 100% of you. Right now I am working toward being able to focus on my boxing full-time. But for the time being, I sleep little and just know when I wake up every day that I am one step closer to my dream. I don’t do a ton of outside activities, my world really does revolve around the ring and what I want to accomplish in there. Whenever I can I like to catch sports games (football, baseball and basketball) and spend time with my boyfriend.
GGS: You’ve traveled the world and speak three languages fluently – what’s your favorite place to travel to?
HL: As of now, Saint Lucia, which was incredibly beautiful. I love the sun. My favorite thing to do is to lay in the sun with a stack of magazines and gossip with my best friend.
GGS: How do you maintain your training when you’re on the road? Do you have any tips for readers on staying active even when their routine changes?
HL: Traveling is hard, especially if you're like me and you're a creature of habit - always going to the same gym, running the same route and so forth. One thing I have found that helps is to research the city I'm traveling to so I can grab a workout in a local boxing gym. Also, make www.mapmyrun.com your best friend. No matter where you go in the world you can check out your location, and with a little help from hotel staff, pick a safe local route. The site will tell you the distance, so if you regularly run 5 miles, you can be sure that you are running 5 miles in your current location. It’s also a really good way to check out the city you are staying in.
GGS: What goals are you currently pursuing, both in and out of the ring?
HL: Well, my ultimate goal is to become a World Champion. I also would love to have my own athletic apparel line.
GGS: GirlsGoneSporty believes women should help each other out when it comes to fashion and beauty. What are your must-have beauty products and who are your favorite designers?
HL: Wow...this could be such a long answer! Well, I have really long hair so I always use a Pantene conditioner specifically for long hair as well as Moroccan Oil. I don’t really wear that much makeup, but I am a fan of MAC when I have an event to attend. My favorite designers are pretty varied. I like one-of-a-kind vintage pieces as much as I love Gucci shoes and Roberto Cavalli dresses. And, of course I am always in love with anything Dolce and Gabbana make - their dresses with the stars on them are something I am drooling over.
GGS: What music do you have on your workout playlist?
HL: My musical taste is pretty varied, but my workout playlists consist of nothing but hip-hop and pop/R&B. Jay-Z is always on there, along with Beyonce of course. Drake. Kanye. Eminem. LA is home to so many talented rappers: Tiron, Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hussle, Kent Money, all have places up on my list too. I want to be inspired to push myself and I want to be able to sing along. My fave right now is Eric 9.0.
GGS: Do you have anything else you would like to share with GirlsGoneSporty readers?
HL: I just want to thank you for the interview and tell anyone reading this that, if there is any way that I could make it through what I have in my life and found my way into this unlikely place here in the boxing world, that anything is possible. And the most important thing to all of this, is that you have faith. If you are doing what you love, what you are passionate about, the pieces will fall into place. Just believe.
Oh, and I am on twitter @lilbearlawson, and I love to hear from my followers! I want to learn from them as much as they do from me.