Eyes On The Prize

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 10:02am

Florida fighter hopes to be one of three women to box for the U.S. in the next Olympic games.

A Florida boxer has her eyes set on the Summer Olympic Games next year in London.

"I should be competing for the United States. That's the plan. USA team number one!" says 32 year old Ishika "Isis" Lay.

She wants to be one of three U-S women to head to London next year where, for the first time, women's boxing will be an Olympic event.

Lay is getting ready for an October tournament in Ohio.

If she wins in her 132 pound weight class, then she'll go to the Olympic Box-offs in February.

A win there will send her to the Games.

"People who know me know I'm an intelligent woman and wonder why boxing of all sports," says Lay.

She says amateur boxing is more like an art.

"You don't have three months to prepare for a fight like in the pros. It's a lot more challenging."

Lay trains up to three times a day at Headstrong Gym in Jacksonville Beach.

She works the heavy bag, speed bag and her sparring partners are men.

Lay grew up in Marion, Indiana and excelled at almost every sport in high school.

She says her Dad was the athletic trainer for the entire family when she was a child.

"We had to get up in the morning and run to the park and back. Every day. No matter what. It took about a half hour," says Lay.

At Purdue University she was a track and field star.

Lay was also on the women's Dixie Blues Football team in Jacksonville.

Five years ago she decided to take up boxing.

"Because I had a lot of brothers, I always thought I was a little tougher than the normal girl," says Lay.

Her strategy in the ring?

"I'm going to use my athleticism. I'm gonna keep on moving. I use my strength on top of that. I've competed in a heavier weight class and dominated there," she says.

Lay's trainer, Sonny Cummings, says Lay is one of the top female boxers he knows and says she has what it takes to make it to the Olympics.

"This girl can fight guys. I seen her fight the Lopez boys. They are well known Olympic quality. I've seen her drop them right here in this gym," says Cummings.

Lay almost never got the chance to box.

In 2002 a motorcycle accident in Jacksonville left her in a wheelchair for seven months.

Her coach and chiropractor, Linda Banister, helped her rehabilitate.

"She wasn't going to be disabled by that accident. That wasn't in her world of possibility. So she did what she needed to do," says Banister.

Lay credits her athleticism to being able to recover so quickly.

Now Lay hopes all that hard work will pay off.

She wants to show the world gold medal boxers can be women too.

"Oh, I'm number one. I'm right here in Jacksonville Florida. Gonna put it back on the map for boxing," she says.

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