Lynn Holmes works out with the upper cut bag recently at Revolution Sports Academy.
Lynn Holmes might be the last person you would expect to be a national boxing champion.
A Hidden Valley Estates resident who works as a Veterans Benefits Administration service representative, Holmes says she had never been in a fight in her life until she strapped on the gloves and fought her first official boxing match four months ago.
On July 9, Holmes won a 3-0 decision over Holly Levine of Atlanta at the National Women’s Golden Gloves Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., winning the 178-pound novice division championship.
Not bad for someone who started boxing just two-and-a-half years ago.
“I remember it being a very aggressive fight,” said Holmes, 36. “She used her height and weight to smother her punches. Coach (Krishna) Wainwright told me you never put your hands down, never stop fighting. Coach Tony (Douglas) says leave everything in the ring.”
Holmes has always considered herself athletic. She competed in track and field in middle school and at Independence High in the mid-1990s.
As an adult, Holmes liked to stay in shape by running and lifting weights. But a couple years ago, she started to tire of her routine and was looking for a different challenge.
Holmes’ sister introduced her to Tony Douglas, a coach who operates the University of Boxing out of his University City home. He also trains some of his 10 fighters at the Revolution Sports Academy.
At the time, Holmes said, she was interested in boxing simply as a workout. Douglas and other coaches at Revolution liked the potential they saw in her and encouraged her to compete.
The congenial Holmes was apprehensive at first.
“She didn’t want anyone hitting her in her face,” said Douglas, who’s been coaching for more than 30 years. “She did well with sparring. I knew as a coach that I had something. I started teaching her techniques for advanced boxers.
“She’s a hands-on person. She likes for you to demonstrate things.”
Last year, Holmes obtained her boxing passport, which allows her to schedule USA Boxing sanctioned bouts.
Women’s boxing is still in its infancy, and finding bouts was difficult. A couple bouts her coaches scheduled in late 2013 fell through when opponents backed out at the last minute.
Entering 2014, Holmes committed to the North Carolina Golden Gloves championships in March and, if she was successful at the state level, the national tournament. She stepped up her training to six to seven days a week and started sparring more, mostly against men, who didn’t hold back just because she was a woman.
At the state Golden Gloves competition in March, at Sugaw Creek Recreation Center, there was only one other boxer in Holmes’ weight class. Holmes defeated Kayla Martin from Winston-Salem to qualify for the national tournament.