As the story has it, one day I headed to the opposite side of the globe – the Flipside. I arrived in Korea on February 16th, 2005 and thought I’d do a year, then leave. I went from being some random foreign girl to taking on labels I never imagined – university professor, film extra, professional boxer, reality TV star, CEO of my own girls-only fitness company (Flipside Fitness), CEO of my own boxing club (Hulk's Club, formerly known as Hulk's Boxing), and now I'm launching my 3rd business -- Empowered Clubhouse.

After 11.5yrs in Korea, I then picked up one day and returned to Toronto, Canada. But then I left again. This time it was for the Philippines. That's where I am now, living in the land of the happy people. The struggles are real and the struggles are many but I'm living life on my terms, I'm calling the shots, and I'm doing what I love. Life is an amazing adventure and this is my story of yesterday.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sharing My MeToo Story... Thursday, October 19

Sparked by a conversation between actress Alyssa Milano and a friend on Facebook, the hashtag MeToo has taken social media by storm. And with an astonishing 12 million posts in less than 24 hours, it has struck a cord with it's eye-opening harsh reality.  It was a wake up call to all, telling us that sexual harassment and assault is happening more than perhaps we realize and that change needs to happen. 

The important question now though is what now?

I read an interesting article online about this very question, what now. The article was titled "You Said #MeToo. Now What Are We Going To Do About It?", by Kelsey Matheson.  In her article she went into specifics of the situation with various celebrities being called out and she stressed the importance of going with this, this increased raised awareness, and utilizing it to bring upon change.  The ultimate question is how though.  These were her suggestions:
  1. Continue to empower each other as women by creating safe places.
  2. Support survivors (both men and women) and encourage them to speak up and take action.
  3. Engage in conversations with men who DO NOT abuse their power.
  4. Educate our sons, the young boys, about what it means to behave with integrity and respect.
  5. Educate our daughters, the young girls, how to protect themselves and speak out.
I too used the hashtag MeToo on Facebook and it was interesting to note all those I knew who also used it as well.  Some shared their stories while others, me included, simply just posted the hashtag.  Several years ago I opened up about my "MeToo" story, how I was sexually assaulted, when I wrote an article for Team Fenom, an online female-focused website that showcases us female athletes.  This was my article:

I entered the boxing scene as a bitter 23-year-old with a broken hand and fresh fear in my heart. At the time, I was bartending at a club to put myself through college when a local prospective gang member in a club full of onlookers sexually attacked me.

This moment changed everything for me.

I kept my bartending job a secret from friends and family, as well as the story of how I broke my hand. However, when my cover-up story raised eyebrows among some friends, they were quick to play detective. Next thing I knew I was being approached by a man at my bar, regarding taking up boxing. He told me he could teach me some things, at least how to defend myself, but I had such a chip on my shoulder and was skeptic of everyone. I agreed to stop by his club because it was the only way to get him to stop pestering me about boxing. That’s how I met my coach – Egerton Marcus, Canadian Olympic silver medalist. He was the man who approached me at the bar.

A year and some months later, I moved to Korea to teach English but it wasn’t until my third year in Korea that I found a boxing club to call my home gym – UP Boxing Club – and resumed boxing.

Being a foreigner in Korea means I definitely stand out. This is not my home country and too often I feel like I’m certainly on the outside looking in on life – on a life I often felt would never really include me. Consequently, the boxing club in Korea was quick to become my safe haven from all of this. Although the other boxers didn’t speak English and couldn’t relate to being a foreigner, we all shared a common passion – boxing. I was now a part of something, a community, and it was big.

I no longer get a chill down my back when I think of that miserable Sunday attack and how nobody helped me. I am a proud survivor. I am a strong believer that things happen for a reason and now the reason is definitely unfolding itself. That one isolated incident has had a great domino effect on my life; it’s incredible.

I’m no longer that fear driven young girl nervous to step out of the crowd and instead I write this article to you as Korea’s first ever foreign female to turn pro in Korea, as a proud Canadian boxer who has fought in Japan on behalf of Korea and as the founder of a fitness company – Flipside Fitness.

Boxing was never actually a sport to me but instead a tool – a tool I used to gain self-empowerment and confidence. My company takes great pride and eagerly strives to share this awesome tool via boxercise classes, personal training and other fitness-related social events with the ladies it touches so that they too may be empowered.

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