Back in 1993, USA Boxing made the impossible, possible, through a huge national decision. That was the year the ban on women competing in sanctioned boxing matches ended. That decision is what made it possible for ten-year-old Jesselyn Silva to be able to find her greatest passion in the sport.
Jesselyn, also known as “JessZilla,” according to The New York Times, began boxing at the age of seven and has received a championship belt for winning a sanctioned match since then. Despite being a young child – only in fourth grade – Jesselyn works hard to improve her boxing skills each day. According to CBS New York, “The 74-pound phenom works out for nearly two hours a day, four days a week.”
The fourth grader was introduced to the sport by accident, but quickly fell into the rhythm of boxing. Her father, Pedro Silva, decided to take up a sport as a way to lose some weight and get some exercise. He received some suggestions from friends about taking boxing classes and signed up at a gym in Edgewater, New Jersey.
According to North Jersey News, “With no one available to watch Jesselyn and her little brother, Jesiah, Silva brought them along to watch. But the sidelines held no interest for Jesselyn, and it wasn’t long before she persuaded her father to let her lace up some gloves.”
Her father was initially surprised to see how quickly she learned the techniques and how talented she had become, according to CBS New York. After watching her spar with partners, he has expressed some growing concerns.
According to North Jersey News, “Among the things her father said he has learned since Jesselyn first suited up is that she never should have been paired up for that first sparring match with an older and bigger boy, and he won’t allow that to happen again.” She has suffered significant pain from headaches after a few sparring rounds with boys.
The problem is that there are not enough young girls around her age and at her skill level skill with whom she can spar. Currently, there are less than 2,000 registered girls who box in the United States. Most of them are teenagers and would not make the best opponents for the young girl.
When Jesselyn was finally able to find another female competitor around her age, the match was not challenging for Jesselyn, as her opponent had only been training for a few months. Still, Jesselyn was able to secure the victory and look forward to competing again.
The young girl is ambitious about a future career in boxing, even crafting a dream board at home, according to The New York Times. Her biggest goal is being able to compete in the 2024 Olympics. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge she faces until then is being able to find some suitable competitors to help improve her skills.
In a sport largely dominated by boys, Jesselyn has succeeded not only in working hard to achieve her dream of winning the Olympic Gold someday, but also in inspiring other young girls to follow their hearts. “I already know that I’m going to become professional. I want to do that,” Jesselyn said.
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