Anna Crutchfield holds up one of her title belts. (July 1, 2013/FOX Carolina)
TRAVELERS REST, SC (FOX Carolina) -
The Upstate is now home to a boxing national champion - one who will soon fight again, representing the United States as part of an international team.
And the face behind the gloves may have some people doing a double-take. The champion boxer is Travelers Rest native Anna Crutchfield.
She is breaking what many may see as gender expectations by throwing punches and throwing them hard.
Anna has been boxing for almost two years. The 16-year-old has won other national championships, but the USA Boxing Junior Olympic National Championship that she topped this past weekend is as good as it gets.
"Before the fight, I'd never been that nervous. I felt like I was going to throw up. I was stepping into the ring, and I was shaking so bad," Anna said about the final round Saturday.
She said she could tell she had the win when her opponent was "running" from her punches.
"When they said unanimous decision, I was just really excited when my name got called, my hand got raised. It was crazy. I almost started crying in the ring," Anna said.
Monday night at her father's church, Anna shuffled in flip-flops, taking a well-deserved day off after the competition.
She said she started boxing after her brother and his friend took interest in a new boxing gym on Main Street in Travelers Rest. First, she tried it as conditioning for track and cross country. She said once she got into the sparring and competition, "I really just fell in love with it."
Now, Crutchfield trains under the world's former No. 1 middleweight contender, Lamar "KidFire" Parks, at CEE Greenville Boxing Club.
Her dad, pastor Scott Crutchfield, drives her across the region for fights because, as Anna said, bouts for girls in South Carolina are hard to come by.
"It's tough watching my son on the football field, but watching my daughter in a boxing ring is especially challenging," said Scott Crutchfield.
Anna works out twice a day during the summer whether she's preparing for a specific fight or not.
But she even put her jabs and hooks to the test in the talent competition as part of this year's Miss Travelers Rest Pageant, where the boxing beauty took second runner-up.
Because she won the national championship this past weekend, she's now on the U.S.A. Boxing International Travel team. The Crutchfields said that come August, Anna will head to Seoul, South Korea, for her first international fight.
Scott Crutchfield said the Junior Olympic tournament this past weekend is a set up to groom future Olympians. So once Anna takes more national titles and proves herself on the international level, she'll get to fight for the one spot in her weight class for the 2016 Olympics.
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