The Fighting Spirit of Bantam Boxing’s Tammie Lefebvre
Boxing and women. For many, the award-winning performance of former Vermonter Melissa Leo in The Fighter comes first to mind, with her vivid portrayal of a boxer’s mother who sought to manage her son’s career, while her seven daughters looked on from the sidelines. And though based on the true story of our neighbors in Lowell, Massachusetts, it is, after all, a Hollywood drama.
But Vermont has its own remarkable boxer story unfolding of a gritty woman who has come out fighting, determined to overcome life’s challenges, among them domestic violence – while her five daughters, age 8-13, box on.
“I never thought I’d be running a boxing gym,” confesses 43-year old Tammie Lefebvre of Bantam Boxing. Nor, it seems, do most people who spot the diminutive 5’2” mother of five at boxing matches expect that she is there as manager of the male competitor sparring in the ring at a Golden Gloves tournament, for example. “When people think of boxing, they think of Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali – not little blond Tammie!” she laughs. Yet this is where her career path has currently led the Rutland native, who now lives in Chittenden County. It’s late March when we first meet, and Lefebvre is perched on a stool amidst the chaos that comes during a move in progress. Rarely taking a pause, she relates the story of how she’s come ringside.
Lefebvre recalls growing up in Rutland at a time when young girls were dissuaded from watching boxing on television, let alone actually participating in the sport. Raised primarily by her grandparents, she was to be a “little lady.” She remembers always being “the chubby little girl who got picked on” at school – and, she says, got really tired of it. Once in high school, a friend of hers had begun training with Tommy Garrow, a well-known boxer in the area – and so young Tammie asked her friend to show her some of the things he was learning from Garrow. “While he was training with Mr. Garrow he was showing me how to defend myself,” she says. “And the chubby little girl was actually transformed into the girl who actually went on to do a little bit of modeling and then on to college, and was not the chubby little girl anymore.
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