Boxer Heather Hardy’s reputation in the ring is that she’s tenacious and unrelenting. It’s not undeserved: She holds a 12-0 record in professional fights. But outside the ring, Hardy, a native of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, is a single mother of a ten-year-old daughter, Annie. By day, she’s a trainer at Gleason’s Gym. Back in October, Hardy, nicknamed “The Heat,” won the WBC International female super bantamweight title, defeating Crystal Hoy in a fight held at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in midtown.
The below photo essay follows Hardy everywhere during the weeks before that title bout.
Hardy’s next fight is this Saturday against Renata Domsodi at the Barclays Center. They are the only two females on the card, headlined by Ryan Burnett fighting Stephon McIntyre. Hardy was one of the first two females to fight at the Barclays Center, doing so in June 2014. She hopes that her continued presence, and ticket sales, will sway Barclays to bring on more female fighters.
“[Gleason’s Gym president] Bruce Silverglade used to say that when he goes to the bank and gives them the money, they don’t ask him if it came from a man or a woman,” Hardy told Team LeftJab Boxing Radio in March.
Heather Hardy stretches before training at Gleason’s Gym in DUMBO in October. Hardy was in the midst of training for her eleventh professional bout against Crystal Hoy at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square.
Despite her record, intense pre-fight preparations still pose a struggle for Hardy. In the ring, she grapples with fighters far beyond her weight class. Outside of it, she’s responsible for her own ticket sales and promotion.
Hardy works at an office inside Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. From here, she coordinates her day job, personal training sessions. A female professional boxer’s purse can be one-tenth what a male makes.
Hardy discusses her training regimen with her coach, trainer, and partner, Devon Cormack. Cormack is a USKBA featherweight world champion who met Hardy through his own time at Gleason’s Gym.
In training sessions, Hardy spars with fighters more than twenty pounds over her weight class.
Hardy is also a single mother. Her ten-year-old daughter, Annie, spends most mornings before school at the gym, where she does homework while her mother trains. She braids Annie’s hair before school every day, before they walk to drop Annie off.
Annie’s school is also in DUMBO, where Hardy was able to move with her daughter two years ago. Providing for Annie comes first, she says, adding that she wanted to move to DUMBO for its convenience and higher-rated schools.
After school, Hardy helps Annie with math homework at trainer Devon’s apartment in Manhattan.
Hardy and Devon kiss before he leaves to train at Gleason’s Gym. Their relationship is often behind closed doors — outside of the home it’s all business.
Hardy and Annie watch Food Network and do homework in their shared room. Hardy says that if she weren’t a fighter, she would have wanted to be a chef.
Annie makes a grand gesture as her mother walks to say goodbye to another trainer.
Hardy laughs with two women she’s training in a boxing class. She teaches boxing five days a week to support herself and Annie.
It’s a week before the fight against Crystal Hoy in October, and Hardy’s training is in full effect. She watches one of her trainees at Gleason’s Gym, supervising their workout.
Hardy focuses with Devon before sparring in midtown Manhattan. This is her last spar before the fight.
Hardy impatiently twirls her hair before the official weigh-in. She’s tired from training and work, and has Annie with her. She also uses this time to finalize ticket sales; she does all of her own promotion, even as the top fighter of the card. This means working with the venue on ticket sales, on top of all of her other responsibilities.
Hardy stands on the official weigh-in scale, and hits her target weight of 121.5 pounds.
Annie sits with Hardy’s mother at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill on 42nd Street in Manhattan. Annie rarely comes to her mother’s fights, but wanted to see her mom box this time.
Backstage, Devon eats, while she hungrily looks on.
Hardy starts to get ready for the fight, donning her signature shamrock socks.
Devon gently grasps Hardy’s arm, letting her know it’s time to wrap her hands for the fight.
Annie, her mom, and her corner-man share a quiet moment before the fight.
As Hardy enters the ring, her whole demeanor changes. Her focus locks on Hoy.
Hardy and Hoy trade blows in quick flurries of jabs and hooks, neither relenting.
Hardy lands a massive blow on Hoy.
However, Hardy is not without her own injuries. Punches by Hoy leave her with a black eye, which her corner-men tend to between rounds. The fight lasts the whole ten rounds. Afterward, the boxers embrace and await the decision.
After the full ten rounds, Hardy is awarded the victory by decision.
Annie rushes to see her mother after the fight. They hug quickly before Hardy is swept away again for photo opportunities.