Elizabeth Harris-Smoke aka Beth Smoke (Six Nations Mohawk, Wolf Clan) just won the USA Boxing Women’s Championship in the 176+ pound bracket. At 13 years old, she has a promising road ahead of her.
Born in Ontario, Canada, Beth relocated to Niagara Falls, NY when she was just a baby. Her Grammie and Papa became her caretakers. At 7 years old, Beth began learning Taekwondo at Master Khechen’s Martial Arts Academy, located in the Niagara Falls city market. She started learning how to box when she was just 8 years old.
Today, Beth is a first degree black belt in Taekwondo. She has big plans for her future as an athlete and martial artist. Says Beth, “I would like to compete more in other national tournaments by USA Boxing, and travel, but I like coming back home too.” Beth isn’t sure if she’ll ever pursue a career as a professional boxer, but she does hope to one day compete in the Olympic games.
Beth, whose amateur boxing record is now 5 wins, 0 losses, turned some heads this past Saturday after her big win in Toledo against 15-year-old Kennadi Bellamy. Reportedly, it was a tough fight with Beth advancing via split decision. As a young lady, she is certainly aware of how she may be perceived by others as an inspiring sports figure.
“I feel there aren’t too many Native girls that are boxing,” she says, “Most Native youth play lacrosse and other sports. I would like to see them experience individual sports like boxing. Nothing bad [to say] about lacrosse, but try more individual sports!”
There is definitely something to be said about competing one-on-one in an arena. Athletes learn to depend on themselves when there is no team to fall back on.
For Beth Smoke, she can always fall back on her Papa, certified USA Boxing Official and trainer Billy Logan (Onondaga, Turtle Clan). Reminiscing about the golden age of boxing, Logan has always had an affinity for the sport. Says Logan, “My dad would bring me to the Memorial Auditorium (the “Aud”) and we would go see the Golden Gloves and wrestling. I remember always watching Wide World of Sports and all of the Ali vs Frasier hype by Howard Cosell.”
With her Papa in her corner, it’s no surprise that Beth has already shown her natural ability and toughness as a fighter.
Beth had a lot of help in preparing for her tournament. She says, “We train every day. We started at Master Khechen’s and Casal’s Boxing, and were doing about 2 hours a day. We also went to most of the local gyms in the area. Right before the fight, we trained with a couple local pros, and Anthony Lenk prepared me the most.”
Logan had a tough time getting Beth local fights, and a tougher time getting her coaches to travel, so he took the USA Boxing green level coach’s certification.
Says Logan, “This would allow me to sign on as her coach and not have any more impediments in her way to compete in the Nationals. This tournament is our first and now, I have three wins as a coach. I’m more of a logistics or administrative coach. I get her to practice and bring her to the trainers. I study a lot about personal development, strategy, and I love the art of game theory.”
Beth was told she “wasn’t ready” for this particular tournament. Says her Papa, “I knew she was ready and we moved forward. I told her not to listen to the negativity and I believed in her, so we went forward using the hashtag #IMREADY as our mantra. We smudged the bad vibes off of the equipment and ourselves with sage and revitalized our thoughts. When we were getting ready for the fight, I made her say, ‘I’m READY.’ When we were on deck at the ring, I made her say, ‘I’m READY.’ Finally in the ring when she was getting introduced, I made her say, ‘I’m READY.’ It was like a movie and it really worked.”
Although Beth has just put herself on the national radar, she is still a teenager with other things on her mind. Says Beth, “I like hanging out with my best friend Kylie, who I’ve known since kindergarten. I like new music from TikTok, taking car rides, playing video games and volleyball.”
As for her Papa Billy Logan, he emphasizes Beth’s need to be free and live her life as a happy teenager. He does, however, have plans for the future.
Says Logan, “I would like to get a program together that would feature Native American females to empower themselves through boxing. I’m in the process of proposing a program mirroring a few other programs, doing just that. This would be a program that uses boxing as a vehicle, but the mission would be larger than the sport. It would be a social program, which would address some of the socioeconomic issues, like Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s, teenage pregnancy, and cultural disengagement.”