For Danyelle Wolf, the sweet of boxing begins with breakfast.
Three eggs, topped with mozzarella cheese and a cup of milk. The sweet part? Raw almond butter, half a banana and raw honey drizzled on top.
Not exactly the stuff Rocky Balboa mixed in his blender, but it’s still the breakfast of a champion.
“Sometimes you have to get a little creative,” said Wolf, a 152-pounder from San Diego who will chase her second straight national title tonight in the USA Boxing National Championships at Northern Quest Resort.
After winning a unanimous decision over Jobette Nabarro in Friday’s semifinal, Wolf will face Melissa Kelly in the title bout this afternoon.
For Wolf, the discipline of boxing is just that.
“You can have the all the talent, but if you don’t have the discipline…”
Wolf has both. She was a three-sport athlete in basketball, track, and field hockey at Millersville University in Pennsylvania, near her hometown of York.
Eight years ago, she took her education degree to California to become a life coach and home school teacher. The money was good, but something was missing. So she took the money and ran in some local triathlons.
Before that, “I felt I was wasting my God-given athletic ability,” Wolf said.
In 2008, she was still turning heads with her looks instead of her fists. She stood 6 feet, with a wingspan to match and the muscles to back it up.
“People would come up to me and ask if I was a boxer,” Wolf said. In fact, she’d never touched a boxing glove.
“I didn’t even know what a jab was,” said Wolf. In 2009, at the age of 25, she took classes at local gyms. Properly humbled, Wolf said her first setbacks “made me determined to really learn the sport, and that made me determined that this would be my sport.”
And so it’s been for five years, as Wolf has moved steadily up the rankings. Last year, she won her first USA Boxing title. The next big event is the AIBA Women’s World Championships this fall in Edmonton, Alberta.
The goal, of course, is a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, but obstacles remain. For one, the International Boxing Association is still considering whether to add a 152-pound weight class. If it doesn’t, Wolf will have to jump up to 165.
“I’ve sparred with a lot of (165-pounders), and it’s nothing I can’t handle,” Wolf said.
She’s less confident about another variable: money. So far, endorsements have been chicken-and-egg; reach the Olympics and you’ll be rewarded.
But it takes money to get there, including tens of thousands of dollars for the big tournaments that line the road to Rio de Janeiro.
“I’m looking for sponsorships,” said Wolf, who operates a personal training business in San Diego. “To take it to the next level, you have to be able to travel,” Wolf said.
That didn’t happen last year for Wolf, who missed both the Golden Gloves and Ringside World Championship events. “That’s four to six fights,” Wolf lamented.
Undaunted, Wolf is sticking to her regimen. On most days, that starts with an early 6-mile run and 3 miles of sprints. After a long day of work with clients, she’ll train with her coach at the House of Boxing Training Center in San Diego.
Ultimately, Wolf hopes to be a spokesperson for women’s boxing. “I think we have to conduct ourselves as professional athletes and keep our composure.
“We all need to work together,” Wolf said.