INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Behind a curtain at Against the Grain, you’ll find the sweet science of boxing on display.
“When you first walk in, it’s different. Wait up, I’m not in a gym! I’m not in a boxing gym… once you get past the low-rider cars,” Courtney Epperson said.
“We don’t do things the same, my training is different.”
Just like boxing, life throws different combinations. Epperson coaches at the gym, where it’s a family affair.
“My first fight, I was really, really nervous beforehand, and when I got into the ring, I knew that’s where I belonged,” Courtney’s daughter, Brijhana Epperson, said.
“Everybody thinks I’m a soccer player, or a volleyball player. Nope, I’m a boxer, and I’m always going to be a boxer.”
“I told everybody in my family, if I ever had a daughter, she is going to be a butt kicker. Like, in self-defense,” Courtney said.
And Brijhana became a national champion for USA Boxing. Not bad for a two-sport athlete.
“I’m a ballerina, too,” she said.
“If you saw the video of when they announced her, you probably think that man is crazy,” Courtney said.
Epperson trains three boxers, and one is twice his daughter’s age. Moragen Ferrell fit right in with his close-knit group.
“I had been knowing I needed to make a move, it was just a matter of timing and God’s preference where I needed to go,” she said.
Ferrell is from Oklahoma, and at one point she was ranked fifth in the nation. She’d spar with Coach Courtney, and decided to make the move to KC. But before she moved, she had to help her family; her sister was diagnosed with cancer.
She worked at a COVID-19 clinic and was named a “Hero of the World” by the World Boxing Council. Then she had health issues of her own, dealing with a blood staph infection.
“Had to be immediately hospitalized, went through surgery. I was on a pick line of antibiotics for 23 hours for six weeks. So, I went through a huge process, I couldn’t walk or lift my arms on my head,” she recalled.
“Unbelievable, I saw the pictures of Moragen in the hospital, laid up, couldn’t move, tubes everywhere. I know she don’t have a gym home. So, let’s offer her something, put it in prayer and God said she’s with you,” Courtney said.
After the recovery process, and dealing with so much pain and grief, she’s back to her first love.
“Luckily I’ve been able to use boxing as an outlet for everything that’s been going on with the pandemic and family health,” Ferrell said.
Now the attention turns to the future for both ladies. Brijhana’s goal is the 2028 Olympics. Courtney is preparing for qualifiers to get back to nationals.
“They have to maintain composure and do what we practiced and get better, and they do it, hands down,” Courtney said.