Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bri

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bri

Mel Mignucci ’12
Video Editor

real real boxingWhen Briyana Theodore ’12 fights with her mom, she throws the first punch, literally. 

Theodore and her mother, Carline Dean, are more than just family. They are boxing partners and on occasion they practice against each other. “We play fight and she helps me practice at home by throwing random punches at me unexpectedly and having me react to them,” Theodore said.

The sophomore believes that she has the upper hand in these matches. She went on to say she can’t get into serious matches with her mother because “it’s easy for me to overpower her due to my age and speed.”

Her mother has a slightly different viewpoint. “We don’t fight actually,” Dean said, laughing. “At home, we compare techniques. I don’t focus on technique. Briyana enjoys the technique of boxing more than I do. To me, it’s about staying in shape.”

Theodore’ s mother introduced her to the sport in eighth grade. “My mom tends to ask me if I want to try random things a lot,” said Theodore. “So I just said ‘Alright, why not… I love it so much, it feels like I’ve been involved so much longer.”

Theodore practices three to five days a week. “I don’t fight as often as I would like to anymore because my busy schedule gets in the way.” However, Theodore plans on changing her schedule with thoughts of a scholarship and the Olympics in the future. 

Her mother is hesitant to admit that her daughter should make a career out of boxing. “At first, I thought she wouldn’t stick with it. I wouldn’t like to see her go that far with it.” She paused for a moment. “If it’s something she really wants, then she should go for it. But as a mother, I really don’t want to see her getting all bloody.”

Her coach, Rich Dean (no relation), a former Olympian himself, believes that Theodore has great potential. When asked about her future, he admitted that their training regimen has increased to prepare her for a possible career in the sport.

In a gym that is permeated with the smell of sweat and rubber, the frenzied fighting of two boxers in the ring echo throughout the room. In the background the whir of exercise machines is audible over cries of “uppercut, double left, right, slip” that Theodore’s coach shouts and which she answers with swift bobbing motions and quick jabs.

When Theodore and her mother do fight each other, they don’t hold back. “My father may try to ease up, but I don’t have an interest in fighting him like I have for my mom,” she said. “My mom will do her best and so will I.”

These days, Theodore’s coach won’t let the pair fight each other as frequently because he doesn’t think it’s safe. “I’m way too fast for her and my techniques might be slightly more advanced than hers.” Theodore said.

Mother and daughter agreed that boxing is as much about technique as it is mind games. Charged emotions and mental strain greatly contribute to the fierce nature of a fight. “I actually fight better when I’m stressed or mad about something,” Theodore said. “My coach may not know I’m stressed but he’ll always say I’m doing better on a certain day.” 

For Theodore, boxing is more than just a way to keep fit. “Boxing is really my way to release stress and anger, and that’s one of the many things I love about it. I think we all need that kind of relief, especially in high school,” she said.

Theodore and her mother box even after they’ve had a dispute at home. “If I were to box her while we were just getting over a fight, I wouldn’t delay the fight because, whether we were in a fight or not” Theodore said.

Her favorite part of the sport is the rush. “When you think of someone being punched, you may say ‘wow that’s so intense’ and the truth is that it really is. It’s completely action packed and it’s continuous. I like being kept on my toes and things being so unpredictable. I love the fact that I can throw a punch without actually hurting someone.” 

While Theodore can’t seriously fight her mother anymore, she said she still looks up to her and hopes to one day be as strong as her. In this time of teen versus parent conflict, it is nice to hear that, for this pair, such conflict happens only in the ring.