The little lady in the red jumper and the frosting of bows and silver earrings and the shaved head is sitting in the muggy, graying room where the fighters are weighing in. The boxers, the big men who move like sailors just off a ship, peer at her curiously.
Their dreams, she says, are her dreams.
"I'm not a weirdo or anything," says Lady Tyger Trimiar. "I'm just a woman who likes boxing. What's the big deal?"
Lady Tyger is in town to take part in a benefit boxing match for the D.C. public schools athletic programs. There are only about 50 women boxers in the country. Upon occasion some have to shore up their box office by flailing around topless, or in the mud. They are fistic nightriders on the exotica circuit, located somewhere between freak shows and the strange little tidepools of the deminonde.
Not Lady Tyger Trimiar. No way.
She is not into mud, or being treated like a freak or relegated to the "special added attraction" part of the program. She isn't particularly into aggression, for that matter, she says. She is into "the basics-jabs and hooks and uppercuts. I'm working toward perfection. I'm not just into slugging a lot of women."
Lady Tyger is 26 and from the South Bronx and in some ways she lives across a canyon from the way the rest of the world looks at what she does. "She's tough, she's a good puncher," says John Ort, the associate editor of Ring Magazine. "She takes it very seriously. It's just that other people don't take it seriously." An incomplete record through the end of last year, lists her with 10 wins, three losses.
In other ways, what Lady Tyger is doing is what a lot of people from the South Bornx would consider doing, which is getting out, and what a lot of people in general try to do, which is to be somebody and to run her own gauntlet in the process.
"It's more than just boxing," she says. "It's learning about money and managers, and promoters who rip you off, it's making me more feminine, more of a woman. It's making me mature."
Lady Tyger already has made this movie. You either like the script or you don't.
Lady Tyger says that women fighting women is no joke. "They break each other's faces and everything." And, it seems, they have some of the same totemic value in the ring that their male counterparts do. She is remembering the fight in the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, and how "this Mexican girl," Lili Rodriquez, closed one of Lady Tyger's eyes and how the crowd went wild. "They were all Mexican, see, they kept telling her to close my other eye, shut it up for me. I'd never been in a fight with that much, uh, emotional impact before."
But for six years, she's more or less survived at all, living in the flickering light of this little world, with the crude questions concerning her sexuality, the catcalls and laughter, and the sleazy promoters looking for a black woman that a white woman can beat, or a white woman that a Mexican can beat. She has survived the unfurnished apartment in L.A. and the suddenly-canceled matches and the dusk-to-dawn job unloading trucks.
"I'm just a woman into her own thing," she says. "All my life I've wanted to be different, unique, one of a kind."
Which is why the shaved head, she says, no practical reason. "Everyone thinks it's so a a girl can't pull my hair, but that's silly, we're boxers, not wrestlers." It was just a natural progression from the Mohawk she used to wear.
Trimiar says in all seriousness that women's boxing is going to be very big in a couple of years, and she wants to make some money and then get out, and maybe get married and maybe have children. "I don't want to hang around until I'm 36," she says. "I don't want to wait that long."
Meanwhile, there is the strange mystique of getting psyched for the ring, climbing in and thinking, "I'm Queen of the Ring, she's in my territory and one of us has to leave," and the stranger sensation of waiting as the survivors from the other events come reeling in, "all messed up and on stretchers and stuff," waiting to go on.
In a way, she's been since she was 10, she says, and visited the neighborhood gyms and watched fighters take it from each other and observed boxers on television. She told them she wanted a trainer, wanted to be a boxer, and they laughed at her. And so one day she went to a gym, and "this guy really pounded on me. they just watched. They wanted to see if I'd come back. I was there the next day. They liked that."
She seemed to like it too. "My folks were really nervous. I'd come home all bruised and lumpy." Her father, a bookbinder, tried to teach her some punches,and "my mother would say 'look at you, look at what you look like.' But I was kind of proud of those lumps."
Lady Tyger Trimiar was one of the first women boxers licensed by the New York State Athletic Commission and a participant in the first all-female boxing show last February in Los Angeles. But her proudest moment was no different than the proud moments of the men in the room, the ones who look at her in curiosity and wonder.
It was in San Antonio this year. She won her fight and afterward the crowd cheered for her, only this time it was no ordinary cacaphony of praise, it was two syllables, it was "Ty-ger, Ty-ger, Ty-ger," and she loved it.
"I'm just a pioneer, that's all," she says and then stops on this damp and dying afternoon and laughs. "Nuts, that's what I am," says Lady Tyger Trimiar.
Epilogue: Last night in the Lady was a tiger. She won by a TKO after the first round of the benefit match. Her opponent refused to come out for the second round. CAPTION: Picture 1, Boxer Lady Tyger Trimiar, by Harry Naltchayan-The Washington Post; Picture 2, Lady Tyger Trimiar, by Harry Naltchayan