Katie Taylor fights two American
by Michael O'Neill
Credit: Sports News Ireland
Photo Credit: Kevin Brusie
March 30, 2012
(MAR 30) Katie Taylor fans
have two opportunities of seeing the world champion in action in
Ireland this week ,firstly against USA star Liz Leddy from
Maine in Cork City’s Silver Springs Moran Hotel on
Following that March 30th encounter in Cork, Katie meets another
highly rated USA boxing star, N’yteeyah Sherman, the promising,
6ft tall, 19 yrs old from Barberton, Ohio on March 31st, the
main bout on the annual Peter Crotty Memorial tournament,
promoted by the local Iron Gym Dungarvan club, so it is truly a
busy time ahead for Miss Taylor.
Two hectic weeks then for the three times World Champion in her
preparation for the 2012 World Championships – and only female
Olympic Qualifier – in Qinhuangdao, China ( May 9-20) as she has
had two wins last weekend over Holland’s Jessica Belder, at the
National Stadium (25-5) and in Cavan (27-4 )
Today , we meet Elizabeth “Liz” Leddy, the 30 years old from
Portland, Maine , who faces Taylor in Cork City. As in the case
of Queen Underwood, whose moving story we brought you recently,
Liz Leddy too faced considerable personal problems, albeit very
different ones , in her teenage years .
She has fought successfully to overcome them and follow her
dreams. She is, quite rightly , very proud of what she has
achieved since those dark days. She told U.S website
KeepMeCurrent.com in their “Maine Women” feature:
“I have been involved with boxing since 1999, with my first bout
in 2000. Prior to that, I had lost my direction in life as my
family separated, and my life choices became more and more
I had been an equestrian, and I was a natural, consistent
athlete. (I got my GED) at 16 and got a job at a horse stable in
Massachusetts. I had been heavily drinking for three or four
years, and it was starting to become an obvious problem.
On my return to Maine, I was working in construction and
drinking, moving further and further away from any life I may
have had before. The older, wilder crowd I was hanging out with
They suggested that I look into boxing or kickboxing. (Now) I am
finding that boxing is more and more a career of present and
future for me”.
In an exclusive interview with SportsNewsIreland, Liz tells of
her initial despair and depression but more importantly about
how she set about changing her life, with God’s help.
“I thought that if there was a God, surely he would not want
anything to do with a wretch like me, with a life as despicable
as mine. I knew inside that I had turned my back on everything I
was so graciously gifted with in life.
I was introduced to the side of me that I had all but cast
aside- the side of me that had the best Irish and Spanish genes,
was gifted artistically, athletically, spiritually,
intellectually – through my introduction to the Portland Boxing
Club. I had respect for the head coach, Bobby Russo, and head
trainer Skip Neales.
I wanted to earn their respect, too. So, I decided to put down
the alcohol and drugs, and cigarettes and chaotic living. I
found that the depression was overwhelming- I picked them up
again, without my own permission. I felt desolate and hopeless
for failing to live in a way that this new group of athlete
friends deserved to be associated with”.
So how did she set about getting back on the road to recovering
from her deep depression?
“A talented heavyweight boxer at the club suggested to me that
maybe I was not a hopeless problem of a party girl – maybe I was
sick, like him. He said he was going to a meeting that night
after practice, and I could go there and meet some girls who
knew how it felt to try to live with this sickness.
I didn’t believe that I had a disease- I was convinced that I
was just born a bad one. I had accepted my destiny as a failure,
until after this first meeting of speakers and prayer. I was
overcome by a sense of awe, of belonging, of humility- and a
white hazy glow surrounded my vision.
I knew I needed to continue to come to these groups where there
was hope, help and support. The police were immediately aware
that something had changed in my life! It took me many years to
fully live this new life, many wins and many losses.
I have kept going back, and as with in the gym and my boxing,
have continued to improve on the ME that I show up with- in
life, in the ring, in my Creator’s eyes.
My boxing family, my community family, my sober family, my Irish
family, my Spanish family- my spiritual family- are all so happy
with who I now am, in and out of the ring. I love to show them
my respect – to get in the ring and display the result of day to
day living that has gotten me this progress!”
And of the immediate future?
“It is an honour to have my lessons of life potentially help
other young women. My accomplishments in life and in the ring
pale in comparison to the gifts of freedom, growth, love, and
spirituality I have found through the lessons I learned from my
head coach, Bob Russo.
These lessons of moral strength, honour, fellowship, self and
mutual respect- these are the medals I am most proud of, and
most honoured to wear day to day through my every decision, my
every action, reaction- my next right choice”.
