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Local boxer packs punch, carries tune

American Idol contestant, boxer, fighting for mother's life

Stacy M. Brown | 6/1/2013, 10:20 a.m.
Not only does Franchon Crews pack a powerful punch but the 25-year-old Baltimore resident can also carry a tune. However, ...
Franchon Crews, also known as the “Heavy Hitting Diva,” is first American woman to win gold at the Pan American Games. Courtesy photo

— Not only does Franchon Crews pack a powerful punch but the 25-year-old Baltimore resident can also carry a tune. However, the most important battle she fights daily does not directly involve her.

“My mother suffers from chronic kidney disease and we have been battling this since 2005, which is around the time I started my boxing career,” said Crews, who has accumulated more than 13 national titles and became the first American woman boxer to win gold at the Pan American games.

Known as the “Heavy Hitting Diva,” Crews said her mother’s condition has helped to educate and inspire her during her amateur boxing career.

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Courtesy photo

Franchon Crews packs a punch

Franchon Crews also known as the “Heavy Hitting Diva,” is first American woman to win gold at the Pan American Games.

“I have a motto that I live by and which became more prominent as my mother’s battle continued,” Crews said. “That motto is, while she fights to live, I fight to win.”

Crews’ successful career, which also includes a silver medal at the Women’s World Championships in Quinhuangdao, China, has allowed her to shine a brighter light on her mother’s condition and the plight of others with the illness.”

Crews, now uses her notoriety to help bring attention to the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland.

The foundation is scheduled to hold its fourth annual Rappel for Kidney Health signature event on June 8, 2013 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Crews will be among those to scale 28 of the hotel’s 33 stories, from the roof to a fifth-floor pool.

“I am proud to support the foundation, which is committed to helping the more than 13,000 Marylanders with end stage renal disease through direct services, research, funding and advocacy,” said the event’s chairperson, Brigitte Sullivan, an administrative director at the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center.

Ten of the rappel participants, who were asked to raise $1,000 each before the event, will fund a research mini-grant at a local hospital while two will fund a kidney health risk assessment in a local community officials said.

The fundraiser will also help to fund the cost for 50 people to have their blood drawn at a kidney screening and to fund five emergency assistance grants for patients. The fundraiser will also help fund part of a rent or mortgage payment for at least four patients who are on dialysis.

Mostly, Crews said, it will benefit those in urban communities where there isn’t always enough exposure and a lack of focus and health and fitness.

“I want to change that,” she said. “My mother is my inspiration. I look at it like, if she can fight every day, I can fight for 8 minutes in a boxing match to help bring attention to this illness.”

Crews started boxing at the age of 16 and won her first national title at 17. She is an aspiring singer, but was once told that she was too heavy. “So, I hit the gym and started boxing to lose weight,” she said. “But, I liked it. I have three older brothers and they rough me up, even though I get a couple of punches in.”

Crews, who will fight in Washington, D.C. in December, remains serious about her singing career, which got a boost when she appeared as a contestant on American Idol in 2005. “That’s why they call me the Heavy Hitting Diva,” she said, noting that she does have three new songs available on her website, www.theheavyhittingdiva.com.

She even got to sing the Star Spangled Banner on ESPN before a nationally televised fight card. “That’s where I showed off my ‘diva’ skills and not my ‘heavy hitting’ abilities,” she said with a laugh.