Alycia “The Bomb” Baumgardner: An Interview With The Super Featherweight
Written by Gabrielle Burnett
Photography credit and Closer video Directed by Terrell Groggins
Alycia “The Bomb” Baumgardner is a undefeated super featherweight set to take on her next opponent, Christina Linardatou (9-1) on July 28th. The stakes? Climbing her way to the top. But who is Alycia Baumgardner? She’s a humble, hard-working professional boxer, getting closer to her dreams.
There’s been a heavy focus on women’s boxing as of late. Cecilia Braekhus, the undisputed world champion successfully defended her title, and the boxing world is waiting with bated breath for a seemingly inevitable matchup between Christina Hammer and Claressa Shields. But with the focus on these big names, several other boxers are slowly, but surely, making their mark on boxing and Alycia Baumgardner is doing just that.
Despite the amount of attention women’s boxing has been receiving, there are still feats of accomplishments to be had. Baumgardner has one of them. She was recently signed to Holyfield’s The Real Deal Boxing Promotions, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. What may be even bigger news is that she is the first woman to be signed to his promotional outfit. “Personally, it means a lot. Just being a woman in a male dominated sport is just big and then also, women’s boxing is on the rise. A lot of women are being signed by a lot of promotional companies, and this one is also. It’s nice to be the face of that for women,” Baumgardner says.
And she’s right, taking the title of the first woman signed to a promotional company is significant. This significance in some ways, demonstrates the differences in men and women’s boxing. Gender inequality is actively being addressed in mainstream society, but these differences are felt by all whom it affects. The disparity of treatment between men and women in boxing, though improving, has a long way to go. Baumgardner agrees, “I would say marketing is something that is different in this game. I would say just the recognition; we’re [women] finally getting recognized more at a higher level than ever. So I would definitely say that separates men and women’s boxing.” She goes on to say, “I would say it’s a little biased. With pay, it’s obviously different with men and women with the pay. I would say also televised fights are different. So, you know a lot of those things are kind of in the dark, but it’s coming to light slowly but surely. With pay, with televised fights, with recognition.”
Baumgardner also has sound ideas on what can be done to facilitate change for gender equality in boxing, actionable ideas for both those directly involved in the sport and spectators of the sport. “I think it would be big if every card had a woman’s fight on there. I think that would bring more attention to women’s boxing, just putting those women in the spotlight. So, why not have one woman’s card on every show, even if it’s on Showtime, HBO? I think that would be big. I would think that just taking extra time out, not even a whole bunch of time, but just to put some focus on the women, asking questions that I don’t think people ask.”
So how does Baumgardner cope with these challenges? She uses talent and hard work. “I just train just as hard as the guys. I feel like my talent will be recognized and they’re going to have to see it. I’m just going to continue what I do; work hard, train hard and when my time comes for my talent to be showcased, everyone will see it and they’ll have to respect it. That’s the only thing I can do. And speak up for it, speak up for women, speak up for myself, to say we’re the same.”
This work ethic is getting “The Bomb” far. Her current professional record is 6-0, 4 KOs. It’s also given her the ability to test her boxing skills up against some of the best in the world. Baumgardner recently had a training camp with undisputed world champion Cecilia Braekhus, just ahead of Braekhus' recent bout with Mikaela Lauren. It was a great opportunity and showed Baumgardner many things about herself as a boxer. “My experience in Norway was amazing. It was my first training camp overseas. I got to train with Cecilia who’s the undisputed world champ, so just getting that female work was awesome. You know, I spar with guys all of the time, so being able to get some woman sparring in was great, and the country was beautiful, the work was great. I looked at myself as a different fighter. I was at that caliber, I was training at that caliber. I was right there with her.”
