Girl Power: Pasadena's Esparza makes history in Olympics boxing ring


by Brad Woodard / KHOU 11

Posted on August 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 7 at 11:31 AM

HOUSTON—Boxer and Pasadena native Marlen Esparza scored a big win at the London Olympics on Monday that means she’s headed to the semi-finals and guaranteed a place on the medal stand.

At the age of 22, Marlen Esparza is the first U.S. woman in history to win an Olympic boxing match.

"All I do is sleep and eat and work out. I’m confident but not overconfident," said Esparza.

KHOU caught up with the Houston native just before she departed for the London Olympics.

"I’ll definitely have Houston in mind. It’s where I’m from. These are the people who’ve been behind me since I was 12 or 13 years old. So I won’t forget it," said Esparza.

Many of her supporters are at Fellowship of Nations and Fighter Nation, where Esparza trains.

"She calls me every day and I have prayer with her before every night," said Pastor Johnny Brady.

Brady says it’s her unwavering faith that drives Esparza inside the ring and in life.

Esparza may be going for the gold, but she’s already struck it with big-name backers from Nike, Cover Girl and Coca-Cola.

"I remind myself that I have people counting on me now. So that definitely wakes me up in the morning, I guess you could say," said Esparza.

Pro-boxer Reggie "Sweet" Johnson has three world titles and had this to say of Esparza: "She’s down to Earth. Some people, including myself at a point in my career when I got to a certain level, I kind of got big-headed. As far as I can see, she’s still the same person. Very level-headed."

Level-headed, with a soaring career.