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Boxer Morelle McCane's journey from Glenville to Paris

Boxer Morelle McCane, a young Black woman with braids and black glasses, sits before a radio studio microphone wearing headphones.
Amy Eddings
Ideastream Public Media
Olympic-bound Cleveland welterweight boxer Morelle McCane at the Ideastream Public Media studios.

Morelle McCane is making history this summer. She's heading to the Olympics in Paris, the first female boxer from Cleveland to do so. Like many athletes, she's overcome many obstacles to get to where she is not only in the ring, but in her life. She speaks with Ideastream Public Media's Amy Eddings about her journey from Glenville to the City of Lights.

You got started boxing at age 17, when you accompanied your niece and nephew to a boxing class at the Bob Davis Boxing Club in the Glenville Recreational Center. What sparked your interest?

It was one of those things that I didn't really know much about, but I was willing to, like, go explore it. It was really, like, rough at first. My first day, I got into the ring, and I kind of underestimated the sport a little bit. I was like, I know how to punch and how to throw.

Yeah. You grew up with, what, six siblings?

Yes. Yeah. So I'm No. 7 and I was just like, we play fight all the time. We rough around the edges. So when I got in that ring, I heard the coach tell my gym mate, just go easy on her the first time in there. And I was kind of insulted, like, wait.

It was a boy.

It was a boy. And I went in there, I hit him with a good shot and he turned around and hit me so hard. I think I saw stars that day! [laughs] It was one round, three minutes, and that was the longest three minutes of my life. But when I got out the ring, I went to the bathroom, and I looked in my eye, and I had a black eye for the first time, and I was like, oh no. I gotta get him back. So, that was the ultimate motivation for me to come back to the gym.

Did you ever have a chance to spar with him again?

I did, and I got some good licks off of him! [Laughter]

I'm really happy to hear that! You later moved to Atlanta, and I understand you became less interested in boxing, you were into the party scene.

I was just like, I'm going to try to go to school and do other things because I was, "Ah, is boxing really...? I like it as something to do, but I don't really see like me doing it long term." But then God brought me back to Cleveland.

Your brother died in 2013, and you moved back to Cleveland to help your family. And you credit that crisis with changing your perspective.

It definitely changed my perspective on life. Because I feel like sometimes where we think we need to be, God be like, "No." , you need, you need to go back. And sometimes we have to go back the hard way. So, it just got the ball rolling. It was a sad tragedy, but I find that change was necessary.

You've said you had it super tough growing up. You were in foster care for a little bit. I understand your mother had an addiction disorder?


How's everybody doing today?

They're great. God is good! [Laughs]. God is good.

I'm so glad to hear that. And you credit your family with getting you back interested in boxing.

For sure. Especially my sisters. They were just like, "We need to go work out!" And ultimately, I was just like, I actually just need to get back with my coaches and, and try it again.

You're fundraising for your trip to Paris. You want to raise $50,000.

That was the goal, for sure.

And why is that? Does Team USA not subsidize fully your participation?

We have appointed coaches. When you get to an elite level, you have to train with their [Team USA's] coaches. And of course, I got this far with my coaches and I would love for them to be there with my family. I'm going to another country, so I need all that positive energy, all that love, all those good spirits to surround me in Paris. And I'm trying to get them there, for sure. So, we want to bring back the gold, and I want them to be the first people that share that moment with me.

Morelle McCane is heading to the Paris Olympics, representing not only the U.S. but Cleveland in women's welterweight boxing. The competition will be held from July 27 - Aug. 10, 2024. Morelle McCane, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Thanks for having me.

Morelle McCane, a Cleveland welterweight boxer, stands in front of the Ideastream Public Media logo with Ideastream Public Media's Amy Eddings at the Ideastream studios.
Connie Hill-Johnson
Ideastream Public Media
Welterweight boxer Morelle McCane, left, flexes her bicep while Ideastream Public Media's Amy Eddings makes her best boxing fist at Ideastream Public Media.


Expertise: Hosting live radio, writing and producing newscasts, Downtown Cleveland, reporting on abortion, fibersheds, New York City subway system, coffee