Democracy Dies in Darkness

In Sight | Perspective

‘As a woman, they say, you have to go the extra mile. As a woman in a male-dominant sport, you have to go the extra 10 miles’

May 7, 2018 at 6:00 AM

Tiara talks with her young HeadBangers teammates during the Metropolitan Police Department’s National Night Out, an event held across the country that promotes police-community bonding. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)
Tiara is weighed in at a Downtown Locker Room shop in Northeast Washington before her fight against Tammy Franks at the Howard Theatre. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)

“As a woman, they say, you have to go the extra mile. As a woman in a male-dominant sport, you have to go the extra 10 miles,” said Tiara Brown, 28, after breezing through six miles on the treadmill at the HeadBangers Boxing Gym. Dreads pushed back under her purple cap, headphones tucked in, Tiara quietly works through her daily routine among the group of men and young boys who make up the HeadBangers team.

Tiara “The Dark Menace” Brown began her journey in the ring at age 13 in her home town of Fort Myers, Fla. In 2012 she became the third U.S. boxer, male or female, to win a world title at the International Boxing Association World Championships, a status she maintained until 2014 when she came home with a bronze medal. Leaving her family behind, Tiara made the move to Southeast Washington to train with the HeadBangers, an all-male boxing team known for dedicated father-figure coaches who train elite amateur and pro fighters (Tiara no longer trains with the HeadBangers; she now trains at another gym and works with a new promoter, Preeminent PR). Holding an intact 4-0 record since her pro debut in 2016, all of Tiara’s opponents have backed down before their fights, nervous of her left hook to the body and her two-KO record.

For other natives of Southeast D.C., she is simply known as Officer Brown, a friendly beat police officer who patrols the Sixth District. In a neighborhood better known for street violence and armed assault, she has built friendly relationships with residents who regularly approach her for a quick chat during the day. Tiara’s choice to join the police force came after the murder of her brother Jermaine Thomas amid confusing circumstances in the streets of Fort Myers. “Crime is everywhere; the world is so tainted for the youth. I want to make a difference and clean the streets up,” she said, vowing to serve and protect the youth of her community.

Tiara trains daily often after 10-hour bike patrol shifts. It is not uncommon to find her training in the empty gym on Friday nights, or after attending Sunday service at the Suitland Road Church of Christ in Maryland. Tiara signs her text messages with “They shall walk and not faint,” a phrase from Isaiah 40:31. “It’s about patience. Giving yourself to God knowing that with faith, he will carry you only if you believe in yourself,” she said. Carrying others is Tiara’s most valued goal, serving as inspiration for youths and future boxing generations.

Franchon Crews adjusts the outfit she made for Tiara before her fight against Tammy Franks at the Howard Theatre. Franchon has made all the outfits for Tiara’s pro fights. (Toya Sarno Jordan)

Coach Amin Ali, known as Jeff, helps Tiara stretch before her professional debut fight against Khadijah Sanders at the Sphinx Club in Washington. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)
Tiara warms up with coach Patrice “Boogie” Harris, before her fight against Tammy Franks at the Howard Theatre. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)
Coach Barry Hunter says a few last words to Tiara as they walked into the ring before her fight against Tammy Franks at the Howard Theatre. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)

Tiara fights against Tammy Franks, winning by knockout in the second round at the Howard Theatre. (Toya Sarno Jordan)

Tiara holds her phone showing a photo of her brother Jermaine Thomas who was killed in the streets of Fort Myers in 2010. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)
Tiara receives a blessing from Pastor Reginald Woodard during Sunday mass at the Black Box Theatre in Maryland. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)
Tiara takes off her vest at her house after a patrol shift. Between her 10-hour work shifts followed by four-hour training sessions, she is left with little time at home to take her dog King out for walks and have dinner. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)
Tiara responds to a missing-person report while on patrol in the 6th District in Southeast Washington. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)
Tiara stops to talk to kids while on her beat in the 6th District in Southeast Washington. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)
Tiara talks to police officers during the Metropolitan Police Department’s National Night Out, an event held across the country that promotes police-community bonding. (Toya Sarno Jordan/)

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

More on In Sight:

Stanley Kubrick’s little-known life as a still photographer

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The sidelines are at the center of Martin Amis’s photographs of racing in England

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