Making History: Young Female Boxers Follow Their Dreams

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsLaura Esmora, 17, and Victoria Casimiro, 14, are just two young girls with a big dream. The dream of becoming professional boxers one day. “I always liked action-sports,” said Esmora. “I joined the wrestling team at my high school, which was tough, but I learned a lot. And I’m learning a lot from boxing, too.”

Entering her senior year, Esmora enjoys sports that go against the grain of what most girls her age are typically into. Two years ago, Esmora was introduced to Chicago Youth Boxing Club, a sports-based development program rooted in the sport of boxing and MMA. From day one, Esmora felt at home and looked upon CYBC as her second-family. “It really is a home away from home, especially since my family doesn’t necessarily like the idea of me as a boxer.” Surprisingly, Esmora admits that sparring against boys isn’t as hard as getting more young girls like herself and Casimiro to join in the sport. “Some guys don’t want to compete against girls. They don’t like the idea of hitting another girl so it’s hard to find matches to compete in,” said Esmora.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

(Left to right) Cicero resident Victoria Casimiro, 14, and Little Village resident Laura Esmora, 17, are set to be among the young women competing at this year’s Chicago Youth Boxing Club’s Women’s Boxing Challenge 2012 on Saturday, Aug. 25th.

Casimiro, who was turned on to the sport by her father, a former amateur boxer, shares the same sentiment. Less than two years ago, Casimiro walked through the doors solely too look for a way to lose weight. “My parents just wanted me to do more cardio; they wanted us to be healthy. And I have to say I didn’t enjoy it in the beginning because I was the only girl my age and my weight,” laughed Casimiro. Quickly thereafter, Casimiro discovered she had knack in both speed and agility. “Because I was one of the few girls here, the coaches had me spar with the boys and at first I didn’t want to because I was afraid of what they would think. But when I realized that I was pretty good, I let that fear go.”

Although both Casimiro and Esmora have had great experiences in the sport of boxing and with CYBC, they, along with a handful of other women, find it challenging at times to break down the stereotype of what women boxers are able to do in the ring. In a sport that is heavily dominated by men, it is hard for young girls like Casimiro and Esmora to find more prominent female role models on a larger platform.

“It’s just harder to find matches for girls and there’s a lot of resistance to girls boxing,” said Karen May, board president of CYBC. “There’s a lot of resistance within boxing, sort of from the powers that be…there is a lot of resistance to allow women to participate. I mean this is the first year in the Olympics where they let women boxers compete, which made me happy and sad at the same time.”

With that in mind, CYBC is proud to host the Women’s Boxing Challenge 2012 this Saturday, Aug. 25th at its facility at 2300 S. Millard Ave. An event both Casimiro and Esmora will find themselves competing in. May hopes this effort brings awareness to this issue of young women not being given the chance to compete on a national level. “It’s not fair. Girls train just as hard as the boys. They invest in everything the way boys invest in training,” said May. “It’s not easier for the girls by any means. And I think it’s an absolute fundamental right that they have to compete. I believe it’s morally and legally irresponsible to exclude girls from being in the sport.”

According to May, there is a controversial debate going on as to whether or not girls should be allowed to compete in the National Silver Gloves. “I can’t believe this is even a question. We need to see more young girls become involved.” For Casimiro and Esmora boxing is more than just about competing or proving a point. For both these young girls it is about being given the chance to write their own history. It is an activity that keeps them away from street-violence. It is a solution to the problem of teenage pregnancy. “Boxing to me is about changing my family tree,” said Esmora. “Most of the women in my family are moms, some hardly go to college, I want my family one day to say, ‘you know, Laura, the daughter of Roberto, she is doing great things with her life.’ That’s what I want them to say about me.”

As for Casimiro, she hopes to see other young girls in her neighborhood be the best they can be no matter what they do in life. “My goals in life are really just to be the best I know I can be,” said Casimiro. “I train hard, I will fight hard so I can better myself and hopefully one day I can better my community in the process.”

If you are interested in learning more about CYBC or are interested in attending the event, visit

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