“I have known many friends, teammates, family, to fall to the
disease of addiction, whether it is from the symptom (the drug
or drink itself) or the honest problem (a sense of spiritual
disconnect/ distress). The latter, with the removal of substance
and without a spiritual solution, leads to the same dark depots
as the train of addiction.
The solution, which I found through amateur boxing, was to find
a group of positively influential people and a program of
support and recovery. We are not bad people trying to get good,
though we have done bad things.
We are sick people trying to get well- and change our harmful
habits and more importantly, the hurt we have caused countless
others, as well as ourselves through the baffling powerful grips
“We must change everything, and this is the greatest journey
ever to set upon. Our new lives become beacons of hope to many-
we have essentially given up the FIGHT against substance abuse,
and SURRENDERED our will to God’s will.
I always say, this was the greatest fight I ever lost. I am able
to have loving relationships with my family, my coaches, my
teammates, and many others. I am able to live in a NEW way- a
way that heals, inspires, and grows the positive in the world.
I can do this because I go to God to ask to help me stay away
from a drink, a drug, and harm to another. I ask that I do his
will and not mine, and for the courage and strength to be the
person he would have me be. It is said that boxing is life
boiled down… I truly believe this, as once we are in that ring
we are exposed to the very fibre of our beings.
In this way, with boxing echoing life and life echoing boxing,
and by following God’s plan and accepting the outcome, I have
learned to walk, learn strive, win, lose, struggle, climb, live
with grace. Thank you to all the people on my path with me, and
to the Creator whose grand design we trace with our lives.”
The U.S star has also been subject of a 2010 Documentary Film :
“Liz – Her Fight “ ,directed by Sharyn Paul Brusie, which
‘documents Liz Leddy’s journey from homelessness, despair and a
brutal fight with life to ultimately finding peace within
herself through taking her “fight” into the boxing ring and
becoming a champion’.
Like Queen Underwood, Leddy is an inspiration to young women who
have had to face hardship and/or abuse in their formative years.
She offers this advice to those women interested in taking up
“Set up goals based on your athletic aspirations – such as
running three miles four times a week, and training boxing
skills three or four times a week – and then add to that
long-term competition goals. This type of structure will teach
you so much about yourself and your character. It is also
important to pay close attention to the gym you choose – don’t
be afraid to try a few before you decide to commit to one. It is
important to commit to a club and develop trust with your
coaches. This will teach you loyalty and good character.
Become a helpful team player and take it upon yourself to work
hard reading, studying, and becoming fit outside the gym. This
will help you out in the ring, but will also show honour and
respect to those who take the time to bring you along in the
sport. Many young boxers get burned out from the intensity of
the sport; rest is also very important. Mostly, have fun. It is
impossible to be successful at something you don’t enjoy doing.
At 30, Liz Leddy is at the peak of her career – a career which
saw her represent the United States at the 2009 Women’s
InterContinental Championships in Ecuador, winning (11-5) on her
international debut against Colombia’s Vivianne Londono at the
Abel Jimenez Parra Coliseum in Guayaquil.
Speaking exclusively to SportsNewsIreland about her visit to
Cork, her respect for Katie Taylor and on her Irish ancestry she
“I am indeed excited to face the talented Katie Taylor in the
squared circle. What a stunning opportunity for me? I remember,
in 2009, it being suggested by the (USA) Women’s
Intercontinental Championship’s head coach, Christy Halbert,
that I study Miss Taylor to improve my point scoring ability.
She is really quite respected, for good reason – and I am
excited to compete with her!
I certainly have kept up with Katie Taylor’s boxing career, as I
have all of the amateur boxing talent. I enjoyed watching and
participating in every history making, ground breaking
tournament these past three years since the 2012 games
participation was declared. We will make our countries, our
families, ourselves and the world very proud and happy to
witness our skill, dedication, and passion.
I am and have always been very proud of my family’s Irish
heritage! We were always raised to be appreciative of our blood
and history. I may have been a bit obsessed in my teenage years!
I do have the Guinness Harp, or, the Harp of Ulster, tattooed on
my shoulder! I was told our roots are from the Co. Clare area
and also from Co. Cavan … I am too excited to put in words over
And finally, a clip of Leddy in action in the 2011 Regionals
Liz is sure to receive a warm welcome from the very
knowledgeable Cork boxing fans … and from Katie Taylor ….. on
Their strong Christian beliefs suggest they have a lot in common
and much to discuss – once the final bell tolls.
Tickets at 50 euros Ringside and 15 euros are available from St
John’s BC ‘s , Patrick Flynn Tel: (087)1675884 or directly from
the Silver Springs Hotel. Tel: 021 4507533.