Have you ever felt that you were too old to do something? Perhaps you’ve felt that it was too late to change careers, to go to school, or to begin exercising. I’m here to tell you that age is not against you; the only thing that can be against you is yourself. My name is Gina and I began amateur boxing at the not so tender age of 25. What led me to this journey may surprise you. While my story starts off sad, the end result is sure to make you smile.
I’m the first in my family to graduate college and attend law school. Being a first generation student has come with immense challenges. Challenges that are best left detailed for another blog. Nonetheless, I began attending William S. Boyd School of Law in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada in the fall of 2018. I felt academically challenged and was surrounded by very bright individuals with whom I was in constant competition with. School became more and more draining. In the background of law school, I was battling a breakup from a volatile relationship that lasted nearly a decade. My self-esteem could not have been lower. I gained 30 pounds. I didn’t want to step outside of my house. Embarrassment surrounded me because I could not believe that I let myself become both physically and mentally unwell.
Hitting the Books to Hitting Mitts
I knew I needed to regain control. Then, perhaps by serendipity, a friend that I had just reconnected with on Instagram, introduced me to her boxing coach. She told me that he would give me a free lesson and that it would be a great way to get in shape. “Hmm boxing” I thought. This was a sport I always wanted to try because both my grandfather and uncle were boxers. Like many boxers back then, they did not box for fitness or fame, but to simply earn side money. Due to this, my mom did not want me boxing as a child, despite me having asked her. She thought and I cannot fault her, that I would get severely injured or become violent in school. However, I was 25 now and living on my own. So naturally, I decided to begin boxing. I so desperately wanted to feel a connection to my now deceased family and Mexican-American heritage. So, I told my friend, “yes, let me join you.”
After my first boxing lesson, I was hooked. I wish I could describe the feeling but if you have ever boxed before then you know what I mean. My coach, coach Chris asked me if I wanted to box competitively or for fitness. At first, I said for fitness. As time progressed my coach and other boxers around me said they saw a lot of potential for me to compete. So, my official day of training to compete started January 1, 2020. My coach sternly told me that I needed to take this seriously because, “you don’t play boxing.” He laid out his ground rules 1) he would not work with me if I wasn’t dedicated 2) he would not let me fight until he thought I was ready. So every day after class, my coach would train me. I would frantically change out of my school clothes into boxing gear (not gear as stylish as KO Studio’s I might add, because KO Studio had not been invented yet, lol).
The one thing I looked forward to each day became boxing. I began losing weight, developing self-confidence again, and finding a community in boxing. My coach even made me film every boxing session I had. It all started because I told him that when I played volleyball in high school, I would get nervous in front of an audience. Competitive club volleyball in the school off-season was filled with cameras and scouts which also made me nervous. He told me I needed to break this negative habit. I’ll never forget when he first pulled out his phone and said, “we’re recording this session.” He used the footage to show me the errors I had made and how I could fix them. He told me that one day I would look back at the film and see my progress. Then, in my downtime I began studying boxing films (e.g. old matches, tutorials on YouTube, etc.). I quickly learned that ring intelligence is such a difficult skill set and my respect for boxers grew even more.