I met the phenomenal phenom Eileen Olszewski years ago when I began boxing under the training of her husband Mathew Sykes. On his own accord, Matthew is an incredible champion. In his tenured career, he has amassed a 26-0 record with 24 knockouts while fighting with the professional kickboxing association. As a coach, he’s produced eight world champions and was selected twice by the International Olympic Committee to coach two world teams. But it was the subtle introduction to Eileen’s marvelous career that captivated me, one which I became more exposed to as I spent more time training next to her as she prepared for some serious competitions.
Eileen is better known as the Hawaiian Mongoose. She is the oldest professional flyweight boxer, male or female, to win a share of the world flyweight title. I have so much admiration for Eileen’s humble nature given all of her success. She is in wicked shape and physically gorgeous but also has a beautiful spirit and is a friend to everyone she meets at the gym. Her smile and friendly nature is contagious as she spreads her energy so graciously. I have so much respect for the dedication she puts into her training, both on her own and under Mathew. I’ve routinely witnessed her giving 120 percent to her training while keeping in check the integrity of Mathew’s lineage in martial arts. I believe Eileen is a powerful example of empowerment with grace, so I was thrilled to sit down with her and ask her some question about her career, her journey and her incredible life.
My Q&A with the Hawaiian Mongoose, Eileen Olszewski
What is your place of origin and age?
I was born and raised in Honolulu,Hawaii. I am 49 years old.
What is your background in dance and martial arts?
I studied ballet in Honolulu with Master Nolan Dingman. He was one of the first generation of American dancers that George Balanchine trained here in the USA. I followed Master Dingman to Orlando, Florida to continue my training and worked at Disney World as a dancer. Within a year I moved to New York and performed with the” Dig Pointe Ballet” and” Ilya Gaft Dance Theater.” I branched out into jazz and hip hop, dancing in music videos and for three seasons as a N.B.A. “Knicks City Dancer.” As a kid growing up in Hawaii, several of my friends took Karate and we would pretend to be in Martial Art movies. Later when I retired from dancing, I began studying Kung Fu/Wushu in Chinatown NYC. I found myself performing again, but this time in a Hong Kong Kung Fu trailer film and in “Mortal Kombat Live – The Tour.” It was in Chinatown where I would cross paths with Matthew Olszewski. A former and retired 26-0 P.K.A (Professional kickboxing Association) Kickboxer, he began teaching me his fighting system.
When did you first begin boxing?
I began boxing inadvertently in 1999 as a result of studying with Matthew. Through his foundation / fundamental drills of rolls, break falls. kicks. punches and arm and hand locks, we found that we could at least put the striking aspect into application through amatuer competition. So in late 2000, I entered the U.S National Golden Gloves in Augusta, Georgia and took home the112lb. Championship belt.
What were some of your career highlights?
My career victory highlights would be winning every bout and tournament in the U.S.A. for three straight consecutive years which includes three U.S Nationals. three U.S. Womens Golden Gloves and three N.Y. Golden Gloves. As a pro, my highlights so far would be the three World Title fights I won as the underdog going in..
What drives you to keep fighting?
I get my drive from my love of boxing and the pureness of Matthews teachings and encouragement. i just want to attain the highest level I can in one of the most difficult sports. I see boxing, like dance, as an art form. Both humbling and empowering at the same time.
Who or what is your support system?
My support system is Matthew, my Mother and sister, my friends Valerie and Chris, and my sparring partners.. There are many others who support me, but Valerie and Chris have been to almost all of my local amatuer and pro fights and have helped me in my physical and mental conditioning as a pro. Matthew, as a husband and coach, is able to define the two roles which many and myself included, find quite remarkable.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
My typical day starts with a 7am client, and depending on the type of training I have later, I may run home through Central Park. I’ll eat and rest then train at the boxing gym. After a shower, I’ll eat lunch I packed from home, rest and train a few more clients. When I get home I’ll shower, eat and cook our lunches for the next day. I try to be in bed before 10:30.
Can you tell me about your diet? Your holistic lifestyle?
My diet is very simple because I cook a lot. I would say my cooking is sort of Hawaiian Island Style minus the sodium. animal fats, sugars, and massive carbs. I also like making fresh salads. For breakfast I eat oatmeal with blueberries, walnuts, wheatgerm, cinnamon and maple syrup. A cup of black tea with milk and honey.
Can you tell me a bit about your spiritual path and how it pertains to boxing?
My spiritual path and boxing would be to always live and stay in the moment.. It is the only way we can slow down time.
Do you have any words of advice?
I’m always looking for advice so it’s weird for me to think of giving any. I perhaps would encourage people to learn things in its pure form because….. they’re worthy of it. You short change yourself by trying to multitask your workouts. These fusion/fads of blending aerobics and boxing or ballet barre and weights makes me sad to think of how people are missing out on the essence of an art form. Take a real beginner ballet class, learn how to throw your punches properly so you can hit a heavy bag, learn to really isolate your muscles with weights and do cardio on its own by running or walking. Through your walks and runs you’ll quiet and calm your mind and when you learn the correct technique in anything, it’s yours forever.
What is Joyful in your life now?
What’s joyful to me is simply having the gift of health and being grateful of it.