When she was 16, Tyrieshia Douglas was arrested for street fighting. As she remembers it, her juvenile court judge recommended she take up boxing. Now she’s a 23-year-old living in Baltimore with her heart set on winning one of the first gold medals in women’s boxing, a sport that will make its Olympic debut this summer.
“I know I’m a woman, but when the bell rings I’m like a monster,” says Douglas, who was profiled by Marianne McCune on Monday’s All Things Considered.
Photographer and fellow boxer Sue Jaye Johnson has been documenting Douglas’ efforts, too, as well as those of 23 other fighters competing this month for three spots on the U.S. Olympic women’s boxing team. Her photos give a sense of the long road these women have traveled to get to this month’s competition — and Douglas’ story is no exception.
Growing up, both of her parents were addicted to drugs. She and her siblings were raised by a combination of aunts, uncles, cousins and foster parents.
“I was born into a rough family,” says Douglas, who didn’t find stability until 14, when a second cousin officially adopted her and her two younger siblings. That same cousin helped introduce her and her brother to boxing.
“The first memory that I have of ever seeing boxing … I was like ‘Oh my gosh that is so amazing you get to beat up people for free,'” Douglas says.
Today, her relationship with the sport has evolved into something far more intimate.
“Boxing is my mother and my father. Boxing is my brother and my sister,” she says. “Boxing make love to me, boxing kiss me. Honestly, boxing is the love of my life.”
Marianne McCune’s report is part of WNYC’s series on women boxers.