Olympic boxing champ shares story of inclusion - WSMV Channel 4

Olympic boxing champ shares story of inclusion

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Marlen Esparza Marlen Esparza
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

When a young Marlen Esparza told her dad she wanted to be a boxer, he was stunned. He didn't want her pretty face bashed in. She didn't want that either, but she wanted to fight.

"It was surprising to a lot of people that I was really girly and like to fight," Esparza said.

Born and raised in Houston, Sugar Ray Leonard was her idol as a young girl. Then, with the urge to fight gnawing at her, she put on the gloves and stepped into the ring as a teenager.

But that first punch to the face stunned her.

"I just froze. My body just went like a shock, but then I got angry. I got really mad, and I think that's what makes me win," she said. "I try to move my head a lot. I think that's the main thing."

She learned to channel that anger, started winning and didn't stop.

Now, the six-time national champion boxer and member of the United States Olympic team, has an Olympic bronze medal from the 2012 Summer Games.

"This is where I'm from. This is where I was born and raised, and this is what I represent as a person," Esparza said.

The 23-year-old champ came to speak in Nashville at the Nashville CABLE Power of Inclusion luncheon.

As a woman in a predominately male-driven sport and a Latina athlete, she sees her impact go far beyond the ring.

"I feel like I'm doing things for a lot of different reasons, for a lot of different people and to represent a lot of different situations. And for the Latino community, especially, we don't have a lot of role models," she said.

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