LaVonda Braxton, because this 14-year-old can punch your lights out.

A nice, friendly kiss to Braxton, who won the Silver Glove State Boxing Championship in Norfolk in December, then went on to win the Silver Glove Regional Championship in Augusta, Ga., in January. And she has only been boxing for six months.

It started simply last summer, she says: "My dad brought my brother to box, and I said I wanted to box, too."

She is going strong. The Franklin Military High School student trains two hours a day, six days a week, at Richmond's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities' Bellemeade Community Center. Her routine includes jumping rope, leaping back and forth over a medicine ball to strengthen her legs and performing 350 sit-ups. That's not including strapping on the gloves to beat the bag.

Braxton has succeeded in part because of the effort she puts into her sport, says her coach, Jerry Royster. "You tell her to do 350 sit-ups and she'll do 400 to 500," Royster says. "Everyone else will be gone, and she'll come back and ask you, 'Am I doing this right?'"

Braxton must save her strength for the ring, because she does not waste time with excess words. She answers all questions concisely -- a simple "yes" or "no" when possible -- always extending the phrase long enough to include a respectful "ma'am" at the end.

Despite her remarkable ability, Braxton does not plan on going professional -- she is just doing it because it's fun. The "fun" aspect does not suppress her will to compete, however, and she plans to attend the Women's National Boxing Competition in July. Does she think she'll win? She declares a confident "yes," then adds quickly, " I hope so."

more smooches


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