How Teen Boxer Jajaira Gonzalez is Punching Through Glass Ceilings

NANJING, CHINA - AUGUST 26: Jajaira Gonzalez of United States (Red) fights against Ciara Ginty of Ireland (Blue).

This interview is a part of our Live Your Dreams Stars series where we feature awesome young women who are changing the world one amazing dream at a time. LYD!

Meet Jajaira Gonzalez. Team USA Boxer, ranked #1 in the world for her division, two time world champ, and 2014 Youth Olympic Gold Medalist. And she’s only 18.
NANJING, CHINA - AUGUST 26:  Jajaira Gonzalez of United States (Red) fights against Ciara Ginty of Ireland (Blue).

NANJING, CHINA – AUGUST 26: Jajaira Gonzalez of United States (Red) fights against Ciara Ginty of Ireland (Blue).

But she is just like us. She struggles with juggling priorities. Should she stay up late studying and finish homework? Or go to bed early so she is rested for her next match? Managing sports and school work has never been an easy thing. But then again, life balance is something we all strive to reach.

In this interview you’ll find out more about Jajaira’s passion for boxing and her amazing journey to success. This inspirational teenage athlete just won’t quit, and we’ve got to give her props for that.

How long have you been boxing?

I have been boxing for ten years. I started when I was eight.

What made you decide to begin boxing?

I actually didn’t want to box. My dad used to be a boxer. He got both of my brothers into boxing. One day he came home and had the crazy idea that I was going to be a boxer. At first I didn’t want to, I thought it was for boys. But I pretty much had no choice so I started going- and I hated it! I would pretend to be sick so I wouldn’t have to go. But then one day a boy asked what I was doing at the gym. He said “girls can’t fight.” It made me mad because I had been there longer than him, so I told my dad about it. He told the boy that I was going to spar him and gave him a couple of weeks to get ready. I beat him up pretty badly, it was no competition for me.

What inspires you?

Everything I’ve accomplished is because of my dad. I know I can’t let my dad down. He sacrifices a lot for me. After women’s boxing was introduced to the Olympics, I really wanted to do it.

What was your proudest moment?

Probably winning my first World Tournament. I started crying when I got my medal and they played the National Anthem for us. It was the first time where I really thought “Wow. I made it.”

Do you face obstacles as a female in a male-dominated sport?

All the time. They weren’t going to let me qualify, but a lot of people complained. Also, the boys get more sponsors and gear. For the girls, they either don’t give us anything at all or they give us old gear. It’s not fair. I think its disrespectful. The girls at my gym are actually doing better than the boys, but we’re being treated unfairly. We don’t get the recognition we deserve.

What are some tips you have for balancing school and sports?

I try to do my work in class or during any free time I have. When I get home I get started on my homework right away. I bring it to the gym so that if I finish my workout early and my brothers are still busy, I can do homework. When I come home from the gym I’ll be up late doing homework. It’s a struggle, but you just have to learn how to balance it.

There’s a lot of traveling in achieving your dream, where are some places you’ve been?

I’ve been to Alabama for a Junior Olympics tournament and Nevada for a placement tournament. I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve also been to Finland, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Serbia, and China.

What other advice do you have for female athletes?

Don’t give up. Keep working hard and doing you. Take the chance because you never know how far you’re going to make it, you could end up being the best. So just go for it. I never thought I would be where I am right now- two steps away from going to the Olympics.
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