For most professional athletes, spectators get the opportunity to see them well after they have traveled a long road to get to where they are and Alycia’s no different. She started boxing at a very young age, which explains her success in her professional career so far. “I started at eight years old and my dad’s family has always been a boxing family. I started with wrestling. After wrestling, my dad asked me do you want to try out boxing and I said sure. I’ve always been an athlete, so I took on the challenge and that’s how I started and I fell in love with it.”
There are many things that Baumgardner excels at, but her and her coach are continuously working to keep her sharp, “I’m learning more, just emphasizing on the basics of boxing: getting rhythm down, getting my distance, being on balance. All of those are so important in boxing. The little things show so much of the fighter. I’ve learned to just be a fighter, just to fight, protect yourself. Learning the basics, the important keys of boxing, makes me overall a boxer that can box, a puncher, all of those qualities a boxer has.”
“For my pro debut there were definitely butterflies, there was no going back, I was thinking “this is it.” A part of me was anxious, I was excited, I just wanted to get in there and throw the first punch. After that, you’re in the mode, you’re focused,” Baumgardner states, remembering the excitement she felt at her first professional bout.
And how does her family support her in all of this? She has their full support. “I’m sure they worry a little bit because they’re my parents, but they’re 100% supporters. My mom loves seeing me in there and my dad has coached me in the corner a few times. It’s definitely an exciting thing for them for sure.” Baumgardner also has the full support and excitement of her hometown Fremont, Ohio. “Fremont, they’re definitely behind me. They actually have a boxing gym and that’s where I started. Starting at eight, they learned to know my name. My city, they definitely support me.”
Baumgardner works and trains extremely hard. Her regimen is strict, but necessary to be a winner. “I train everyday, twice a day with training camp coming along. You know, I’m a gym rat, I like being fit anyway. If I’m not boxing, I’m working out, because that is something I like to do. So I’m in the gym twice a day, I’m eating well. I’m eating organic, non-GMO, just feeding my body the right food. I’m drinking a gallon or two of water a day. Just training my body as an elite professional fighter. It’s a different level and it requires discipline for this sport. For anything really, but at this level, you have to be 110% in.”
And this training is not just for her professional career, it’s really a passion for Baumgardner. She wants to help all women, not just boxers and professional athletes, achieve their own version of greatness; fitness and self esteem. Long-term, Baumgardner hopes to help women and children develop a passion for healthy living that she has. “I love fitness as it is. I look at fitness as a lifestyle. I’d love to help other people live a healthy lifestyle and feel better about themselves everyday. Incorporate fitness into people’s everyday life. I would love to be an advocate on eating healthy, organic, just knowing what you’re putting in your body as an athlete.
I would love to invest and help amatuer boxing programs. Growing up, we didn’t have a whole bunch of funds, but we made it happen. I would like to have kids who are in amatuer programs go to these tournaments so they can follow their dreams. That’s something I would love to do in the future.”
And what would Baumgardner tell middle school and high school girls who are interested in boxing? Go for it of course, “I would say, do it. I know that being in a male dominated sport can be something that is not the norm to some people, but I feel like it’s made me grow so much as a woman and I’m all for women’s empowerment and being comfortable in your own skin. And being just as confident as a guy would be. Just challenge yourself. In life, you have to challenge yourself. When you challenge yourself, it helps you grow as a person and you’re able to help other people.”
Baumgardner is a true role model for young people and women, to be yourself, work hard and go for what you want. “I’m all for natural hair. I have a big fro. I’ve been wearing my fro since elementary school. I know that now people are all about natural hair. I feel like “rock the fro, be natural.” I’m for that movement. Inspire women with that. I think that’s something some girls struggle with. Society puts an image on young girls, even boys, growing up. Just be yourself; being yourself will get you far.”
Even though Alycia Baumgardner is clearly on the path to a great boxing career and legacy, deep down, she’s just a regular person, “I’m easy to get along with. I love to always have a good time. I’m just a normal person. I’m blessed with gifts and talents and I’m using my talents to the best of my ability.”
Follow Alycia “The Bomb” Baumgardner @alyciambaum,