A Q&A with Franchon Crews:
Can you talk about your last few fights?
Well, it was the National Golden Gloves tournament, and it was my first time back on the national scene in a while. So I had all types of feelings — nervousness, excitement, eagerness. But everything came together. I feel that my performance overall was good. My first fight, I fought a girl who was a little shorter than I am, but I out-boxed her throughout all four rounds.
I could have stopped her, but being in Colorado, the air was thinner, so I wanted to get the air into my lungs and to test my endurance. I was able to do that with ease. The second fight I had was with a young lady who was taller than me, but I stopped her in the fourth round. She couldn't take my power and I was just a little too sharp for her.
My third fight was a little more difficult because my mind was not right, and not because of the girl that I was fighting. But I pulled out the win. I regrouped after a day off, and I was able to win and get into the finals. When I got into the finals, that was the most comfortable that I had been during the entire tournament.
I was more comfortable in that fight than I had been during the entire tournament. It was basically a chess match. I could have gone for broke and dogged her out. But I said, "Look, I'm on a point
system," and … I had a lot of people watching, and she had been a national champion.
Her name was Alyssa DeFazio. I was the underdog and so I had to fight smart. She had been a 2009 champion and she was like third place in 2010. She was up there, but I was still the veteran.
I believe strongly since I've gotten back into boxing and that I'm putting everything into it that nobody's going to beat me unless it's because of something that I've done wrong.
How thrilling was that?
Well, it was awesome. Because now that women's boxing is an Olympic sport, my weight class got the same treatment as the men. So we were streamed live on the internet, we fought in a big auditorium with spotlights. You had reporters and they were doing replays. We had commentary. It was wild. So I felt like I was on stage and I had to perform.
How excited are you that you have a shot at bringing home an Olympic gold medal?
Well, I believe that with my whole move to Baltimore until what is happening now, that everything happens for a reason. That's the power of choice. You either go this way or that way.
I could have gone the opposite way and become a statistic. But I persevered and I endured, and you reap what you sew. If you plant the seeds, nine times out of 10, you will get that back.
I'm on that track right now to be the national champion in the year before the Olympics, and then, the Pan Am games, that's the big deal too. It's the first time in history that women have ever been in the Pan Am games. I just go with the flow. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Put it that way.
Can you discuss your childhood?
In my childhood, I've seen pain. But I've always known love. I don't care if my mom and my dad went at it, or I went at it with a person on the street. I've always known love. That's one thing that my mom always showed me. Love conquers all. I used to be a problem child. I used to have aggression. [In June of 2010, Crews and another woman were charged with second-degree assault of each other; both were cleared.]
But as I've gotten older, I've been blessed to be able to channel that into something positive. Violence isn't neccessarily positive, but it's the course of life that I've taken so far. Even when I'm fighting, I'm never to the point where I'm like, "I want to kill you."
That starts the point where you don't have self-control. That's the animalistic thing that comes out of you, and I don't fight like that. But don't take me for a sucker. I do what I have to do.
So I let my skills take over moreso than that beast within me. But when I have to unleash it, I will when it gets to that point. Just like this last tournament that I was in. I was never super-tired because I train really hard.
What advice would you have for a girl who wants to start boxing?
What I tell young girls is that it's not a game. You can play soccer, you can play basketball, but you can't play boxing. Don't think that because you're a girl that you're going to get special treatment. You have to work twice as hard as the boys, because usually, we're not built for this, you know? Just like in life, you get out of it what you put into it.
If you don't run and if you don't do your situps or you don't train like you should, don't be surprised when you step into the ring and you get your head knocked off. And if you are doing what you're supposed to do, and you still get into the ring and get your head knocked off, you might want to try to add something different to it to make yourself stronger.
If that doesn't work, then, you know, maybe boxing isn't for you. It's not for everybody. It's just not, you know?
How important is it for you to maintain your femininity?
