Combat and Courtrooms -

Combat and Courtrooms

The inspiring personal story of Gina Cervone, how she overcame hardships and found boxing.
Have you ever felt that you were too old to do something? Perhaps you’ve felt that it was too late to change careers, to go to school, or to begin exercising. I’m here to tell you that age is not against you; the only thing that can be against you is yourself. My name is Gina and I began amateur boxing at the not so tender age of 25. What led me to this journey may surprise you. While my story starts off sad, the end result is sure to make you smile.
I’m the first in my family to graduate college and attend law school. Being a first generation student has come with immense challenges. Challenges that are best left detailed for another blog. Nonetheless, I began attending William S. Boyd School of Law in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada in the fall of 2018. I felt academically challenged and was surrounded by very bright individuals with whom I was in constant competition with. School became more and more draining. In the background of law school, I was battling a breakup from a volatile relationship that lasted nearly a decade. My self-esteem could not have been lower. I gained 30 pounds. I didn’t want to step outside of my house. Embarrassment surrounded me because I could not believe that I let myself become both physically and mentally unwell.
Hitting the Books to Hitting Mitts
I knew I needed to regain control. Then, perhaps by serendipity, a friend that I had just reconnected with on Instagram, introduced me to her boxing coach. She told me that he would give me a free lesson and that it would be a great way to get in shape. “Hmm boxing” I thought. This was a sport I always wanted to try because both my grandfather and uncle were boxers. Like many boxers back then, they did not box for fitness or fame, but to simply earn side money. Due to this, my mom did not want me boxing as a child, despite me having asked her. She thought and I cannot fault her, that I would get severely injured or become violent in school. However, I was 25 now and living on my own. So naturally, I decided to begin boxing. I so desperately wanted to feel a connection to my now deceased family and Mexican-American heritage. So, I told my friend, “yes, let me join you.”
After my first boxing lesson, I was hooked. I wish I could describe the feeling but if you have ever boxed before then you know what I mean. My coach, coach Chris asked me if I wanted to box competitively or for fitness. At first, I said for fitness. As time progressed my coach and other boxers around me said they saw a lot of potential for me to compete. So, my official day of training to compete started January 1, 2020. My coach sternly told me that I needed to take this seriously because, “you don’t play boxing.” He laid out his ground rules 1) he would not work with me if I wasn’t dedicated 2) he would not let me fight until he thought I was ready. So every day after class, my coach would train me. I would frantically change out of my school clothes into boxing gear (not gear as stylish as KO Studio’s I might add, because KO Studio had not been invented yet, lol).
The one thing I looked forward to each day became boxing. I began losing weight, developing self-confidence again, and finding a community in boxing. My coach even made me film every boxing session I had. It all started because I told him that when I played volleyball in high school, I would get nervous in front of an audience. Competitive club volleyball in the school off-season was filled with cameras and scouts which also made me nervous. He told me I needed to break this negative habit. I’ll never forget when he first pulled out his phone and said, “we’re recording this session.” He used the footage to show me the errors I had made and how I could fix them. He told me that one day I would look back at the film and see my progress. Then, in my downtime I began studying boxing films (e.g. old matches, tutorials on YouTube, etc.). I quickly learned that ring intelligence is such a difficult skill set and my respect for boxers grew even more.
Punching in a Pandemic?
March 17, 2020 was the day that Governor Sisolak of Nevada ordered a state-wide shutdown of all non-essential businesses, including gyms. The Covid-19 global pandemic changed all of our lives in some way or another. Uncertainty about school, work, and the state of the world sent many of us into disarray. Nonetheless, I continued to train at home, outside at the park, and in the garage. My coach told me that I had to keep training, especially because I started later in life and did not have the luxury of years of boxing experience. So, I persisted. Not only did boxing keep me healthy but aided my sanity.
Then, around August of 2020, my friend Casey suggested that I get on an app called TikTok to share my boxing journey. I was already sharing my boxing videos on my Instagram account and I was skeptical, as TikTok was still new and I was not one for social media per se. However, I was inspired by so many people on TikTok who were being vulnerable and sharing their fitness journeys. Yet, I believed that the platform was missing something. TikTok was full of fitness influencers but I didn’t see many women boxing on there. I figured that someone like me who is: older, in law school, working, and training to compete in boxing could reach a different audience. More importantly, I wanted to be a positive female voice that let others know that if I can participate in a male dominated sport, so could they. All of the boxing footage that I was so nervous to film with my coach came in use to help share my progress and story. Thus, boujieboxing was born and my page embodies both femininity and toughness, which yes, are synonymous.
My page focuses on tutorials for beginner boxers. Sprinkled in are cooking videos and law school tips. While the sport of boxing is male dominated and socialization has caused various stereotypes about female boxers, many male boxers do not wish to add to any negative stereotypes about women who fight. In fact, I’ve had the privilege of having boxing pros that I train by, at DLX gym in Las Vegas, support my page with tutorials. Chop Chop Corley, 2 time WBO World Champion, has a jump rope tutorial on my page. Additionally, Sharif Rahman, 3 time National Champ and 4-0 pro (3 KO’s) has a speed bag tutorial on my page. So, my story would not feel complete without mentioning how helpful others can be to you and your boxing journey. While the sport may seem intimidating, I’ve found that help is always there within the community, you just have to ask.
Class to Combat Collaboration
TikTok is also where I found KO Studio. I’m truly thankful that I did because the brand is utterly unique. It’s a brand created by women for women. KO Studio’s mission to provide functional and stylish gear that gives women confidence is something I support. The confidence boxing has provided me is something I could never buy. I want to make it known that you do not need fancy equipment to start boxing. You can begin training at home by watching video tutorials and shadow boxing in a mirror. That was a huge part of my regimen when the pandemic hit.
Now, it’s May 2021 and I am awaiting the state of Nevada to open up amateur boxing competitions as Covid has stalled them. While passing the July bar exam will be my primary focus I intend to fight following its completion. In the meantime, you can catch me studying at the library and boxing, all while being fashionable in KO Studio gear. My collaboration with KO Studio, will include a piece that can be worn from class to combat. It takes into account that students are busy and on a budget. So it follows that a piece that can do it all is necessary. Lastly, and most importantly remember that no one starts as a pro in anything. You got this, one punch at a time.

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