Lisa Garland walked into the Herald offices Oct. 22, well, gingerly would be the best way to describe her entrance. Fresh off a scrap with Kerri Hill three days prior, Garland, a 34-year-old boxer from York County, was also lugging a newly won pair of title belts, one draped over each arm.
“Help me with these; they’re heavy,” she said.
Garland went the full 10 rounds with Hill, the self-styled “Lightning Queen,” earning a unanimous decision from a trio of judges and claiming the Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) and Global Boxing Union (GBU) title belts for the junior welterweight (140-pound) class. Garland had known the tilt in Greensboro, N.C., would be a bruising contest, especially since Hill had only been stopped once in her 28-fight career.
“I knew we were gonna’ go to war,” said the New Jersey native and 15-year Sharon resident. “I know Kerri and I know how much punishment she can take, so I just had to train harder and my gameplan was I just had to stay in there from round 1 to round 10.”
Garland, nicknamed “The Guillotine” because of her favored chopping right hand punch, knew she had to put Hill on her back foot early and did that en route to her third win in a row and eighth in the last 10 fights. Garland credited work on her technique with Hector Roca, who works at New York City’s famed Gleason’s Gym and has trained more female boxing world champions than anyone, and her trainer and ex-husband, Adam Garland, a former U.S. Olympic boxer, with putting her over the top against Hill. The championship tokens carry even more weight since the six-year veteran is approaching the sunset of her career.
“It means a lot to me to be recognized in boxing,” Garland said. “But the fight is almost out of me. I started boxing because I used to love to beat people up, but now it’s to the point where I’m tired of people. I don’t want to train that long!”
Garland is already preparing for her transition out of the ring. She’s been studying for a degree in sports management at Winthrop University, which she hopes will help her tackle the sexism and inequality she sees in her sport. Garland should graduate in the spring of 2014, when she will be unleashed on unprepared good ole’ boy boxing promoters. Her crusade is equal time in the ring for male and female fights, something that doesn’t currently exist in the “sweet science” except for the odd bout.
“It’s against the law in this country to tell a woman ‘you can only work 30 hours because you’re a girl,’” she explained. “You’re not gonna’ get paid as much obviously.”
Three sanctioning bodies involved in women’s boxing have agreed to lengthen women’s fights to 12 three-minute rounds from the currently used format of 10 two-minute round bouts. Garland posited that longer fights will help female boxers make more money, something they struggle to do currently.
She maintains a boxing gym with her ex-husband and a mobile fitness training company that help pay bills, but still has a few fights left on the calendar. Garland will probably fight what she called a “freshy,” or refresher, in December before a much coveted 12-round, three-minute title defense around the end of January. Then, she’ll begin focusing on ensuring every women’s boxing bout has 36 minutes of fight time.
“I just want my last six minutes. Then I can retire with dignity as a champion,” she said, adding, “after that, I’m gonna’ retire, unless someone gives me a big pile of cash to get punched on.”