03/02/2021 – Between jabs and hooks, Fight for Peace Rio Academy member Rebeca shares her experiences as an elite boxer

Anyone that thinks boxing is for boys doesn’t know what they are talking about. Women are becoming more and more prominent in the ring and showing that sexism has no place when it comes to sport.

The first modern Olympics was held in 1896 and it was only in the 2012 London Olympic Games that female boxing was included for the first time. This clearly shows how masculine the sport traditionally was.

But women – among them young women and girls – are fighting back against this, women Like Rebeca, a 20 year old resident of Complex da Maré, Rio de Janeiro who is forging her path in the sport of boxing.

Rebeca started attending Fight for Peace in Rio through pure curiosity, and she became fixated with boxing when she saw other young women training in the gym. She decided to start training too and, with the support of Fight for Peace, is heading towards her goals.

Rebeca says that being a member of Fight for Peace provided her with the right environment to train, a safe and comfortable space, the support of professional coaches to build her as an athlete, and support with nutrition, transport and admin that all modern athletes competing nationally and internationally require.

But it isn’t just the training that makes a good athlete, and that’s why Fight for Peace offers personal development sessions to all our members. Here young people and staff come together to talk about issues and situations that affect us all directly or indirectly. This includes subjects like discrimination, ethics, security and violence, health and other social issues. It was through these group sessions that Rebeca made such good friends and formed strong bonds with her coaches, who teach so much more than boxing technique.

Rebeca started competing when she was 14, before that there were not enough other young boxers around to form a championship. Now she has fought in around 20 national and international boxing matches but she still remembers the feeling of her first bout.

The adrenaline pumping through the veins, the deep breaths, the thoughts racing through the head and the butterflies in the stomach are all part of the territory for a competitive athlete. These feelings are short lived however – as soon as Rebeca gets in the ring and begins to compete, her mind and body are already trained to focus on the moment and give everything to get the victory.

As anyone close to the sport will know, summoning the courage, dedication and discipline required to enter the boxing ring already makes you a champion.

“I still feel like this is my first bout, but now I have control of my emotions as well as experience and professionalism.” says Rebeca.  This is just the start of the journey, and she is confident in her quest for an Olympic medal.

It’s stories like this that make us believe that our dreams are possible. With a framework of support and trained professionals, allied of course with dedication and hard work, our goals and dreams are within all of our reaches.

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