Maureen “The Real Million Dollar Baby” Shea, Q&A! Interview by Ken Hissner (May 16, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
Covering the Kelly Pavlik-Sergio Martinez title bout in Atlantic City I met “The Real Million Dollar Baby”, Maureen Shea. I was telling her how I interviewed Lucia Rijker and she told me how she met Lucia on the set of the movie “Million Dollar Baby” while working with Hilary Swank. Next thing you know I’m telling her about one of the sites I write for, Fighters of Faith, and we find out we’re brother/sister in the Lord. Besides being a beautiful young (29) lady there was something special about her and her faith came shining through!
At the Paradise Theater, in the Bronx Friday night on Telefutura, Shea stopped Puerto Rico’s Norma Faris, 3-2, in 3 rounds on Joe DeGuaria’s Star Boxing show. This improved her record to 14-2, with 8 by knockout.
In the amateurs she started out being trained by Luigi Olcese who now serves as her manager. She eventually came to Gleason’s Gym to train with the legendary Hector Roca. It was then Swank was looking for Roca in 2004 to get her ready for her film role. The two were paired in sparring and Swank would attend Shea’s amateur bouts to learn even more than the gym could offer.
“Moe” as she is called, won her first 13 fights, 7 by knockout, turning professional in August of 2005, stopping Camile Casson in the 1st round in White Plains, NY. The following two months she would have bouts in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she scored another 1st round stoppage over Kathrine Applewhite, and decisioned Darnella Barnes. Barnes would lose a majority decision in her next fight to Donna Biggers, who was 16-2-1, at the time.
Being from the Bronx, Shea returned to New York for her next fight at Iona College, in New Rochelle stopping Sarina Hayden in the 3rd round, in February of 2006. Shea was a senior at the time and would graduate in the Honors Program. On a St. Patrick’s show at Madison Square Garden headlined by John Duddy, Shea defeated LeAnne Villareal over 4 rounds. After this Shea lost a controversial split decision to Kim Colbert thanks to a flash knockdown she suffered in the 2nd round. The decision was later reversed to a No Contest. She then defeated Canadian Olga Heron, who had previously defeated Amy Johnson, 4-0-1.
Shea then traveled to the backyard of Tammy Franks, in San Antonio, at the Alamodome, on the undercard of Holyfield-Oquendo. Franks had just put Miriam Nakamoto into retirement. The latter had defeated unbeaten Kina Malpartida of Peru. Shea defeated Franks winning almost every round. Her friend Murad Muhammad, the promoter, brought her in. The next month she ended 2007 stopping Mexican southpaw Rocio Vazquez, 6-4, in the Grand Ballroom, in New York.
Next up was Elizabeth Moreno, born in New York, but living in San Antonio. Moreno was coming off two fights with Amanda Carriere, of Canada, 4-0, losing a split decision and then fighting to a draw. Shea defeated Moreno over 6 rounds. Another St. Patrick’s card with Duddy on top was next in defeating Eva Lidia Silva, of Mexico. Shea who normally fights between 126 and 130 came in at 134 to defeat Silva who was 140, stopping her in the 3rd round of a scheduled 8.
Shea would travel to Reno to meet Olivia Gerula, of Canada, who had a draw with Mia St. John and stopped previously unbeaten Carriere. This bout took place in July of 2007, in a semi-windup 6 rounder under a Jesse Brinkley main event. Shea won almost every round and the decision. Within two years it would be Gerula taking the WBC Super featherweight title which she still holds.
Back in New York at the Cipriani Wall Street facility Shea stopped Jessica Mohs in the 2nd round. It would be a year before Shea would fight again due to personal reasons. Her opponent was Elisha “Jager Bomb” Cleffman, 3-1, and the show was at the PAL Gym, in Yonkers. Despite the layoff Shea scored a 1st round stoppage. Her weight for this fight was her highest at 139 due to the lay-off with Cleffman at 146.
In February of 2009 Shea made a dramatic jump having never gone beyond 6 rounds and fighting for the vacant WBA female super featherweight title against Kina Malpartida, 8-3, of Peru. Through four rounds Shea was ahead on two of the scorecards. In the 5th round she suffered a ruptured ear drum but continued to fight in spite of her balance being affected. Shea would suffer her first defeat being stopped halfway thru the 10th and final round. Several months later Shea was a commentator on Top Rank’s Latin Fury “Tijuana Thunder” PPV featuring Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Shea is fluent in Spanish and joined the team of Rich Marotta and Al Bernstein. Being raised by a strict Irish father, now a retired NYPD Detective, and a mother with Mexican heritage Shea has learned the language. Growing up she would make trips from the Bronx to Guadalajara area of Mexico.
Six months after suffering her first loss Shea would meet Lindsay Garbatt in an 8 rounder at the Mohegan Sun Casino, in CT, but her trainer, Roca, was with another fighter for his bout elsewhere. It had more of an affect on her then she thought it would. The referee stopped the match in the 7th round giving Shea her second defeat. After another win Garbatt has earned a WIBA title bout this month. As you can see from her record she has been in with some tough opponents who like Gerula, have gone onto win a world title.
