The story of Raquel Miller, Olympic Trial qualifier in Women’s Boxing, is one worthy of attention and support. She is currently training for the 2012 Olympics to be held in London, England. Having her first fight and winning the rematch between her first nemesis, a 2nd Grader who slapped her when she was only in kindergarten, Raquel – in order to dull the loss of her grandmother – took to the streets in over 20 street fights.
When Raquel Miller first entered a boxing gym to train her experience was anything but pleasant. She recounts, “I had gotten really discouraged because the coach I had at the time – he was really inappropriate. He did not look at me as a fighter; he looked at me as a female first. He would say things to me that was inappropriate. He made me feel very uncomfortable so I got really discouraged and thought ‘people don’t take women serious’. So, I was very discouraged and I quit.”
It must be stated that Raquel’s original intention was to have only one fight. She would train and train just to have one fight and when she did have that one fight – December 11, 2008 – her hands were raised in victory and her addiction for boxing begin. Not only were her hands raised in victory, but out of 17 other fights (including male boxing matches) she and her opponent won the coveted Fight Of The Night.
“It took place at King’s Gym in Oakland, CA. Ironically, that was the second gym I went to – so it felt good to finally close that chapter and go back there and show them that “Hey, I’m not just a female – I’m a warrior, a champion and a boxer,” stated Raquel.
Reflecting on her first fight and winning the Fight of the Night – Raquel shares a promise made between friends while a vacation – “So, some years went by and a friend of mine took me to Brazil when I was 24 years old. She and I were in Salvador, Bahia having a conversation and she said “What is something you have always wanted to do with your life?” I said “I have always wanted to be a boxer.” She said “Well, let’s make a pact right here.” I said “OK.” She said, “I am not going to be afraid of love…” because she has always been scared of love. She said “I am not going to afraid of love” and I said “I am going to go back home and I am going to become a boxer.”
“So we made a ‘pinky promise’ and that was the pact we made. So, ironically we went out to the town the next day and we were talking to people and she would say, “She is going to be a world famous boxer and she is going to the Olympics.” And I was holding my hands up and I was taking pictures, but that is just how God works. I didn’t even know that the women were not even allowed in the Olympics then. We didn’t even know we were just saying that – then, ironically – here we are two years later and I am headed to the Olympics Trials. So, that is when I made the confirmation that I was going to become a boxer.”
Again, in a meeting in Berlin, Germany in 2009 it was decided by the International Olympic Committee that Women’s Boxing would be a part of the 2012 Olympic Games to be held in London, England.
Raquel, the boxer with an official win in her career, would later participate in the second largest amateur tournament for boxers held in Southern California’s Palms Springs. Raquel was scheduled to fight at her normal 165 lbs weight class but a couple of days before the tournament was to begin received a frantic phone call from her coach.
She remembers, “I woke up and I was all geared up for my first tournament fight as an open fighter. Before that I was a novice – meaning you have fought ten fights or under. I’m all excited this is my first belt shot and the second biggest amateur tournament in the United States. So, I woke up and I was 163lbs. I always weigh myself – I got up and was 163lbs just one point off of weight. My coach calls me and she says “We have a problem. There are no girls in your weight bracket so either you go up to 178 – there is one girl – or you go down to 152 – and there are two girls.”
Raquel would choose to go down in weight but would have to cut 11lbs immediately. She shares the details of cutting the weight, “I said ‘God, I want this so bad, help me.’ So what I did was drink a half a glass of water and went to work. I had an instant pack of oatmeal and just prayed – “God help me because I can’t do this on my own.” And so I took off work early and went to the gym. I had a little more water, put on a sweat suit and went to the treadmill for about an hour and a half. From there I got into the sauna and was in there for about an hour. I got out of the sauna and took a little sip of water and then went home to shower, change and then hop on a flight to Los Angeles, CA.
Once I arrived in Los Angeles, CA I went to the gym, put on the sweat suit and jogged for about another hour and then went swimming for about 10 laps. Once I got out of the swimming pool I prepared for the 2 hour drive to Palm Springs, CA. I was tired and exhausted. I took another half sip of water, prayed on my knees that night and said “God if this is for me let me have it.” When I woke up the next morning I got on the scale and I was 153. I was excited! We went into weigh ins and luckily I had a bye that day – so that gave me an additional day to get the one pound off.
I ate a little bit, had very small portions, worked out and on the next day when I went into weigh ins I was 150. God was with me and I am a very very hard worker.”
During that first tournament Raquel won both fights by decision.
Raquel has a few other female boxers on her “list of competitors” she is watching and can’t wait to battle in the ring. First on her list is a female boxer she lost her first fight to – Lauren Pettis from East Palo Alto, CA who is a member of the Kennel Club. “She was the first time I lost a fight and it just made me want to go harder,” stated Raquel.
The loss to Pettis was not without controversy. Raquel had defied a doctor’s order to participate in the Golden Gloves’ Novice Division due to a break in her hand that she’d suffered in an earlier fight. Wanting to press forward and concentrate on an opportunity at Nationals – Raquel pressed into the fight without her doctor’s blessings and, once into the fight, re-injured herself and could not concentrate. She remembers, “Basically, it took my mind off of the fight. So, she won the first round. I thought the second round was even and I thought she got a couple more punches in the last round, but it was a good learning experience for me. For one, it taught me you have to respect your body. You have to respect it if you have an injury.”
Having never been knocked down, but has had a standing eight count – Raquel is preparing for all competitors. When asked, ‘What was it like the first time you knocked somebody down?’ her response was “I don’t remember the punch. I just remember her falling, but she was pissed off and she said that she slipped. I said whatever, but honestly I hit her with a jab while she was kind of charging in and her feet were not correct so it knocked her off balance. I knew I hit her because I felt it. If she ever wants some more I am going to knock her down and there will be no doubt.” The boxer she was referring to was named Amy Castillo. That fight can be viewed on the popular social medium YouTube.
Raquel shared her boxing strategy, “Everyone likes the knock down, but I like the strategy of frustrating my opponent. I don’t have to knock you down – I’ll just beat you up. It doesn’t bother me any.”
NEXT: PART III: THE BELIEVER
TO VIEW PART ONE: THE BACKGROUND