Outside the Ring: Terri Moss

By Jill Diamond on January 27, 2017
Outside the Ring: Terri Moss
This dynamo spits fire when one needs to be lit. She’s a winner. She’s a fighter. (A/C)

“There are so many people who inspire me that I couldn’t begin to list them. I’m inspired by anyone who’s willing to stand up…”

Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.

Terri Moss: activist, boxer, trainer. She’s a proud woman who overcame a serious health threat to get into the ring, and succeeded in winning a world title despite the odds. Most known for her commitment to her sport and her dedication to her fellow athletes, now, in her new role as a promoter, she is bringing her entire team to fight in Athens, Georgia under her supervision. Not many people walk the path Terri has. Not many people climb the mountain and remain there to enjoy the view. That’s why she received the CODA award, an honor that celebrates character as well as accomplishment.

Like many other women in boxing, Terri comes from a career in law enforcement. This seems right. Perhaps it’s the courage or stamina, or maybe the ability to turn everything else off and focus on the situation at hand that gives them an edge. Terri has all those qualities, and more. This petite dynamo spits fire when one needs to be lit. She’s a winner. She’s a fighter. She’s a role model. We need more people like Terri in the community.

You started boxing at an age many boxers retire. What drove you?

From the moment I was exposed to boxing I fell in love with the sport not unlike many others do. Had I known about boxing at an earlier age, I would’ve done it, but my first real exposure was the Holyfield/Tyson fight. Of course I grew up on Muhammad Ali, but outside of that I had no knowledge of boxing. The good thing is that my exposure to real boxing was so limited I was not even supposed to think that anyone could do it. Fortunately for me that actually worked. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy so I was willing to pay the price necessary to keep going until I got what I wanted.

How did your family/friends responding to the risks you were taking?

In the beginning my family was not comfortable at all with the boxing. Mostly they thought I was going through a midlife crisis, understandably. I was at the age where people retired not where people began boxing. I may have been left out a little too. And in just a short time though they understood what I was doing and gave me their full support.

Tell me about Doc Keppner?

Doc Keppner was my first trainer out of Athens, Georgia. He let me know right away that there were too many obstacles for me to box but he still showed me other things around the ring that would allow me to be involved in the sport. He took me to all the fights with him and pretty much tolerated me being under his shirttail all the time. I learned a lot about professional boxing behind the scenes and that helped me a lot with my boxing career and especially in my career as a trainer. It’s funny you mention him now because his son Keith has now taken over his boxing business and has a gym in Athens, Georgia, and on February 3, for the first time, I have a whole team fighting in Athens. I never got to fight there as a professional, but I finally get to have a chance to do boxing there. I’m really excited about that and appreciate Keith having us on his card. I’m bringing eight fights from Atlanta to Athens February 3.

You faced incredible physical odds and overcame them. What did you learn from this struggle?

My boxing career began while I still had Hepatitis C. I was one of the fortunate ones that had the genotype and the ability to become cured, which is really rare. I think what I struggled with more than the physical odds where the mental odds I had to get over considering my age. It definitely caused problems for my confidence as I was going through the pros, but finally I learned to grab onto it and use it to my advantage. I think that’s the biggest thing I take away from that struggle is learning that no odds should get in the way of what you want to do. You just have to take them, grab them, and use them for your benefit with the most positive attitude possible. You have to make the problems work for you not against you.

What is your background? Life before boxing?

Before boxing I managed to scrape together a pretty decent career in law-enforcement. I spent the majority of that time in narcotics investigations with some as a patrolman, some on a bicycle, some in school resource. Actually now that I think about it, I actually had a life before boxing (laughing). Now boxing is my life. I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Describe the duties/life/qualifications of a cut man.

I haven’t had to do a lot of cut work in the last four years or so because of working mostly in the amateurs. I have quite a list now of amateurs planning to go pro so it’s time to sharpen my skills again for sure. As we know the cut man is the one that keep the fight going. That’s the main objective. Went on to become a trainer, however, where I didn’t have to make the call as to whether or not the fight should go on for the safety of the fighter. The only issue with doing both is being able to instruct the fighter and tend to the cut at the same time. That can be difficult.

The cut man job isn’t extremely difficult but you do have to have knowledge about bleeding, skin tears, the way it’s going to heal and some basic stitch work. Of course the cut man also has to deal with swelling and other issues. I don’t know why a lot of trainers don’t make an effort to learn how to deal with cuts, but I actually see that a lot.

How can this process be improved?

Well boxing is so unregulated it’s hard to say, but if it were, it would be nice to see some kind of short in-service type training that people could do to learn how to deal with cuts and swelling. It would help the industry a lot, but maybe interfere with our enjoyment of having celebrity cut men. Boxing needs people like that.

