Fight Like a Woman

Casey Morton fights for her dream in a photo essay following her journey from the gym to her pro-debut.

by Erin Lefevre

“There was once a man who went to a guru because he wanted to be great, so he went to the guru and asked him how he could be great. The guru told the man to meet him at the beach the next day wearing shorts. The man showed up the next day all dressed up, and the guru told the man to go walk into the water. Confused, the man walked into the water and the guru followed him. The guru grabbed the man by the head and held him underwater until he almost passed out. He pulled the man out of the water and asked him what was the first word that came to his mind. The man replied, “air.” The guru told this man that the secret to greatness is wanting something more than he wanted air in that moment. That story kept playing through my mind because I want my dream more than I want the air that I breathe,” said Casey one day when we were driving back from her practice at Undisputed Boxing Gym to San Francisco.
 
The first time I met Casey Morton, I photographed one of her training sessions at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco as a part of a female boxing project I was working on for school. Within that hour I spent photographing Casey, I became captivated by her passion for both life and boxing, and realized that she needed to have her very own story.

Growing up as an at-risk teen in Hawaii, Casey managed to flee from her destructive environment to pursue a more positive lifestyle. Casey travelled from state to state and eventually put herself through college, worked as a motivational speaker for at-risk teenagers and then finally found her love for the sport of boxing. For an entire year, Casey has allowed me to photograph her journey towards becoming a professional female boxer. Her decision to pursue boxing as a professional career has completely dominated Casey’s lifestyle choices, proving that it is a long, often solitary road to success. Being a woman trying to succeed in a man’s world means that Casey has to work twice as hard as her male peers, and is confronted with twice the dilemmas, doubts and hardships. Despite facing these conflicts on a daily basis, Casey has defied all odds. Her success has made her a positive role model and proves that even from the humblest of beginnings, anyone can accomplish their dreams. This makes Casey a champion both inside and outside of the ring.

Jairo Escobar, Casey's full-time coach, spars with Casey in the ring to improve her strategy and work on some new boxing techniques at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Jairo Escobar, Casey’s full-time coach, spars with Casey in the ring to improve her strategy and work on some new boxing techniques at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey Morton is fitted with a helmet by her full-time coach, Jairo Escobar, before sparring with another female boxer at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey Morton is fitted with a helmet by her full-time coach, Jairo Escobar, before sparring with another female boxer at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.

 

 

 

