SANTIAGO, Chile — 26 year old American boxer Jajaira Gonzalez’s win at the 2023 Pan American Games semifinals in Santiago earned her a direct ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics to represent her country. The middleweight champion and 2014 Youth Olympic gold medalist secured the ticket after her semi final win against Uruguayan Camila Piñeiro Muiño.
“We are going to Paris. I am so happy and blessed. All the sacrifices, tears and sweats all paid off. I have no words,” said Gonzalez in media reports after qualifying. “Thank you to everyone who supported me and those who doubted me. You pushed me. Thank you to my father and siblings and my team.”
Pundits predicted Gonzalez to be the next big thing after the 2014 Youth Olympic gold win and successes in other junior championships but she took an hiatus from the boxing scene for personal reasons.
“During this time, since I wasn’t boxing or really training, I gained 35 pounds and was kind of depressed,” she said. “I genuinely wasn’t happy and just wasn’t mentally there. But then in 2021, I started to get back into it. I was going to therapy and talking to friends about what was going on. I moved back to California with my parents and started training again.”
“Not a lot of people get second chances like this, so I cannot take it for granted again, so I’m giving it my all,” Gonzalez added. “The new Jajaira Gonzalez is a warrior and a very strong, independent woman, and I can’t mess it up this time.”
Despite her hard work and dedication, it has not all been rosy for Gonzalez as eight months before the Pan African games, she was unable to make the national high performance team at 57 kg, ranking behind her fellow countrymate Alyssa Mendoza.
Gonzalez got a lifeline to participate after her compatriot, the 2022 world champion at 60 kg Rashida Ellis was unexpectedly ruled out of contention for a place on the national team at that weight due to disciplinary reasons
Five other American boxers have secured their tickets to the 2024 Paris Olympics at the ongoing Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
Edited by Virginia Van Zandt and Newsdesk Manager
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