Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
MURRAY — Mallory Rogers, Miss Murray 2012, was “pretty dang” nervous as she waited for a competition to begin.
She paced around the mall, ate almonds, listened to rap music, prayed and stared at the ground.
“She just seemed very focused,” Miss Murray pageant director Leesa Lloyd said.
But Rogers wasn’t waiting for a pageant. She was waiting for a fight.
This beauty queen is a boxer.
Boxing runs in Rogers' family. Grandfather Del Rogers boxed in the Army. Father Scott Rogers won the Dallas Golden Gloves heavyweight division in 1978. Uncles PJ and Rainey also boxed. Rainey Rogers has three super heavyweight Ringside World Championship belts.
“Boxing was always a part of our growing up,” her father said. “It was always present.”
But when she was a girl, Mallory Rogers showed little interest.
Rogers was a dancer, not a fighter. She enrolled in ballet class at age 3 and continued dancing through high school.
“It never occurred to me that females could box,” she said. “I didn’t think that was a possibility.”
That changed when she was 15. Returning from an overseas trip, she watched an in-flight movie, “Million Dollar Baby,” the story of a young woman determined to make it in the ring.
“When she got off the plane, the first words out of her mouth (were), 'Dad, I’ve gotta find a gym to fight,'” her father said.
They drove home, walked in the door and immediately began searching online for a boxing gym.
“At first I thought it was a phase,” said her mom, Peggy Curtis.
Rogers had taken gymnastics, acting, sewing, horseback riding and art lessons, in addition to her various dance classes. Curtis thought boxing would be another short-term experience.
“I had no idea that it would really become her thing,” she said.
It was challenging, Rogers said. It was out of her comfort zone. It was like “violent chess.”
“It’s not about beating somebody up. It’s not about hurting your opponent. It’s about besting them, about out-strategizing them,” she said.
The beauty pageants were Lloyd’s idea. As Miss Murray pageant director for 15 years, Lloyd recruits contestants from the ranks of dancers in Murray Dance Company at Murray High School where she teaches dance.
Rogers entered the Miss Murray pageant. She liked the competition and the fact that the pageants focused on the whole person — not just evening gowns and good looks.
She lost. But, the fighter she is, Rogers entered three more times before she won the crown last year.
“I’m not your typical pageant girl,” the 21-year-old said, “so I think it took me a few extra tries.”
A victory in the ring
Now Rogers shuttles between ribbon cuttings, fundraisers and the boxing ring. She sometimes leaves the boxing gym dressed up and wearing her crown when rushing to a Miss Murray event.
"Nice hat," the other boxers say.
It’s just not what you’d expect. It wasn’t what Lloyd expected.
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