Millersville's Moore has eye on Olympic boxing gold

ngould@capgaznews.com

Amelia Moore circles the ring, looking eye-to-eye at her opponent. As she grips the ropes with her glove, pulling them over her head, the announcer picks up his mic to herald the fighters for the evening's sixth bout.

"In the red corner, from Millersville, Maryland, Amelia Moore and in the blue corner, from Akron, Ohio, N'Yteeyah Sherman,'' he says.

The opponents go head-to-head in the middle of the ring and the first bell goes off, signaling the start of Round 1. At the conclusion of the four-round bout, sweat pouring down their faces, using any energy they have left to catch their breath, Moore and Sherman stand in the middle, anticipating the results.

The announcer lifts the microphone and Moore throws both hands up as her name is called, signaling the victory. The crowd of a few dozen cheers.

Excitement in her face, grinning ear-to-ear, Moore greets her family and friends as they celebrate her win in the quarterfinals of the Women's Olympic Trials Qualifier II in Baltimore on Wednesday night.

The semifinals of the Pathway to Glory were held Thursday and finals and consolations are scheduled for Friday evening at the Baltimore Harbor Hotel. The top three finishers in Baltimore qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Oct. 25-31 in Memphis.

Moore needs to win one more bout to qualify for a trip to Memphis.

"The thing that makes me light on fire,'' Moore says of boxing.

That's how she describes her passion for what she considers to be the most important aspect in her life.

Originally from Oxford Hills, Maine, this 25-year-old Marylander has finally found her fix and it's been nothing short of an incredible journey.

"I've sacrificed a great amount to get to this point," she said. "It's been a massive, massive struggle.''

When Moore was closing in on high school graduation, at 17, she decided she wanted to enlist in the military.

Her guidance counselor had different plans for her future. He decided she was too smart not to attend college and handed her catalogues for the Naval Academy and West Point.

"I've always wanted to serve my country since I was 3," she said. "I really had this inner desire to combat injustice. It's just who I am and that's what really drove me into the military."

Throughout her life, Moore said she always had a competitive nature. She ran cross country and track and field and played soccer. However, she had a hard time playing women's sports because she was too aggressive.

Moore turned to men's ice hockey for more a competitive outlet, where she fit right in, sending a few players to the dentist for missing teeth.

After attending the Naval Academy for two years, Moore left school, put her dreams of being a special operator past her, threw on a pair of gloves and started training to be a boxer.

"It was a good experience and I realized that there is more than one way to serve my country," she said. "I had such a burning passion, but it wasn't the direction I wanted to go in."

For the next five years, boxing became more than just a sport to Moore, it became her life.

"That's one of the reasons it's so passionate for me, because one of my problems with being in the military was I didn't feel people could see who I really was, and it's important for me to have people see me in my purest form," she said. "When you see me in there, that drive and that determination, that purity, that's who I am and you're not going to take that away from me."

In 2012, Moore was absent from the sport for six months due to an illness. When she returned, her former coach, Thomas Langley, started intense training for an upcoming fight.

To the other fighter and the audience this was only a club fight, but to Moore it was something else.

"I remember hearing people in the crowd betting on what round I was going to get stopped in," Moore said. "I stopped her in the second round. Her head was almost through the ropes and I told myself, 'This is me.' "

From that moment on, things started to click for Moore.

Moore now has a unique daily routine. A typical day consists of going for a run and doing cardio work, all before she heads to her day job as a service administrator at a car dealership at 7 a.m.

During her lunch break, Moore does sprints for that hour. Straight from work, she heads to the gym where she trains until 8 p.m.

Moore continues this routine throughout the week. On Saturdays, she has two practices, one first thing in the morning and another around lunch time, when she doesn't finish until late in the afternoon.

Even after all she's done six days out of the week, Moore continues to strive for perfection. Every Sunday is her active rest where she'll run or swim.

She says none of this would have been possible without her former coach Langley, a father figure who passed away in February.

For Moore, she lost her biggest inspiration.

"He loved me no matter how negative the world around me seemed to be," she said.

"I have his ashes in a cross that his daughter gave me," she said. "I wear it all the time and someone actually holds it for me when I'm in the ring so he can be here no matter what."

When Moore enters the ring, she displays an extremely intense focus and tells herself, "This is mine, this is my life and you're not going to take what belongs to me."

As she continues to pursue her dream in boxing, Moore has no plans of stopping. She looks to compete at the international level and eventually go professional.

"At the end of the day, you can't blame anybody but yourself," she said. "You put the time and you put the effort and it will show. If you think that you're doing something the hardest that you're going to do, forget about it. Do five more, because that's what it's going to take to win. It's a journey every time you get in the ring."

PANTHWAYS TO GLORY

Friday, 8:15 p.m., at Baltimore Harbor Hotel

Of note: Top three finishers earn berths in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for women's boxing

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