Scott: Nobody accuses Mikaela Mayer of fighting like a girl, especially not the guys with whom she trains.
Al Mitchell: She’s a tough opponent.
Scott: At 21-years-old, Mayer already holds three national amateur boxing titles. She went into this week’s Olympic trials in Washington state as a favorite to earn a spot on the first ever U.S. women’s boxing team.
Mikaela Mayer: I’m proud to have progressed so quickly, especially since I haven’t been boxing for that long.”
Scott: Her rapid climb up boxing’s ropes still takes this five-foot-nine, self-described “girly” girl from southern California by surprise. Four years ago, Mayer says, she was more interested in partying.
Mayer: I wasn’t scheduled to graduate high school on time, so I really, really had an epiphany to where I was. Like, I need to do something productive. I want to be successful.
Scott: She found discipline at a local boxing gym. But the coach told Mayer that at seventeen, she was too old to start competing. But once he saw her box, he changed his mind.
Getting women’s boxing into the Olympics was a battle too. Not surprising given that just a few decades ago women weren’t allowed to run Olympic marathons because the sporting world thought they were too weak and delicate.
Mitchell: I don’t look at her as a girl. I look at her as a boxer, and I tell her that all the time. I train her just like a boxer.”
Scott: Al Mitchell has trained nine Olympic boxers — all men. But he says coaching Mayer changed how he thinks about women in the sport.
Mitchell: If it was up to me and I could get ten or twelve girls like her, I’d just train the girls. They work harder, they listen better, and they want it.
Scott: Mayer says there is camaraderie among the women boxers…until it is fight time.
Mayer: We’re all very proud to be the first females in an Olympic trial for boxing, but when we get into the ring and compete — especially for trials — it’s a different story. You’re just somebody in my way, you know, it’s nothing personal.
Scott: Twenty-three women boxers are competing at this week’s Olympic trials but only three will earn a spot on the national team.