LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

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.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.khou.com/story/sports/2014/07/21/11788568/