Do you feel that being a woman was an obstacle finding work?

I feel that work is where you find it. Personally I try to run away from it and it still catches me so I can’t say finding work is related to being a female. Definitely it’s harder to find fights as a female, but promotions, training and lots of other business in boxing seems to have no problem finding me, so I wouldn’t think that’s an obstacle.

How do you earn a boxer’s trust?

Trust has to come between both parties. When I can trust a boxer, the boxer can trust me and vice-versa. Trust in a relationship is something that has to be built on both sides, and that comes from time and energy and desire on both parties for trust to be the end result.

Did you ever feel like just jumping in the ring and taking over?

No.

Tell me about the Belts/Awards you’ve won?

As a fighter, the WIBF 102lb world title and the WIBA 104lb intercontinental title. I was inducted into the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015. I held a Guinness world record for being the oldest female to win a world title and actually was the first female to set that record prior to Mia St. John and Alicia Ashley.  I also have the CODA Champions of Dignity belt which was awarded to me in 2013. As a trainer I’ve been inducted into the Georgia Boxing Hall of Fame 2015, Georgia Boxing Most Influential Person of the Year 2013, 2014 & 2015, and Trainer of the Year 2014. As a promoter I was voted into the Georgia Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013, and chosen Georgia Boxing Promoter of the Year in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. They haven’t done 2016 yet :)

What has been your most difficult fight?

In boxing ALL of your fights are hard. I would say the hardest fight I had throughout my career was with myself—just working with my confidence and believing that I could compete on the top level. It was a good experience though because I’m able to use that knowledge and experience to better myself as a trainer.

You went from cut woman to fighter and now, promoter. Tell me about AFCN?

Corporate Fight Night is a black-tie, white-collar boxing show where business-class people box each other to raise money for charity. We’ve done 12 successful shows now in the Atlanta area and are set to do our next show in conjunction with our partner out of Cancun, Mexico, Academia De Box Round 12, owned by retired professional boxer Arturo Guillen. The date is still pending and will take place in beautiful Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. We are super excited to start a new series there with Arturo.

You seem to be a born activist. Why?

I’ll take that as a compliment. I just love helping people and I love boxing and there’s a window there where pugilism and philanthropy seem to work together so I just happen to have a platform. I feel very fortunate to be able to do that kind of work.

Who are your role models? Who inspires you?

Wow. There are so many people who inspire me that I couldn’t begin to list them. I’m inspired by anyone who’s willing to stand up and change the world.

A boxer you admire and why?

One of the fighters his inspired me the most is Bernard Hopkins. He came from humble beginnings, made a mess of his life, and then turned it around. Everything he stands for is a reflection of what he believes and that’s admirable to me. He’s one of my favorites.

You also work on the board of several organizations, including CODA. Please elaborate.

Currently I serve as Chairman for Women Boxing and Championship Supervisor with the World Boxing Federation (WBF); Secretary of the Georgia Amateur Boxing Association; Board of Directors for Champions of Dignity Association; and Board Member and Director of Marketing and Production for the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

Why do you feel it’s important to be so involved in the give-back part of sports?

Giving back to any sport carries on the traditions and quality of that sport. It kind of depends on what you got out of the sport to decide what you’ll give back. As we know boxing is a difficult sport. That means improvement and progression come from those willing to give back. I don’t mind taking on the challenge as one person who can add a little to the sport.

How would you change/improve the sport?

I really believe improvement in professional boxing can only be done with certain types of regulation in the sport. It’s a complicated issue on both sides of the fence but that’s probably a place to start.

That again is extremely complicated.

What are your goals?

My goals are to expand Corporate Fight Night, continue with the work in my gym and make it an Atlanta landmark for many years. And of course to have a stable of world champion fighters. Just your average boxing goals I guess! (laughing).

Make a wish you can share.

As trite as it might sound, I really wish for continued improvement in our sport of boxing—improved or new regulations that better serve the fighters and makes the governing more streamlined. Again—just an average wish for boxing!

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  1. Moon Man 07:03am, 01/28/2017

    Tough little cookie. Don’t really follow female boxing but looked her up on YT. Speaking of Atlanta, all you FalCANTS fans enjoy it while you can. The Pats get one for the thumb. New England 33 Falcons 24.

  2. Kid 10:59am, 01/27/2017

    She lost in her first fight to Wendy Sprowel who is a fellow RING 4 member and will be inducted into the RING 4 Boxing Hall of fame in April

    Terri was the quintessential road warrior,

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