Fighting Her Way To The Olympics
Friday - September 28, 2011
Lisa Ha started boxing just one year ago and is already a champion in the ring, most recently taking the world championship title at the 106-pound Women’s Open Division at the Ringside
World Championships in Kansas City last month.
On Friday, she leaves for Toledo, Ohio, for the National Association of Police Athletic/Activities Leagues 2011 Boxing Championship and hopes to return with not just a win, but an entry to the Olympic trials in February.
Women’s boxing makes its debut at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
“The National PAL tournament is the last Olympic qualifying tournament for females, and I will be moving up to the Olympic weight class 112-pound division,” explains Ha, 26. “Honestly, I didn’t think I would (become a competitive boxer). I started kickboxing when I moved to Hawaii in 2006, and since there weren’t enough females in that art competition-wise, I moved into boxing.”
A fundraiser for Ha’s journey to the Olympic Games takes place Sept. 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Pearl Ultra Lounge, where she works as a cocktail waitress. She also is a bartender at Manifest in Chinatown, a medical assistant at a medical office and a graduate student working on her master’s degree in hope of becoming a physician assistant one day.
Originally from San Jose, Ha moved to Hawaii to attend UH-Manoa and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in biology. She initially started kickboxing as a hobby and to stay in shape, but ended up falling in love with the sport. She later transitioned to boxing, training at Kalakaua Gym in Kalihi and working with coaches Bruce Kawano and Stuart Okamura of Kawano Boxing Club.
“For me, boxing is not about winning or losing, it’s about bettering yourself,” says Ha, who was abandoned by her mother at age 14. “It’s not about two people hitting each other. It’s not about the other person in the ring. It’s about me and my team. You’re the only person who can stop yourself from performing well. It’s not just the physical aspect, it’s the mental, too.”
Ha’s fight record stands at eight wins and two losses, and moves from the novice (10 fights or less) to open division. She trains twice a day (cardio and strength training in the morning, sparring in the evening), six times a week. She also practices kickboxing once a week.
“I’ve been taking each tournament at a time,” says Ha. “It’s extremely challenging and I’ve learned so much. For me, it’s about the experience, and being able to just give it everything you have.”
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