This time last year, I was exactly two weeks away from my Haymaker’s for Hope Boston 2016 Fight Night. After four months of intense and insane training, I was about to jump in the ring for my first-ever sanctioned fight, in front of 2000+ people and as one of only two women (my opponent and I) on the fight card that evening. There are no words or emotions to express the anticipation, anxiety and excitement I was experiencing in the weeks leading up to the fight.

Fast forward to one year later and I am sitting in a Starbucks, chatting with Kim Lipman, who like me, is one of only two women fighting in this year’s Boston 2017 event on May 18th. Side note: 2016 was the first year that H4H had only one female match at the Rock & Rumble. Historically, there were always two female bouts for the May event. So you can see why Kim and I (and our opponents) are somewhat unique.

In fact, Kim’s entire journey has been quite unique. As we spent 90+ minutes talking about her background, her training, her philosophy and what the last four months have been like for her, a few things became increasingly clear. Kim has faced several “challenging” situations during her four months of training -- many of which would bring even the best H4H boxer to his or her knees. Yet, she is ridiculously positive and upbeat. She has proven that she has the mental toughness to bounce back from even the most unexpected challenges and, she is beyond ready to fight like a girl. On top of that, she’s super cool and a good person. We have a lot in common and I hope we get the opportunity to hang out again after her fight.

When you sign up for Haymaker’s, you sort of know what to expect… You know it will be hard. You know it will be challenging and will push you to both your physical and mental limits. You know there will be severe “ups” and severe “downs.” You also know the date of your fight, that you will spar your opponent half way through the training process and that nothing is set in stone. Meaning, shit happens. People drop out. Boxing coaches get injured or aren’t a good fit for their fighters. Opponents are mismatched and sometimes need to be switched-up. Worst of all, sometimes someone gets injured and pulled from the fight (probably the biggest fear among us all). For the injured fighter, I cannot imagine receiving the soul-crushing news; however, for the opponent, there is fear, anxiety and stress. Fear that another opponent won’t be found in time. Anxiety that a new opponent may require you to lose even more weight. Stress over the new opponent’s abilities... they may be much better than you (or much worse -- which doesn’t work well either).

Training for Haymaker’s is incredibly demanding. Every fighter tries to keep his or her training moving in a positive direction, to avoid pitfalls that could affect their physical, emotional and/or mental health. You must stay focused and keep (inevitable) setbacks from spinning in your head, otherwise you risk losing motivation and self-confidence.

Now imagine this: You are one month into training and need to switch gym/coaches for whatever reason. That was challenging, but you’ll pull through. You’ve got this. Then, on the night before the halfway spar, you learn that your opponent is injured and cannot fight (and will most likely be replaced by an alumnus from a past season, a.k.a. an experienced fighter). That same week, after much deliberation and due to the change of plans, you are forced to make the painful decision to let your second coach go – someone who has been your biggest advocate!

Oh, and did I mention your new gym is about an hour from your house and you travel a shit-ton for work, which makes it impossible to have a static training schedule?

Yes. This is the true story of what happened to Kim Lipman. As I listened to Kim, I was blown away by her stamina, perseverance and determination to make this work. There was no way she was giving up, but imagine the anxiety and uncertainty she sustained -- especially for a self-proclaimed “worrier” and “over-thinker” (which we all can relate to).

I asked Kim many questions and was continuously captivated by her positivity and tenacity. Despite everything else, I said, how do you feel about being the only female fight of the night? Kim replied, “Being female, working hard and putting on a good show -- in a male dominated anything -- is awesome!” Yes it is. Kim wants a good fight. She has trained hard and now she wants to fight hard. She wants to be good; but not “good... for a girl.” Just good… and I am sure she will be.

Run like a girl. Swing like a girl. Throw like a girl. For way too long, these have been negative descriptions and criticisms. Not any more. Kim fights like a girl every day… which is an awesome and amazing thing. She has fought through not one, not two, but three upheavals during her four months. She lost her opponent to an injury and has pushed on – fighting each day to prepare for her bout, against an experienced boxer. Every female H4H alumni fought hard and fought like a girl for months on end, during their fight and most likely, every day since.

If fighting like a girl means to be like Kim, her opponent (and every strong woman), who push through challenges, upsets and obstacles and continue to persist for what matters, then we should all strive to #FIGHTLIKEAGIRL.

I will be at The House of Blues on May 18th, to watch both Kim and her opponent be the bad-asses that they are and I will feel proud and humble to watch two of my Haymaker sisters fight like girls to help #KOCancer.