On social media, Baumgardner exemplifies that idea. Her Instagram is filled with snapshots of herself training in leopard print bike shorts and posing in multi-color crop tops and leggings that showcase her sculpted physique. Though she proudly shows off her muscles now, Baumgardner admits that confidence took time. “I view my body as an art piece; my muscles tell a story,” she says. “I used to be incredibly self-conscious about them; as a young girl, I’d ask my parents why I had them because muscles were [coded] as masculine. I had to outgrow that mindset and become comfortable in my skin. That’s something I hope to bring to the fashion world, the understanding that muscles are womanly and feminine; you can embrace your natural looks and showcase that instead of conforming to a mold.”
While the idea of a boxer who fronts campaigns isn’t unprecedented. Stars like Laila Ali, Oscar de la Hoya, and Zeina Nassar have posed for Vogue Italia, Puma, and Nike respectively. But Baumgardner couldn’t have predicted her career trajectory. “I’d always wanted to model, but the crazy part is that I never imagined that the opportunity would come now,” she says. “When Ford came to me, I thought, ‘ok, this is big, but it’s [also] another avenue and a chance to show that other side of myself.” Modeling’s ups and downs require a different type of tenancy than boxing, but Baumgardner is eager for what comes next. “I’m open to the runway; I’m open to everything,” she says. “As an athlete and a woman, I love the challenge of trying something new and learning. Just as boxing was a sport to learn, modeling is the same; you have to practice being comfortable in front of the camera and posing.”
Fashion month is on the horizon, but for the moment she is focused on getting back in the ring. August’s match is both her first fight since having ACL surgery in 2020 and her first since the passing of her coach, Ali Salaam, from COVID-19 that same year. Though she’s dealt with injury and personal tragedy in the past year, Baumgardner remains optimistic. “All the setbacks pushed me forward,” she says. “This experience is special because no matter what storms I’ve weathered, I will come out stronger, and as the fighter I am, I will keep pushing forward. This fight will show the true meaning of why having patience is important. ‘Patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us.’”
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