By Jackie Kallen
Back in the late 1990s, when I was commissioner of the International Female Boxer’s Association, the girls never dreamed that they’d one day be competing alongside the men at the Olympics. It was whispered about and hoped for, but it seemed like a remote possibility.
Here we are, a decade later, and it is a reality. For the first time in history, women will compete in the Summer Olympic Games in London this year. Between July 28-August 12, the women will compete in three weight classes: Flyweight (112#), Lightweight (132#) , and Middleweight (165#).
The first American woman to qualify is Houston’s Marlen Esparza. Esparza secured her berth by beating Luu Thi Duyen of Vietnam in the second round of the Women’s World Championships in Qinhuangdao, China, last week. Esparza will turn 23 on July 29, and a win in the summer games would be the best birthday gift ever.
Esparza trains six to seven days a week under the watchful eyes of Rudolfo Silva. Her stamina is legendary and she also excels at volleyball, basketball, swimming and track. She was the president of her high school student body and graduated in the top 2% of her class. At 5’3″, she is a force to be dealt with.
Silva has said, “She loves to fight. If you tell her can’t do something, she will do it just to prove you wrong. When she would go to a tournament and there was no one for her to fight, she would move up a weight or down a weight in the competition so that she could fight. She refused to win an unopposed title.”
Esparza feels she has a good chance in London. She claims to be comfortable with all different styles of boxing and can change her style to whatever it needs to be. She credits her years of hard training and a lot of good sparring. “I’ve been waiting for this day forever. Everybody has always said they were better than me…but everybody got two chances at me, and I won.”
You can check out her Coca Cola commercial for Telemundo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4h0o7S7JbWE&feature=share This is just the tip of the endorsement iceberg for Esparza. You can follow her on twitter: @Marlen112Boxing or go to her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marlen-Esparza
This girl is destined to be a star.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen
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