Germany’s Dana Reinhardt is looking to refine herself and prove you anyone can learn how to fight, even with a late start.
The 32 year old has started to make the transition from the screen to the ring earlier this year in hopes of boxing at the world famous Gleason’s Gym in New York this summer. Inspired by her acting coach to take up fight training to gain some confidence, she soon fell in love with the sport and is now documenting her journey as she prepare for her first real fight.
We got a chance to talk to Reinhardt about how she wound up from acting on stage to fighting in a ring.
(Photos courtesy Nadine Deckensattl)
Wombat Sports: Can you tell us about your life before this journey?
Dana Reinhardt: Before this journey, I’d say, I had a typical “single, female, at the beginning of her 30’s life”. I work on my career. Which in my case means working four days a week for a German Pay TV channel and pursuing my acting career more intense the 3-day weekend. I take acting classes, write, socialize, watch movies, enjoy a good glass of wine and … wonder about the world and how I fit in it.
Over the past few years I realized that I keep running into the same issues when it comes to self-confidence and accepting the woman that looks back at me when I look into the mirror.How one feels about himself/herself portrays to others and influences how we interact with them. You know those people who say that you need to love yourself in order to be loved by someone else. I guess that is what I am trying to do.
I feel that I stand in my own way of using all my potential because of doubting myself and comparing myself to others instead of just trusting myself. So, if I find a way to be OK with myself and if I allow myself to become all that I could be (without judging) then I would have so much more to offer and simply have a great chance of being truly happy. And this journey, boxing, facing my self-doubts and fears, is the way to get there.
Wombat: Tell us about the moment when you decided to take up acting.
Reinhardt: During the process of writing my Thesis at UNM about 2nd and 3rd generation Turks in Germany and how they define themselves and are defined by other especially by looking at German Comedies of that time (this was 2006/7), I read a lot about identity. Naturally, I came to the point where I thought about my own identity and it might seem silly but I came up with one question that I sort of live by now: “What do I want to tell my grandchildren when I am 80 years old?”
I alos want to always be able to say – I tried! I’d rather fall flat on my face and get back up then ever have to say, “I didn’t dare”. That was the point I decided, I would dare and chase my dreams. So I applied to German acting schools, and the one school I was very interested in in Munich took me.
W.S.: How has the acting helped you in gaining self confidence?
D.R.: Acting is a ruthless business. I am not sure I could say I gained self-confidence from acting per se. I mean I know my craft and skills well. I am confident about what I can do. I am in the right field of profession. But the business brings a lot of rejection and comparison with it. If you are like me, the subconscious easily drops thoughts like, “she is prettier”, “Wow, she did that really well” … “why would someone chose me?” Those thoughts don’t get you cast.
Where acting helped me a lot is figuring out the WHY, why I am the way I am. You need to know who you are and who the woman you are playing is. Only then can you make the jump in character to become that person. And ever since I figured out so much about me, I know there is great potential to do whatever I want to, if only I dare and do not hide behind what is holding me back. (Which if I have to guess is like with most people the fear of failing, of not be accepted or loved.)
W.S.: Why did you decide to take up fighting?
D.R.: In order to tell you why I decided to take up fighting, I might need to tell you why I began boxing. One of my current acting teachers from London, Giles Foreman, taught me to be aware of the division of the body into motoric and sensoric. The sensoric part in me with all its emotional availability is well functioning within me. I am constantly in touch and aware of the flow of my emotions. What I am having trouble with is the motoric part, which you need to play a certain range of roles. So Giles said in order to work on “my spine” (which has a lot to do with giving in and resisting) I should start boxing to learn to resist.
After training with this group of women for a while, Stephan Feldmeier (Owner and main trainer at KS-Gym in Munich) and I talked about a film I am writing on and that I need to ask him a lot of questions about training, preparation and the mental state during preparing for a fight and the fight itself … and Stephan suggested to “just do it”. After thinking about it, I found so many good reasons of why I should fight for my personal development and as an actress.
Boxing is all about discipline, confidence, will power, overcoming your doubts, and facing the pain. Once in the ring, there is only you, your body and mind. No one else you can rely on. I truly believe that by training for this fight, I physically and mentally overpower myself to a point where I can look at who I really am and want to be. And by daring to fight, I will hopefully once and for all realize, that I can count on myself. And the only opinion about myself that should matter to me is my own.
