Ask Me About My Weight—But Only When I’m in the Ring

As a woman who boxes, cutting my weight comes with a lot of emotional baggage

Elena Cresci
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readApr 16, 2019

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Illustration: Claire Merchlinsky

II was dehydrated, hungry and grumpy, and trying to get my bath water as hot as possible. Someone told me I could create sauna-like conditions in my bathroom if I thwacked the heating up and ran the hottest bath imaginable. Eventually, I managed to get a bit of steam going by running the shower for a while and boiling the kettle about 10 times over, running back and forth from the bathroom to the kitchen like I was in a relay race.

Why create a pseudo sauna in my bathroom? I needed to temporarily shed two pounds of water weight ahead of an amateur muay thai boxing match, and I was willing to try almost anything to get me there.

I’ve been fighting now for just over a year. I first signed up for a charity fight as a way to get fit—and to deal with the aftermath of a debilitating bout of depression. During that first brutal fight camp in February 2018—despite being covered in bruises and aching more than I’d ever ached in my life—I fell in love with muay thai. I knew the minute my first fight finished I’d never be satisfied with just one match. I’ve just done my fourth fight.

The more I fight, the more my weight becomes part of my fight plan. Talking about weight with my coaches has become natural, but I still feel strange talking about my weight outside the gym. Women shouldn’t value themselves by how much they weigh, of course, and we know that weight is not necessarily an indication of someone’s fitness or health. But when I have a fight coming up, I stand on those scales every morning, and the only way I get through it—from the mind-numbing calorie counting to the panic caused by period bloatingis to remind myself that this has nothing to do with how I look and everything to do with keeping me safe.

If I want to do well in muay thai—and not get seriously injured by someone significantly heavier than I am—I have to learn how to weight cut without sapping energy or compromising my health. I’m 5’3”, which puts me at the shorter end of my competitors. Even other competitors at the same fighting weight as me can be a lot taller. Taller people have longer limbs, and that range advantage means a much higher…

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Elena Cresci
Human Parts

Journalist who sews and punches things in her spare time. Not at the same time, though.