Casey's boxing glove is tightened in between a sparring session with another boxer as a part of Casey's training towards her boxing pro-debut at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey’s boxing glove is tightened in between a sparring session with another boxer as a part of Casey’s training towards her boxing pro-debut at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey practices warming-up with teenage male fighters she trains once a week at her boxing class at the Community Youth Center in Concord, CA.
Casey practices warming-up with teenage male fighters she trains once a week at her boxing class at the Community Youth Center in Concord, CA.
In preparation for her pro-debut, Casey trains on a Hypoxico breathing machine, which teaches Casey how to pace her breathing while fighting so she does not exert all of her energy at once.
In preparation for her pro-debut, Casey trains on a Hypoxico breathing machine, which teaches Casey how to pace her breathing while fighting so she does not exert all of her energy at once.
Casey practices her punches on a speed bag at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey practices her punches on a speed bag at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey practices training by herself at Undisputed Boxing Gym to improve techniques and practice self-discipline for her upcoming boxing fights.
Casey practices training by herself at Undisputed Boxing Gym to improve techniques and practice self-discipline for her upcoming boxing fights.
Casey takes some quiet time to rest and watch two young pupils practice sparring against one another in the ring at the Community Youth Center in Concord, CA.
Casey takes some quiet time to rest and watch two young pupils practice sparring against one another in the ring at the Community Youth Center in Concord, CA.
After doing a combination of different warm up exercises, Casey takes a moment to wipe off some sweat and listen to Coach Jairo's critiques at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
After doing a combination of different warm up exercises, Casey takes a moment to wipe off some sweat and listen to Coach Jairo’s critiques at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey shows off her new mitt-work techniques while sparring with Coach Jairo after having practiced for weeks at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey shows off her new mitt-work techniques while sparring with Coach Jairo after having practiced for weeks at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey takes a short break on the side of the ring in between a sparring session at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey takes a short break on the side of the ring in between a sparring session at World Class Boxing Gym in San Francisco, CA.
Casey stretches out on an exercise ball at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos, CA. In addition to mitt-work, Casey's work-out regime includes a variety of aerobics and cardio.
Casey stretches out on an exercise ball at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos, CA. In addition to mitt-work, Casey’s work-out regime includes a variety of aerobics and cardio.
Casey takes a moment to re-adjust her sock, exposing her tattoo of her beloved dog Lola, who still lives in Hawaii.
Casey takes a moment to re-adjust her sock, exposing her tattoo of her beloved dog Lola, who still lives in Hawaii.
Every Friday evening, Casey goes for a run around the track at Cezar Stadium in San Francisco, CA. The majority of Casey's free time outside the ring is doing other exercises to help her stay in shape for her pro-debut.
Every Friday evening, Casey goes for a run around the track at Cezar Stadium in San Francisco, CA. The majority of Casey’s free time outside the ring is doing other exercises to help her stay in shape for her pro-debut.
After spending an hour driving to San Jose to meet with a specialist, Casey must make a physical examination appointment in order to get the medical paperwork needed for her upcoming pro-debut.
After spending an hour driving to San Jose to meet with a specialist, Casey must make a physical examination appointment in order to get the medical paperwork needed for her upcoming pro-debut.
While in the San Jose area, Casey made a special appointment at an empty military base to train on the NuStep machine, which provides an advanced total body workout. She is always searching for new ways to have the most efficient workout possible.
While in the San Jose area, Casey made a special appointment at an empty military base to train on the NuStep machine, which provides an advanced total body workout. She is always searching for new ways to have the most efficient workout possible.
Casey awaits for her doctor to take her blood-pressure reading. This is one of many physical tests Casey must get in order to prove she is healthy for her pro-debut.
Casey awaits for her doctor to take her blood-pressure reading. This is one of many physical tests Casey must get in order to prove she is healthy for her pro-debut.
A physician checks Casey's eye-sight during a pre-fight physical exam in San Jose, CA. This exam is one of many appointments Casey must complete in order to qualify for her pro-debut.
A physician checks Casey’s eye-sight during a pre-fight physical exam in San Jose, CA. This exam is one of many appointments Casey must complete in order to qualify for her pro-debut.
To try and alleviate the stress that has built up over the past few weeks due to her pro-debut fight preparations, Casey visits a chiropractor for some physical therapy.
To try and alleviate the stress that has built up over the past few weeks due to her pro-debut fight preparations, Casey visits a chiropractor for some physical therapy.
Casey pours oil under the hood of her car after stopping for gas in the SoMA district of San Francisco, CA.
Casey pours oil under the hood of her car after stopping for gas in the SoMA district of San Francisco, CA.
Working to achieve her goals of becoming a professional female boxer leaves very little time for a social life. One of Casey's companions has travelled with her to Sacramento to show his support for her upcoming fight.
Working to achieve her goals of becoming a professional female boxer leaves very little time for a social life. One of Casey’s companions has travelled with her to Sacramento to show his support for her upcoming fight.
Casey tries to take a quick nap in-between weigh-in sessions before her pro-debut fight.
Casey tries to take a quick nap in-between weigh-in sessions before her pro-debut fight.
Casey awaits anxiously to see what number appears on the scale during her first weigh-in the day before her big fight. Weigh-ins for boxers are the moment of truth: if a boxer does not make weight, they cannot compete in the fight.
Casey awaits anxiously to see what number appears on the scale during her first weigh-in the day before her big fight. Weigh-ins for boxers are the moment of truth: if a boxer does not make weight, they cannot compete in the fight.
To ward off hunger pains, Casey drinks large amounts of water and meal supplements after her first weigh-in for her pro-debut. Boxers are restricted to very little food and liquid intakes the day before weigh-ins so that they can make their goal weight.
To ward off hunger pains, Casey drinks large amounts of water and meal supplements after her first weigh-in for her pro-debut. Boxers are restricted to very little food and liquid intakes the day before weigh-ins so that they can make their goal weight.
To help maintain her fight weight, Casey takes an epson salt bath after her first weigh-in to draw water weight from her body.
To help maintain her fight weight, Casey takes an epson salt bath after her first weigh-in to draw water weight from her body.
Some last minute eye-liner is applied before Casey leaves her hotel room to prepare for her pro-debut fight.
Some last minute eye-liner is applied before Casey leaves her hotel room to prepare for her pro-debut fight.
Casey apprehensively peeks through the curtain and scans the crowd as she waits for her name to be called by the announcer for her pro-debut fight.
Casey apprehensively peeks through the curtain and scans the crowd as she waits for her name to be called by the announcer for her pro-debut fight.
A cutman applies Vaseline to Casey's face to minimize the risk of her skin tearing as a result of being punched by her opponent during the pro-debut fight in Sacramento, CA.
A cutman applies Vaseline to Casey’s face to minimize the risk of her skin tearing as a result of being punched by her opponent during the pro-debut fight in Sacramento, CA.
Both Casey and her opponent, Blanca Raymundo, wait in their designated corners and get ready to begin the fight in Sacramento, CA.
Both Casey and her opponent, Blanca Raymundo, wait in their designated corners and get ready to begin the fight in Sacramento, CA.
Contemplating her next move, Casey eyes up her opponent, Blanca Raymundo, during one of three rounds during her pro-debut fight in Sacramento, CA.
Contemplating her next move, Casey eyes up her opponent, Blanca Raymundo, during one of three rounds during her pro-debut fight in Sacramento, CA.
Casey delivers a staggering punch to her opponent, Blanca Raymundo, during her pro-debut fight in Sacramento, CA.
Casey delivers a staggering punch to her opponent, Blanca Raymundo, during her pro-debut fight in Sacramento, CA.
On October 14, 2014, Casey Morton won her pro-debut fight against Blanca Raymundo, accomplishing her dream of becoming a professional female boxer.
On October 14, 2014, Casey Morton won her pro-debut fight against Blanca Raymundo, accomplishing her dream of becoming a professional female boxer.

 

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Erin Lefevre is a documentary photographer whose work focuses on individuals and communities that are under-represented or misrepresented by the media. Her approach to the world of photojournalism is producing artistic visual imagery that tells informative, truthful narratives. She is a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, where she received her BFA in Photography and she is also an alumna of the Fashion Institute of Technology. Erin has interned in the past for MLive/The Muskegon Chronicle and The Hawk Eye Newspaper in Burlington, Iowa.