All boxers know that when Fight Night’s on the horizon, there’s no shortage of advice going around. Fellow boxers, coaches, and well-intentioned friends chime in with ideas on how to succeed (or survive!) in those eight minutes in the ring. One of our Boston gyms has a lot of advice for current fighters, and they know what they’re talking about. Elite Boxing Gym in North Attleboro has been training boxers since the early days of Haymakers for Hope; what’s remarkable is how many of those fighters stick around. We caught up with some of our Haymakers boxers, past and present, to see what training has been like leading up to Belles of the Brawl 2018.

Many of the women who work out at Elite have a similar story; they came for the workouts and stayed for the team. Fighter Deja Cairns remembers getting started: “I started at Elite for exercise. I remember going in and being completely overwhelmed, but the gym was really supportive right away.” Deja met then-Haymakers fighter Laura Stoke at Elite; Laura’s one of the reasons Deja ultimately decided to sign up for Haymakers. Laura’s introduction to the fight game was also inspired by the women around her.

“I had the best group of boxer/mentor/badass women helping me train. Four women in particular mentored me through my process. At least one of them was with me in the gym each day, or running with me, and we had a constant group text. The fact that they had been through it allowed them to support me through training better than anyone else could. They understood why I was fighting and how I could accomplish it.”

One of Elite’s newer fighters, Brianna Savard, sees the benefits of training with Haymakers alumnae, too. “It's been so supportive,” she said. “It's this sort of family. Even before I signed up for Haymakers, I was at Elite and knew the women. I saw Deja go through it last year. There's this familial bond here, it’s the people. The gym itself is just a couple of bags and a ring. The people make it.”

Her teammate Tracy Deforge also fights this week in Belles of the Brawl. Both women agree they’re uniquely positioned for success coming out of Elite. “The second half of training is so intensified,” Tracy said, “But this gym has so many women who are willing to come spar. We're getting the time in the ring that we need. You can prepare for everything as well as train strategically.”

With the few final days of training ahead, the Haymakers alumnae at Elite have a few words of wisdom for the Belles.

“Concentrate. Listen to your coach.” -Jessica Gravel

“Enjoy the moment. It’s eight minutes and it seems like eternity.” - Deja Cairns

“If you work as hard as you possibly can, when you're in the ring and the winner is about to be announced, you will know that you've already won. “ - Laura Stokes

The fighters at Elite get more than sparring and advice, though. All the former Haymakers women I talked to promised they’d be ringside, screaming themselves hoarse for their teammates and welcoming them into the very elite club of women who conquered Fight Night when it’s done.