Overcoming Adversity: Vetitoe becomes city’s first back-to-back National Silver Gloves champion

Meadow Vetitoe found a boxing ring to be her safe haven.

Vetitoe didn’t have the best living environment growing up in her youth, but now a sophomore at Columbus East, she has found a new meaning to life. It was a year-and-a-half ago that she laced up the boxing gloves, and she has thrived in it ever since. She made history and became the city’s first multiple-time female National Silver Gloves Champion.

The National Silver Gloves Championship was held Feb. 9-11 in Independence, Missouri. Vetitoe defeated her opponent by a second-round technical knockout (TKO) in the championship bout at 154 pounds in the 15-16-year-old age division. Her opponent in the final and semifinal bouts were both champions in their respective regions.

Vetitoe is one of the fastest rising women’s boxers in the state and perhaps in the country after only picking up boxing and training at the Columbus Police Athletic League (PAL) since the summer of 2021. All the lessons that she learned quickly paid off for her in a huge way.

“We learned everything. In the boxing gym, I built a lot of healthy relationships here. The gym really feels like home to me,” Vetitoe said. “We worked a lot on fighting in general, throwing punches, my foot movement, which still needs more work. I am relentless. Even if I’m tired, I’m still going to go forward because I want to win.”

Competitive boxing is a sport dominated by men. Vetitoe found herself in the boxing ring with the boys at the gym. Sure, there was some hesitation with the boys about sparring her, but when the coaches gave the OK, it was like any other normal sparring practice. The boys were surprised at how hard that Vetitoe hit and really packed a punch. Vetitoe doesn’t walk away from the ring unscathed every time. She’s had a broken nose before and some bumps and bruises along the way.

“I knew I had something special with her when I realized that when she was getting in the there with the boys and was taking some big shots and refused to get out of the ring,” PAL coach Seth Caffee said. “We had her at nights in here where she’ll take an excoriating shot to the face or to the stomach or anywhere, and she’ll be crying, full-blown crying, and she refuses to get out of the ring. Everything she’s got, she’s earned, and it’s not been easy. She’s just got the will.”

When Vetitoe was younger, she did not live in the best conditions. She and her siblings were removed and split up due to circumstances beyond her control. Her sister and her were placed into the care of Keshia Loweth. From there, the girls were adopted and done with the craziness of the unknown. This home is where Vetitoe began to thrive, and doors opened up, including the one for boxing.

Before boxing, Meadow was given the opportunity to try other sports, which included softball. Her mother’s family is big in the softball world. Her great-grandfather Ed Loweth started fastpitch in Columbus back in 1981, her grandfather Eddie Loweth has been coaching for 27 years and her mother is a former All-State standout at Columbus East and current IUPUC assistant softball coach. Even though softball was something she was around all the time, it just wasn’t what life had in store for her. Softball did not put a fire in her, so she decided to move to something else.

When Keshia Loweth started dating Mikey Gilman, he introduced Vetitoe to the sport that she loves today. Gilman is into mixed martial arts. He showed her the gym set that he had in his house, and she has never looked back.

That opened Vetitoe’s eyes to a new world that she never knew existed. Gilman started to show her the ropes with getting into the movement and mindset of combat sports. She would go over there continuously for hours, pushing her body to do things that she never thought were possible. She would run miles, punch the bag for hours and then go in the yard and spar with him. That continued until she acquired a membership at the PAL gym. Even though Keshia Loweth is not still with Gilman, and Vetitoe doesn’t work with him anymore, Vetitoe still credits him for getting her into the sport that she loves. It is a bond between Gilman and Vetitoe that is forever embedded within them due to their love of combat sports.

“She’s an adopted kid, and it makes the story even more beautiful,” Caffee said. “You’re talking about a beautiful story where she found a sport that really comes down to her. I can give her diet tips. I can tell her exercises to do. I can put her in the ring, but it comes down to Meadow. It’s not like any other sport. There’s nobody to carry you to the finish line. It comes down to her willpower.”

One of the biggest tests Vetitoe had early in her career was at the Indiana Junior Gold Gloves last year. Since she didn’t have a set fight, she ended up taking a match bout with a woman that was 18 years old and much bigger, not by weight, but by length and size and also had a background in kickboxing.

Vetitoe lost the first round, but came back and ended up winning the bout by taking the other two rounds. She ended up winning an award for Best Female Fighter. She was excited when she was presented a jacket with “Indiana Gold Gloves” written on it.

“She’s probably the goofiest athlete you’ll ever meet before a fight because that’s her personality,” Caffee said, “the goofiest, most awkward kid I’ve ever coached, but I wouldn’t want to have it any other way because she’s the exact example of what beautiful amateur boxing is, is that you get a young lady who, when the moment the bell rings, she’s a monster.”

Vetitoe credits her coaches for being in her corner and giving her the time and effort in order to make her successful.

Vetitoe started out as the only girl in the gym. She hopes her recent success is the footprint to try to get more women in boxing.

“I think boxing is more of a male dominated sport. There is actually quite a few girls that I have seen that are actually interested in boxing and think it’s cool or just do it in general. Nine out of 10 girls will not get up in the ring and will not do what I do or any other female that does boxing for that matter and stay with it, but I understand that aspect,” she said. “A lot of people don’t want to get punched in the face, don’t want to get a bloody nose. The way I see it is, sometimes I need to have a bloody nose, sometimes I need to get punched. People may think I’m crazy, but that’s how I see it. I like sparring the guys because I know for me, none of the girls that I go up against are going to hit harder than any of these grown men that I’m sparring. That’s just how it is. It just works for me.”

Vetitoe spends two hours for three days a week at PAL. She’ll also spend time training and conditioning on her own accord. The family bought a house last year that has a mini-gym for her to use in the basement.

“When it’s close to a fight, I really crank in, and I work out for about an hour each day. I want to make sure my weight is on point. Sometimes, I’ll work out in a sweatsuit,” Vetitoe said. “If it’s not, I run to the gym. I’ll run to practice to come (to PAL), and then I’ll run home from the gym. On the days when a fight is not coming up, I’d say I run about 15 miles a week. I run at least a mile at home. I have these weights and do shadow boxing and some situps, I do pushups and work on the heavy bag.”

Vetitoe has kept herself plenty busy outside of the ring. She has plenty of school work, along with three summer jobs working the gates at softball events, Five Below and at a nursing home, where she wants to become a certified nursing assistant.

“I find time for everything, I guess. I never schedule anything when I have boxing because it’s boxing. I’m devastated when I can’t come to the gym. It’s the only thing,” Vetitoe said.

Vetitoe wants to finish boxing through high school, but she is still undecided if she wants to continue in college and after college. Since she was adopted, she’ll receive a scholarship through 21st Century.

“I’m pretty determined to finish boxing out throughout my high school years. Whether or not I will do boxing in college, it’s kind of up to how successful I am throughout,” Vetitoe said. “The way I see it is, yes, boxing could pay my bills, but will it, is my real question. Boxing is kind of, ‘you make it or break it.’ You always need to have something set in stone that you know that you can always do because I may get an injury down the road like my arm. Anything could happen, so you always want to have a plan.”

Regardless of what path Vetitoe takes, she’s found her new safe place.

“Boxing is definitely my outlet. It’s my biggest outlet,” she said. “I come here when I’m sad or upset about anything. Boxing is always there for me, and that’s what I love about it. It’s never going away, and it’s just my happiness.”