When you step into Joe Hand Gym on 3rd Street, you’re hit with a quick one-two: the scent of hard-earned sweat and Jaclyne McTamney’s mean right hook.
Upon first appearance, McTamney, 22, looks small and certainly outnumbered in the room full of men. But the second she steps foot in the ring, she banishes any thought suggesting she doesn’t belong there. With quick feet and a steady gait, the impact of her gloves is fierce, echoing off the small gym’s walls. An occasional grunt or criticism from her trainer, Wade Hinnant, is the only interruption in McTamney’s relentless rhythm.
Despite her unforgiving attitude in the ring, McTamney reverts back to a soft-spoken and polite demeanor as soon as she slips under the ring’s ropes. And once you learn she’s to receive her degree in nursing from La Salle University come May, the out-of-ring gentleness doesn’t come with any surprise.
“She’s a sweetheart,” said gym manager Mike Fera, who’s grown familiar with McTamney over the past four years. “She’s going to make a great nurse.”
McTamney appeared excited to start her post collegiate career but said nursing won’t keep her away from training, even if being an amateur women’s boxer can be discouraging at times.
In the past year, she’s had her fair share of disappointment, including the National Ringside Tournament this past summer. She lost by one point due to the technicality of her hair falling out of her helmet.
“My coaches always joke around saying they’re going to cut off all my hair,” McTamney said recently with a laugh.
While the loss was hard hitting, she tried not to take it too hard, jumping back in the ring with more enthusiasm and determination. Even then, finding an opponent to jump into the ring with posed another cumbersome task.
Women boxers are few and far between. Finding someone in the right weight class is very difficult.
“There were a couple times where I was sitting there thinking, ‘Should I keep doing this?’” McTamney said. “But I just love everything about it.”
McTamney said she has her eye on the biggest prize: the 2016 Summer Olympics.
– Photos and video produced by Samantha Kordelski.