Boxing coach hopes to empower more young women to step into the ring

Street Stories

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ In a sport that’s been dominated by men for decades, a new generation of young women is rising to the challenge.

Jarrod Tillinghast, owner of Legendary Boxing RI in North Providence, tells 12 News the group, called “Little Legends,” aims to empower young girls one punch at a time.

“To come into a gym and be surrounded by women empowering each other is priceless,” Tillinghast said. “You can’t put a price tag on that.”

Tillinghast said he reached out to personal trainer and boxing coach Tessa Herbold after seeing a similar program she created in Massachusetts.

“When you punch something, there’s a physical response,” Herbold explained. “When you hit a bag, strike mitts — that physical response releases endorphins and it makes people feel good.”

Herbold said the eight-week program aims to empower young women by building self esteem, promoting healthy habits and fostering friendships that will last a lifetime.

“We’re building their confidence and teaching them how to be athletic, but also teaching them how to protect themselves,” she said.

Ann Caira joined Little Legends because she thought it would be a fun experience.

“You have to really be strong to do it and you have to have a lot of confidence in yourself,” Caira said.

Herbold said the possibilities for the girls she teaches are endless.

“I think boxing has always been seen as a men’s sport,” Herbold said. “But as we open our eyes, we look and watch TV and we see women fighters all over the world getting belts and titles in fighting and boxing.”

The first round of classes begins Aug. 21. Anyone interested in signing up can email or

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