By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Franchon Crews Is Multitalented
Ask Milroy Harried, the owner and C.E.O. of M Salon and Spa- five minutes from the Inner Harbor.MARYLAND—The beginning of a legacy can start anywhere, and sometimes in the streets of downtown Baltimore.
Franchon Crews was singing in the street near his Salon one day. Harried could not believe the type of voice he was hearing, an angelic one. As a celebrity hairstylist who works with many artists, he lured this homely dressed teenager, with pretty white teeth, into his salon establishment to assist her. “She’s a bright young lady, the daughter I never had,” he told BASN.
All the women in the shop adopted Franchon. However, Harried went a step further to educate this potential singing icon, regarding an eye-catching portfolio and the correct appearance to display on stage. On August 2, 2003 Harried and the females at the Spit 1 Record studio informed Franchon that she could lose five pounds in one day, by boxing. “God paired me up with her and she needed a mentor in a clean way, “ Harried stated. Going to the boxing gym started the saga of a pugilist.
Her first national fight on March 8, 2005 in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center, her mother was released from Maryland General Hospital. She won. “ I am extremely proud of the way she’s keeping herself together and she’s not in the streets,” Marie Crews said. For two and half years, Franchon worked under the tutelage of Marvin Mc- Dowell at UMAR Boxing Gym in Baltimore. With an impressive 20-2 record, she owns six titles and three belts. Representing U.S.A. Boxing, Franchon currently is the 2006 U.S.A. Open National Champion, Pan American Games Champion and the National Police Athletic Champion at the middleweight division.
At 6am she awakes, prays and tells her mother she loves her, before going to work at the Access Appraisal Network as Office Manager. Six months ago, Franchon decided to journey to Capitol Heights, Maryland to be trained by Gary Russell, Sr. and Robert Martin. She catches a MARC Train to the nation’s capitol, and then hops on the Blue Line to Benning Road to meet the trainers. “They are very good trainers who contribute to my success,” she pointed out. Whether she’s training at Hillcrest Heights, Nomis, in the basement of the Russell’s home or Upton Gym, Crews wants to be the best boxer she can possibly be.
The working out agenda is four to five days per week, two to three hours a day. The 5 foot 10, 165 pound titleholder hits the mitts, shadowboxes, jumps rope and does the dance, a foot movement exercise. “ I teach her to use her body weight to hit hard without trying to hit hard, and to improve her technique and speed,” says Gary, Sr., who also trains four sons. At any given moment, she welcomes a sparring session with Gary and Allan Russell. “ When you spar with the best, you can bring the best out of you,” Crews commented.
In September, Crews was disappointed when a Pro Am Boxing Show in Baltimore promoted by Jake “The Snake” Smith had cancelled her bout. The opponent from Joe Frazier’s gym had high blood pressure. “It was terrible, the media, family and friends were there,” she remembered. Crews had to add 11 pounds to fight the challenger, but to no avail. As goal achiever, she plans to continue to win all fights and move to 154 to obtain the national and international belts. Her immediate plan is to conquer the 2006 World Amateur Women’s’ Boxing Title in New Delhi, India on October 29. This is not Crew’s first trip abroad. She’s been to Buenos Aires, Argentina and won a title, but suffered an early career lost in Podulsk, Russia. “I was inexperienced, but I hope to see that same opponent in India,” Crews uttered.
The hardships for one of the best female amateur boxers started in Norfolk, Virginia- at age 8. Willie and Marie Crews separated. Mentally, the detachment ignited Franchon to start fighting in elementary and middle school (Larkstur Middle School in Virginia Beach) as a magnet student, getting put out. At 14, the family relocated to Baltimore, on a tiny side street in the Seton Hill housing area, near downtown Baltimore. Her room is entirely pink. There are posters of Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Mia. Three brothers, Christopher, 29, Darius, 23, and Javin, 17, a high school wrestler and football player taught Franchon how to be tough. Her athletic ability comes from her father, who was a high school basketball player and a semi-pro football player. Relatives in Atlanta and North Carolina encourage Franchon to keep God first.
Enrolling at Frederick Douglas High, Crews got expelled for fighting, again. That’s when an angel, Mrs. Joyce Hill showed her how to believe and love herself. An educator for 30 years, and ready to retire, Mrs. Hill postponed her retirement to make sure Franchon graduated. “She’s a wonderful person, creative, I admire her tenacity, especially when you come from a poor environment,” says Hill. The Math buff, walked to the Central Career Center at Briscoe faithfully, attended night school and graduated a year early in 2004.
January 18, 2005 Franchon Crews and her mother, who was on her deathbed with kidney failure and had suffered two strokes, saw a beautiful brown skin teenager on American Idol – her daughter. Nowadays, recuperating at home, Marie Crews can see a whole lot more after attending her meetings at the Jehovah Hall. As for her dually gifted and fearless girl, Franchon desires to be a positive role model, go to the 2012 Olympics, and turn pro. Once retired from the ring, she’ll resume her singing career. I can hear the lyrics now!!