To my husband and sparring partner in life, Glenn,
Like many black men in America, you are going through a hard time right now. You don’t always share your feelings, but I know your strength and I want to make sure you know it as well.
I know all about being strong – not because I am a pro boxer or because I am currently the super middleweight world champion. I know what it means to be strong because my mom taught me.
When I was 14 years old, we moved to Baltimore and all the kids in school wore Timberlands or Jordans. I didn’t have a pair.
When I got home from school, I asked my mom, “Can I get me some Timberlands, please?”
My mom was working very hard to provide for us.
She said, “You got food on your plate, clothing on your back and a roof over your head. You have everything you need. If there is something you want, you can go out and get it for yourself.”
She encouraged me to get a job. I did. And I bought myself some Timberlands.
My mom taught me that real strength is going through something yourself and still encouraging someone else. That’s why, Glenn, you are the strongest person I know.
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You, too, are a pro boxer and when we met at the gym years ago, I was in an unhealthy relationship with someone else. There were moments that I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt like I wasn’t beautiful enough. I felt like I wasn’t good enough.
As a friend, you would tell me, “No, you are perfect. You are a good woman.
So, I left that relationship.
At the 2012 Olympic trials, I was in the middle of a fight with up-and-coming star Clarissa Shields. She was coming out like a madwoman. I felt alone and discouraged. When I looked at the crowd, it felt like the room was dark. And there was a shining light on just you. That moment you spoke to my soul.
You shouted, “You better not give up on yourself.”
I responded by coming off the corner like a madwoman as well. For the rest of the tournament, I fought my ass off and eventually we started dating.
A few years later, my mom got very sick. She had a brain aneurysm and needed surgery to relieve the pressure, but it was not successful. I decided to take her off life support. As her heart rate went down, I knew what was coming and I could not bear it.
When I ran out of the room, you came after me and said, “You got to be a soldier. She saw you in this world. You gotta see her out.”
I sucked everything up and went back into the room to be with her. I feel better knowing that I was there for my mom’s last moment.
Glenn, through the tough days of my life, you have been there for me. You have supported, loved me and pushed me.
I know you are hurting right now. You lost your friend and you are continuing your comeback after tearing your rotator cuff in a boxing match. Also, you are pursuing your commercial driver’s license and coping with what’s going in our country. You are going through a lot right now and you are always so hard on yourself.
I want you to know that I see you. I love you. You matter and you are worthy.
Through you, I have learned about trust, forgiveness, patience and love. I learned about knowing how to be a leader and how to be a follower.
I appreciate you. I need you. I’m here for you
Even if you don’t want to talk about how you feel or what is hurting you, you must know that there is nothing we can’t handle. That’s because a strong person encourages others, but in a strong relationship, two people encourage each other.
You are never alone. I got you.