They call it the sweet science.
But boxing goes much deeper than mere science for Dakota Stone.
“It combines the mental, physical and spiritual,” said the no-nonsense Stone before a training session. “They all have to be running on all cylinders for you to be able to operate 100 percent in the ring. So it taps into all those facets of a person’s makeup.”
Now, 13 years into a professional boxing career, the 42-year-old Stone is looking to find that balance, both in and out of the ring, enabling her to fight her way to the top of the women’s boxing ranks.
“Boxing mirrors life,” said Stone, a middleweight who turned pro while training at Vision Quest and living in Auburn. “Whatever is going on in my life, comes (into the ring).
“If there is a fear of commitment, maybe I won’t throw my right hand,” she explained. “(If) you don’t want to get close to people (outside the ring), you don’t go inside and work on people (inside the ring). Boxing has helped me grow as a person, and growing as a person has helped me in the ring.”
Stone was introduced to the sport in 1997.
After a two-year stint in the U.S. Navy, Stone attended the Art Institute of Seattle as a photography student.
“A friend (boxer Danielle Doobenen) talked me into coming down and taking some pictures of boxers for a press release,” Stone recalled. “I worked out on the bag and just fell in love the first time I hit it.”
Although Stone was athletic in high school – playing volleyball, basketball and even earning a scholarship opportunity for softball – the inactive art school student admittedly was out of shape when she started boxing.
“The first time I jumped rope, I couldn’t go more than 10 seconds without stopping,” Stone said. “I smoked. I was really overweight.”
But something clicked when she put on the gloves.
“I just had that kind of passion for it from the very first day,” Stone said.
After suffering a broken nose that required reconstructive surgery during a sparring session with her trainer, Stone finally got her first amateur fight.
“That first fight was easy and fun,” she said. “That’s when I learned early about training hard and getting it down before you get in there. The fight should be the easy part, it should be the fun part. The hard work is in the gym. That’s where it’s agonizing. The fight is where you get a chance to shine.”
After some amateur fights, Stone moved to Auburn, trained at Vision Quest and turned pro.
Since becoming a professional, Stone has compiled a 10-8-5 record, but asserts that the number isn’t truly indicative of her skill.
“It’s complicated because I’ve had so many robberies,” she said of the unfavorable decisions.
Stone contends she has lost some close decisions because of her fighting style – a finesse approach that relies on ability and strategy, rather than knocking out opponents – and the fact she often has to travel far to fight boxers on their home turf.
“In the pros, you can be a boxer and not a brawler, and fight like that if you have money and the promoter behind you because you can get a decision,” she said. “But if you’re a traveling boxer, and it comes down to a decision, it goes to the hometown fighter every time.”
Despite her record, Stone has been a top-10 ranked fighter in the middleweight division since she turned pro.
Stone is coming off a sixth-round technical knockout over World Boxing Council junior middleweight champ Christy Martin in a non-title bout at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 4.
The effort vaulted Stone as the No. 1 contender in the WBC, Women’s International Boxing Federation and the Women’s International Boxing Association.
However, in order to knock off Sweden’s Maria Lindberg, who holds both the WIBF and WIBA junior middleweight titles, Stone knows she will have to adjust her style.
Earlier in her career, Stone lost a split decision to Lindberg in Sweden.
“I just beat the crap out of her,” Stone said. “It was obvious that I won, but because we were in Sweden they gave her a split decision. It was gut-wrenching for me, the worst robbery. I can’t call it a loss because it wasn’t. To get robbed on that was hard because I did so well.”
Stone vows to come back stronger. She is looking to acquire that knockout power, working out four nights a week at the Azteca Gym in Renton with trainer Mathis Hill.
The new style already has paid dividends.
“That’s what made Christy Martin stop,” Stone said. “She was getting hurt by the right hand. She would have ended up getting really hurt. My new style with Mathis has really changed how I fight.”
Stone wants to make a living in the fight game, as well as garner some championship belts, but those are not the reasons why she boxes.
“I could make a good living as a personal trainer,” said Stone, who teaches boxing and is certified through the American College of Sports Fitness as a personal trainer. “But I can’t give this up just yet. I love it too much.
“Boxing is an art form. You can be artistic in the ring, and it’s also mentally challenging,” she added. “The smarter you are, the better you are.”
No matter what life throws at her, in the ring or out, Stone said the lessons she’s learned from boxing will help her in the long run.
“Boxing is like life,” she said. “Sometimes you get knocked down. The difference now, for me, is if I get knocked down, I don’t wallow in it. I jump back up and go and do what I have to do.”