She still feels like Roca is a father figure to her, but needs someone to be there in her corner and with his schedule it isn’t easy. She has gained Tommy Brooks as a trainer in North Jersey since her last fight and Brooks has the same problem of being tied up with other fighters. In the mean time Aroz “Terrific” Gist is her main trainer with Pedro Saiv as his second. She is at the Global Gym in North Jersey.
Team Shea consists of Olcese, manager, Roca, trainer, Robert Ferguson, Nutrition and Conditioning Coach, Ryan Songalia, Publicist and Edward Hayes, Esq., Attorney. An English major with a minor in Speech Communication, Shea has spoke between both coasts at venues such as schools, colleges and motivational gatherings. Like when I interviewed Lucia Rijker, Shea is a joy to listen to. She is full of wisdom and enthusiasm. Coming from a person who is not a good listener, that is a high compliment.
KEN HISSNER: It was really my pleasure meeting you in Atlantic City at the fights. Was there anything special that brought you there besides being a title fight?
MAUREEN SHEA: Two of the fighters on the card are in the gym I train at. They are Jeremy Bryan and Glen Tapia. Bryan was well ahead going into the last round but stopped focusing and it cost him.
KEN: Irish father and mother of Mexican heritage sounds like some good fighting blood lines.
MAUREEN: I don’t even drink. Both my parent’s families are big fight fans.
KEN: You were a high school drop out who not only eventually got your diploma but went to college and graduated with honors. What brought about this turn around in your life?
MAUREEN: I was kicked out. Not dropped out. I would go back to finish high school. I spent two semesters at Mercy College until I had my gall bladder removed at 19. My grade average (4.0) was good enough when I decided to go back to school but switched to Iona College earning an academic scholarship.
KEN: I understand you were in an abusive relationship. Thank God you got out of it. Is that what brought you to the gym in the first place?
MAUREEN: I hadn’t felt good about myself and this was a way I could strengthen myself. I never came out of an abusive household and it’s not something you usually share with anyone.
KEN: In your fourth fight at your school, Iona College, you score a stoppage win over Sarina Hayden. Did you feel any added pressure fighting before your fellow students?
MAUREEN: No, I really enjoyed it. I have no problem whether it is a speaking engagement of boxing getting in front of people. I never told anyone I was a boxer but would come in with a black eye or a mark on my face and one of my teachers finally got me to tell I was a boxer.
KEN: You won your first five fights with three stoppages before losing to Kim Colbert by split decision. Most at ringside thought you won the fight. How and why was it changed to a No Contest?
MAUREEN: She tested positive.
KEN: You take a fight in San Antonio with Tammy Franks, who is from there. How were you able to get on that card?
MAUREEN: I knew Murad Muhammad the promoter well and he agreed to put me on.
KEN: After scoring twelve straight wins you were off for a year. What happened?
MAUREEN: I was depressed and went to live with my father’s mother in California. I got a chance to work out at Freddie Roach’s gym while there due to the fact I had gained weight from the medication.
KEN: Not only did you come in over your normal fighting weight but your opponent Elisha Cleffman came in at 146. Though you stopped her in the 1st round was this a challenge coming in?
MAUREEN: I had no choice and was fortunate enough to stop her with a good left hook.
KEN: After losing your first fight you get the opportunity to serve as a commentator for Latin Fury with Rich Marrota and Al Bernstein. I gather your speaking Spanish had something to do with that. How cool was it doing that?
MAUREEN: I do speak Spanish and it was a lot of fun doing the broadcast with them. I didn’t say anything to anyone when I lost but I had a punctured ear drum and it caused my balance to be off the second half of the fight.
KEN: Last August you had your last fight losing to Lindsay Garbatt. Where does your boxing career stand at present?
MAUREEN: After I lost that fight, Randy Gordon called me and told me not to quit. He knew that wasn’t me in there that night. I have had several bouts postponed on February 19th, March 12th and most recently April 2nd. The last one I would not have had my trainer there and I don’t want to go through another fight with that happening. I really enjoy the people at the Global Gym and there are some good things happening there with them.
KEN: Having met you and mentioning doing an interview with Lucia Rijker you said you was an inspiration to you. I can say first hand, she is special.
KEN: You have so many avenues to can pursue such as broadcasting and motivation speaking just what would you like to do with your life after boxing?
MAUREEN: I want to stay in boxing at some level, possibly marketing. I know I can help in some way for bettering boxing. I had the opportunity to meet George Foreman when he was doing an interview and I told him I was a boxer. He hugged me and said he believed in me. That was an inspiration.
KEN: I’d like to ask you how Jesus Christ came into your life?
MAUREEN: When I was in the abusive relationship I was being joked to death and my whole life flashed before me. I cried out to God if this is my time take me. I was pushed out of the car along the road side. I believe it was then that I realized how much I needed Him in my life. It’s written that life is a journey and happiness lies within our self. You can’t get it from an outside source.
KEN: You’ve overcome so much in your life and have set such an example for others coming up the way you did what advice would you give to younger people about overcoming obstacles?
MAUREEN: Faith. I turn it over to the Lord. I hold no grudges with those who have hurt me in the past. I know one has to forgive or it will eat away at you. We have to pray for those who hurt us.
KEN: Is there anything you would like to say to your many fans?
MAUREEN: My fans mean so much to me. They are always there for me.
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