MASSENA - With a victory over Nicole Russell of New York City, Massenas Michelle Cook earned a berth in the USA Boxing National Championship Tournament to be held in Spokane, Wash., next month.
I was confident going into it, Ms. Cook said, adding it didnt take her long to realize she had a chance at winning USA Boxings Northeast Regional in Lake Placid last weekend.
As soon as I felt her punch, I knew I could win, she said.
Describing the bout, which can be seen on Youtube and consisted of four, two minute rounds, her trainer and fiance Atsiaktonkie, a.k.a. Doogie, said, The first round was close, but in the second round Michelle dominated her, and in the third round Michelle really dominated her.
Ms. Cook did get into a bit of trouble in the fourth and final round, but thats when Doogie says she showed her true colors.
She was up against the ropes, but then got off about eight punches in a second-and-a-half and the referee gave the other girl a standing eight count, he said, noting that pretty much sealed the victory for Ms. Cook, who won by unanimous decision and was also named the tournaments most outstanding fighter.
She won that over 13 other champions, Doogie said, explaining there was only one outstanding boxer plaque awarded among all the weight classes and divisions.
It meant a lot. I was surprised that I got it, because I didnt think I did all that well, Ms. Cook said. I was shocked. It still hasnt really hit me.
Doogie said its his hope that those awards - when added to her already impressive résumé - give Ms. Cook said credibility, as now the hunt is on for sponsors to help pay for their trip to Spokane.
We need to come up with money for everything. We need plane tickets, lodging and living expenses, he said, estimating the cost of the trip to be between $3,500 and $4,000.
Doogie said in exchange for sponsorship Ms. Cook would wear their logo on her clothing and the logo could be placed on her duffel bags.
Whoever she ends up representing, she would bring a great deal of attention to. She would be a walking advertisement, he said, adding Ms. Cook could also mention the names of her sponsors during interviews.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Ms. Cook can contact the boxing club at 769-2552.
In addition to her honors last week, Ms. Cook is a two-time New York State Champion, 2012 New York State Fair Tournament Champion and 2012 Adirondack Region Champion. Ms. Cook also was named most outstanding boxer at the 2012 Carmen Basilio Quest For Champions in Watertown, while also picking up a victory over the two-time Ringside Magazine National Champion and two victories over the five-time Canadian National Champion.
Ms. Cook, who has only been boxing for approximately two years, said when she got started in the sport she never envisioned things would take off this quickly,
I was into drugs and all that stuff, but boxing has really helped turn my life around, she said. Now Im a positive influence and have all these girls (theres roughly a dozen other girls who train at the club) looking up to me. It feels good.
Doogie said that Ms. Cook, who is the mother of Konwanihara, their 15-month old daughter, is a tremendous fighter and totally different person outside the ring than she is inside the ropes.
You would never know shes a boxer outside the ring, he said. But inside the ring shes a monster. Shes fun to watch. Shes one of the most entertaining fighters Ive seen since Sugar Ray Leonard. I think Michelle can be the draw that womens boxing has been looking for.
Prior to last weekends tournament in Lake Placid, Ms. Cook had been eyeing a professional debut this spring, however, a strong showing in Washington could earn her a spot on Team USA and endorsements that Doogie said could pay more than what she would be able to make as a professional fighter at this point in her young career.
Ive got a lot of thinking to do, she said.
Heading into the tournament in Washington, where shes expecting to be competing against three or four other fighters in her featherweight (125 pound) division, Ms. Cook said she has her eyes set on Tiara Brown, the 2012 World Amateur Champion, who is one of only three American women to ever win a world amateur title.
I want to fight Tiara Brown eventually, Ms. Cook said. I would like to beat her.
Doogie and Ms. Cook said theyre expecting Ms. Brown to be among those competing in the 125-pound weight class in Washington.
Ms. Cook said she has no idea who her next opponent will be, but shes hard at work training for whomever that may be.
According to Doogie, she trains for roughly 20 hours per week, more than twice as much as most other amateur fighters.
Most people at her level probably do 8 to 10 hours per week, he said, adding the tournament will be held from March 30 through April 6.
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