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Massena woman has national title dreams

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MASSENA — With a victory last weekend over Nicole Russell of New York City, Massena’s Michelle Cook earned a berth in the USA Boxing National Championship Tournament in Spokane, Wash., next month.

“I was confident going into it,” Cook said, realizing she had a chance at winning USA Boxing’s Northeast Regional in Lake Placid last weekend.

“As soon as I felt her punch, I knew I could win,” she said.

The bout, now on YouTube, consisted of four two-minute rounds. “The first round was close, but in the second round Michelle dominated her, and in the third round Michelle really dominated her,” said her trainer and fiancÚ, Atsiaktonkie, aka Doogie.

Cook experienced trouble in the final round, but that’s when Doogie said she showed her true colors.

“She was up against the ropes, but then got off about eight punches in a second and a half, and the referee gave the other girl a standing eight count,” he said.

Cook won by unanimous decision and was named the tournament’s most outstanding fighter over 13 other champions.

“It meant a lot. I was surprised that I got it, because I didn’t think I did all that well,” Cook said.

Now the hunt is on for sponsors for the Spokane trip.

“We need to come up with money for everything. We need plane tickets, lodging and living expenses,” Doogie said, estimating the cost at $3,500 to $4,000.

In exchange for sponsorship, Cook would display a sponsor’s logo on her clothing and duffel bags. Anyone interested in sponsoring Cook, can call the boxing club at 769-2552.

Cook is a two-time New York state champion, 2012 New York State Fair tournament champion and 2012 Adirondack Region champion. She also was named most outstanding boxer at the 2012 Carmen Basilio Quest for Champions in Watertown, also earning a victory over the two-time Ringside Magazine national champion and two victories over the five-time Canadian national champion.

Cook, who has been boxing for about two years, said she never envisioned things would take off this quickly.

“I was into drugs and all that stuff, but boxing has really helped turn my life around,” she said. “Now I’m a positive influence and have all these girls (about a dozen other girls train at the club) looking up to me. It feels good.”

Doogie said that Cook, mother of Konwanihara, their 15-month-old daughter, is a tremendous fighter, but a totally different person outside the ring.

Cook was previously eyeing a professional debut this spring. However, a strong showing in Spokane on March 30 through April 6 could earn her a spot on Team USA and endorsements that Doogie said could pay more than she could make as a pro fighter.

Cook isn’t sure whom she will face in Washington, but said she has her eyes set on Tiara Brown, 2012 World Amateur champion, one of just three American women to win that title.

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