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Joy Liu has a decision to make that is — how shall we put it? — not the typical concern of a Harvard graduate and Columbia law student who’s clerking for the summer at the very proper Ropes & Gray in Boston. Instead of figuring out the easiest way to hit all of the city’s best restaurants, Liu is trying to determine whether she can make time in her Ropes & Gray schedule to train for the Women’s National Golden Gloves annual tournament in Georgia this August. Liu qualified in April for amateur boxing’s premier event by beating a New York City cop to win the women’s 139-pound title in New York. “She is at the top of her class,” says Ralph Rosario, referring to Liu’s boxing education. Rosario, along with his father and mother, coaches her at East Harlem’s Thomas Jefferson gym. “She’s very hungry to fight,” he says. What’s an Ivy League woman doing in a place like this? “I’m pretty confident that once people meet me, they see that I am a relatively average person who is pretty agreeable and nice and who happens to box,” says Liu, a 23-year-old native of Cheshire, Conn. Plus, she adds, “we wear headgear.” Liu literally wandered into boxing. As a Harvard sophomore, she played a regular game of pickup basketball. She passed by the “Harvard Boxing” sign enough times on her way to the basketball court that she finally got curious. “One day I just went in,” she explains. Tommy Rawson, Harvard’s coach and onetime Junior Olympic champ, says that Liu started from scratch but developed steadily due to arduous training. By graduation, Liu had taken two titles at the Greater Lowell Golden Gloves, held in Lowell, Mass., which draws fighters from across New England. Liu notes, though, that her previous wins weren’t as significant as her recent New York victory. “There was only one other woman in my weight class [in the Lowell fights],” says Liu. In New York, she had to beat five other women, including the cop, to get to the top. Not only that, she says, but “the chicks from New York are tougher.” Rosario says his family has trained a few other law students in the past. And there are some doctors who have done well in the amateur ranks. “But Joy’s special,” he says, adding that, while she’s very talented, he would not want her to go on to the next level of competition. “She’s a good-looking woman. And she’s very intelligent. She has a career in front of her,” he explains. For now, Liu must decide if she can take the time to train properly and make the three-day trip down to Augusta, Ga., later this summer. Her mind may be leaning to corporate law, but right now her heart is in the ring. “It’s a great feeling,” she says. “Even if you hit your friend you think, ‘Yeah, that was a good one!’ “ Maybe she’s better suited for litigation.

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