The beauty and the beat-down
Don't let the good looks fool you. This little princess packs a punch.
Fifteen-year-old Taylor Geiser is a paradox with a beauty and the beast personality. The beauty side was revealed when she was crowned Miss Teen New York Mills in June. Then there's the hard-punching female boxer who lets her fists fly in the ring with the Wadena Boxing Club.
It's an odd combination to some, but not to Taylor. Although Taylor got involved in boxing just last year and has only two matches under her belt, she is undefeated at 2-0 and loves competing in the ring.
"I wanted to try a sport that was different and that was individual," she said. "I love boxing. It teaches self-discipline. I love all the people that are there."
Taylor said she was drawn to the sport because there is so much more to it than just hitting somebody.
"I wanted to keep my body in shape and boxing helps with that a lot," she said. "I want to be stronger and boxing is more about respect for yourself, your coaches, and the other people at the boxing match. So it's not all about, 'Oh I want to beat this person up.' It's more about working on yourself."
Taylor is able to take that philosophy and meld it with what she has learned with the pageant since being named Miss Teen New York Mills.
"The pageant isn't just about looking pretty," she said. "It's about turning today's girls into tomorrow's leaders."
A big part of the Miss NYM Pageant is building up the girls' self-confidence. And with Taylor, who doesn't appear to lack confidence, she enjoys the time spent with the other girls involved in the pageant.
"I like being with all the girls because it's like a second family," she said about being one of the older girls in the group and watching the younger princesses grow.
The NYM royalty spends the summer mainly attending area parades and helping with many community events in Mills. And it's these events and getting to know the community which helps the pageant princesses grow individually -- especially the younger girls, Taylor said.
"They changed in a good way in being able to be in front of people," she said. "Their confidence has gone up a lot. And they like to help out a lot, too.
This summer, pageant royalty attended parades in New York Mills, Menahga, Wadena and Henning.
"It's a lot of smiling," Taylor joked.
"But that's not hard for you, though," her mother Jackie added.
Jackie said she has seen a change in her daughter since becoming involved in both the pageant and boxing. She has seen her daughter's confidence increase, as well as Taylor having a sense of calm and not being as nervous in front of people as she was before the pageant.
"It's easier for me to be in front of people now," Taylor said. "This might sound weird, but I was more nervous for the pageant than I was for my first boxing match."
Taylor will be a sophomore at NYM High School in the fall and is currently the only female boxer in the Wadena club. The boxing season runs from October to April, with training two nights a week, and Saturday fight night at the Wadena Armory once a month. She competes in Silver Gloves right now and will jump up to Golden Gloves when she turns 16 at the end of March.
Jackie was a little weary at first about her daughter going into boxing. She and Taylor checked out a practice.
"Mom was scared for me. I wasn't that scared," Taylor boasted.
"What do you expect? I'm a mother," Jackie replied.
Just two fights into her young career, Taylor has shown some toughness in the ring. In her first fight, Taylor was more excited than nervous. Too bad for her opponent. Taylor broke the girl's nose and won the fight by a second round Referee Stops Contest -- which is essentially a TKO in more familiar terms. She felt bad but that's part of the sport and she went on to win her next fight.
Being the only girl in the club does present some difficulties. On fight night, she can only fight other girls, which can be tough when it comes to lining up opponents in the same age group and weight class. As for training, her only option is to spar with the boys. She doesn't have a problem with that, but she said at first the boys were reluctant. That's changed now and Taylor gets in and mixes it up with the boys. Once the fists start flying, it's about boxing the opponent, and not so much about hitting a boy or girl.
Naturally, with boxing comes some blood and bruises. And how will a pageant princess who likes to spend some time in front of a mirror deal with a black eye or bloody lip?
Taylor said she'll do what her coach, Bob Tubandt teaches her.
"I'll have to learn to protect my face a little better."
So, what better defines her, a sash-wearing pageant beauty who wears make-up and a formal dress on stage? Or is she the boxer who doesn't mind a black eye or bloody lip?
She leaves that question open. "I'm more girly, but I really enjoy boxing."
Why distinguish? She figures she can be both. One family friend told her he wanted to get T-shirts made up that say "Our queen can kick you queen's butt."