I would like to start by saying, I'm not a violent person. Anything resembling a fight has involved me running in the opposite direction of the confrontation. Unfortunately, I'm not very fast, so at some point, I decided that being able to throw a punch might be a good skill to have.
That's how I end up in Kaetlyn Starr's boxing class, awkwardly bobbing around the ring pawing at Starr's mitts, and thanking God that she wasn't trying to hit me back.
And even though I didn't come away with any more confidence that I could KO anyone over the age of 12, I did find a core group of badass women I'd like to have on my side should something ever go down.
The inside of the place these gals train, the Deschutes Country Rocks Boxing Gym, looks exactly like the set for a Rocky training montage.
There are worn news articles plastered to the walls. Most of them with photos of folks getting socked in the face. The ring looks like it's taking a harder beating than the fighters. Some ambiguous stains, which I assume are sweat and or blood, are splattered across the floor, and duct tape covers some of the larger tears in the canvas.
A half-dozen bags hang like sides of beef over a particle-board floor. There's even a life-size cardboard cut out of Sylvester Stallone behind the front desk that I half expect to come to life, sprint a flight of stairs, and put me down with one swift Russian-clobbering punch.
It's not exactly the kind of place you'd expect to find a club of women, but several times a week a dozen or so ladies get together and prove that boxing isn't just a man's game.
"Boxing is a different kind of sport," said Richard Miller, head coach and president of Deschutes County Rocks Boxing Club. "It's a different type of competition. You have people throwing blows at ya."
That blow throwing is part of the reason Miller says that women's boxing took so long to catch on.
While women's boxing dates back to the early 20th century (see the YouTube video "The Thomas Edison Company: Women boxing" for an old-school standoff), the first professional women's fights weren't held until much later, as recent as 1998 in England.
The 2012 London games were the first to feature female boxing, but only in three weight classes. The women's team produced the United States' only boxing medals, a gold won by Claressa Shields and a bronze medal won by Marlen Esparza.
The sport has caught on in Bend. The Rocks team offers multiple boxercise classes that draw primarily women attendees.
"When it started out, a lot of people were against it because they thought girls don't need to be fighting," said Miller. "Times have changed."
After taking a class, I'm not sure that I feel any more prepared to get into a brawl, but I've definitely discovered a killer new workout.
Deschutes County Rocks Boxing
20 NW Greenwood Ave.
Tue-Thu & Sat 9:30-11 a.m.
Mon-Thu 5:30-7:30 p.m.