PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence native and boxer Sierra Martinez is not only strong inside the ring, she’s even stronger outside of it.
Martinez, 15, comes from a family of boxers. Her two older brothers and her father helped instill her fighting spirit.
“One day I told my dad I wanted to box, because I was like, a chubby girl,” Martinez explained. “There was a girl in the gym who wanted to spar me. Everyone surrounded the gym, they all wanted to see.”
Martinez said she’d only been training in the gym for three days, and the other girl who challenged her had been boxing for three years.
“Everyone though she was going to beat me up, but I ended up doing damage and my dad was like, ‘She’s got talent,'” Martinez said with a big smile.
From that moment on, Martinez was focused on boxing. She won a national title in Utah which earned her a spot on Team U.S.A.
When asked why she loves boxing so much, she said it’s the perfect form of stress relief.
“Honestly, I can take all of my anger out in a good way, instead of a bad way,” Martinez said. “All my anger goes out in the gym, the gym is my happy place.”
But her anger comes from a troubled past. Martinez was abused, and while she credits her father and her trainer for saving her life, her father says she saved herself.
“She’s very humble, where as I’m not very humble. I’m her biggest advocate,” Simon Martinez said. “There were situations, scenarios….they’re very vivid in her mind, and she’s able to go back in that ring and channel that negative energy into positive energy.”
Martinez was able to turn a past of hate and fear into a future of love and success. She said she ultimately wants to go to the Olympics.
“Everyone asks, ‘Why don’t you want to turn pro?’ but it’s not for me, I don’t want to turn pro because of everything I see,” she said. “Girls don’t make money in the sport but winning the Olympics is honestly my goal.”
“If I had to describe Sierra, I would describe her as very focused, a very focused young girl that knows what she wants,” Simon said. “She always asks me who’s the best in my division, I want to fight her!”
Martinez said the biggest challenge of being a female boxer is that it’s a primarily male-dominated sport.
“Everybody puts the girls to the bottom, because they don’t think that we can achieve what boys can,” Martinez said. “But honestly, we can do more.”
Martinez said her role model is Claressa Shields, who is the only American boxer to win consecutive Olympic medals. Martinez hopes to be the next in line.