Kozak seizes opportunity in the ring

Teresa Kozak Submitted photo

She may have gotten out to a late start in her boxing career, but Leader’s Teresa Kozak has been making up for lost time with her first two career fights in less than a month after training with the Sandhills Boxing Club for three years.

“I just wanted to be able to say I did it. I had the opportunity and I wanted to take it,” said Kozak.

“I struggled with my weight and being healthy my whole life. I wanted to do something that challenged me,” explained Kozak, who added that she wasn’t comfortable with options like aerobics, dancing, or zumba. “I started going because my son tried boxing three years ago and I thought I want to try this too. Just getting in there and being in that group, it’s just a different environment. Everyone is so supportive, so accepting. You are competing against yourself. It’s not a team sport, but it is a team environment. It is just such a cool experience just pushing yourself.”

“Boxing is definitely getting around that it’s a great workout, a great lifestyle. She originally started up because she just wanted to workout, try something new,” added coach Kennith Blohm. “After a while of working out she decided she wanted to spar, so we got her a medical and registered her and then after the first fight in Leader she seen how easy it would be just to get in the ring and actually compete. After that she told me she was ready. It was just a click of the switch in the brain.”

Kozak recently made her ring debut in Regina, where she lost a close bout to a hometown boxer. Only two weeks later she was back in the ring at the West Coast Wonder Woman event in Sooke, BC.

She took on hometown boxer Melanie Bishop in the Master Novice Division and lost a split decision in an action-packed three-round match. “I lost a split decision, which was a little tough. I actually came out feeling really good about my performance,” said Kozak.

“She’s a fighter and a puncher,” added Blohm. “She was in her face the whole time, had this lady backing up the whole time. This lady that we fought against was their toughest, so it was such a close decision that nobody else thought that they would be able to match against her.”

“We went down there for two, but after the first day nobody wanted to fight her,” laughed Blohm. “She did really good. It was a very well matched contest. We ended up losing a split decision. But it was a great match.”

The West Coast Wonder Woman was the first all-female boxing card in Canada.

“It was a huge opportunity for women in boxing and really boxing in general,” said Blohm, who added that most of the provinces in Canada were represented, including New Brunswick, as well as boxers from Seattle and San Francisco.

“It was really cool to be part of that because it’s really hard to find fights for me, especially because I am older. You have to find people in your age and your weight category, and you experience category,” said Kozak.

“It was really exciting being in the whole situation with weigh-ins, the medical, and stuff like that,” explained Kozak. “The actual fight went really well. I felt it was a really good match. Our experience level was fairly similar. She had a few more fights than me, but our size, our weight, our age was all really well matched.”

She may not be a grizzled ring veteran just yet, but Kozak now has some ring experience to draw upon.

“My coach can explain it to me, but until you’re in the situation it’s something you can’t really describe to people. It’s very intense. It’s not just a physical high, it’s an emotional high too. You have to be able to be in the moment, but you’ve got to be able to get yourself in check or you’ll waste all this nervous energy, which is something I’ll have to work on. From what I hear you always get those nerves before a fight. Being in front of a crowd, I thought that would be really intimidating. But you don’t hear anything. You hear your coach and you’re in that moment. I’m not usually a person who’s comfortable putting myself out there in front of people, but it’s such a high.”

Kozak has already been invited to another all women’s tournament in San Francisco on September 1. The Sandhills Boxing Club is now done for the season, but will be getting going again in the September, which isn’t great timing for another fight for Kozak.

“My eyes are kind of set towards this West Coast Wonder Woman again, that’s kind of where I feel I want to focus,” said Kozak. “If the opportunity comes up, because they are so few and far between, it’s hard to say no because you just don’t know when the next one is coming up. I plan on keeping up my training throughout the summer so I’m ready to go when it’s time.”