Destiny Chearino has an anatomy final in two weeks, and her professor isn’t exactly overjoyed with how Chearino will be spending the weekend leading up to his exam.
“My anatomy teacher told me I was stupid to do it,” Chearino said. “He was like, ‘Do you know what’s going to happen to you? You’re getting your head bashed in.’”
But she’s planning on being ready for the exam – and keeping her head in one piece – no matter what anybody says. She just has a little business to take care of before trying to make the grade.
Chearino, 22, is enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, where she’s working on her Master’s Degree in physical therapy. And most of the time, when she’s not at school, she’s boxing – and boxing well.
Beginning July 10, Chearino, a Warwick native who attended Warwick Vets, will be representing New England at the U.S. National Women’s Golden Glove competition in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She’s fighting in the 141-pound weight class, with the chance to become a national champion.
“(My teachers) definitely know it’s happening,” Chearino said. “But they absolutely think I’m crazy.”
Crazy or not, Chearino is in the midst of a boxing resurgence, one that has her rising up the female ranks as one of the better amateur fighters in the country. A highly-heralded fighter at a young age, Chearino won the New England Golden Gloves competition as recently as 2009 before hanging up the gloves competitively so she could focus on her studies at URI.
She fought once in her sophomore year, and would box at the gym as a means to stay in shape, but her promising fighting career was, at the very least, on the back burner. Balancing the grind of school and the sport was a little too demanding.
As time went on, she even got away from just boxing in the gym. Recently, though, she got the itch to get back into working out – albeit not because she was planning on stepping back into the ring for anything too serious.
“Honestly, I was just like, ‘Oh my god, I’m chubby I need to work out,’ and (boxing) was always my go-to workout,” Chearino said. “That was the only thing that I know how to do.”
And, as it turned out, she still knew how to do it better than just about anybody. She linked up with local trainer Brian Pennacchia and started sparring. There was a little bit of rust, but that came off quickly, and before she knew it, she was in boxing shape and ready to get back in the ring once again.
“I just fell in love all over again with it,” Chearino said.
She fought in the New England Open, winning her first match in two years. From there she had a few more fights around the region, before the New England Golden Gloves in Lowell, Mass., in February.
Chearino’s opponent was Liz Leddy, from Portland, Maine. Chearino, regarded as the underdog, pulled the upset.
After walking away for two years, Chearino was back as a New England champion.
“It was awesome,” she said. “It was definitely one of my bigger wins, I’d say. I definitely went in as the underdog to that fight. It was definitely a good thing.”
The victory qualified her for the national tournament. She’ll leave on Tuesday, fight Wednesday and potentially Thursday and then, if she qualifies for the title match, she’ll have a national championship bout on Saturday.
It’s her first-ever national boxing tournament, but she doesn’t expect that to be an issue. When she was younger, she competed in karate and kickboxing, and traveled to Italy and Croatia, among other places, as part of the United States Junior National team.
She just wants to make the most of her second boxing life.
“My undergrad absolutely killed boxing to me,” she said. “I’m so determined not to let that happen in grad school. I don’t care if it’s going to kill me. I’m boxing.”
And this time, she’s prepared to make the sacrifices to keep it going.
“I think now I’m also a lot more focused as far as boxing goes,” Chearino said. “I know in my life I want to see how far I can go with it. I’m a lot more serious. I don’t mind missing the parties on the weekends to go to the gym.”
She’ll make the trip to Florida without Pennacchia, but with other girls from around New England who have qualified in different weight classes.
A few fights later, she’ll hop back on a plane and return to the world of classrooms and exams.
“I’m really, really excited,” Chearino said. “I would be so much more excited if I wasn’t coming back to an anatomy final.”
Coming back as a national champion might make it a little easier to take.