Lisa Cohen shares her path from foster child to world-champion boxer in hopes of helping others go the distance

It took years for Lisa Cohen, a boxing champion and motivational speaker, to recover from the trauma of her years in the foster care system. Today, the DC resident advocates on behalf of children in foster care…

Growing up in the District’s foster care system, Lisa Cohen bounced among 13 different families over 19 years.

Now 52, Cohen — a motivational speaker and former boxing champion who lives in Northwest DC — never had a birthday party as a child and has almost no family photos. She and her four brothers were placed in foster care when their mother was deemed abusive and unfit to care for them.

Through all the changes, there was only one thing that made Cohen — the youngest of the five siblings — feel she had any kind of permanence: She was able to live with two of her brothers most of the time when she was in the custody of child welfare services. In the first foster home, all five were together. But her sense of “home” evaporated later when her two youngest brothers were taken away and placed in different homes, as well as after the other two ran away to live with their birth mother.

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