(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – Seventeen-year-old Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) remembers her early days in the sport when she was the only girl in her southern California boxing gym. At only eight years old, her father was determined to get her involved in the sport despite her protests and wide array of attempts to get out of training. Fast-forward nearly a decade and that young girl has made history as the first U.S. boxer ever to win Youth Olympic Games gold, taking a unanimous decision at the International Expo Centre in Nanjing, China on Tuesday afternoon. Gonzalez dominated her final round bout with Ireland’s Ciara Ginty, winning every round on every single scorecard to claim a gold medal in the first Youth Olympic Games to include women’s boxing.
“Hard work truly pays off and winning doesn’t come easy. You’re not just going to be handed a gold medal, you have to work for it,” Gonzalez said following her big win.
The reigning junior world champion and Youth Olympic Games qualifier gold medalist is known for her aggressive style and overwhelming activity and that came in handy in her championship bout against the taller Irish boxer. “My opponent had a very long reach but that didn’t stop from getting on the inside,” she said.
NBC Sports Network will show highlights of Gonzalez’s gold medal performance during their evening broadcast tonight from 7-9 p.m. ET.
Ginty not only won a junior world title in 2013, taking the lightweight crown, but also claimed the Outstanding Junior Boxer of the Tournament award. Yet, Ginty’s resume was meaningless to Gonzalez and her mission to win gold. She started her onslaught in the first round, consistently trapping Ginty in the corner and landing combinations. Ginty came out in the second looking to outbox the hard-charging Gonzalez, but she wasn’t able to do so. Gonzalez gave Ginty a standing eight count late in the second and continued to pound away over the final four minutes as her teammates chanted U-S-A in support.
As the new Youth Olympic Games lightweight champion exited the ring, the Olympic TV announcers hailed her phenomenal performance. “She was ferocious. She was hungry and she showed no mercy to an opponent who was world class but was made to look ordinary.”
Gonzalez entered the national scene at a great time for women’s boxing, earning a berth on the first-ever junior women’s team following the debut of the sport at the 2012 Olympic Games. She’s dominated at the national and international levels since that time, racking up hardware and marking her own place in the history books. Surrounded by male family members in her home gym, Gonzalez has been fortunate enough to train with 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) and 2012 Olympian Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. She has also competed alongside fellow trailblazing teenager Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.). Gonzalez won her junior world title at the same event that the 2012 Olympic gold medalist claimed her youth world championship last year in Bulgaria.
The teenager is the lone female member of an intense boxing squad that is producing phenomenal results. Her father and older brothers, Joet and Jousce train her and their young brother JonJairo and they expect greatness from all the pugilists in the Gonzalez family. Joet competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and is now in the midst of a promising professional career while Jousce won a silver medal at the 2014 USA Boxing Elite National Championships and is an Olympic hopeful in his own right.
Gonzalez credits growing up in the male-driven boxing gym and sparring with brothers for making her the tough competitor that she is today. Those family sparring matches and intense training sessions have certainly paid off for the Gonzalez family because baby sister is bringing home the gold.
She will return to Los Angeles on Friday evening to show off her shiny new gold medal to all the men in her boxing family.
Flyweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) and super heavyweight Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) will compete in men’s final round action on Wednesday at the International Expo Centre. Stevenson will face China’s LY Ping at approximately 2:15 p.m. local time and Rock will battle Germany’s Peter Kadiru at 4:15 p.m.
All of the Youth Olympic Games boxing action can be viewed at www.olympic.tv. To watch a live bout, select the boxing window and to view an archived bout enter the athlete’s name in to the search box.
U.S. Gold Medal Bout Result
132 lbs/female: Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif./USA dec. Ciara Ginty, IRL, 3-0
USA Boxing, as the national governing body for Olympic-style boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).