February 25, 2012

Twin sisters take up boxing to shed weight

The Associated Press

WORCESTER, Mass. — In the red corner, standing 5-foot-7-inches tall and weighing 140 pounds, "the evil twin," Kerri Lewis. And, in the blue corner, standing 5-foot-8-inches tall and weighing 145 pounds, Kerri's twin sister, Ellyn Guinding.

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In this Feb. 15, 2012 photo, Ellyn Guinding, 31, of Worcester, Mass. trains with assistant coach Carmelo Torres at the Boys & Girls Club in Worcester. Ellyn will face her fraternal twin sister, Kerri Lewis, in the boxing ring for what promises to be a no-holds-barred slugfest on May 3 at the Worcester Palladium. (AP Photo/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, John Ferrarone)

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In this Feb. 17 photo, Kerri Lewis, 31, of Worcester, Mass. trains at the Boys & Girls Club in Worcester to stay in shape. (AP Photo/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, John Ferrarone)

Kerri Lewis and Ellyn Guinding have a lot in common. They are fraternal twin sisters. They are the same age, 31, but Lewis is 7 minutes older. They are both Worcester natives. They both work for a living. Lewis is the manager at Starbucks in Auburn, while Guinding is a nurse, a waitress and a U.S. Army reservist who is being deployed in September.

The sisters are also happily married. Each has two children. They are best of friends.

Still, Lewis confesses that sometimes when she looks at her twin sister lately, all she can think about is where she can throw a punch. That doesn't bother Guinding, because, at any given moment, she's probably thinking the same thing. The sisters will face each other in the boxing ring for what promises to be a no-holds-barred, slugfest on May 3 at the Worcester Palladium. The bout will be part of the annual "Give Kids A Fightin' Chance" charity boxing event to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester.

Lewis and Guinding are part of a rising trend — women choosing the male-dominated sport of boxing as a means of getting in shape and shedding pounds.

Female boxing is so popular that 24 women were scheduled to compete in the women's U.S. Boxing Olympic Trials in Washington State. This summer, for the first time, women's boxing will be included in the Olympic Games.

Lisa Creech Bledsoe of Raleigh, N.C., started boxing for fitness four years ago when she was 42. Three years later, she became a competitive amateur boxer. Her insights on boxing, including her "13 Reasons Why Women Should Take Up Boxing," can be found on her website, www.theglowingedge.com .

"I can tell you why every women is attracted to boxing for fitness," Bledsoe said. "It burns 1,000 calories an hour. Every woman in the world wants to know about that.

"Competitive-wise, it's a great mountain that you have to climb," Bledsoe said. "There's a lot of fear and anxiety involved in getting ready for a fight but the fight itself, or even just sparring, is a huge rush. And it makes you want to do it again."

Freddie Potenti, the nephew of former New England welterweight champion Johnny Potenti of Worcester, is a boxing trainer at Camp Get Right, 55 Millbrook St., Worcester. He said a lot more women than ever have been taking up boxing training.

"Boxing is one of the best all-around training that you can do for any sport. It's great for weight loss and it's not boring," Potenti said. "Running on treadmills and stuff, that's all well and good, but it's very monotonous. Boxing is a way for them to lose pounds, tone up, get in shape and have fun doing it."

Carlos Garcia, the senior boxing instructor at the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester, has been training the twin sisters for their May boxing match. He said he has noticed that more females are getting into boxing for fitness.

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