JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - A Florida woman competing at a boxing tournament in Ohio is in critical condition after collapsing in the ring.
Witnesses say Ishika Lay collapsed during the second round of a fight Tuesday at the National Police Athletic League Boxing Championship in Toledo.
Another boxer who was nearby tells The Blade newspaper that Lay had taken a couple of hits to the face and stomach before she went down.
Her trainer told police Lay had been complaining about severe headaches over the last week after taking several blows to the head and face during a sparring match.
The 32-year-old from Jacksonville has long dreamed of making the women's U.S. Olympic boxing team. Winners from this week's tournament in Ohio qualify for the 2012 Olympic trials.
Those who know Lay say that if anyone can pull through this, it's her.
"She's really an inspiration in a sport that's traditionally a man's field," Ann Marie Route, who used to work out with Lay, said Friday at a Jacksonville Beach gym. "It's just really inspirational to work alongside of her and see someone really be successful at it."
Lay has battled with adversity many times in the past. She's beaten breast cancer and survived a motorcycle accident that put her in a wheelchair for a year. She wasn't supposed to walk, but in addition to being a world champion boxer, she became a wide receiver for Jacksonville's all-female football team, the Dixie Blues.
"Best hands in the league," Chelley Hewitt, general manager of the Dixie Blues, said of Lay. "She struggled through a lot of things and definitely a fighter in everything she's done. She works really hard."
Friends and family are rallying together to pray for and send their support to the athlete who still hasn't regained consciousness in the intensive care unit.
"Really hoping she pulls through," Route said.
"If anybody can pull through, it's Isis," Hewitt said. "I guess, all pun intended, she is a fighter, and we believe she's going to definitely fight through this."
Lay's family is by her side at an Ohio hospital, giving her all the support she needs. Her family's attorney, John Phillips, released this statement Friday evening:
"What happened to Ishika and the details surrounding her injury are tragic and being investigated. Ishika is in intensive care. More details about her health will be forthcoming. Although the family asks for privacy at this time, it is overwhelmingly grateful for the love and support shown for her. Please join me and continue to keep this inspirational young lady in your thoughts and prayers."
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