Sarah "The Stormin'" Gorman: Fighting for More

About a year and a half ago, fed up with a terrible life choice (too much food, too much booze, too little sleep, basically no exercise) I signed up for ClassPass in an effort to get in shape. I had no idea that decision would have set off a chain reaction that's led me here, from a size 16 to a 6 and 70 lbs lighter, fighting for an opportunity to get punched in my pie hole, on purpose, and be psyched about it. 


I had been to several heavy bag classes in my Tour de Fitness of my neighborhood over the year and after a while, I found I liked boxing for fitness better than cycling and yoga and picking up weights just to put them back down. I even got a little bit of an ego about it because let's face it, smashing something heavy repeatedly with your fists makes you feel good. You feel powerful. I was basically the Oscar De La Hoya of my neighborhood. Small dogs would cross the street when they saw me coming. It gave me enough confidence to finally try Back Bay Boxing in September 2018. The reviews for the class were all great, but everyone agreed, it's a brutal workout.

Photo Credit: Mohit Mehta

Tucked in a basement on bougie Newbury, Back Bay Boxing is the anti-gym. I walked down the stairs and was instantly hit with a cloud of humidity that I would soon learn is created straight from the sweet sweat of human suffering. Instead of being greeted by some distant collegiate, too busy to look up from their phone to say "hello" or "is this your first time here?" I was immediately greeted by Coach Johnny Irish himself. Expecting to just be able to walk in, do my own thing, and walk out without speaking to anyone (which was my experience in 95% of other gyms in Back Bay), he stopped me and we had a conversation. While he wrapped my hands, I searched again for my inner Floyd Money Mayweather swag and he told me not to be nervous, I'd do fine. He was half right.

Shouldn't have been nervous, the BBB community is the nicest and most welcoming gym in the city. But he was dead wrong about being fine. That first class was the hardest work out I've ever had in my entire life. First, it's 30 minutes of cardio followed by 30 minutes of mitt work with a partner. Try holding your hands up for 3 minutes straight. Hard right? Try doing it for 30 minutes after you've done about 100 push-ups, a bazillion mountain climbers, and a torturous amount of burpees. I was dying. Sweat poured from every inch of my skin. My fat was literally crying. But the whole time you are working with someone encouraging you, telling you not to quit. Push! One more! Yeah! Fist bumps abound. I learned people's names; they knew mine. That rarely happened in the studios I had been going to for months. The instructors barely knew my name. Back Bay Boxing is different. It's a community. Well, more like a crazy circus, with Coach Johnny Irish as the ringleader. I was hooked. I started going 3 times a week, then 4, then as many times as I possibly could. 
John got me my first pair of Society Nines. He encourages all of the women in the gym to have them. He says it's important for women to feel empowered, so he supports the brand. I definitely feel empowered in my white and gold Bias when I surprise him squarely in the schnoz with my 2 during sparring. 

Photo Credit: Mohit Mehta

In October a few of us from the gym went to Belles of the Brawl, a women's amateur charity boxing event held every year in Boston to benefit Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I half-jokingly said to CJI, "what if I want to do that next year?" and he laughed and kind of brushed it off because, at the time, I could barely make it through the warm-up. The electricity in the House of Blues that night was amazing. It's inspiring to see the 4-year-old cancer survivors from Boston Children's holding up round cards. At the time I didn't really know much about it--I just knew it was chicks boxing for charity. I didn't realize it benefits Dana Farber. 
So I thought, hey...if I get in shape, maybe I'll apply. I probably won't get it, but maybe. It wasn't just about the boxing, I had an additional motivation. 

Photo Credit: Mohit Mehta

This is not something I share openly until now, but my mom, Sharon, is a patient of Dana Farber after she was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in 2012. It is located primarily in her abdomen and around her spine. The great thing about follicular lymphoma is that it is a slowly progressive disease with an average life span from a diagnosis of 10 years. The shitty thing about follicular lymphoma is that it's a slowly progressive disease with an average life span from a diagnosis of 10 years. It's like having a live hand grenade in your purse that can detonate at any time. Her affected lymph nodes are in places that surgical removal is not an option. It's a waiting game. Luckily, Dr. Fisher at Dana Farber is an expert in this particular niche of oncology. If you are unlucky enough to have cancer, being within driving distance to Dana Farber for diagnostics and treatment is the best thing you can hope for. Thanks to Dana Farber in conjunction with Dr. Ward at Cape Cod Hospital, my mom is doing awesome and living her best life.

Photo Credit: Mohit Mehta

I found out in early June that I will be one of thirty-two women out of two hundred applicants to be picked! I am currently in training for Belles of the Brawl VII! can't wait to represent Back Bay Boxing because this whacky and wonderful community has become such a huge part of my life. I can't wait to make them proud. I also can't think of a better way to give back to Dana Farber and all the hard-working researchers, physicians, nurses, and support staff that make this hospital one of the premier oncology centers in the country that have given my mom the best possible care and treatment out there. 


Photo Credit: Mohit Mehta

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