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Eileen Olszewski: "I Never Left"
by Bernie McCoy
October 18, 2010


(OCT 18) Eileen Olszewski's last bout was nearly two years ago (December 2008), a ten round draw with Nadia Rauoi, who, recently, lost a very close and disputed decision to Susi Kentikian. That 2008 bout was "business as usual" in Olszewski's "go anywhere, fight anyone" professional career, which, over two years, encompassed nine bouts, seventy rounds and a "Who's Who" opposition list in the flyweight division.

Consider her last five opponents: Rauoi, in Switzerland, Simona Galassi, in Italy, Carina Moreno and Elena Reid. in this country and Stefania Bianchini, in Italy. Consider, also, those five fighters had a combined winning percentage of 92% (68-6). Line up some of the prominent champions in the sport of Women's boxing who have never fought one fighter with a 9 of 10 winning record and watch that line wind around the corner. Throughout her professional boxing career, Eileen Olszewski didn't simply look for bouts, Eileen Olszewski looked for tough bouts. That alone put her on a short list in her sport and when she left the ring, the sport of Women's boxing, specifically the flyweight division, took a step back in quality.

"I never left," Olszewski makes very clear as we sit talking, along with her husband, Matt, in a treatment room in Sykes Boxing/Sports Lab/NYC, in midtown Manhattan, around the corner from the newly refurbished main branch of the New York Public Library. "After, the Rauoi bout, I felt it was an ideal time to take a step back, give some of the nagging injuries, that had plagued me for so long, a chance to heal and take time to assess what came next. We opened this facility in January and it's been a lot of work but I never had any doubt that I would, at some point, return to the ring. I've been training full time for fourteen months, sparring two or three times a week with some good New York fighters, Alicia Ashley and Melissa Hernandez, and looking for the right opportunity to step back into the ring. We found it thanks to Star Boxing and some hard work by my manager, David Selwyn.

That opportunity comes Friday (October 22), on Joe DiGuardia's Star Boxing card at the Capitale Club in lower Manhattan, against Suzannah Warner. The six round bout is a return of a four round majority decision win Olszewski had, at the Paradise Theater in the Bronx, in August 2007. "Suzannah is a tough fighter," Olszewski states, "who's been in the ring with some of the best in the world. The first fight was supposed to be six rounds but was cut to four for TV (ESPN) and what I remember was it was all out action, bell to bell, each round. I expect exactly the same thing this time.

Asked about future plans, Olszewski is reluctant to stray from the "one fight at a time" mantra, but she has a logical rationale. "I'm at a point in my career where I can't spend a great deal of time cultivating my career. I'm 42 and I don't have a lot of years left in the ring. But, assuming this bout (Warner) goes well and I feel good about my performance, I would like to fight Carina (Moreno) again. I wasn't at my best the last time we fought and, since I know her very well, going back to our amateur days, I feel I owe her a better fight."

On the subject of returning to fight in Europe, Olszewski is a bit less sanguine, "The circumstances would need to be different, certainly in terms of neutral judging. This is nothing against the fighters I fought in Switzerland and Italy, they were great opponents and quality fighters, but I honestly thought I won both bouts that came up draws (Rauoi, Bianchini) and even the Galassi fight, I thought was much closer than the final scores indicated. Every round in that bout, to me, was very close and the nod, in almost every round, went to Simona. Would I go back to Europe? Sure, it's a good location for the sport, with great fans, but I'd need some kind of assurance that I'm not already behind on the scorecards as I'm walking down the aisle."

This Friday, Eileen Olszewski will walk down the aisle to an improvised ring at the Capitale Club and answer a bell in a professional boxing venue for the first time in nearly two years. I accept her premise that she "never left" the sport and that at 42 years of age, her remaining time in the ring is finite. I will also stipulate that Olszewski would make an ideal subject for a "Forty is the New Thirty" poster and that her return to the ring against another quality fighter, Suzannah Warner, is exactly the type of quality match-up the sport of Women's boxing needs at this point in time. Maybe Eileen Olszewski never left, but what's certain is that it's good for the sport that she's back

Bernie McCoy

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