Women in the Ring

Story and Photos by Carl Patzel

Spring 2024

Despite some misguided perceptions of boxing being a brutal, masculine pastime, many woman warriors are giving that discernment a standing eight count.

Lacing up the gloves for several years at Humble Boxing Academy (HBA), Devon Lescard stepped up to the heavy bag of pugilistic endeavours with little trepidation.

“I always wanted to try boxing,” says the 42-year-old Lescard. “There was something about just using your hands, and the head movement, that really drew me into the boxing space.”

The mother of two dipped her toes into martial arts at a younger age, but put kick-boxing and taekwondo behind her after taking her daughter to HBA.

Realizing the gym had a woman’s-only class, the mild-mannered warrior was encouraged to attack the punching bag.

“When I got there, I wasn’t feeling great (because of COVID-19),” Lescard says of her inauspicious introduction to the Sweet Science. “You’re starting with perhaps a lower self-esteem and confidence,” but, she adds, “never once did I ever feel like I couldn’t achieve it.

“Each time I hit a new milestone, whether it be my weight or fitness goals — even just learning how to do dead lifts, which I thought I’d never do — that’s really super-empowering for the mind and the psychological well-being, too.”

Lucas George, head coach and owner of HBA, has guided close to 30 fervent females lacing up the mitts and going a couple of rounds on the bag or in the ring.

Ranging in age from 14-45 years, most come for the fitness aspect and stay for the family-orientated environment.

“We take your average mom, auntie, sister and train them for free for three months with the opportunity to fight at the end,” says George, who teaches the “science, not violence” method.

“They don’t actually have to compete or do any sparring or contact. But they learn all the fundamentals and technique of traditional boxing.”

A huge promoter of the mental and physical attributes of the punching game, Lescard has encouraged her daughter, son and other lady boxers to attempt to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

Now, with a few years under her belt, the fitness fan celebrates the camaraderie boxing has produced at HBA with students of all ages and genders.

“That huge age range is so important and the intergenerational relationship-building occurring is extremely valuable,” says Lescard. “We’re building a network that isn’t just with girls their own age … but with people who have lived and experienced life.”

The passionate-punching mom nonetheless hopes to coach one day and start a podcast focused on female boxers. Lescard is determined to help continue changing attitudes and the evolution of the feminine side of the sport, while passing on the positives of pugilism.

“Knowing that you have that active lifestyle of a combat sport really does a lot to empower a woman specifically,” she says. “It makes me feel a little bit stronger when I’m by myself and travelling for work. It not only empowered my body, but my mind.”