“Paula Robeson”—Introducing Kymmberli Stowe
Until I interviewed Kymmberli Stowe, Paul Robeson headed my list as the most accomplished person that I had ever read about, met, or knew. Robeson, who passed away at age 77 in 1976, was an internationally renowned concert singer, actor, All-American and professional basketball and football player, writer, multi-lingual orator, scholar, lawyer and social activist. Only the third African-American accepted to Rutgers University, Robeson earned 15 varsity letters in football, basketball, and track and field and was his class valedictorian. He then went on to Columbia Law School graduating in 1923, practicing law before pursuing his career in the entertainment industry. As of Spring 2010, Robeson’s run in Othello from 1943-1945 holds the record for the longest running Shakespeare play on Broadway. He achieved worldwide fame for his artistic accomplishments and uncompromising beliefs that clashed with the engrained racist attitudes of the pre-civil rights United States.
Stowe is Robeson reincarnated, thus I had to give her the moniker “Paula Robeson.” In her thirty-one summers on the planet Stowe has accomplished more than most people would have in two lifetimes. The self-employed psychologist who holds a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Amsterdam University and a Bachelors in Political Science and Psychology from Millersville University is currently a third-year law student at Temple Law School and will graduate next month with her MBA from Wilmington University. She speaks fluent Spanish and is a virtuoso at sign language. A beauty queen, Stowe was Miss Millersville and Miss Pennsylvania of the 2003 American Queen Pageant. As a student at William Penn High she was a cheerleader, Student Body President, a member of the track team that still holds the record for the 4x100 at the Penn Relays, she also competed in the long jump and high jump. As an undergraduate, Stowe was a member of ROTC, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army subsequently serving one year overseas as a Military Police. A Renaissance woman, she holds a CDL license, driving a tractor trailer as part of a NASCAR promotional team, rides a 1200 cc Suzuki as a member of the Double Lyte Posse motorcycle club and is also a member of the Philadelphia Flying Phoenix Dragon Boat team. And yes, Stowe is a boxer—the 2010 141-pound Novice Division (elite class) Women’s National Golden Gloves Champion.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Stowe and her family moved to Philadelphia when she was six-years-old. The eldest of her siblings, which includes four sisters and two brothers, the precocious child was raised by her aunt, Evelyn Jackson who made it a pre-requisite that Stowe had to do her homework and read prior to participating in any extra-curricular activities. It was Aunt Evelyn’s daughter, Jenelle, the first college graduate in the family, who was Stowe’s inspiration to set high standards. With her aunt and cousin guiding her she not only excelled academically but also on the playing field achieving dual success in the classroom and in track and field. Unfortunately, Jenelle was killed by a stray bullet in 1994 upon returning home from the military—leaving an indelible mark on the high school student. Never wanting to be a statistic and honoring the memory of her cousin, Stowe graduated from William Penn High School in 1996 after her junior year—she had enough credits and skipped her senior year. She then entered Millersville University on an academic and track scholarship. At Millersville she ran the 100, 200, 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, did the high jump and long jump and competed in the heptathlon. Stowe still holds the university’s record for the 100 and 200 meters. In addition she was a member of the Student Senate Board, the Black Student Union, two dance clubs and ROTC— after graduation she served one year overseas in the Army. Following her passion for knowledge she took an educational leave heading to the Netherlands to earn a Masters degree from the University of Amsterdam.
As fate would have it, in 2002 her younger
brother William Boggs an outstanding amateur and later a 2005 National
Golden Gloves Finalist challenged Stowe to try boxing. Boggs felt that
his sister was as he would put it, “a beauty queen and too prissy to
participate in such a tough sport.” This sentiment was also shared by
three other boxers—siblings Tyrell and Michelle and Anthony Reed, a
cousin. Forever the adventurer, Stowe joined the triumvirate at
Costello’s Gym—William trained at a different gym in the City— and
became a student of the sweet science. Immediately, she was hooked
relishing in the purest form of competition in which she says, “You can
bring it or leave it at home.” No surprise that in 2003 she became the
highest rated female amateur boxer in the country in the 138-pound
Everything was going well for Stowe as boxing strengthened her bond with her brothers and sister. However, death would rear its ugly head again as 19-year-old William, now an undefeated middleweight prospect at 3-0 was murdered in a drive-by shooting April 21, 2006. Distraught, Stowe withdrew from the gym, hung up her gloves trying to find an answer for the senseless crime that took her brother’s life. Fighting depression, the once svelte fighter gained almost sixty pounds. She returned to the gym last year after she received the news that women’s boxing would be part of the 2012 Olympics in London. She wanted to keep a promise that her and William made that they both would be world champions. An Olympic Gold medal would be her way of keeping her end of the bargain. Training assiduously, Stowed melted off the excess weight and became her old self—a lean, mean, fighting machine—141-pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal capturing her first national championship last month in Hollywood, Florida.
Stowe was recently elected to the Board of Directors for USA Boxing, the governing body for amateur boxing, as the Athlete Representative. Next month she will graduate from Wilmington University with her MBA. Four months later she will again march down the aisle, this time as a graduate of Temple Law School. She will immediately begin preparation for the Pennsylvania Bar while continuing her quest to make the 2012 USA Olympic Boxing team under the watchful eye of trainer Bozy Ennis at the Dungeon Gym in Germantown. After 2012 she will focus on running for a local political seat with her goal of ultimately becoming a United States Senator. Don’t be surprised if upon achieving this goal Stowe sets her sights on the White House. Stay tuned!
Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece.