Franchon Crews: The Art of Staying in One’s Lane
By David A. Avila
Franchon Crews Dezurn knows how to make an entrance.
Back in 2005, the world got its first glimpse of the Virginia native when she stepped on the American Idol platform and sang Alicia Keye’s “If I Ain’t Got You” to an estimated 30 million people in America and beyond.
In 2016, the boxing world got its first glimpse of Crews when she stepped into the boxing ring at Las Vegas and faced two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields, in front of a televised audience around the world. It was both boxers pro debut.
After four incredible rounds of blasting each other nonstop, the world witnessed a new age of female prizefighting and an introduction to both Shields and Crews.
“I was getting ready for the US open but I just took it as an opportunity. I believed I could win,” said Crews of her fight with Shields on November 2016 at T-Mobile Arena. “I took the fight because people didn’t know who I was.”
Despite winning more than a dozen U.S. national titles as an amateur boxer, Crews was lost in the incredible bright success of Shields. Now both fighters are part of Salita Promotions and set to fight separate opponents on June 22, at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Mich.
“Franchon is one of the best female fighters in the world. She is a force in the middleweight and super middleweight divisions,” said Dmitiry Salita of Salita Promotions.
Crews (3-1, 1 KO) will be fighting Crystal Byers (0-3) in a six round super middleweight fight on the same fight card as Shields vs Hanna Gabriels and Christina Hammer vs. Tori Nelson. .
Boxing was not always part of Crews world. Instead, her focus was on singing and being an artist.
“I’m a singer and a song writer,” Crews said. “I’m also a designer. I make boxing uniforms for other people. Raquel Miller (a boxer) is one of my clients.”
But like many artists in the entertainment industry Crews felt her weight was an issue and she looked for ways to reduce in size.
“I started to lose weight so I could be a singer. That was my goal. I was trying to fit the standard of being skinny and pretty,” said Crews, 30. “Someone took me to a boxing gym. They said I could lose 5 pounds in a day.”
The gym was located in Baltimore, MD. and was known for being a haven for many of the prizefighters in the area.
“Actually the first person I sparred was James Barry and we were going at it. We were fighting like Ike and Tina Turner. That was our nickname. He became one of my mentors and keeps me in line,” says Crews.
That’s all it took. She was hooked.
“I was always a fighter,” she said, adding but not inside a boxing ring.
Crews became part of a gym that already had a female boxer so she fit in quickly. After that first sparring session, the trainer saw she had raw talent that just needed honing.
“My first coach said I’m going to make you a champ,” said Crews. “By my fourth fight I fought in the nationals and I won in 2005.”
At first Crews’ mother was not in favor of her daughter traveling into the world of boxing. But soon she saw its artistry. Despite health issues including battles against cancer, Crews mother saw her daughter’s success in amateurs and soon became a fan.
“My mom was a fighter to her dying days I have no excuse, she beat cancer twice and beat the odds when they said she was going to die before,” said Crews.
Sadly, her mother Sarah Marie Owens passed away 18 months ago, but not before seeing Franchon fight her pro debut against Shields. It was a glorious moment that day on Nov. 19, 2016.
Both Crews and Shields lit up the arena with rapid blows and with impact that sounded like grenades exploding. It was incredible nonstop action for four rounds that was not duplicated on other bouts that night, despite being on a fight card that included Andre Ward versus Sergey Kovalev. It was the opening salvo for this new wave of female boxing and showed exactly what women were capable of doing in a prize ring.
Now television networks are slowly but surely discovering the entertainment value of female prizefighting.
Crews is part of the movement.
“I think it was good for women’s boxing. It set the bar high,” said Crews of the pro debut for both herself and Shields.
“Another significance of the Claressa fight, was my mom saw me fight. I thought that was cool. She was just so happy,” said Crews.
A mere two weeks later Crews mother Sarah Marie Crews passed away.
Though sad for her passing that fight remains a good memory for Crews knowing that her mom saw her pro debut. But the work is not done for Crews whose husband Glenn Dezurn Jr. is also a prizefighter. Both have goals and dreams of world titles.
“You got to bring your lunch if you are going to have to put us to sleep,” she says.
Both patiently wait for their turn to shine. The world of prizefighting can be a dizzying adventure and no one can truly decipher where each road leads.
“This year I’d like to fight for one of the super middleweight belts and TV time,” said Crews waiting for Shields to move into lower weight divisions. “My whole goal is to create my own lane. They’ll cross. I’m just trying to be successful in my end.”
That’s one of her mottos: “Stay in my lane.”
Whether singing or fighting the Baltimore resident is doing her best to let the world know what she can do. She remembers the struggles her mother went through in battling cancer for years.
“If she can go through that, then I can go 20 minutes of fighting, I’ll look awesome and I get the win,” said Crews who now trains in Washington D.C.
For now Crew is content in winning, singing and designing. When she sang on American Idol it was the year that Carrie Underwood was the star. Now she is boxing and Claressa Shields is the star. But she believes her moment will come.
“I just have to stay in my lane,” she says. “Back when my mom was in the hospital I declared that if I’m not the American Idol, I’ll be middleweight champion of the world.”
It could come very soon.
“I believe she will be a world champion in the very near future,” said Crews promoter Salita.
The lane is opening soon.