DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- When the bell goes off, Aaliyah Carroll knows it's go time.
She's been boxing with her boyfriend and trainer Dontez Blue for five months at Inner City Youth and Boxing. She is training for her first amateur boxing match. Carroll is hoping to give a body blow to her competitor, but in the meantime the training helps keep her in shape.
"I have abs now. I've gained a lot of muscle. Muscle all over my body and lost about 20 pounds," she said. "Boxing has taught me to channel my emotions. It's a release with the anger, sadness and happiness."
Carroll has hopes of climbing the boxing ladder and perhaps going pro one day. Due to a new policy by USA Boxing, Carroll may now face trans athletes during her career.
USA Boxing added a transgender policy to its 2024 rule book that allows transgender women over the age of 18 in the ring if they abide by some strict rules. The policy, which you can read below, forces the trans athletes to undergo genital reassignment surgery and submit to quarterly hormone tests for at least four years following the surgery. They'll also have to keep their testosterone levels below a certain level.
"I'm not ducking no smoke," Carroll said. "Anybody can get in the ring with me."
She's not backing down from any fight, but Dontez Blue, a boxer for 10 years, has concerns about the difference in strength.
"A transgender woman would be naturally stronger than a woman, but strength don't just win you fights," he said. "A lot of people like to say it's way more mental. Eighty to 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. "
Sports other than boxing have faced recent backlash for including trans athletes as states across the country have moved to pass legislation restricting participation for transgender athletes.
Athlete Ally, a national organization promoting inclusive athletic environments released this statement:
"While we are encouraged to see that USA Boxing has not outright banned transgender athletes, we are deeply concerned by a surgical requirement for participation and no pathway for trans, nonbinary and intersex youth to participate in line with their gender identity."
Meantime, in the ring that Carroll trains in, she's ready to take on anyone.
"I'm not worried about it at all," she said.