Boxer Profile: Mikaela Mayer

Age: 23
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Weight Class: 132 lb
Recent Accomplishments: Women’s National Golden Glove Champion
Fighter of the Tournament
National PAL Champion

Why did you decide to start boxing?

“I was in high school and I wasn’t doing any sports any more. I felt like I needed to get back into something. There was a muay thai gym by my house. I started with muay thai, which went into boxing. I think that anyone who starts to train in any kind of combat sport, they just become obsessed and fall in love, and one thing led to another.”

What was your life like before you found the sport?

“Before this I was a little unfocused. I wasn’t grounded and wasn’t doing very well. I wasn’t set to graduate high school on time. I wasn’t really headed in the best direction. When I found myself in the boxing gym, I told myself two months into training that I wanted to be the best in the world. That kind of changed everything for me, and I started to focus and buckle down. I ended up graduating school on time and doing really well. It was a really positive influence in my life.”

What appeals to you about amateur boxing as opposed to professional boxing?

“If I were a male, I would take my shot in the Olympics but the ultimate goal would be to go pro. For women, the best female fighters in the world are amateur. This is where the competition is at, where all the best girls are. If you want to be in the most competitive realm of female boxing it’s in the amateurs. The pro game isn’t as developed for us. It’s fun to represent Team USA and to travel the world and compete against other countries. To me winning a gold medal is much more prestigious at this time than to turn pro.”

Describe how you felt when you heard women would box in the 2012 Olympics.

“It was talked about really early on, around 2009. I was still kind of new to the game, so it wasn’t like ‘Oh, I’m going for that immediately.’ It took time and I had to develop myself as an amateur and realize how awesome the amateurs were to decide that I wanted to go the Olympic route. I think that a lot of the people who are pro now, if the amateurs were built up the way they are now, would’ve chosen that route too. It was really awesome because women didn’t have a pro route and didn’t have an Olympic route, and this gave us an opportunity to have a career in the sport.”

What do you do to prep for a match?

“I’m from LA, but my coach is from Michigan. 5-6 weeks out from a tournament I will go into camp with my coach. We’ll train 2-3 times a day, 6 days a week. We do strength training, conditioning, pool workouts, boxing workouts, sparring. It switches up as you get closer to the competition, but it’s pretty much eat, sleep, train.”

Do you have a ritual or special regimen you do before entering the ring?

“No, I don’t. I’m actually all smiles, pretty talkative, and really relaxed. Being calm is kind of how I get ready. The night before, I’ve already gone over the game plan so I know what I’m going to do. I just try to stay calm and focus on what I’ve practiced.”

What was the most rewarding thing you have experienced since learning to box - either inside or outside of the gym?

“Boxing gave me a purpose. There are some people who wake up every day and don’t know what they want to do with their life or where they’re headed. I know exactly what I want, where I want to go. I have tons of goals and aspirations, and it’s all because of boxing.”

Can you explain how you got involved with the US Amateur Boxing Foundation and your role there?

“In 2009 I learned that they were electing athletes to sit on the Board of USA Boxing. I had no idea what that entailed, but I did know that I wanted to get more involved with USA Boxing, even behind the scenes. I ran to sit on the Board and the position I was given also gave me a seat on the Foundation. I’m the athlete representative. My job is to be the voice of the athletes.”

What should other young boxers know about the Foundation and its mission?

“For a lot of young boxers it’s hard for them to get involved with this type of thing. The Foundation gives athletes the grants they need to develop in USA Boxing.”

What are your dreams for the future? Do you see boxing as a career?

“Boxing’s a rough sport. There’s a very small percentage [of boxers] that actually can make a career of it. I recognize that. I’ve been pretty successful so far when it comes to endorsements, sponsorships, and being able to make a living out of being an Olympic-style boxer. I definitely need to make this Olympic team and win a gold medal; that’s my ultimate goal. I may go for another Olympics, or maybe the women’s pro game has picked up and I can do something there for women’s boxing.”

What can boxing teach to other girls your age and even younger?

“It teaches you discipline. When I first stared training there was no going out with my friends on Friday nights because I had to get up early on Saturday morning to train. You learn hard work and what it takes to be successful at something. You learn sacrifice, which is something that a lot of young people don’t want to do. That’s number 1!”