- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 2004

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ever since she claimed to lose a winning lottery ticket, Elecia Battle’s reputation has been on the ropes.

Still struggling with disgrace a year after insisting that a Mega Millions jackpot was rightfully hers, Mrs. Battle says she’s had a hard time landing a job.

Now she’ll be looking to land jabs — in her new career as a boxer.

Her ring name? “Mega Battle.”

The 41-year-old said she’s been training for seven months and will be ready to make her debut next month.

“I can knock a 20-year-old out. I’m in great shape,” she said.

And she still insists that she thought she bought the winning ticket worth $162 million.

The mother of four grabbed national headlines by saying she lost the ticket for the Dec. 30, 2003, drawing when she dropped her purse outside a convenience store in suburban South Euclid.

The night the story broke, people with flashlights braved frigid temperatures looking for the ticket in the parking lot and nearby bushes, all wanting to claim the jackpot for themselves.

Police said they had no reason to believe Mrs. Battle was lying. Her description of picking the winning numbers based on family birthdays and ages seemed plausible. And it was known that the winner picked his or her own numbers, rather than letting the computer do it.

But after the real winner, hospital worker Rebecca Jemison, claimed the prize, Mrs. Battle had some explaining to do.

She tearfully apologized, saying, “I wanted to win so bad for my kids and my family.” She was convicted in April of filing a false police report, a misdemeanor, put on one year’s probation and paid a $1,000 fine and $5,596.71 in restitution.

Mrs. Battle said since then she’s struggled to find work.

“It’s been complicated getting a job. ‘Aren’t you that lady …?’ I can’t go anywhere without people knowing who I am,” she said.

Mrs. Battle said she’s always been athletic and practiced tae kwon do before deciding to give boxing a go.

She trains with Romeo Conner, who has taught boxers for 20 years. He said he’s never talked to her about the Mega Millions fiasco. He said he believes in Mrs. Battle because of her dedication to training.

“If she was pretending, I would have known by now,” Mr. Conner said. “I deliberately make stuff extremely hard and she keeps coming back the next day. You can’t do nothing but take her serious.”

The lottery scandal didn’t get in the way of her getting a state boxing license, either.

“The women who do fight put on a great show. They’re very competitive,” said Bernie Profato, executive director of the Ohio Athletic Commission. “For anybody, it requires training, stamina, guts, a lot of things.”

Mrs. Battle says she has no regrets about her lottery claim. But she became tearful talking about her two youngest children, ages 14 and 15, and the teasing they suffered because of her.

“All I can remember is I thought the ticket was mine,” she said. “I did purchase a ticket. I haven’t changed my story. I’m not going to change it.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Battle is holding on to her Mega Millions dreams. She opened up her purse to show a ticket for Friday’s $25 million drawing — for which there was no winner.

But if she does win someday, Mrs. Battle said she wouldn’t try to claim it. She’d let her 22-year-old son do it.

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