John Muir High School Grad Fatima Martinez Advances to Olympic Boxing Trials in Louisiana

Pasadena boxer dreams of representing the United States at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo

Published : Tuesday, November 12, 2019 | 6:25 AM

Fatima Martinez. Courtesy photo.

Fatima Martinez beat her opponents in the Western Regional Olympic Boxing Qualifiers last weekend to advance to the Olympic Boxing Trials in Louisiana where she will face the best boxers in the United States.

The trials begin in early December and she will travel with her Coach, Fausto De La Torre.

John Muir High School graduate Martinez said it’s her dream to represent the United States at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

Martinez is a proven champion but she has had to do some fighting outside the ring en route to the Olympic opportunity.

“She is not afraid to fight, but she also has to fight people’s opinions,” said Coach Fausto De La Torre. “There are people who feel a woman has no business in the ring.”

De La Torre said Martinez has been brave in pursuit of her dreams.

“People don’t realize, boxing is the hardest sport out there,” De La Torre said. “It’s not an easy sport, it’s challenging to the individual because it’s not a team sport. You stand in that ring by yourself. It challenges you mentally and physically. Whatever you put into the sport is the result you will get. Fatima has devoted so much of her life to this sport.”

But Martinez is no ordinary young woman.

“If it weren’t for boxing and for college, I would not be where I am,” Martinez said. She’s a 20-year-old Criminal Justice major at Cal State University Los Angeles.

“I love the school, I got adapted to it, and I don’t want to change or transfer,” she said.

Martinez is moving ahead towards her degree and is working at a retail job to support herself in pursuit of her goals. Sometimes she’ll help out Coach De La Torre around the Villa-Parke gym.

Last weekend’s win in Oxnard is a major step towards the Olympics. There is only one hurdle left, but she has cleared many of them already.

“I went in there and followed my coach’s rules,” she said. “I kept moving my head, jab and body. Other than that it was pretty exciting. I had fun, it was the most fun fight I’ve had yet.”

To be a top-ranked boxer there’s a lot of sacrifice in and out of the ring.

“My parents are really excited,” she said. “But I know they don’t like it so much that I box. But they are looking forward to more accomplishments as well. ”

Then there are the people she meets every day who tell her boxing is not for women.

“I can’t change people’s opinions on how they see boxing,” she said. “It’s not just for men, women can do it better than men. We get in the ring and entertain and it’s a good audience. If I enjoy it, other people’s opinions don’t matter.”

“In the long run, if you don’t enjoy what you do, you’re going to miserable,” she said. “Make the sacrifices for the things you want. Live your dream.”

Martinez works a part-time retail job and her focus is on studying and boxing.

“Without my education and without my boxing I don’t know what I’d do,” she said.

In addition to fighting opponents and those who don’t think women should fight, she also sticks up for the sport she loves, defending it against critics.

“Boxing has a positive impact on people,” she said. “I was bullied in middle school. Joining the gym was the best thing I could do.”

In the meantime there is only one goal on her mind.

“The goal is to go for the Olympics,” she said. “This is the last Olympic qualifier, I’ll be training and preparing myself mentally and physically for the bigger fight. If we do qualify it’s up to Coach Fausto where we go from there.”

Does Martinez do the research on her opponents?

“I like it to be more of a mystery and I think like ‘I got what I got for a reason,’” she said. “I know a lot of people who do research their opponent. If I do good, I do good, if I do bad, I’ll do better next time.”

There is no one approach, Martinez said.

“It’s different in every fight,” she said. “I’ll figure it out after the first round. If they’re a brawler, I’ll brawl. After the first round up to what I feel and see.”

“It’s about focusing on yourself,” she said. “At the end of the day no one will be there for you, you have to rely on yourself.

How does Martinez approach this important round of boxing matches?

“I am thinking positive, you know, ‘We got this,’ we shouldn’t think negative thoughts and always try to stay positive.”