Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Cindy Banyai is a fighter.
During a stint as an English teacher in Japan, she fought as a professional boxer in the super welterweight class. She even retains her pugilistic standing today.
Now, she’s entered a new ring—running as a Democratic candidate in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, the coastal area from Cape Coral to Marco Island.
This one is going to be quite a bout. On Oct. 19, Republican Rep. Francis Rooney, who currently represents the District, announced his retirement. The likely candidate to replace him has not yet emerged among the sitting Republican officeholders and a dark horse may appear....
“I’m passionate about Southwest Florida, our kids and making this a better place to live,” the 39-year-old mother of three, aged ten, six and two, told The Paradise Progressive. “All the people here—everyone, regardless of political party, race, gender or religion—need a voice that really represents them in Washington and I feel I can be that voice. Plus, I’ve spent my life teaching and helping organizations to operate better so I bring a lot of expertise to the role.” ...
In the ring
There is no doubt that it’s going to be a rough race, a difficult path and the odds are long—but she’s unfazed. “I’ve faced tough opponents before,” says Banyai, who adds that her boxing experience has been good preparation for politics.
“You really have to put yourself out there in boxing and be vulnerable and you need to have support around you to keep going,” she reflects. “I often say you don’t really know yourself until you’ve been punched in the face. Your face is the physical you and when you get punched someone is literally attacking everything that is you. How you react from there is everything. Are you going to cry? Run? Crumble? Get overcome with emotions and act irrationally, endangering yourself? You don’t know until that first time and it’s a battle to stay ahead of your base reaction and persevere every time after that.”
Boxing was also a building experience, she says. Despite losing bouts, “I never gave up. I kept hitting the bags, improving my skill, and searching for new opportunities. Eventually, I was sponsored by the Sugar Ray Boxing Club in Japan and earned my pro card there. I learned humility, perseverance, and how to maintain composure, even when you’re getting punched in the face.”...
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