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with Holiday Bailey
At-Risk Boxing Coach
...she's got a testimonial...
You Never Know
Who May Be Sitting
Behind You in Church
You never know who may sitting behind you in church!
For several years I’ve heard my Pastor mention this woman, sharing in staff some of the unique things this woman does. The real attention-getter is the fact that she is a boxing coach for at-risk kids. Wow! You don’t meet a boxing coach, female at that, everyday.
Little did I know that for quite some time (years), the nice lady that regularly sits behind me in church was the very woman Pastor had been praising! Countless Sundays we had greeted one another, hugged, and smiled at one another. I’m sure at some point we had introduced ourselves to one another, but I failed to “catch” her name. There are not a lot of women named Holiday and that would have hastened my discovery of who was sitting behind me in church.
I got her email address and sent her a note that I wanted to do a story on her and the work she is doing. She didn’t let on that she was the lady that sat behind me. Maybe she too wasn’t exactly sure who I was either. When we met at her gym we recognized one another immediately.
Over the next hour I would listen to a very unique story, filled with lots of heartache, challenges, and a life that is now surrendered to God for His use. I was shocked when she revealed her age. You would think she was in her late thirties, maybe early forties, not just a few years younger than me.
I wasn’t exactly sure how we wanted to tackle this story. Her life is a story that needs to be told, but so is the work she is doing with these at-risk kids. How do you explain how a well educated nurse, an articulate woman, ended up coaching at-risk kids in a boxing ring? With one word – GOD!
Let me, let her, share a part of her story here. Here is a portion of her story, the boxing coach Holiday Bailey.
The first amateur boxing show I coordinated and hosted was in 2003, a few months after I had started my own club. My intention was to be the director, fundraiser, and public relations officer and leave the coaching to someone with experience. Ten years and 20 shows later, I am still wearing all of the above titles and more. "Non-profit" is exactly as it reads and reliable "volunteers" are hard to come by.
I've trained over 200 "at risk" youth and young adults over my last 12 years in the sport and seen and heard every story imaginable. It's exhausting work, many times without thanks, and I've questioned the good Lord a time or two, "Is this where you REALLY want me?" And I hear, "remember your first show..."
Part of my duties include judging the bouts, observing the athletes throughout the match, counting the strikes landed in the target zone of each opponent, scoring them accordingly. If at the end of the bout the score is tied, there are three criteria the Official can use to determine a winner. Who was the aggressor, if they are even, who had the better defensive skills, and if they were even, who displayed the better style.
At these events, most athletes have friends, family members and of course their team mates cheering them on, as they have been working for weeks, months or even years for this very day so the energy of the venue is electrifying. We all enjoy seeing the kids get in the ring and giving their best and having fun as well.
At our team’s first show, our sponsors had been very generous with donations and we were able to give away satin jackets with our team name on them to the winners. I think this made some of these kids try ten times harder...But at this particular show, there was one…one I would remember for the next ten years, burned in my mind, which still brings a smile to my face.
"Jeremy" was around 10 years old and this was his first fight. His coach walked him up the steps and separated the ropes so he could step in the ring. His hair was long and disheveled sticking wildly out of his protective head gear. The white undershirt he wore was stained and ragged. His trunks were ill shaped and stretched up to his mid chest area. His boxing boots, that were obviously borrowed, had to be 2 sizes too big and curled up at the toes like one of the kids off the old show "Little Rascals"... but all-of-this aside, this boy was ready to go.
It was an exciting bout. I believe they were both around 70 or 80 pounds so big padded fists were randomly swinging everywhere. It's not easy scoring the little ones as they are so full of energy and constantly moving to and fro. After each minute, the coaches would enter the ring, sit the boxer down, offer him water, a few words of encouragement, rinse their mouth piece and the bell to continue would ding again.
After the score cards were collected and tallied at the end of the bout, the referee called the two boys to the center of the ring to announce the winner. Giving credit to both for a job well done, he raised both their arms as the announcer asked the crowd to give the boys a round of applause. When Jeremy’s name was called out, the crowd went wild. The little boy immediately dropped to his knees, held his hands to heaven mouthing "thank you." The referee handed him his jacket and both boys hugged and then exited the ring. Jeremy was met by his team mates who carried him on their shoulders and a moment later he approached me, shook my hand and thanked me. The lump in my throat, tear in my eye and warmth in my heart told me this is where God wanted me at this time.
Since this one, I've helped at 50 more shows over the years, have seen many great athletes basically grow up in the ring, go on to graduate, enroll in college, the military or start families of their own, and then there were some that weren't so fortunate. One thing I do know is for that moment in time, those kids knew there was that one coach, official, mentor, team member, supporter who gave of them self and hopefully made a difference. I know this sport has changed MY life for the better. REAL amateur boxing is not the gore one sees on television. It's the fellowship, camaraderie, encouragement, and dedication to one another to succeed spiritually, physically and mentally in every challenge, whether it be in or out of the ring. Several times a week, we meet in rented gym space with donated garage sale rejected exercise equipment, no air conditioning or heating, for one purpose...to better ourselves.
Holiday is making an impact on the lives of kids that most of us might never have noticed. She gives of her time to provide a structured environment for kids that come from a very unstructured home. She may not see her reward in this life, but I have a feeling that God has one very special reward awaiting her in due time.
Keep up the good work. If you would like to financially help with the work she is doing, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to introduce to you the beautiful lady that sits behind me at church each Sunday. I know she’d appreciate the financial support.
& Industrial Supply, Inc.
808 Warehouse Road
San Angelo, Texas 76903 325-655-0075
Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.