Rachael Washington - From Subway Harassment to Olympic Boxing Trials
Everyone has heard stories about the subways of New York City, mostly in the form of precautionary tales told by friends and family. Moving to New York from almost anywhere around the world can be quite a shock, so preparing yourself for any situation is always in the back of every New Yorker’s mind. A simple lesson in self-defense class may be a good place to start, but for Rachael, it turned out to be so much more.
From her first-time boxing, to a NYC Golden Gloves Champion and now Qualifying for Olympic Trials, Rachael Washington of Everybody Fights, is a rising boxing champion. We sat down with Rachael at our last 3D scan event, powered by 3Shape, and spoke with her about her journey.
My boxing journey started in 2017, before I even knew what Everybody Fights was. Somewhere between 2am and 4am I was on the A train on the way home from a late bar shift. On the train, a man started talking to me. It was innocent at first, until I wouldn’t give him my phone number. He started to get verbally aggressive with me and no one on the train seemed willing to help me. I remember feeling scared to death because I felt small and weak. I needed to get my strength back. I needed to learn to protect and fend for myself.”
Rachel Washington wears the ARC-PRO Guard for Boxing.
I was born and raised in Lincoln Nebraska, where I studied Vocal Performance and Psychology at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduation, I knew it was time to move away from home and try my luck on Broadway. I bought a one-way ticket to New York City on a whim in 2016. I landed a couple shows, made some friends, but I wasn’t satisfied. The lifestyle wasn’t for me. I was depressed, didn’t know a lot of people and I wasn’t myself. My day job was at a bar called Hudson Station. It was the first job I had in the city and I’ve been with them for almost 4 years.
In 2017, shortly after my train incident, one of the regulars told me about a boxing gym that was opening next to his workplace on 41st and Madison. That was my answer. I have been athletic my whole life and played numerous sports. I loved to sing, act, and perform but it didn’t bring me same rush as athletics. I missed it.
That afternoon I emailed the head trainer at Everybody Fights about coming in to check out the gym. I decided to sign up for an unlimited membership. I started taking class after class, made new friends, and joined a new community. I started to feel like myself again.
By January 2018, the Head Boxing coach, Hernan Santa Jr, asked if I wanted to train one-on-one and start sparring in the ring, possibly to fight. “Ya! Why not?!” was probably my response. After a while it became obvious that fighting in an actual fight was the appropriate next step for me.
My coach and I had our first fight March 16th, 2019 in the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden for the annual Beast of The East Tournament. No pressure. It was our first victory. I cried of pure happiness when my hand was raised. I tear up thinking about it. It might have been the happiest moment of my 26 years of life. The next day coach was like, “how ya feeling? You ok to fight today?” and I was like “ya I’m great let’s go.”
I had my second fight, the very next day, for The Ringmasters (formally known as Golden Gloves) Tournament and then the momentum has kept me going. Fighting 2 more times and eventually winning the Middle Weight Championship for The Ringmasters Tournament. Another victory that qualified me for National Golden Gloves. With more consistent training, I became the Middleweight Champion in The New York boxing tournament, only a few months later. Recently, I just fought in The Eastern Elite Qualifier where I placed second, which qualifies me for The Olympic Trials this upcoming December.
Nothing is by accident. Everything came with hard work, consistency, and a hunger to make something of myself. To inspire others to not fall victim of circumstance. More importantly to walk through the doors that open themselves due to hard work and consistency, despite the fear of the unknown. My success is not self-made. I have had an enormous support team, in every way shape and form, who has helped me get this far.
If tomorrow I was stripped of everything I had, my name would be all that remains. The fact my last name “WASHINGTON” is there and present on my mouthguard, it makes me think of my dad’s NFL jerseys. It reminds me of how relentless, unforgiving, and excuse-less he was as a professional athlete and how I want to be. How powerful that name looks in bold letters. It makes me feel strong, powerful, and worthy of success. It makes me want to continue the legacy of great athletes.”
My coach is unyielding in every way! He motivates me, pushes me, and is there for me regardless of what is going on in his life. It is more than I deserve. Everybody Fights is my second home. I’m a trainer now, so it brings me joy to give back to the place that has allowed me to grow as a fighter and as a person.
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