My calves are on fire. – I’m so pumped for today.
– I know. We get to meet up with
Marlen Esparza in Brooklyn. I can’t wait to talk to her
about being an Olympic boxer. Do you think she’ll
show us a couple moves? – Yeah, let’s get going.
– Let’s go! I’m Marlen Esparza,
and I’m a US Olympic boxer. In 2012, I was the
first female boxer to qualify for the Olympics. I took home the bronze in
the flyweight division. Hitting the wall to me
is a point in your life where you have to
go within yourself and find something
that you didn’t know existed. You don’t want to be the kind
of person who hits a wall and stops.
You want to be a person who hits a wall
and goes through it. – Hey.
– So nice to meet you. – Nice to meet you.
– Thanks for bring breakfast. No problem. So, we all have
a start somewhere. So, who was your inspiration? When I was younger,
I didn’t realise that boxing was just for men. I had to try so hard
compared to everybody else. Women’s boxing, it didn’t come
to the Olympics until 2012. What made you realise
that you could qualify? They announced in ’09
that we were allowed to go to the Olympics,
and I wasn’t a favourite. I was like the least
favourite to win. – That’s wild.
– The underdog? – Yeah.
– How did your training change? I really had to
just start adding in more rounds in the gym,
and doing a lot more weights, and trying to process,
and get my body to where it needed to be
to compete with everybody else that was bigger than me.
So it was a big change. – Wow.
– What do you think – we go to the gym?
– Yeah, definitely. – Let’s do it.
– Yeah, let’s do it. So, even in the weight
room we like to keep everything
boxing oriented, so we always start
jumping rope. – Let’s do it.
– Let’s do it. It’s really just to warm up,
so it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you do it. Just make
sure you pick up your legs, just kind of like you’re
just running in place. We have to make sure
that our legs are strong, because the power that I have
generates from the ground up. We work out our
upper bodies so much that we try to keep
everything in the weight room about rotation, balance. – 5 to 10 minutes?
– Yeah. – You do this for 10 minutes?
– Straight? I can do this for like
two hours without a problem. My calves are on fire! A typical day in the boxing
gym, I get in, get on the jump rope,
another four or five rounds, shadow box six to eight rounds. The really difficult
thing about boxing is there is no
off-season, so I’ve been boxing for
17 years all year round. So, in the weight room,
we really try to concentrate on balancing
everything out versus working on getting physically stronger,
because in boxing, it’s how you throw
the punch that transitions. If you’re really strong, but
you don’t know how to punch, then your strength
doesn’t matter. So, our lower body
is where we’re going to get our strength from, and
our rotation, and our balance, – and then we’re always uneven.
– Right. So, we’re trying to
even everything out. Aside from agility, and speed,
and strength from your hip, what about technique? What do you do to kind
of perfect your technique – of your punches?
– Shadow-boxing. We should start that. – Let’s do it.
– Yeah? – Let’s do it.
– Let’s play. I step, and I make sure
that, whenever I punch out, that I can see straight
down to my knuckles. If someone tries
to counter you, you’re protected by your
shoulder, and your hand’s protecting your temple. So, if I hit somebody,
no matter how fast or how slow I am, if they’re
ready to fire back, and I have to move, I want to
make sure that I’m still always in a position to throw back. – Does your front foot ever
– turn? Everything transitions – from the ground.
– Right. So if it’s not connected and
moving at the exact same time, your punch
isn’t going to be hard. So you’ve got to make sure that
everything is like a swivel, and never put your
heels on the ground, and make sure you
don’t overturn. That’s a lot to focus on. She’s going to end
up beating you up. I know. This is not good. Because her stance
is even really good. Right? Look.
You’re scaring me. You actually look really good. Oh, yeah! Dud! That was
an uppercut to the body. Look at that. – Now she’s nudging you.
– Yeah, I know. All right, guys,
this is Terrence. He’s a trainer here at the gym.
He’s actually… – How are you doing, man?
– ..a former – Commonwealth Champion.
– Hi, Julian. I may be small,
but I’m pretty mighty, so he doesn’t know
what’s coming. She thinks she’s got
better technique than me, and she probably does, so. There you go. One, two. – The one.
– That’s the money. I think your left
hand is better. When you hear the pop,
you know that you did it right. Good job. Right, left, right. Right. All right, all right,
all right. I told you. She’s strong. All right, let’s go.
Let’s see what you got. – Show me what you got, son.
– It was all right. Left, right. Left, right. Left.
That was a good one. Hey, your shoe’s untied. That’s not even funny, man. That’s not even funny. Yeah. Do it again. Left, right.
Hands up. What I want you
guys to do is step. When you go to your right, you
have to push off your left leg. And when you push, you’ve got
to push off your right leg. You’re going to have to
move your head, yeah, but you’re going
to move your feet. So, boom, boom. And I want to see who
does it the most graceful. – OK.
– Go. No. It’s so hard. Wait. So, here, around. It’s so hard. – I don’t want to start yet.
– Stop. That’s hard. And go. Roll it over. All right, just stop. You won.
Just stop. Boxing has been
a part of the Olympics since almost the very
beginning. It was introduced
as an Olympic sport in 1904. But women’s boxing
wasn’t added until 2012. What? The competition is divided
into weight classes. Men’s boxing currently
has 10 classes. But women’s only has three – middleweight, lightweight,
and flyweight. Each women’s bout
is four rounds of two minutes. All right, guys,
so this is the challenge. What I’m going to
do is I’m going to time you guys for
30 seconds, and whoever wins gets this
Hitting the Wall medal. I’m getting that medal.
Let’s go! Go. Remember, it’s all
about rhythm. Rhythm. Keep the rhythm. – Oh, my God.
– Keep the rhythm. Keep your rhythm.
You’re doing good. And stop. She whooped you. – Here is your medal.
– Yeah! That was hard. Going into today,
I was super intimidated. – It was intense.
– And Marlen was just great. – Yes, great.
– Much respect for her. – Yes, indeed.
– So aside from boxing, what else do you like to do? Actually I volunteer, and I
like to work with young kids. I do it a lot. It’s something I’m
really passionate about. You guys want to come with me? – Yeah, I’m down.
– Let’s do it. Cool. Let’s go. Training with an Olympian was
a lot harder than I expected. After the first hour,
I was like, “Oh, I’m going to feel this.” I was really surprised by how
good they were in the ring. They took it really serious. Something I learned
from Marlen is that we have a lot in common. It’s a lot of fear
involved in what we do. Whether it’s having your
dukes up or doing a crazy flip, it’s all about fear
and having confidence. Be who you are. Express yourself, and
don’t be afraid to do it. If I didn’t start to be me,
I would have nothing right now. I didn’t know what to
expect, but it turned out to be a really cool day.