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Boxing: Chicago's Kristin Carlson Ventures ' Where Others Fear To Tread'
by Michael O'Neill
April 29,  2014


(APR 29) One of the major headaches for Olympic Gold medallists, Great Britain’s Nicola Adams and Ireland’s Katie Taylor is finding opponents in or even close to home soil, indeed in the case of the four times World and five times European champion from Bray it has proved extremely difficult to find any bouts in 2014 since none of her main challengers in the Lightweight division has wanted to face the woman who has headed the 60kg AIBA Rankings for the past seven years.

The fact that this is a year when there are both European (Bucharest, Romania) and World (Jeju Island, South Korea) Championships made finding bouts that much more difficult as opponents were sought not only within Europe but as far afield as the United States and even Dubai and Qatar. This year’s European even also serves as the only qualifier for the 2015 inaugural European Games in Baku where there will be five weights for women instead of the usual three, and that thanks to the great efforts of European Olympic Council President, Ireland’s Patrick Hickey and the co-operation received from AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu.

This week though the 2012 Olympic champion has three bouts lined up, on May 1st and 2nd at the Rochestown Park Hotel in Douglas, Cork City where Croatia’s champion Marija Petric provides the opposition on the St John’s Boxing Club, Fermoy promotion and at the same venue the following night when Taylor comes face to face with two times Swiss Elite champion - and former European kick-boxing titleholder – Anais Kistler. There are a few tickets still left for the Cork bouts on 1st and 2nd May. These are available from Rochestown Park Hotel Tel: + 353(0)21-4890800 & also from St John’s BC Secretary Pa Flynn Irish Mobile: (087)1675884 . In all some 12 top class bouts down for decision including other women’s bouts .Other Irish Olympians on the Cork show(s) include London 2012 Captain, Darren O’Neill, John Joe Joyce and Bray BC’s Adam Nolan.

On May 3rd the action moves to the West Waterford seaside town of Dungarvan where the local club headed by Munster Council supremo Gerry O’Mahoney’s Dungarvan Ironman Gym hosts the eagerly awaited return to an Irish ring of Katie Taylor not seen in competitive since winning the European Union Championships title in Hungary last year. Taylor though has been sparring against fellow Irish Olympian bronze medallists, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan.

On Saturday she meets Kirstin Carlson from Chicago, Illinois currently ranked in the United States at both 57 and 60 kg. Since Taylor is already well known to WBAN.COM readers, let us concentrate on her opponent in Dungarvan – the aforementioned Kristin Carlson.

For the benefit of our international readers as well in the United States, we asked Kirstin to tell us a little about her background, her family and her thoughts on the forthcoming bout in Dungarvan:

So you are from Chicago, Kirstin? : “ I was actually born in Salt Lake City Utah but moved before I was two years old. I lived all over the country growing up including Georgia, California, and Marietta, Ohio for Junior High School and High School”

And now? : “I am a teacher at The Francis Xavier Warde School in Chicago, IL. I live just outside of Chicago. When they hired me they asked me to start a boxing club at school, and now we meet once a week during a special “club” hour that is built into the curriculum where students choose from a variety of clubs for the year”.

Any family members involved in boxing one wondered? : “I am the first in my family to box. All of my siblings live in Chicago which is fantastic as they are huge supporters as well. I have two brothers and one sister. My older brother is a lawyer and was a wrestler and rower; younger brother is in graduate school to become a teacher as well and was on the cross country and track team at Sacramento State also. My older (and only) sister is a musician playing a variety of instruments but primarily the piano”

So what made you take up boxing- since I hear you have previously been involved in Rowing - both as an Athlete and as a Coaching assistant ? :

“I started taking boxing classes at LA Boxing (now UFC gym) almost 4 years ago in the city when I first started graduate school. I had heard ads on the radio for a good workout class in an hour, and since at the time I was coaching rowing in the morning I couldn’t row anymore, as that is when the local clubs trained so was looking for something new.

A few months later one of the trainers asked if I wanted to fight sometime and I thought it sounded like fun and ended up competing in my first Chicago Golden Gloves. I really enjoyed the competition, and at this tournament I met my current coach (Bob Miller) and realized I wanted to take boxing more seriously and train at a more serious boxing gym with more fighters.

I had a great experience at my first gym, but at my new gym (Champions Boxing Gym in Lombard, IL) there were a lot more fighters with a lot of women and men competing, which made it easier to go to tournaments as a team.

I really enjoyed being a part of an individual sport where it’s just you and an opponent and the work you put in gets you the results, without having to rely on others as you do in rowing”.

Rowing like boxing involves real dedication so how did that come about?

