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Boxer Teaira Skinner Makes History as Charlottesville's First Female 'Golden Gloves' Winner

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Seventeen-year-old boxer Teaira Skinner Seventeen-year-old boxer Teaira Skinner
Skinner has to spar against the guys at the Crow Rec Center Skinner has to spar against the guys at the Crow Rec Center
Skinner's career was almost over before it got started, as she was arrested as a 13-year-old in 2015 Skinner's career was almost over before it got started, as she was arrested as a 13-year-old in 2015
Low is the first female Golden Gloves winner in the history of Charlottesville boxing Low is the first female Golden Gloves winner in the history of Charlottesville boxing
Teaira Skinner will be competing at Christy Martin's All-American City Championship in Fayetteville, NC in August Teaira Skinner will be competing at Christy Martin's All-American City Championship in Fayetteville, NC in August
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The boxing program at the Crow Recreation Center in Charlottesville was started from scratch about three years ago.

Every weekday afternoon, willing combatants of all skills levels are able to come together to train and spar.

That part has been a little different for one boxer, but she's still found a way to make history.

Teaira Skinner is a fighter.

Three hours a day, five days a week, she's training at the Crow Recreation Center in Charlottesville, where everyone knows her as 'Low.' 

Skinner says, "At first it was 'Hollow,' because I always viewed myself as aggressive and mean, and just a beast, but it turned into Low, because I'm so short." 

The 17-year-old checks in at 5-foot-1, but that's not her biggest hurdle to overcome during training.

"I spar the boys, basically," says Skinner.  "I spar the boys."

There's not a lot of female boxers in Central Virginia, so when Low gets in the ring to practice, she's trading punches with the guys.

Crow Rec boxing coach Charles Bailey says, "Once I let her in, and once she started sparring the guys, I started asking the guys if they wanted to spar her after the first couple of weeks, and we had a lot of people saying, 'No.'  They didn't want to spar."

"Because I'm that tough," says Skinner.  "I hit that hard."

Bailey adds, "She's earned a lot of respect in this gym."

Skinner says training against the bigger competition has helped her rapidly improve.

"They're all about over 150 pounds," she says.  "I walk around 120.  I'm small.  So to be able to spar them, and them having to push me, it means a lot."

Bailey says, "Some things that might take people six months or a year, she was catching on within the first two weeks.  So then I was saying to myself, 'We might have something here.'"

But she almost never had the chance. 

Three years ago, when she was just thirteen years old, Skinner was arrested for felony theft.

"I was on probation for two years after that," says Skinner.  "I just kept violating over and over and over, but thank God the judge that I had, he just kept giving me a chance.  The commonwealth wanted to send me to jail.  They didn't want to chance on me at all."

It could have been a knockout blow, but it was boxing that helped her get back on her feet.

Skinner says, "My judge saw what boxing was doing with me, and he gave me a good chance, so I really thank him.  I'm using boxing to get away from that (life).  There's a lot of people I know, I went to school with, they have great talent, but they just waste it.  But I'm not wasting my talent, because I'm not staying the same."

Skinner has delivered in the ring since picking up the sport one year ago. 

At recent a USA Boxing Tournament in Norfolk, she won her matches by 'walkover,' as both of her opponents failed to show when the bell was rung.

"Once you get an (opponents) name, (you can search) Google and YouTube," says Skinner.  "I'm on Facebook.  You can see me and my stuff.  I honestly feel like they were scared, and backed out."

Skinner was awarded the WBC Golden Gloves, and she is the first female winner in the history of Charlottesville boxing.

"That's history," Skinner said, with a smile.  "How many people here can say that?  No one,  I can."

Bailey says, "She was able to put in a lot of hard work, and then be rewarded for it. She's had some up and downs in her personal life.  For her to bounce back from that, it really means a lot."

"I'm still a work in progress, but I can honestly say I've turned it around," says Skinner.  "I turned it around for the good."

Teaira Skinner is a boxer.