The Big Picture

Ring of honor

Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes likes “combat” sports. When she was an exchange student at Plymouth South High, the native of Poland went out for the football team and wrestled. Then she discovered boxing, “my favorite thing in the world.” The 37-year- old, who lives with her husband in Marshfield, has become one of the world’s top-ranked female welterweights while working full time as a lawyer. Magdziak Lopes loves to win, but her April 7 fight was about family, and her preparation had been weighted with grief. Her husband and trainer, Wayne Lopes, had lost his son Manny on New Year’s Eve. The 32-year- old had battled depression and drugs. When fight night arrived, “I wanted to do well for Wayne,” Magdziak Lopes says. Her win in the match at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, came after eight rounds. As the referee raised Magdziak Lopes’s arm in victory, “for a split second” she felt “on top of the world.” And then she felt relief. Near the end of the evening, Manny, a promising boxer whose career was derailed by hand injuries, was honored by the promoter. Magdziak Lopes wept.--By Craig F. Walker and Michael Fitzgerald/Globe Staff
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Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes kisses her husband and trainer, Wayne Lopes, before the eighth round of her bout with Paty Ramirez at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., on April 7. The 37-year-old, who lives in Marshfield, has become one of the world’s top-ranked female welterweights while working full time as a lawyer. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes works out with trainer/husband Wayne Lopes as his son Artie Lopes watches from the ropes at the Pembroke Police Boys Club in Pembroke last month. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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A water break during a sparring session at Bishop’s Training and Fitness in West Bridgewater, where Magdziak Lopes was preparing for an April 7 fight. She says boxing offers the couple time together. “It’s great because it’s such a solitary sport, it takes a huge chunk of time and commitment, mental commitment. The time you spend in the gym after work makes for long nights. I’d hate to do it without him, in the sense that I’d never see him.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
4
A week before her fight, Magdziak Lopes jumps rope at Bishop’s Training and Fitness as 6-year-old Emerson Bishop, whose father owns the gym, watches. Aleksandra said she started sports at 7 years old. “I could play any sport you gave me,” she said. As an exchange student from Poland she went out for the football team and wrestled at Plymouth South High School, “that’s how I caught a bug for combat sports.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
5
The 37-year-old fighter came to the United States from Poland at age 16. She arrived by herself as an exchange student at Plymouth South High School. “I never minded being alone, I’m very much a loner by nature,” she said. Now she is a successful lawyer and boxer. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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During a workout at the Pembroke Police Boys Club, Magdziak Lopes catches her breath. She loves to win, but her April 7 fight was about family, and her preparation had been weighted with grief. Her husband and trainer, Wayne, had lost his son Manny on New Year’s Eve. When fight night arrived, “I wanted to do well for Wayne,” Magdziak Lopes said. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
7
Arriving for her daily cardio workout at Planet Fitness in Hanover, Magdziak Lopes said “I do all my cardio before work. My nights, I spend in the gym, sparing two or three times a week, the technical training, heavy bag, pads. Boxing is very repetitive.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
8
Wayne Lopes offers his wife some support as she arrives for a sparring match at Bishop’s Training and Fitness in West Bridgewater in March. She says, “He knows me so well, he is very tolerant of my moods. I go through phases; I get really nervous or really stressed or I just get miserable because I’m tired of training or I’m hungry because I’m trying to cut weight.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Leaving a training session in Pembroke, Magdziak Lopes said her passion for boxing was immediate, “I completely fell in love with it. It was instantaneous, I put on the gloves and I thought this is what I want to do. I can’t do things halfway, I was completely in. I started training four or five days a week. With in weeks I wanted to spar and see how good I was. Within a year, I wanted to compete.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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At work, Magdziak Lopes talks with attorney John King in her Brockton law office at Babanikas, Ziedman King PC. As a lawyer she says she’s proud of her work. “I specialize in workers’ compensation, on-the-job injuries, and I represent the employees side of the equation. So I feel like I get to deliver a very specific solution to my clients.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
11
Darlene Kent buys tickets and T-shirts from Magdziak Lopes in the parking lot outside the Tedeschi convenience store in Marshfield. The T-shirts honor Wayne’s son, Manuel “Manny” Lopes, a talented boxer. “I’d say our fans are what makes all of it happen. . . . We finance all our fights on our own -- 100 percent -- meaning we have to sell tickets and/or sponsorships to cover the whole cost of the fight plus some profit for the promoter,” Magdziak Lopes said. “Our fans and the support we get from friends and family and small businesses in town is the reason why we can make all of it happen. That’s why I always want everyone to know how much we appreciate the support, without it we couldn’t fight locally.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Magdziak Lopes celebrates after checking her weight — 147 pounds — at home in Marshfield. She had been training for seven weeks and said she was on a “high protein, very low fat diet because I lose a lot of body fat . . . . I work out more but I’m eating less so you create a calorie deficit. It’s a pain, you’re hungry all the time.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
13
Wayne Lopes kissed a boxing glove he hung while visiting the graves of his son Manny and his father, who was Manny’s namesake at a cemetery in Marshfield. That evening Wayne was set to take his place in the corner of the ring as the trainer for both his wife and son Artie at Twin River Casino. Their fights were dedicated to Manny’s memory. “He suffered from depression ever since he was in his teens, so we tried to keep busy. And he was gifted at everything he did. There were highs and lows and when the depression kicked in he struggled,” Lopes said. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
