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Maine Olympic boxer fights adversity to make Team USA, now faces more as COVID-19 prevents her from going to Tokyo

Norway, Maine native Amelia Moore is an alternate on Team USA's women's boxing team and was not allowed to travel to Tokyo due to COVID-19 restrictions.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — At age 16, Amelia Moore was emancipated, living on her own while attending Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

When Amelia was 4, she moved from Connecticut to Norway, Maine. She grew up on a farm and had horses, which she said helped her develop a strength and toughness that others simply do not have.

"I pack one hell of a punch naturally—I grew up on a farm. I've got that natural farm strength and fortitude that you don't get when things are more comfortable," Amelia said in a Zoom interview from her accounting job in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Kids who find themselves in the same particular situation kind of get overlooked."

She needed that strength growing up in what her former guidance counselor called "not the most stable" upbringing. Paul Bickford said it is rare to see kids living on their own while in high school.

"It is what it is. It was the best option for me at the time and really the only option," Amelia said.

Moore was a good student and solid athlete, playing soccer, hockey, and running track for the Oxford Hills Vikings.

She said she is grateful growing up in small-town Maine, but wanted to get out. Amelia said Bickford was the one who handed her the pamphlets to West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Moore started boxing at age 17 while she waited to hear if she was accepted to the Naval Academy. 

She worked out with Joey Gamache—the first and only boxer from Maine to capture a world boxing title.

"He moved around with me and that was like, 'Yea, I'm gonna do this,'" she said. "I fell in love with it."

Eventually, she got into the Navy prep school and entered the academy after a year there. But she needed to find ways to continue boxing.

"The coach flat out told me, we don't have competition outside of brigades, and I couldn't get a fight," Amelia recalled. "I was sneaking off campus at night. I'd get done with my track duties, my obligations to [the] track team, all my class curriculum, my military obligations, and then I'd run from the academy a mile out to where I had a car—and as a plebe, you're not supposed to have a car. Then I'd drive 20 minutes outside Annapolis and I found my coach out there."

Since she left the Navy with a medical discharge from Crohn's disease, Amelia has been working full-time to pay for her boxing with the hope of making Team USA.

"You are really putting your blood, sweat, and tears into this. Every bit of effort and a lot of sacrifice and dedication for an opportunity kind of to be stripped away," Amelia said.

The Tokyo Olympic Games are only the third time women have competed at the Olympic level.

Amelia is an alternate for Lynn, Massachusetts native Rashida Ellis, but due to COVID-19 and budget cuts, she could not travel to Tokyo.

"There's a limited amount of space and they had to cut back on everything," Amelia explained. 

"[Boxing is] not just a passion. It's a lifestyle—100 percent. A lot of things get put on the back burner. You miss every special occasion, every holiday ... so it's shattering."

Amelia is trying to decide now whether to turn pro, which could affect her status for boxing in future Olympics. USA Boxing has rules against professional boxers competing against amateur Olympic-style boxers, but the team had to adapt to an IOC Boxing Task Force rule for the Tokyo 2020 games that did allow pros to compete. 

The statement from USA boxing is below:

USA Boxing has not changed our position that was publicly stated to AIBA in 2016.  USA Boxing’s bylaws and all State Boxing Commissions have rules against professional boxers competing against amateur Olympic-style boxers.

However, the IOC’s BTF adopted AIBA’s rule allowing professional boxers to compete at the Olympic Games so USA Boxing must follow the international rules, not our National rules. 

The three boxers did not compete against any amateur Olympic-style USA Boxing member as a professional to earn their spot in Tokyo. They earned this place through the BTF rankings based on their success competing as amateurs on USA Boxing’s High-Performance Team at major international competitions which took place 2017-2019. 

"Will we really see the best competing in Tokyo?" Amelia said.

While she is disappointed, she is still training for her next fight, and she has the support of those invested in her success, like Bickford.

"It's pretty awesome to see that those same things that I saw back then for her for her drive and these lofty goals and her reaching them—that's the same person today," said Bickford. 

"Every challenge presents the opportunity for solid growth," Amelia said.


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