As far as I'm concerned, you know, it may not be the same for some other women who may prefer to have a more masculine appearance but maybe they feel like it makes them fight better.
I have fought women that look like men, and I've fought women that look like women. For me, I'm a lady boxer. I'm a lady first and I'm a boxer second.
I love it when people say, "Wow, you're too pretty to be a boxer." Or I love it when they say, "Wow, I would never have thought that you were a boxer. Maybe a swimmer or a runner or something, but I would never have thought that you were a boxer." Or here is the other one: "You don't have any bruises on your face, so you must be good." I take pride in that.
I'm not prideful, but I do take pride in that. So nobody should know from looking at me that I'm a boxer. That's how I feel. I'm the Heavy-Hitting Diva. I hit hard, but in the end, I'm a diva.
On the other hand, however, do you like being seen as an athlete because of your physique?
I work very hard, so one of the things that people first notice are my arms or my shoulders or they see my legs. They can tell. They're like, "You must work out." But I've seen girls that I box with who are far more toned up than I am. But for people to notice that I'm strong and that I work out, it means that I take pride in my body and that I take care of myself and my body.
I've weighed 205 pounds before, so I just want to be an inspiration. I'm here to show you that with hard work, it does pay off. It just makes you feel a lot better when you take care of your body.
Where is your singing career?
I still sing for the joy of it. I sing for my mom, and I sing for people. I've sung for hospital patients. I go to my mom's dialysis center and I sing and it brings joy. I just sing for the love of it.
If I could profit from it by singing on cruise ships or something like that, then I would love to do that. But I'm not out to be the next Beyonce or the next superstar any more.
Because I'm boxing, I can just be me. I can just be an athlete. I don't have to be a sex symbol, or I don't have to be gothic. I don't have to be something that I'm not. A lot of entertainers might have to compromise who they are just to appeal to a certain group of people. But in boxing, you're going to respect me for my talent. If you don't like me, then whatever.
Until I stop winning, you can't say anything. I'm still winning and I'm No. 1, so you can't take anything from me.
How do you coordinate your work schedule with your training schedule?
I have two jobs, and I love both of my jobs. I work as a waitress at the inner harbor, and I work at a hotel downtown. They're very, very supportive of my boxing at both jobs. My waitress job, I work with at least 75 different personalities, and most of the time, we all get along. For them, I'm like their baby. I'm their little champ, and they support me so much.
My hotel job, they love me there. Whether I win or lose, they're there. I work five or six days a week. One job I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., so that's 24 hours if I work three days. And then the other job, I work 4:45 p.m. until about 12:30 a.m. I work that three days a week. That's a lot of hours. And then I have to come to the gym and I run errands too. So, it's hard, but I make a way.
What is your best punch?
Why don't you ask those girls who have felt it? What made them back off and not come in like they used to? Everybody knows me for my right hand. From 2005, when I stepped onto the national scene, you can watch tapes and see people screaming at me … "Throw that right hand." That's one of my signature punches.
But I don't want to just be known for that. I want to be known for having a variety of punches. I want every punch to be my best punch.
What was the conversation like between you and your mother when she discovered that you wanted to box?
My mother always wanted me to be strong and to be able to take care of myself, so when I told her I wanted to box, she was sitting on the bed in her room and had just gotten off of work.
She was looking over some paper work, and I was like, "Ma, I'm going to box." She was like, "Are you sure? What about your face?" Typical things that women say.
But I was like, "Ma, I'll be all right." She just left it at that. She liked the fact that I was doing something to stay in shape and that it was giving me discipline and that I was in a good circle. After school, I had something productive to do with my time.
It calmed me down a lot. As far as the violence part, now, my mother's a Jehovah's Witness, so she does not like violence at all. But she's supportive. She just asks me to come home safely. In the beginning, she would come to one or two fights. But she doesn't come to my fights at all and that doesn't bother me.
My mom is my paradise away from everything. I go to her and she's mom. I can lay on her lap or lay on her chest and go to sleep and not worry about anything.