Please let me fight, said Lindsay Kyajohnian to her father. Please teach me, train me, let me get into the ring.

Mike Kyajohnian said no. Try basketball, he urged the younger of his two daughters. Play softball. Find another sport.

Saturday night, Lindsay Kyajohnian will help warm up the big fight crowd at the Portland Expo for one of the first two bouts on the Russell Lamour-Ahsandi Gibbs undercard. She’s a 25-year-old amateur junior welterweight with an 11-4 record and a future in the sport. The bright ring lights will be on her.

Somewhere in the crowd her father will stand in the shadows. His piercing voice will remind Lindsay that she’s fighting with his blessing. The man who fought his own battles inside the ring, outside on streets and in dark barrooms couldn’t be prouder.

“I tried to keep her away from boxing,” said Mike, 52. “I know how hard it is. But she’s always been determined and I’ve seen how confident she’s become.”

Maine boxing fans of another generation know the Kyajohnian name. Mike fought as an amateur lightweight on the undercard of a Sugar Ray Leonard fight at the Cumberland County Civic Center in 1978. Four years older than Joey Gamache, the future world lightweight champ from Lewiston, they trained together in the gym run by Joe Gamache Sr.

In fact, the Gamache family took Kyajohnian into their home when he was down on his luck. He had a future in the ring until he was hit in the head by a piece of lumber while working at a construction site. He developed seizures, ending a career of 86 amateur fights around 1983. His life nearly ended, too.

“I had a case of the poor-me’s. I went to drugs and alcohol until I had a moment of clarity when I saw myself in a mirror.”

He walked through the doors of St. Mary’s Medical Center in Lewiston, asking for help. That was in 1985. He’s been sober since. He’s a salesman and his wife, Christine, is a teacher at Greene Central School.

Lindsay is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine with a degree in exercise science. She’s an administrative assistant at Ransom Consulting Engineers and Scientists in Portland, and has a wedding date with the man of her dreams. He is not a boxer.

She smiles when she talks about her life because she wants to explode the stereotype. “I don’t want to be identified as a fighter first. No two people are from the same walk of life. This is me.

“Fighting is fascinating, more intense than anything I’ve done. It’s a chess game that’s thinking and physical at the same time. Boxing is like life boiled down. You’re just putting that puzzle all together.”

As a child, her father took her to many of Gamache’s fights later in his career. She was transfixed. She understood the big step of just climbing through the ropes to enter the ring.

“There’s nothing like it. I just focus and block everything else out. I’m the one stepping into the ring, but (at the Portland Boxing Club) it’s totally a team sport. Everyone in the club is behind me.”

Lindsay lets her humor escape. “It helped that I’m one of three ‘L’s’. Lisa, Liz and Lindsay.”

Lisa Kuronya was the first female fighter at the Portland Boxing Club to find international success. A college graduate, Kuronya was winding down her boxing career when Lindsay arrived. Kuronya is now a relatively new mother.

Liz Leddy, in a now-familiar story, was living on Portland’s streets when she found the PBC and Bob Russo, its owner and lead trainer and head guru. Leddy is a national amateur champion and just missed qualifying for the 2012 Olympics.

Everywhere Lindsay turned, she found mentors and friends. “She’s still learning but she’s no longer a novice.” said Russo. “You can see her determination. She’s stronger, she’s got good technique, a nice jab.”

Saturday night’s fight will be her second at the Expo. She won her first fight last summer in front of a crowd of some 3,000 fans. She cherishes the cheers. She’ll listen for her father’s voice.

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