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Sonia Grande: “Nothing is impossible---
You decide your limit!”

By Sue TL Fox
April 21, 2004

(APR 20) If ever there was an inspirational story out there to talk about a female boxer, Sonia Grande, 34, of Italy,  is definitely TOP on the list! Sonia, 1-0-0 (0KO), has just turned pro, and has been WBAN’s Correspondent covering the women’s boxing action in Italy for the last two years.

Sonia, who just won her pro debut, talked to WBAN recently about how she got started in boxing and what she went through to take off more than 158 lbs., in her years of being in boxing and Thai Boxing.

Sonia told WBAN, “I've always been overweight, but this fact never prevented me from doing what I wanted. I felt comfortable with my weight and I felt beautiful ... my eyes and my mind lied to me. One day I looked in the mirror and I realized that I was fat and not so beautiful. I cried a lot and I realized that I needed to do something about it.”

Sonia, at the age of 22, and weighing in at  290.5 lbs., saw a program on television about Thai Boxing, and at that moment decided to check it out, going to a Thai Boxing and Kickboxing Gym.

”The first time that I came into the gym, everybody looked at me in a disdainful way. It was normal for me to be ‘looked at’ like that because in Italy, if you have not a nice body and a pretty face you are out. So why should it be different in the gym?”, said Sonia.

Sonia added, “My weight was an obstacle every time I worked out in the class. I could not jump high or run because my heart would pump too fast….and all of the guys laughed at me. BUT I did not care about them because in that moment I started to love the sport.”

Sonia said that she went to her trainer, and asked him if he would let her fight. She said that he thought that she was joking, and he laughed in her face, and said to her “come back when you are 147 lbs.”

”I felt SO bad, but my mind reacted in a very positive way….to be 147 lbs., became my new reason of life. I started training seriously twice a day, every day, and I began a diet on my own.” said Sonia. (Sonia would advise others to seek their physician’s support, and not do it on their own as she did, for she went for four years, being extremely hungry, but that her desire to jump in the ring was stronger than her hunger.)

Sonia lost a tremendous amount of weight, and after a while she returned to that same gym. She said, “My boxing skills did not improve very much, but I was a completely different person in the body, there were many people in the gym, including the trainer that did not recognize me.”

Sonia said that after about a month of training, she went to the trainer and asked him if he remembered her, and that he told her “No, of course not.” Sonia then said to him that he told her once if she could get down to 147 lbs. that she could fight. ”I will never forget the look on his face. He said that it could not be me” said Sonia. . From that day forward, he began to train Sonia so that she could fight in kickboxing.

Sonia worked with that trainer for about three years, but she told WBAN that in retrospect she understood almost immediately that he did not believe in her. Her trainer told her that she would never be a good fighter due to the fact that she was “too slow”, and so he never got her fights within Italy, and when she did get fights it was out of Italy.

Sonia said that the more he refused to help her in the sport, the stronger and more determined she became. Sonia said, “I thought that it was a way to motivate me, but after a long period of time I realized it was not.”

In 1997, Sonia prepared to fight without her trainer for the WKA European kickboxing championship and won the title. Sonia has been an undefeated kickboxing Italian champion, and won a gold medal in a world championship.

Sonia told WBAN, “In that period I met my husband, Enzi, (pro welterweight boxer and WAKO PRO world championship) over time he let me understand that my trainer was not interested in fighters without a natural talent. It was a big shock for me to realize that
Enzi was right.”

Sonia said that when she realized that about her trainer that all of her motivation left her and that she lost the power of her mind that helped her to be the person and the fighter that she was. Sonia stopped training for two years.

In 2001, the Italian Government approved female boxing with very rigid rules and regulations. Sonia decided to try to make the national team but her weight was about 165 lbs. Sonia said, “My husband supported me in all the crazy stuff that I do and helped me with training and to get back into shape. Sonia said they even spent their honeymoon in Australia sparring with the “lovely” Sharon Annoys, to prepare her for the first amateur boxing world championship held in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Sonia qualified for the National team at a svelte 132 lbs., but unfortunately was injured just one week before leaving for the United States. Sonia said that she fought in some amateur bouts on the National team but that her boxing skills were not getting her wins by the score machines. Sonia said that she had six consecutive losses as an amateur, and she was off the team.

Sonia said, “I felt depressed and felt like a loser, but my mind still fought inside of me and said it was not the end yet.”

Sonia stopped boxing temporarily for a year and one half, and earned a Master in Sport Psychology on December 3, 2003.

Sonia told WBAN, “I hope that my personal story will help others realize that NOTHING is impossible---YOU decide your limit.”

Sonia is truly a talent in women’s boxing. She is one of the strongest supporters and advocates for other female boxers in Italy, and tries to give others exposure by writing about them on WBAN.

She may become a champion someday….and/or she may not….BUT there is one thing you cannot take from her----and that is the inspiration she gives to all for the hard work that she has done on a personal level and in the sport.



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