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Clampitt Bids Adieu..... Exactly the Right Way
by Bernie McCoy
October 22, 2013


(OCT 22) Goodbyes in sports usually run the gamut from heartbreaking to poignant to perfect (Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte coming to the mound to escort Mariano Rivera to the dugout in the ninth inning of his final game at Yankee Stadium). On November 22, at Twin Rivers Event Center in Lincoln, RI, Jaime Clampitt, former two time International Women's Boxing Federation title holder, will seek to emulate the perfect goodbye to a sport she has graced, as an amateur and professional, for twenty three years when she steps into the ring with Dominga Olivo in a scheduled six round bout.

Clampitt has been out of the ring since August, 2010 when she was forced to withdraw from her IBA title fight with Holly Holm in the opening round due to a stinger injury in her neck. "Win or lose that was going to be my last fight," Clampitt told me by phone last week from Rhode Island. "I was in with a boxer considered to be pound/pound the best in the sport. I had trained and thought of little but the bout for months. It was the culmination of ten years of climbing the ranks of a sport that I loved with all my being. To have it end like that was devastating."

Clampitt in a staredown with Holly Holm
Photo:  Mary Ann Owen

Asked whether she had thought about resuming the sport, following her lengthy rehab, Clampitt replied, "Oh, sure, absolutely. But it seemed like every time I got ready to start, something, outside the ring, came up. And all of a sudden, or so it seemed, a lot of time had passed and I was involved in other things: motherhood (she now has two children, a son, nine months old and a daughter of four), training fighters, running the Striking Beauties gym (in North Attleboro, MA). But always, some part of my mind kept returning to that bout and my boxing career and the thought, 'I wish it had ended differently'. "Honestly, I would have rather gotten the (snot) knocked out of me for ten rounds than have to be forced to stop fighting in the first round of the biggest bout I ever had. It (the end) didn't fit; it didn't fit with something I'd done for so long, something I enjoyed so much, something I loved every minute. And, finally, I decided to give it one more try to end on a positive note. That was for me, of course, but also for all those who helped and supported me during my career, amateur and professional, who were there during the ups and downs that every boxer experiences, especially Jimmy Burchfield and everyone at CES Promotions who have been behind me for ten years."

It had been three and a half years and, yes, Clampitt had stayed involved in the sport during that time and had also stayed in good shape. But "good shape" is several time zones removed from being in the type of fighting condition required to step into the ring with another experienced professional boxer. "But, in that regard, I was fortunate," Clampitt notes. "When I say I loved boxing, I mean I loved everything about the sport. Sure stepping thru the ropes is the high point, it's what every fighter works toward. But I loved every part of the process: the gym work, the roadwork, the sparring, all of it. So when I started on the way back, after three and a half years, I was comfortable. I remembered just how much I enjoyed the sport and everything associated with it."

On the day I spoke with Clampitt she had just returned from a run and while she admitted to a bit of soreness, she added, "It's a good soreness, it's the soreness that you feel when you know you're working hard and you're moving toward your goals. It's the soreness I remembered when I was starting out, when it was fun, that's exactly the feeling I have again.

Listening to Jaime Clampitt, even through the filter of a phone, you are struck by the sense that her feelings about her sport are far more that mere rhetoric. You get the sense that she not only loves boxing, she loves being a boxer. It's a sincerity that is rare in any profession, but rarer still in a sport that has always greedily hoarded fulfillment. Listening to Jaime Clampitt talk about her sport is to listen to an athlete who is moving, resolutely, towards fulfillment.

Of course the inevitable question arises: after a successful bout on November 22, won't the temptation be there for another bout? Clampitt, on this point.....at this point, is adamant. "Everyone asks me that. In fact, a lot of people think this is just the first step in a comeback. Nope ! One and done, this is it. It's no longer my time. It's been great getting back in ring shape and I'll have a great time on the 22nd with Olivio, who's another veteran boxer who has been in with some of the best in the sport. But when the final bell rings, it really will be the final bell for me."

"Fighters fight" and Jaime Clampitt has done that in the professional ring for 163 rounds during which she had exhibited a profound sense of both class and professionalism over her 28 bout career. She has six more rounds scheduled for November 22, ending her career, exactly the right way.

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