ST. LOUIS — In a story Nov. 25 about a woman whose passion for boxing as a girl led her to be a police officer, The Associated Press incorrectly reported in the headline that she is from Kansas. Tawanna Simms is from Missouri.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Boxing ring helps Missouri police officer fulfill dream
Boxing ring helps Missouri police officer fulfill dream, returns to neighborhood where she grew up
ST. LOUIS — Tawanna Simms had wanted to be a cheerleader when she was 12 years old, a dream that her single mother couldn’t make true for her while rearing five children in a public housing complex.
So she stepped into a boxing ring instead at the free recreation center that was within walking distance. Boxing would change her life.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports her skills caught the attention of a local boxing coach Kenny Loehr and then St. Louis Police Maj. Jerry Leyshock. The two had her spar with female police officers training for a Thanksgiving Eve tradition, Budweiser’s Guns N Hoses. The event features firefighters boxing police officers to raise money for a nonprofit group that supports families of fallen first responders.
She secretly listened as they swapped stories about their jobs, and told Leyshock she wanted to be a police officer someday.
For most of her teen years, Simms was a regular at the gym. She graduated from Cleveland Jr. Naval Academy in 2012. Four years later, she graduated from the police academy. She now patrols the St. Louis’ neighborhood where she grew up and where she first saw Leyshock.
“I seen him ride around my ‘hood a lot, but I didn’t talk to him because I wasn’t in any kind of trouble,” she said. “Now, when I ride through where I grew up, they see me, they smile and wave and praise me in a way, and they want to do the same thing.”
Simms is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Webster University, and participates at the annual Budweiser Guns ‘N Hoses events.
Leyshock, now a lieutenant colonel, is still in her corner.
“She certainly saw a lot of failure out there, people making wrong choices, but she was transfixed on becoming a police officer. And she never wavered,” Leyshock said. “It’s a tremendous success story. And now she’s policing in the community where she grew up, and we need that.”