It was a one-week long boxing lesson – procured via a Groupon no less – that led Back Bay resident Arika Skoog to put a music career on hold and go for the gloves.
And it’s quickly paid off in championship belts.
Back Bay fighter Arika Skoog fought against Elizabeth Humphries of Agawam last Thursday, Feb. 23, and took home the Golden Gloves Novice Female Championship.
The 141-pound Minnesota-born fighter came to Boston for college and never left. Skoog’s beginnings as a boxer, though, are anything but prototypical. During a one-week trial she bought on Groupon, she met her trainer, former pro fighter and five-time Golden Glove Champion Kilbert ‘Kil’ Pierce Jr.
Skoog went to The Ring Boxing Club in Boston for the trial, and quickly fell in love with the sport, said Pierce. After the trial, Skoog was scheduled to leave Boston for a while to visit relatives, but promised Pierce she would be back.
Skoog then traveled to California to see family, and left Pierce wondering if she would return. But she certainly did return with a vengeance.
“She said she wanted to box with me. I was pretty honored,” he said. She gave up a music scholarship to stay here with me and box.”
“I fell in love with it. I was supposed to go back to LA to go into the music business,” said Skoog, who gave up going to London to study music to instead came back to Boston to train for boxing.
Before boxing, Skoog attended Hult International Business School in its one-year accelerated Master’s Degree program. She received her Masters in International Business. After having studied music business as an undergrad, she hoped to get back into Atlantic Records in Los Angeles where she had interned in college. However, because of the allure of boxing and the pull of her trainer to the sport, Skoog decided not to leave Boston after getting her Master’s Degree. Now, while accommodating boxing, she has shifted her focus and works for a sports management company called GF Sports.
When she’s not doing that, it’s boxing time, she said.
On Thursday, in Lowell Auditorium, Skoog faced of against Humphries, where she controlled the three-round fight with ease.
“I know she was getting tired towards the end, so I tried to keep my punches straight and quick. She kept leaning on me and stumbling back so I knew at that point I was in control of the fight,” said Skoog.
Pierce had nothing but great things to say about his unusual protégé.
“I have been boxing since I was 16 years old; I’m 52 now, and I believe that she is the best boxer I have ever trained,” said Pierce.
According to Pierce a good boxer is composed of great work ethic, hunger and about 10 percent skill.
“She does not punch like a girl; she punches like a man,” said Pierce.
Skoog said she has done just one thing for the past year, and that thing is train, train and train some more.
“I feel great.. I put a lot of hard work into this. It definitely paid off,” said Skoog. “I stayed and trained as much as I could, sometimes twice a day.”
When not in the gym, Skoog can be found shadow boxing wherever and whenever she can.
Next, the pair is heading to Rhode Island, and if victorious there, they will head to the nationals in July in Florida. Skoog has a go-fund me to help raise the $4,000 she and Pierce need to make the trip.
The 23 years old wants to go to nationals and become a pro from there.
“She is something special and I know your going to here big things about her soon,” said Pierce.