Mickey Goodwin's Memory Inspires Center Line boxing Champ Andrecia Wassaon

Sept. 24, 2010, 11:08 a.m. (ET)
The hat didn't make it to the victory stand, but Andrecia Wasson made sure its spirit did.
 

As Center Line's Wasson prepared to accept the gold medal for winning the 152-pound boxing title at the Women's World Championships on Saturday in Bridgetown, Barbados, her mother handed her a gray hat once belonging to Wasson's trainer, Mickey Goodwin, who died of a stroke last year at 51. 

 Wasson, 18, had been Goodwin's prized pupil since she was in middle school. And for her, the hat -- which officials wouldn't allow Wasson to wear during the medal ceremony -- serves as a constant reminder of his inspiration.

Goodwin was a former boxer who was trained at the famed Kronk Gym by Emanuel Steward. At the time of his death, he shared a home with his mother and stepfather in Melvindale while he trained Wasson and other aspiring fighters.

"I'll never forget," said Irene Goodwin-Gallagher, 78, Goodwin's mother. "When Mickey first got Andrecia, he said, 'Mom, I got me a girl. She's only 13 years old, but she's good. She's the one I've been looking for all these years.' "

In Barbados, when Wasson beat England's Savannah Marshall with a 5-4 decision in the championship bout, she became the first U.S. boxer to win worlds since the inaugural women's event in 2001. She was one of three Americans to advance to the semifinals, but the only one to advance to the finals.

"I wasn't really nervous, because I felt like I had it in my head and in my hands," Wasson said. "It was great to win the worlds. I'd like to give a lot of thanks to God for helping me, and my mom being behind me, and my fellow teammates. It represents a lot of work, and it made a lot of people proud."

Boxing will debut as a medal sport for women at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Wasson, a two-time welterweight national champ, would have been considered a favorite in her weight division, except her class (152) won't be among the ones contested. Women have three classes for the Olympics -- flyweight (112), lightweight (132) and middleweight (165).

While she acknowledges it would be easier to fight up, Wasson, who's 5-feet-4, said she'd be "more cut and powerful" at 132. At worlds, she was USA Boxing's youngest team member.

Wasson is trained by Sergio Garcia at his Warriors Boxing Club in southwest Detroit. Garcia, 52, runs his neighborhood gym behind his house, where a sign near the entrance reads: "We work for your dream."

"She respects everybody," Garcia said of Wasson. "Some boxers don't have discipline, but she's smart, strong -- and disciplined."

Wasson's mother, Kimberly Fletcher, travels with her daughter to all of her competitions. The boxer's support group includes former neighbor Randy Owens of Warren, whom she calls Pops. Owens made it possible for Wasson to stay in the sport with his financial support, Fletcher said.

On Tuesday, Goodwin's mother and Wasson had a long embrace at Garcia's gym. Although Goodwin-Gallagher knew all about Wasson, they hadn't met until her son's funeral in March 2009. Wasson has called her Grandma Irene since.

"She's our girl," Goodwin-Gallagher said, her eyes moist.

Wasson said: "I fight every day for Mickey. He would want to see me go to higher heights, and I wanted to go there with him. But unfortunately he's not here. But I'm still doing it all for him."

Contact JO-ANN BARNAS: 313-222-2037 or jbarnas@freepress.com.