W.S.: You are planning to train and fight in New York City. What influenced the move there?
D.R.: The reason I don’t have this fight in Germany is because I am to old to have an Amateur fight. Apparently in Germany, your first fight needs to be under the age of 30. Well, … mid-June I will be 33 years old.
New York is a great city and I am looking forward to pick up its vibe and learn about the boxing scene there. How amazing that this reason brings me to NY famous Gleason Gym. (What a story to tell my grandchildren one day. ☺) We will get to New York June 12th; I believe, and pick up training then.
W.S.: What has been the hardest part of fighting so far?
D.R.: Overcoming the fear of being hit is probably hardest to me. Followed by allowing myself to hit someone else. It is incredible what the mind goes through. I am thankful for this experience and admire every boxer now more than ever. As an actress I am trained to have a wide range of emotions, but these feelings when fighting are definitely new and very intense. The feeling that you opponent is stronger and you have 2 minutes to go and nowhere to hide; the adrenalin rushing through the body; the brain checking how much a hit really hurt and it all feels like slow motion whereas it can only be seconds the most. Amazing.
Now I have 3 month to go and hopefully my body will learn to enact on what my eyes see and my mind orders my body to do. Trusting your instincts is therefore another difficulty.And one thing I must admit which is also not that easy is being disciplined about eating. I try to eat healthy and I stayed away from my beloved chocolate, but I am very much looking forward to the day after the fight, where my goal shall be to find the best dessert NYC has to offer. And it might me combined with a terrific glass of red wine.
W.S.: What have you found natural and enjoyable about it?
D.R.: I am very critical with myself, so I am not sure anything in boxing comes natural to me. “Natural” would mean that I am good in something from the get go and I wouldn’t dare say that about anything related to boxing so far.
But I enjoy the disciplined work. I am exited to see that technical aspects I have been taught slowly sink in and take a more natural form. At times I am almost impressed by my will power. I am trilled every time I see progress and I enjoy boxing very much. Ever since I started training for the fight, I am much more content. And knowing that I am on the right way to reach my goals is priceless.
W.S.: What are your current goals?
D.R.: There are 2 heartfelt, ambitious goals. The current main goal is to fight mid June at the Gleason Gym in New York. I have almost 3 months left to prepare as good as I can. I am well aware that this to most fighters will be very amateur level, but to me this is the biggest fight I ever faced and I am willing to give it my all and see if I got what it takes. Everyone had to start somewhere.
My second goal is to reach people with my story and have women all over say… “If she can work on herself and overcome self created obstacles, so can I”. This is, because I think many women deal with the same self-doubts each day that I do. Therefore, I decided to shot a documentary about then process I am going through. But in order to realize the documentary I still have to find sponsors who are willing to support me (direct funding, box attire, flights for cameraman and sound assistant). So, if someone can relate and would be able to help out, I would be more than happy to send a trailer and show what I had in mind.
W.S.: What kind of support have you been getting in terms of fight training?
D.R.: I began training in January. So far I worked my way up to 4 boxing sessions a week, one of which sparing, one weight lifting, and running. I have the support of our gym and especially Stephan. I am being taught about technique and how to apply it. I trust Stephan to prepare me as well as possible and I try not to worry about what I cannot change. Certain movements take time to sink in and become natural. We will see in NY how well I can implement under pressure what I learned up to then.
What surprised me most so far (when it comes to support) though is how other women react to my decision. Of course I thought other women would think: “I am better / stronger/ faster than her. What makes her think she can fight?” and that they would give me looks. But what I heard a lot so far is: “Wow. How can I support you?” A revelation. Other women aren’t automatically out to get you.
W.S.: Anything you want to add/thank?
D.R.: Even though combined with a great deal of respect and fear of what lies ahead, I am very much looking forward to New York and this fight at the Gleason’s. What an honor to stand in the halls where Ali and other big names have trained and worked hard to make dreams come true. What an experience.I am glad that I can do my part in proving that boxing is so much more than “just” fighting – especially for women. And I am very grateful for everyone who supports this journey and who believes in me, and what I am trying to do. Thank you and see you in June.