Between the bings of the bell, marking the beginning of each new three minute round at the Fight Club gym in downtown Miami, amateur boxer and 2004 University of Miami graduate Christina Swanson works out with her professional boxer boyfriend, Wilky Campfort.
Formerly a swimmer with Olympic aspirations, Swanson now works as a lifeguard on Miami Beach and spends her time sparring with the hopes of breaking into the world of professional female wrestling.
“She has the aura of a fighter; she just has it in her,” co-worker and firefighter Lester Ealey said.
Swanson transferred to UM from Washington State University and gave up swimming after a serious shoulder injury her senior year. After graduation in 2004, Swanson moved to California to live with her older sister Ana. Swanson started training with one of Ana’s friends, an amateur female fighter. Three months later, she wrapped her hands for her first fight.
“I’m not the type that can just work out, I need a goal… I need competition,” Swanson said.
Swanson grew up outside of Seattle, Wash., on Bambridge Island with her parents and sister. Her family said she’s had competitor’s blood from the start.
Twenty-five years before Swanson took to the ring, she lost her first fight against her sister. Ana emerged victorious when she came at her sister with a pen box. Ana was four. Swanson was two. Her family often replays a video of the fight to embarrass Swanson, whose record today is 17/9.
In 2005, a few months after her first amateur fight and loss, Swanson won her first fight at the California Golden Gloves Tournament. She then moved back to South Fla. and continued fighting. She had a career highlight in 2007 when she took home the National Golden Gloves Championship belt in Hollywood, where she currently lives.
Swanson is now a Miami Beach lifeguard and has just completed her training at the City of Hollywood Fire Academy, where intimidated male trainees refer to her as “The Swansonator.” Swanson still finds time to train five times a week.
But Swanson said it’s difficult finding females willing to face her. Without a proper match-up, professional promoters won’t sign her to fights, a hurdle Swanson must overcome in order to enter the further regulated pros. Swanson has been waiting for a pro fight since March.
“Locally, it’s hard to find girls at my level, so that’s what’s frustrating…training and training and having no fights,” she said.
Swanson said she takes an emotionless approach to fighting, staying unattached in the ring and not allowing herself to think about the fight until immediately before. Unfortunately, her level head doesn’t keep her loved ones from pacing anxiously during fights.
“It’s the worst thing ever,” Campfort said of dating a female boxer. “I get way more nervous for her than when I am fighting.”
“I cried at her first fight,” Ana said.
Luckily it’s getting easier for Swanson’s loved ones to see her take punches because Swanson said she has a couple years left in the ring.