Undefeated New Yorker Heather Hardy is currently on the path to the women’s world boxing title.
At 18-0, and with a string of good performances behind her, ‘The Heat’ spoke about her ring career, which began in 2012.
What made you want to fight for the first time?
I was going through a divorce and working a lot of jobs with my sister. Then a kickboxing and Karate school opened near her house. My sister made me go there to try and get some sort of a social life and it turns out I was really good at it so I stuck with it.
You won your first kickboxing match, three weeks after lacing up gloves for the first time. Are you a natural?
No, my technique was so bad but I had so much will to win. I looked like such a mess! But I beat that girl up so bad.
adidas has released the speedw100, its first pair of gloves specifically designed for female anatomy. As a woman in what is a male-dominated sport, is the introduction of female-specific products a step forward?
I think the introduction of female specific boxing products is a step forward. You know what, our hands are smaller, our wrists are tinier. Like it or not, we have just as much fortitude we are just physically built differently, so yeah it is a step forward and I’m proud to be associated with the gloves and adidas.
What do the speedw100 women’s gloves feel like on?
It was really nice to be able to make a fist in the glove. My fingers are kind of long but small. So I’m not a large hand but I have a big hand for a girl but not for a guy. Structurally it felt good. It was tight on my wrists.
What’s your short term goal?
I’d like to have female fights televised by big networks such as ShowTime, HBO, ESPN. They have anti-female fight policies. I was only the seventh female to fight at the Barclays Centre. For us women, I feel like we have nowhere to go. My natural progression should be to get a TV fight to make some money but that door is slammed shut for women.
What’s your career goal?
I want to beat up every girl in the world walking around between 120-125lbs and I’m getting there.
You’re a confident and inspirational role model to young women. What female sport stars did you look up to when you were a child?
Billie Jean King. I can’t say the woman’s name without getting goose bumps. I was always passionate about women who defied the odds. I feel like I was born for this.
What would you be doing if you weren’t boxing?
I have my degree in Forensics actually, I went to college. Yeah Forensic Science and Psychology. I might have done Women’s Studies or Internet Marketing. I have done so many jobs in my life.
What advice do you have for girls and women who want to be fighters, and follow in your footsteps?
The best advice I can give to any women wanting to become a fighter, or a baseball player is go through the really hard stuff and then you will see the rewards. It’s like anything in life. It’s what I tell my daughter all the time. She hates boxing and is not an athlete at all, she’s very creative and loves art, music and stuff. But it’s the same principles no matter what you do. It’s going to be hard if you want to be great. Let it be hard.
And you think that takes a lot of mental strength?
It does. It’s fortitude. Boxing also requires a lot of physical strength. The body is stupid and it will do what the mind tells it to. The body doesn’t jump off the bridge your brain tells the body too. So you have to be strong up there as well.
What path do you want for your daughter?
I want my daughter to never feel sorry for being a woman, no matter what she wants to do. When I was growing up I loved the Yankees, I dreamed of running out of the bullpen at the Yankees Stadium. But girls weren’t allowed to play Little League. So I remember growing up feeling I was sorry I was a girl. So if I want anything for my daughter, I never want my daughter to feel sorry she is a girl.
And would you want your daughter to be a pro boxer?
I’d rather her be in the ring fighting then one of those girls holding the cards. [Laughs].
How do you balance your training schedule with family life?
It’s so funny the age old thing how you would never ask a man how he balances work and family. Yeah I’m an athlete but with all a single mum’s it’s a hustle, if you don’t have to drive a taxi, be a teacher, a cop, a firefighter. It’s a hustle. You do what you gotta do.
Tell us your last thought that is in your mind before the bell goes in the ring. Is it always the same?
It’s always the same thought. There are so many people out there watching me. I win for all the people who want to see me win and all the people who want to see me lose.
What do you think is a boxer’s most important physical attribute?
I don’t think there is a most important in fighting. I think the most important part of fighting is your heart, your brain. You have to step in the ring having respect for your opponent outside the ring but in there, it comes down to who wants to win more.
What’s your motivation? What gets you up and keeps you going every day?
First and foremost my daughter, I said I’m a single mum and it’s my responsibility to provide for her and give her a safe environment. And to give her the things I didn’t have growing up, all parents want that. But it is also a personal motivation, I want to lead by example. I came from nothing, I was homeless, I come from poverty. Terrible things have happened to me but I pushed through and I’m okay. If I can send the message that bad things happen but that doesn’t define you and doesn’t tell you what your future is, and I proved that.
Do you have a motto in life? For other people?
Don’t give up, don’t you dare give up. I tell all my girls, all my fighters, when you go in that ring don’t stop fighting, you’re not dead so get up and fight.
What emotions do you feel when you are boxing?
There are so many times in life, you fight as hard as you can but there is no winning. I can remember working six jobs over 18 hours, but I still couldn’t earn enough money to pay my bills. You work so hard and you can’t. But when you are inside the ropes and you’ve only got two minutes but the girl opposite you only has two hands… that’s nothing.
WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Heather Hardy was speaking at an adidas boxing photoshoot at Church Street Gym in New York City. Heather wears adidas speedw100 gloves, designed for female boxers and optimized for speed. Available to purchase from www.adidasboxing.com