Mary "Merciless" McGee has literally been a fighter all her life.
McGee's story is well known to boxing fans throughout the region. Raised by grandparents whose Jehovah Witness faith condemned boxing for its violence, they forbid her to fight and she left home, living in her "old raggedy car" for months.
One In A Million Boxing Inc. promoter Octavius James saved McGee from the streets, got her an apartment, helped her train and soon became her promoter.
When he died unexpectedly and the flourishing organization disbanded, McGee felt lost.
The "fighter" in her wouldn't allow her to quit.
"I had been two years without a fight until I beat Victoria Cisneros (Dec. 7) in New Mexico," McGee said Tuesday. "It really changed a lot for me. I knocked the girl out and they didn't expect me to.
"She had fought a lot of world champions. It was the first time I had left Indiana for a fight, and I had moved up a class to light welterweight."
Mark down May 11 on your calendars. That's when McGee (20-1, 11 KOs) takes on Holly "The Preacher's Daughter" Holm (39-2-3 9 KOs) at the Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque.
This one is for the World Boxing Federation and International Boxing Association light welterweight championships, a lucrative night for the winner.
An established kickboxer as well, Holm recently announced she will retire after the fight and concentrate on an MMA career. No need to give her a pep talk.
"I'm gonna knock her out," McGee said. "I'm the best I've ever been. I'm stronger, mentally, knowing what I've been through to get here."
That's confidence, not arrogance, you're reading.
Mary McGee is the same quiet but driven athlete at age 26 that she was living in that old raggedy car.
And she has added motivation now each time she steps in the ring. Her manager, Seattle-based Lori Steinhorst, had shown McGee a newspaper clipping of four young ladies learning the sport in Uganda and chasing the same dream as hers.
"They're training at a gym without a roof," McGee said. "It has a muddy floor and they share one pair of boxing gloves.
"That was deep for me. I thought my situation was bad but when I saw those pictures, it made me cry. I had been feeling so selfish."
Mary McGee hopes to travel to Uganda, donate her winning purse to the four girls, and give lessons.
There's nothing merciless about that.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org