PORTLAND, Ore. – Don’t worry, Laila Ali. Amy Drew has no intention of becoming a professional female boxer. She’s simply in the ring for the exercise. Drew, director of communications for the Credit Union Association of Oregon, has been heading to a neighborhood gym for almost eight years to warm up, then gets in the ring for a round of boxing. She credits a good friend for getting her involved. “She lived next door to me at the time and she learned about boxing classes available for women at the local community center. I hadn’t heard about the classes, but I had been reading in a few magazines there was a trend to women exercising by boxing,” Drew recalls. “I was interested in finding out about that and my friend told me she had located a class and asked if I wanted to try it out with her.” Drew and her friend discovered they were pioneers. The class was small the first couple years, with one group of perhaps five women meeting two nights a week. Today there are two classes in a row four nights a week and each session is packed with 12 to 18 women. Participants sign up for Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. or 8 to 9 p.m. Drew has been active in sports throughout her life, but never enjoyed going to a gym simply to march from station to station. Boxing holds her interest and provides a good workout. “It’s the same instructor and the same workout given to folks who are actually training to be professional fighters. It’s different every time you go. I’ve made friends and we have fun. The guy who is coaching it is a professional fighter,” she explains. The women don’t fight each other. They punch the large and small bags, lift weights, do sit-ups and pushups, toss a medicine ball, then finally each get into the ring for a three-minute round with the coach. How do people react when they discover she boxes? “It’s a mixed reaction,” Drew says. “I’ve been doing it so long most of the people I already know aren’t surprised. They’re starting to see Mohammad Ali’s daughter and other women boxing. But when I meet somebody new, the first thing they ask is, `Kickboxing?’ Kickboxing has become such a trendy thing to do. I have to explain I’m involved in `real’ boxing. “After taking this class, I realize how much goes into it. Every part of your body has to be toned up and your mind has to be right there to remember how to breath, what direction to move and what to do,” Dres says. -

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