Don’t let the blond hair, the slender body, or the model-esque looks fool you.
Lightweight boxer Mikaela Mayer isn’t in the boxing game to as some promotional gimmick. Rather, she could very well represent the future of her sport, especially when it comes to her gender.
As an amateur boxer, Mayer headed to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with her sights set on a Gold Medal. However, she was robbed of this opportunity thanks to some questionable judgments made by the officials who determined the outcome of the match. With her career at a crossroads after the Olympic Games, Mayer capitalized on her talent and the momentum she had gained from the months of training, and decided to pursue a career in professional boxing.
Fast forward a year later, and Mayer is 5-0 through her first five fights, winning the first two by knockout.
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But the interesting thing about her career is just as much about what she’s accomplishing outside the ring, as she is inside of it.
It’s admittedly hard not to be taken aback by her physical attractiveness when you see her. In fact, the California native looks like she should be laying on the beach somewhere soaking up the sun, with the most athletic venture she pursues being riding the waves on her surfboard.
But then you see her step into the ring, use her long reach to deliver a devastating jab, followed by sequences of lightning-fast combinations handing out blows with a force like her fists were cast iron pans.
She hasn’t attracted anything close to the same media spotlight, and she isn’t nearly as brash when the microphone is put in her face, but Mayer has a chance to do for women’s boxing what Ronda Rousey did for women’s mixed martial arts.
Mayer also doesn’t have a marketing mogul like Dana White in her corner promoting her in every opportunity he can. However, without trying to discount anything she’s accomplished in the ring because of her appearance, Mayer’s looks have the ability to raise the profile of the sport among the common public.
Because she looks more like the stereotypical “pretty girl,” she actually opens the door to numerous young women who might have otherwise been turned away from the sport because they viewed it as something too “manly” or “tomboy-ish.” Mayer herself faced these types of barriers, but from the opposite end: coaches refusing to train her because she was a girl, and promoters refusing to work with her because she was seen as being too stereotypically girly.
But instead of letting those obstacles get in her way, she did what any great fighter would do: she fought her way to success, not letting anyone stop her. And in the way, she’s breaking down the barriers for others who might want to follow her.
At 27 years old, Mayer is probably at the peak of her professional career. But regardless of what she does from here on out, she’ll be seen as one of the great figures of her sport, because of what she did in the sport, and for the sport.