14
Boxing gloves hang from the mirror as Aleksandra drives with Wayne and Artie to the weigh in and face-off for their fights at Twin River Casino on April 6. Aleksandra, a Polish immigrant, said, “the three best days of my life were the day I came here, the day I became a citizen, and the day I married Wayne.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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As she arrives for the weigh-in and face-off for her match against Paty Ramirez, Magdziak Lopes greets a patron at Twin River Casino. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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The two female boxers greet each other as Michael Parente of Classic Entertainment Sports, or CES, addresses the crowd during the weigh-in and face-off. “I don’t think too hard anymore. She’s tall; I prefer shorter fighters, but it is what it is,” Magdziak Lopes said. “My game, it’s not a secret. I like to fight at a long range, and when I fight a shorter boxer I can keep them at the end of my range and that’s something I do very well. Sometimes having a tall fighter forces me to deal with their jab and sometimes I end up at the end of their range, which is not as comfortable for me.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Dr. Peter DeBlasio uses a tuning fork to check Magdziak Lopes’s hearing during a medical exam before the weigh-in and face-off. She said she gets irritated on weigh-in day because she hasn’t eaten and is feeling the effects of training, “I was a little cranky.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Magdziak Lopes shows her husband/trainer the good luck penny she found in the hall outside the dressing room before her fight with Paty Ramirez. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Magdziak Lopes (wearing a shirt displaying her nickname, Ola), her trainer/husband (center), and her stepson and fellow boxer Artie Lopes embrace after the two fighters weighed in for their matches. Artie said, “I’ve got confidence. I’ve got to go in with my game plan, I’ve got to use my motivation — my brother. We grew up training together, we fought together, he used to push me to do all the stuff it takes to get in the ring.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Artie Lopes warms up for his fight while his stepmother puts on her shoes. Wayne Lopes said, “The hardest part of our night will be dealing with our emotions, what the fight’s about. Just can’t let it take over. I’ll be nervous with my son and wife going out to do battle.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Artie Lopes takes a punch during his match against Marqus Bates. Artie lost the fight in a TKO. His father and trainer, Wayne Lopes, said, “I’ve got to say it was an exciting fight. It’s nice to know where we’re at. It’s a big night, an emotional night; I’m proud of him.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Dr. Peter DeBlasio (left) talks with Artie Lopes after his fight. “I’m sorry Artie’s fight went the way it did, it takes so much to get in that ring. I’m so proud of him just for getting in the ring,” Magdziak Lopes said. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Magdziak Lopes said she loves being married to her trainer. “He understands me so well, and brings out the best in me. We never get sick of each other. We both have such a passion for boxing. We watch every fight, we just love the sport. So when we get to the gym, it’s so much fun, after so many years he still enjoys showing me new stuff and he comes up with new things.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Promoter Jimmy Burchfield escorts Magdziak Lopes to the ring to face Paty Ramirez. “When you come out to see the fight, you see the finished product,” says Magdziak Lopes. “You get the glamour aspect of it. But to get there is hard work for weeks. . . . The training is repetitive, over and over; it’s like muscle memory. . . . You get bored, but that’s the work you have to put in.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Magdziak Lopes (right) trades punches with Ramirez early in the match. Magdziak Lopes said she fights because “it challenges me on a whole different level, it challenges your confidence inside and what you can deliver under pressure in the ring. Everybody’s watching and your opponent’s there to beat you to the punch. It’s the one thing that even now after all this time, after all this training, I’m still not the best. And it drives me crazy and it also keeps me hooked on it.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
26
Family friend Stephanie Neas cheers for Magdziak Lopes during the bout. “We have an enormous amount of support and love from all of our family and friends in the community. It pushes us in training and inspires us to give the very best, so that we make it a great night for everybody,” Wayne Lopes said. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
27
Magdziak Lopes sizes up her opponent during an April 7 bout. “Once I’m in the ring, all I’m focused on is the person that’s front of me, and what I need to do to win. There’s no room for anything else. You have to shut the crowd out.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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Magdziak Lopes’ win in the match came after eight rounds. As the referee raised her arm in victory, “for a split second” she felt “on top of the world.” And then she felt relief. “I was so stressed, I just wanted to win for Wayne. I always want to win for myself but this one was for Wayne,” she said. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
29
Manny Lopes’ children — Aaliyah Sacco Lopes, 12, and Manuel Wayne “MJ” Lopes, 5 — were on hand for a ceremony at Twin Rivers inducting him into the CES Ring of Honor. They were joined by their grandparents Wayne Lopes and Dolores Schiavo; their uncle, Artie Lopes; and MJ’s mother, Kaitlyn Mahoney. Wayne Lopes said his son was a talented boxer and a beautiful person. “I have two ways to deal with this. One, ‘My son is dead and I’m an epic failure,’ but I can’t do that to my family. That’s why I want to make it about kindness and compassion for humanity. I’m going to make it about love . . . That’s what this night’s about. Two of my three fighters climbing into the ring and give Manny one last night in the ring.” (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
30
Magdziak Lopes kisses MJ Lopes, 5, after a ceremony inducting his father, Manny Lopes, into the CES Ring of Honor on April 7. She said Manny was the first person she ever sparred with in a boxing ring, which resulted in her meeting her future husband, Wayne. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)
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