Librarian by day, boxer by night: Bethany Farmer

Almost as if she steps into a phone booth to change into a superhero uniform, by day Bethany Farmer is your typical librarian, by night she becomes something totally different – a fighter.

For eight years, Farmer has been training.

“I’ve been with Owen Beck for 3 years, fighting for two and a half years and training off and on since 2011,” said Farmer.

She didn’t always plan on boxing but took to the sport after extensive training in various forms.

“I honestly don’t know how I got started. It just kind of happened. I started doing Kung-Fu when I was 14. I was homeschooled, so I really just did it to get out of the house and do something that was only me and not all my siblings. I fell in love with it and did that for about 14 years all through college and grad school,” said Farmer. “I got my 3rd degree black belt, and then when I moved to Connecticut for a job after graduating, I wanted to try something different, so I started boxing.

“Originally I just wanted something active and aggressive, but I wasn’t necessarily interested in fighting. It just helped me stay in shape and was a good outlet. But I am very competitive and eventually started thinking that I would like to train less for cardio and more for competition.”

Boxing has helped Farmer further her confidence in herself, without feeling like she has to prove herself to anyone.

“The most rewarding part of the experience is probably the confidence and the pride that it gives me. I don’t have to prove myself to anybody because I already know I’m great, and I mean that in the least conceited way one can say they’re great and not be conceited,” said Farmer. “I am very goal-oriented — very ambitious, and very competitive, but I also enjoy life and people and funny jokes.

“In the gym everyone is family, and we’re all there to support each other from the youngest to the oldest. We’re in it together and my team means more to me than they know. So I don’t know what the most rewarding part is — the sense of belonging, the pursuit of dreams, the empowerment and confidence that comes with it.”

Farmer’s first bout came in November 2016, and the feeling before each match hasn’t changed.

“They’re all the same to me. I get incredibly nervous before a fight — like, regretting every life decision that led me to this point, type of nervous. It’s a weird feeling though because I’m not scared of getting hurt. I think it’s the amount of pressure I put on myself to do well and the fact that I loathe being the center of attention — public speaking sort of fear,” said Farmer. “So before every fight, Owen talks me off the ledge and into the ring. Once I’m in there, everything zones out. I’m not mentally where I want to be on this yet, but every fight gets a little bit better once I’m in the ring.

“I don’t hear the crowd, or see people out of the ring. I hear my coach yelling things from the corner, and I see my opponent. I don’t think, I just react — especially after the first round. In the first round, I’m still getting rid of the nervousness, but by the 3rd round I’m thinking, this would be a lot easier if I could just knock this lady out and end the fight early. So far no knockouts though.”

Farmer has no issues switching from “Librarian-mode” to “Boxer-mode.”

“I’ve always enjoyed flexing both my feminine and traditionally masculine traits. I like heels and lipstick almost as much as I like punching people in the face. The hard part is not necessarily juggling the conflicting hobbies but in finding time to do all the things I want to accomplish in life,” said Farmer. “The thing most people don’t realize about boxing is that it’s not a black out and violently punch people sport. It’s a calculated, thinking sport. So yes, I do enjoy punching people and yes, it requires athleticism. It’s really a great activity for nerds like me.

“I like reading, I like learning things and pretending to be intellectual. So, in the library, I enjoy working with students or solving problems and researching. When I go to the gym, I do the same thing just in a different outfit and slightly messier make-up. Boxing is about figuring out body mechanics and angles, waiting for the other person to make a mistake and then capitalizing on it, all while delivering the most damage possible and receiving the least amount.”

Although Farmer isn’t sure she will be boxing forever, as long as she enjoys it, she intends to keep going.

“I seem to be incapable of planning or committing to long-term life plans. I have pipe dreams, and I work to make them happen. If they do, great. If not, I come up with a new plan. In my mind, I’m going all the way to the top, but my realistic plan is to do it for as long as it’s enjoyable.”

The only change Farmer would make would be to have more women becoming involved with the sport.

“I always try to encourage more females to get involved. It is entirely possible to be feminine and enjoy boxing. It’s empowering and keeps would be attackers at bay. And of course, it comes in handy when you have to collect late fees or make sure those books get returned on time.”