Back to top

Why Do I Fight?

UMass student boxer Meiya Berkey ’18 tells why she steps into the ring.

For me, it’s never about hurting another person. Some people enjoy the contact, but I’m not so much into that, although it is satisfying to land a punch.

I joined the boxing club my freshman year. I had taken a self-defense class that gave me a lot of confidence, and I wanted to continue some sort of combat. I expected to see big, bulky guys who liked to hit things, but instead I found a great place with great people and Coach Rocky Snow, the most persuasive person I’ve ever met. He convinced me to spar and then to fight.

Prefight, I have my hands wrapped, and then I try to isolate myself, maybe listen to metal or something else upbeat. I’m nervous until I step into the ring. When the bell goes off, I’m in the go-go-go moment. I’m a righty, but I fight as a southpaw because I’m more comfortable in the lefty stance. I like the right jab and the left cross where I can get more torque and load it up; Coach calls that one-two move our bread and butter.

Meiya Berkey’s Daily Fight Training 

  • 4 rounds of shadow boxing

  • 4 rounds of jump rope

  • 4 rounds of technique on the heavy bag 

  • 3 rounds of interval punching on the heavy bag

  • 30 minutes of cardio with sprints

Each round is two minutes long

When I’m hit, the adrenaline is going and I don’t register the pain, but the next day, it feels as if I got hit by a train. I’m lucky because I have a nose that doesn’t break easily. I also have what they call a good chin versus a glass chin; I’ve taken a lot of hits from bigger people, and I don’t waver much. The jaw is where you don’t want to be hit—you’ve got to keep your hands up and protect your jaw all the time. Overall, it’s scary, but once I realized I could take a punch, I was like, “Bring it on.” The more you get hit, the less you fear it.

I feel if I can get in the ring with someone and get punched in the face repeatedly, I can do anything. Boxing has made me more certain about my decisions and how I interact with other people. It puts everything in perspective. I’ve learned to apply the mental aspect of training to schoolwork and studying; I just sit down and get stuff done. 

I’ve met my goal to box in the [National Collegiate Boxing Associa­tion] nationals in April. After that, I’ll stop competing, but I won’t be done with the sport. I want to keep on sparring and training others.