Thirty-six-year-old Baret Bailey, a graduate of Woodstock High School, said she is more nervous about fighting in the Chicago Golden Gloves than when she served as a helicopter co-pilot in the Iraq War.
Her first amateur bout will be Thursday, March 10, at Cicero Stadium, 1009 S. Laramie Ave., Cicero. Bailey is fighting in the open division at 141 pounds. Bailey was deployed to Iraq three times. She was a major in the Marine Corps Reserves.
“In combat things are fine,” she said. “Something happens all of a sudden. You don’t think about it much. My time in Iraq I was unscathed. Only at the end of my deployment – when I was doing night runs to Baghdad – did I become nervous. Once we took shrapnel from an RPG that exploded in the air. The shrapnel plinked the side of the chopper. We were laughing about it. But you don’t think about it all the time…Now boxing is different. I’m fighting Thursday, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about all week. I’m nervous.”
She’s in great shape, ready for her first fight,” said Gary Dobry, her trainer and the owner of Pug’s Boxing Club at The School of Hard Knocks in Crystal Lake.
Saturday afternoon she sparred with four male boxers, including Dobry.
“She’s ready,” Dobry said.
At the gym she spars mostly with men. After 10 rounds of sparring March 5, she had a bloody nose.
“I always get a bloody nose,” Bailey said, sniffling. “No big deal. It doesn’t bother me.”
She’s been training at the gym for about a year.
Jeff Lanas, a former professional boxer and former Chicago Golden Gloves champion, also has been training Bailey and predicts she will do well.
“She looks good,” Lanas said. “My advice to her is a quick start. Get the punches off first. I think she’s going to win it all. I have confidence in her.”
Bailey is a student at Northern Illinois University and is getting her teacher’s certificate.
As part of her schooling, she’s working as a student teacher at Cary-Grove High School. Sometimes she grades her students’ homework at the boxing gym while sitting on a weight bench.
“Time management is key,” she said.
She had an ROTC scholarship to Purdue University, graduating in 2001, receiving a commission in the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant.
On her cell phone she has photographs of wounded soldiers she helped evacuate from combat zones. Bailey also spent time co-piloting an HMX 1 helicopter, escorting Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama around Washington D.C.
Update 10 a.m. March 14, 2016: Bailey lost the fight in a close decision.