Parker Jabs Stereotypes Of Boxing

When Rosalie L. Parker '96 describes her athletic activity, she doesn't say she's a boxer. She says she's a fighter.

And according to other fighters at the Somerville Boxing Club, she's right.

"She's like a tiger in there," says Gary Dulling, who has trained with Parker for a few years. "She spars with guys all the time. You can tell when she gets in some good shots. The look on their faces..."

Until a few years ago, women were officially banned from sparring. Even today, their numbers are few.

"There's a lot of guys in [the gym] that are really hard-core," she says. "I think I'm the only one without a prison record sometimes. I know I'm the only one [in the gym] without a tattoo."

While Parker describes a fight as the "hardest six minutes of your life," it's not because of nervousness or tentativeness.

Enthusiasm takes over, she says.

"It was exciting to have all the people there to watch," says Parker, who admits to a few pre-fight jitters. "I knew it would be fun when the bell rang. And as soon as it did, I wasn't nervous anymore. It was fun."

Parker started boxing a few years ago, when she was looking for an activity to help keep in shape during the rugby off-season. She got hooked at the first Harvard Boxing Club meeting she attended.

"I discovered I had a talent for it--I was good," the 5-foot-2-inch Parker says.

"I was built for this sport. If I'd been a man, I'd have been a great wrestler," she says, referring to the strength in her legs and arms.

Parker eventually gave up rugby because of a knee injury that required surgery. During her long, discouraging rehabilitation, boxing gave her a reason to keep working.

Now she's back and "bionic," as she puts it.

"The metal alloy in my knee is called kryptonite," Parker laughs. "So in hand-to-hand combat, I think I could take Superman."

Although she's never fought the legendary cape-wearer, she's aiming high, working to become the first Harvard-Radcliffe woman ever to fight in the Golden Gloves Tournament.