Sports

Boxing Dakota

"You could say she has “Hands of Stone.” Or that she’s “Boxing Dakota.”Dances like a butterfly, stings like a bee? No, all of this would be trite — a cliched tribute to Whidbey Island’s only professional woman boxer, Dakota Stone. After all, she is a world champion.Stone, 30 and a Freeland-area resident, is one of a small pool of women professional boxers in the United States. Although she does use the ring nickname “Hands of Stone,” she is a an athlete through and through, and a dedicated boxer. Undefeated in 12 fights as an amateur, the welterweight lost a close decision in her first professional fight last month. But if the past is any indication, that may well be the only time Stone winds up on the losing side of the judges’ score cards.Stone fights not to be different or to prove something, but for the challenge of the sport. After playing softball, basketball, volleyball and a number of other sports in school and in the military, Stone said she needed to do something she might never fully master. Boxing is just that.“I’m the kind of person who gets bored doing things,” she said. “I’ve never had to work hard at other sports.”Stone came to the island hoping to intensify her training and to build her fighting stamina. She has come a long way since she started boxing three years ago. Fresh out of the Navy at the time, the 5-foot-10 Stone weighed a slightly heavy 175 pounds. The extra weight was not a handicap early on, as she boxed her way to three Golden Gloves championships, a national championship, and a world championship in Finland just this year. Now at a welterweight’s 150 pounds, Stone said she is still discovering just what it will take to be in top fighting shape. Her manager and partner, Michelle Stone, said her fighter is doing more intense abdominal and weight workouts than ever before.Stone has also had to make some changes at the training table. Once a vegetarian, she said she had to switch to a diet rich in meats and protein to build and maintain the swelling muscles in her arms and shoulders. The extra protein also helped her take off the extra weight she said she gained from a carbohydrate-heavy vegetarian diet.In the ring, whether sparring or in an actual bout, Stone said she tries to bring dignity to her sport. So far, other professional women boxers have done little to bring legitimacy to the sport — only wild brutality. Most of the time they just flail about in exhibition matches that bear more resemblance to bar fights than to boxing matches.In training for her fights, Stone takes her fighting style cues from the well-established male boxing culture. That style sometimes puts her at a disadvantage against undisciplined fighters who throw punches and elbows from “who knows where.” In fact, at this point, Stone said she would almost rather fight experienced male boxers because she understands their style.Almost, that is — especially after the media circus that surrounded the first-ever professional male-versus-female fight, which took place in Washington last month.For now, she said she will simply have to teach others by example and win with old-fashioned boxing skill.“I’m there to show my skills,” she said.Style issues aside, Stone is a fighter who is out to win. With a classic amateur background, she concentrates more on throwing scoring blows than on knockouts. Still, she doesn’t shy from putting an opponent away. “As soon as I see blood I’m out for the kill,” Stone said.Stone trains at the Momentum Health Club in Clinton and spars at a gym in the Seattle area. If she can get people to fight her, she said she wants to fight every three weeks. Unfortunately, her outstanding amateur record will be off-putting to many women boxers who are looking for easier bouts. “They know me from amateurs,” she said.Stone is in the process of searching out a contract for her second professional fight."

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