Kristin tells us :“I did row for Sacramento State University in California, and had a great time competing and training for a division one program at one of the premier rowing venues in the United States. In addition to that I did a bit of rowing in London for the Furnivall Scullers Club (in Hammersmith on the River Thames).

After my undergraduate degree I went to North Park University in Chicago for my Masters degree, and was hired on as the graduate assistant rowing coach. Practices for rowing are generally early in the morning which was why I couldn’t pursue rowing as I was coaching, so this is where boxing came into play because I’ve always been active in sports and wanted to continue to be”.

Are you now totally dedicated to boxing? - “Right now I am not participating in rowing, but am sure I will in the future as it is something that you can do ‘forever’, and is also a lot of fun but obviously very different from boxing.

Are your parents supportive of your boxing career ? -“My parents, who live in Texas were a bit surprised when I started competing in boxing, but they are supportive in everything I do and were the ones that were driving a few hundred miles to see me compete in rowing in high school, and traveled to almost all of my soccer games, cross country meets etc. etc. For this and their continued support in all of my sporting endeavors I will be forever grateful. Being an amateur boxer is just for the love of the sport and competition and I love them for their continuing to support me in boxing.

My current coach Bob Miller , I would like to thank for introducing me to his gym and team, for without him and my teammates from the gym I don’t think I would have gotten to go to all of the tournaments that I have been to.

I think that all of my rowing coaches were great growing up, but I had the best experience getting to row for the late Andrew Holmes in London and still remember after the first day practicing with the team at Furnivall where he said I was “one tough cookie” and I think my years of rowing with girls that are 5+ inches taller and several pounds heavier always made me want to work harder to earn that seat in the boat and continue to get faster.

Now this drive has translated to boxing except now it’s just me and I always want to get better. Just as in teaching we are all students and should continue to learn and grow. I love having the support of my students as well and it is nice to be able to have them at local fights, to try to inspire them too”

Like you Katie is a multi-talented sportswoman having played more than 40 times for Ireland at Soccer (19 of them for the Senior Elite team) have you ever seen her in ‘live’ ringside action? - “No, I have not personally attended a Katie Taylor match, but have seen her on the Olympics (online was the only way to watch live in the US) as the cable stations had most of the fight days delayed.

She is a great role model for the sport, and it is very nice to see such support for any amateur boxer in a country “

Any favorite boxers, Kristin? - “Manny Pacquiao, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Lucia Rijker, Canelo Alvarez, really so many to name that I like but would probably say Manny Pacquiao, for his ring IQ, blistering speed and power, and humility outside of the ring make him my favourite”.

I hear another of your club mates is also travelling with you to Dungarvan and will participate in a bout there. Tell us more – who is that?

“Maureeca Lambert (Stefanski) is also coming to Dungarvan. She is my friend and teammate that I am truly excited to travel with to fight in Ireland. She is a terrific boxer and champion and I feel privileged to get to train with her every day. She was a college athlete (cross country and track) as well and I believe was in a similar situation looking for something new to compete in and boxing found her as well”. Maureeca is due to meet new Irish Elite champion Lynn Harvey.

Earlier this year, Kristin Carlson caused a major upset at the U.S Nationals in defeating defending champion Jennifer Hamann in the quarter finals before eventually going under to eventual Champion Tiara Brown. She is also the proud holder of two Ringside World Championship belts plus a four time Chicago Golden Gloves Champion, one being in the Novice category. That bronze in the U.S Nationals 2014 apart, she also took silver at the U.S National Golden Gloves tournament so can be depended upon to give Katie Taylor a testing time in the West Waterford seaside town on Saturday night.

Good news for fans of the sport worldwide is that the bout and supporting ones - will be LIVE STREAMED via sportslive.aertv.ie  from 7:30 pm Irish Time and will include other women’s bouts inc that involving Maureeca Lambert plus a fascinating battle between 2013 European Union medallist Niamh Ball of the Trojan Club in Lisowel, Co. Kerry and Great Britain’s very promising Jenna O’Reilly.

So three bouts for Katie Taylor in Cork and in Dungarvan and a great opportunity for Kristin Carlson and Maureeca Lambert to sample the atmosphere as Katie Taylor Fans support their favourite in Dungarvan the home town of the late, great Peter Crotty Irish Olympian from 1952 and who boxed in the United States as part of the Irish team in the early 1950’s.

Not much time to enjoy the Irish scenery or the famed Irish hospitality methinks but Kristin is looking forward to at least a glimpse of Rural Ireland as she told wban.com that ‘I have been to Ireland once, but just to Dublin, I had a wonderful time and am sure I will enjoy getting to see more of the country”.

Good Luck to Katie, to Kristin and Maureeca and to all the boxers male and female boxers taking part in Dungarvan on Saturday and in the preceding days in Cork.


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