In Their Own Words: Linda Murphy

Meet Bare Knuckle Murphy's owner Linda Murphy

Linda Murphy has been coaching for 35 years. She is a mother of two and a grandmother of three. Her business, Bare Knuckle Murphy’s, has thrived at four different Manchester locations over the years and produced a number of Golden Gloves winners. Currently, the gym is located in a perfectly suitable brick building, a 19th-century armory on Lake Avenue.

I came to the sport rather late as there weren’t any pro sanctioned programs for women until 1992. Before that, it was all underground and bouts were opened quietly through word of mouth or late night telephone calls.

I was a competitive kickboxer and won my share of titles. My first card purely as a boxer came when I was 38. I had to lie about my age and deducted 10 years.

I lost.

It was a very close decision.

I’ve had two great coaches. One taught me how to explode with my punches. The other taught me how not to signal my moves.

In boxing, strong body punches weaken an opponent’s muscles, often causing cramps. This sets them up for head shots.  

We emphasize head movement, not only to win the round, but to avoid potential damage.

“Protect the computer” is something they all must learn.

My first knockout came when I was 19, in college and waitressing at an Orono bar. I’d asked this one guy to stop grabbing me three separate times before I snapped.

I decked him with spinning back fist and it was lights out.

He returned about a week later but as a very polite man.

In ’95, the Golden Gloves held its first female competition. The Olympics followed suit in 2012. Bare Knuckle Murphy’s offers various martial arts classes (and is considering pilates), but boxing is their primary focus.

“Last evening a disgraceful female prize fight came off in the vicinity of the Rumford School House, at the south end of the city. Eighteen rounds were fought lasting twenty minutes in the presence of a large number of roughs who reside in that section of the city. Our informant, who did not arrive in season to witness the fight could not learn the name of the champion as she had fled from the field.”
Manchester Mirror, May 21, 1860

(Thanks to Wendy Mendelsohn and Nermina “Norman” Kovacevic for assisting in the shoot.)

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