Queen Underwood set for Olympic boxing trials
Queen Underwood will be blogging for espnW throughout her training for this summer's London Olympics. Check back in March for more from Queen. You can also read espnW's previous profile on Queen's personal journey here.
I remember the moment I heard women's boxing was going to be added to the Olympics. It was 2009, and I was working in construction at the time, helping to build a hospital. I was so excited because before the announcement I had decided if boxing was not going to be added to the 2012 Games, I might as well just turn pro. I had already reached the highest level I could by becoming a national champion. Hearing the announcement and knowing it was going to be an Olympic sport gave me a reason to stay as an amateur and strive for the new highest level. It feels good to be somewhere female boxers were not allowed before.
To me, the U.S. trials are a hurdle. They are something I have to get past. I have conditioned my body, and I am all geared up now. I am just ready. This has been my longest training camp leading into a fight, so I am excited to see my progression. My days have started around 6 a.m. so that I can begin training, and they have lasted nearly 12 hours. I start my day with running, followed by strength and conditioning work, and then I do my boxing and sparring in the afternoon. I have worked hard and have waited a long time for this to happen. I am excited it is finally here.
The trials are held near my hometown of Seattle, so there is added excitement but also added distractions. I have fought in a lot of fights where I did not have family or friends in the crowd -- just team members, coaches, the normal boxing community -- so this is going to be different. People are coming on different days, but I should have at least 15 or 20 people I know in the stands. It is going to be exciting, but I know how to stick to my own routine as far as not getting caught up in hanging out with family and friends. I am there to fight, and they will be able to see me afterward. I am not trying to hurt anyone's feelings, but I am out there to do one thing and one thing only. After I am done with that, we can all celebrate.
I always have a game plan before I begin my fights. It's private, though -- I like to do all of my talking in the ring. But once I step into that ring, there are no heavy thoughts. I repeat my game plan to myself and try to stay relaxed. Confidence is also a huge part of being successful. Before I step into the ring, I tell myself I am going to win. That is something you have to practice along with your boxing training. You cannot decide right before the fight that you are the best. Your mental game is something you have to work on as much as your physical training.
In order to qualify for the Olympics, I have to finish No. 1 at the trials in my weight division to advance to worlds. That is nothing new; I have been No. 1 for five years in a row now. Then at worlds, I have to place in the top eight to secure a spot in the Olympics. I have confidence I will be competing in London. I already see myself fighting in the ring.
I am so excited for trials, worlds and hopefully the Olympics, and when it's all over, I'm going to eat. And eat. For my first meal, I want barbecue ribs, king crab legs, macaroni and cheese and cheesecake or apple pie with ice cream. I could go on and on. I want it all. I moved from the welterweight division down to fight in the lightweight division once the Olympic weights were announced. I am a stronger fighter at 132 pounds, so having to move weight classes was probably the best scenario for me. But in order to maintain my weight, everything I eat is clean. Instead of fried chicken, I have baked chicken. I eat steamed vegetables all the time. It tastes good, but I want grease all over my plate and down my face. I am going to give it my all, get that gold medal, and then I can eat.
I worked hard for this. I am ready. As I like to say, "Can't stop, won't stop." I'm Queen Underwood, queen of the ring.