This spring, boxer Marlen Esparza made the decision to go pro, after winning an Olympic bronze medal and 12 consecutive amateur national championships.
In her second professional fight she made a controversial decision. Instead of the usual two minutes for women boxers, she sought to box three-minute rounds, just as men do. Some think that women need to take additional security measures due to a higher rate of concussions, but Esparza disagrees. She thinks a third minute is important to be able to enter into a rhythm, and to better dominate an opponent. “If the men go three minutes to showcase what they do, I think the women deserve three minutes as well,” she said.
Challenging norms is nothing new for her. Esparza started boxing when she was 11 because her dad was a boxing fan, but she had to beg him for training. Many people made jokes, but nothing stopped her. "I was born to break barriers,” she says. Her style is aggressive: she always throws the first punch. Esparza was the first American woman to qualify for the Olympic Games in women’s boxing, for London 2012. As part of her training she runs every day. Sometimes it’s four miles at a steady pace, other times two miles as fast as she can. It’s always different. When she works out in Houston, her hometown, people recognize and join her. “I'd hate myself if I quit just because my journey gets difficult. So I get stronger and I fight. I don't want to, I have to,” she says.
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