The Courage to Win

The metallic “ding” of the starting bell is the last thing Whitney "Dani" Brown hears every time before she blacks out.

"I black out during my fights,” she said. “I don't remember a lot of it. I remember tad pieces and bits, but I know during fighting you're in a zone—you're just stuck and you're just going, going, going.”

Brown is 15, and a Team USA boxer. She’s an eight-time National Boxing Champion and will compete in the 2024 Olympics.

She began boxing at nine years old. She joined Legends Boxing along with her older brother who joined to help rehabilitate his lungs after having a double lung infection and pneumonia while he was in high school.

“If Dale did it, I did it, she said. “He wanted to box, I wanted to join.”

At school, Brown considers herself a nerd and bookworm.

“I’m a nerd to the max,” she said, “Teacher's pet, quiet, head in a book.”

This is a stark difference to her personality at the gym.

“I know here, I'm kind of like a leader here, so it’s kind of nice because I have a very bossy mentality, I guess, so here I get to let that go and get people to listen,” she said.

On top of her schoolwork, Brown practices at Legends Boxing under the supervision of her coach, William “Sarge” Farris at least three days a week. If not at the gym, she’ll practice at home.

“I have very long nights sometimes, but I get the weekends off which is nice," she said.

This doesn’t compare to the grueling schedule she has when she is at the Olympic Training Center, where the athletes “work out three times a day—nonstop,” she said.

She said they practice at 6 a.m., again around noon and then at 5 p.m.—with breaks for meals and the occasional nap.

Brown said that her brother Dale is her biggest inspiration.

“I know I gotta think of Dale because Dale's always going to be one of my number one supporters,” she said. “If I just do it for Dale then, and I do a little bit for me, but a lot is for the people around me.”

She knows she’s a role model to the younger members of the gym and considers helping them one of her favorite parts of boxing.

“I think I like just being able to help other kids and stuff, because I know when I come in here they see me as a role model and as a coach,” she said.

Her other favorite part of the sport is “being able to know that I'm strong enough to go out there and to win,” Brown said

“It takes courage,” she said. “I will never, never make fun of someone if they back out. I will never look down on someone who steps in this ring because I know how much it courage it takes to get in this ring and if you're willing to get in the ring and do what you gotta do, then you've earned some respect from me.”

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