Not just a barbie: Local teen boxer aims for junior Olympics

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Source: CVDaily Feed
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When it comes to being a teenager, looks and first impressions can carry significant weight.

The same also rings true for boxers.

Fortunately for Jaimee Pope, both work to her advantage.

A 15-year-old fighting phenom, Pope is known in the ring for her glamourous outfits and tenacious ability. And it didn’t take long for her to make her mark on the sport.

In her first ever match, Pope walked away from the ring without so much as a scratch while her opponent suffered a broken nose. Now, four matches later, Pope boasts a 5-0 record and is just a step away from competing in the Junior Olympics.

“Really it’s just the national tournament and who sees you there and what you do there. You have to prove to trainers and coaches that you’ll do anything you can do to get there,” Pope said of working towards the Olympics. “There’ll be tryouts and different things, but if you show them you want it bad enough and are willing to work hard enough then you’ll be able to tryout and make the team.”

Pope said she feels her appearance plays a role in her success, but that it’s her hard work and dedication that really sets her apart from her competition. She said that’s especially true now that she’s made a name for herself and opponents don’t underestimate her ability based on her appearance.

The last victory came Jan. 4, though Pope said she didn’t get the knockout like she wanted to.

Pope and Nava are busy preparing for another match on February 28, though no opponent has been confirmed yet. Christian Nava, Pope’s coach and trainer, said the fight is in the works.

“I’m working on it,” Nava said. “I’ve submitted her name. I turned in her name and hopefully we can get her a fight. There’s an 18-year-old in Idaho they want to fight her, but she outweighs her. We don’t care if (Jaimee) fights up a weight. I’m not worried about Jaimee.”

“We talked to girls about a rematch but they said no. They didn’t want round two with Barbie. One girl dropped to a lower weight class so she didn’t have to fight Jaimee again.”

It’s not the first time that Pope has competed in a predominantly male sport. She spent a season playing strong safety on Mountain Crest’s junior football team in the Border Wars football tournament and helped her team to a tournament victory.

Nava believes that opponents underestimate her because of her appearance.

“She’s earning respect but there’s still some opponents out there (that underestimate),” Nava said. “People say she’s in the wrong sport because she’s wearing pink, but then she hits the bags and it gets quiet because she hits hard for a 15-year-old.”

Home-schooled, Pope spends 4-5 hours per day at the gym training, doing everything from weight lifting, to helping run women’s boxing classes, to sparring with trainers in the ring. The number of hours spent training often come without knowing when the next fight will be.

Nava said Pope has what it takes to reach the next level.

“She has that hunger, she wants it,” Nava said. “She wants it more than anything. She will be a big name in Utah, she will be in the Olympics. I want her on the national team for sure.”

For Pope, the motivation comes from a desire to reach the next level.

The duo will spend the next year training to get to the national tournament, opting to skip the tournament this season to allow Pope to get a few more fights under her belt.

“I want to be the best. I want to have people hear my name and say ‘oh thats that really could boxer.’ I want to prove that I can do it and be the best. I want to make sure I do everything I can so I have no regrets later on.”