SOMERVILLE — The bouts used to take place in the basement where their big brother was the undisputed champion. Now, Akeem Ellis is fighting for money as a super middleweight and younger siblings Rashidi and Rashida are national champions who won their Police Athletic League titles last fall on the same day that Akeem earned a pro decision in California. “This is the Ellis season,” proclaimed mother Beverly, whose younger children have become a knockout brother-sister act.
Rashidi, a 19-year-old welterweight who began as a karate fighter and played football for Lynn Tech, is daunting enough that he couldn’t get an amateur opponent for Saturday’s “Night at the Fights” at TD Garden. Though he’d be a contender to make the United States team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, he won’t wait that long. “A lot of people are telling me to stay for the Olympics, but that’s four years,” said Rashidi, who figures he’ll turn pro after a few more amateur bouts, including next month’s Golden Gloves in Lowell. “Life is short.”
Rashida, who’s two years younger, has plenty of time for the road to Olympus. She just missed making the team for last year’s world championships, losing to eventual gold medalist Tiara Brown in her only defeat in 22 bouts. “I’m gonna get that back, though,” she vowed. En route to her PAL crown, she knocked off Mikaela Mayer, the global welterweight bronze medalist. Recently Rashida spent a couple of weeks at a USA Boxing camp in Puerto Rico. When she trains with Rashidi at the Somerville Boxing Club, though, her workout colleagues are male. “It depends who goes in the ring,” she said.
Her sparring partners say that Rashida is game for all comers. “I used to hit her and she would nod her head,” said lightweight Luca Lo Conte Botis, who’ll be fighting in the Garden. “Like, OK, now you really want a piece of me. Try it again.”
If she weren’t boxing, Rashida, who was a running back for a boys’ Pop Warner team, would be playing basketball for Lynn English, where she’s a junior. Her mother, who originally had reservations about her baby girl stepping into the ring, quickly became a believer (“I said do it, go for it.”) and convinced her own mother, as well. “I said, she doesn’t get hit, Mommy,” said Beverly.