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February 12, 2024 4 min read

Boxer Sierra Martinez, a Rhode Island native, hopes to make history this summer.

Here's her plan Sierra Martinez darts in and out and circles her opponent with a dizzying flurry of jabs that land with near perfection.

The Providence native wants to own the ring and fought her way to gold in the 125-pound weight class at the United States Olympic Trials earlier this month. Now Martinez has her eyes on Paris and the 2024 Olympic Games this summer.

“I'm expecting her to win because I know she's dedicated,” Guadalupe Gutierrez, Martinez’s sparring partner, said. “I see what she goes through in a workout or sparring session. I know she's going to give it her all.”

Winning trials secures Martinez the chance to earn a spot at the Olympic Games for Team USA. In the following weeks, the 20-year-old will spar with Team Sierra Leone and Team Azerbaijan near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“As a boxer she likes to move around,” Gutierrez said of Martinez. “She doesn't really want to, she can stay in the middle, but she doesn't want to. She likes to go in circles.”

Martinez’s performance in those bouts, and the showing of another Olympic-hopeful at 125 pounds, will decide if she will be the first female boxer from Rhode Island to represent her country at the Olympics.

“[The Olympics] is right in front of me,” said Martinez, who first starting boxing at a gym in North Providence at age 10. She had her first fight when she was 11.

“It's a step closer, by me winning the Olympic Trials, it just made me even closer.

“The U.S. is probably the hardest [country] to get a spot in the Olympics. That's why I want to beat all odds.”

Martinez's 'biggest accomplishment' was winning Silesian Games

Martinez departed for Fort Worth, Texas, when she was 16 years old partly to be with family in the Lone Star State but also to pursue her boxing career.

The move paid dividends as she represented Team USA for the first time at the Silesian Games in Poland in 2019 and landed a gold medal.

“Just being able to go overseas and taking home a gold medal over there was pretty big,” Martinez said. “I think that was my biggest accomplishment.” Her brother, Simon Martinez, was an Army recruiter in Texas and when Sierra Martinez graduated from high school in Texas she enlisted in the Army. While in Texas, the Army’s World Class Athlete Program noticed her potential in the sport. Martinez is currently training in the program and is honored to represent the United States in two different uniforms.

“I have the Army behind me and not only that, but WCAP,” Martinez said. “Our main goal is to make the Olympics, so they do everything behind us to make sure that we make it. It's been huge just having my team behind me, having everyone around me with the same goal.”

Said Gutierrez: “From the moment we started, even in the ranks, she was a very determined person. She pushes herself to the limit and doesn’t know when to stop. She’s always trying to find ways to better herself as far as inside and outside the ring.”

‘She has this swag’ Led by Golden Gloves Hall of Fame coach Charles Leverette, Martinez routinely has a 5 a.m. wake up to arrive at the gym by 6:40 where she starts with technical work.

“It's just a different mindset from the waking of the morning to the laying down at night,” said Leverette, who has coached Martinez for over a year. “A whole different mindset and pattern. That mindset makes you do stuff that people, who are not on that level see, and it might seem strange.”

After technical work, Martinez does a session of “Tic Tac,” where she is handicapped with only one hand to throw punches or they’ll go straight into a free spar. And after a round on the pads, Martinez and Co. either work strength or conditioning around 2 p.m. depending on the day of the week.

On Thursdays and Fridays the sparring rounds with opposing countries have been preparing the boxers.

“Her personality and the aura that she has around her, it tells everybody that ‘I’m going to get it done,’ " Leverette said. “As the kids say, she has this swag. It’s not braggadocious, but it's enough to let them know who I am and what I'm doing. And I'm capable of being who I am all the time and doing what needs to be done all the time.”

Martinez has done the work to position herself for a chance this summer. “She looks forward to it,” Leverette said of the opportunity. “Show up and show out. She has to perform and as long as she performs at her top level and her elite status, it’ll be [her] hands down.”

What's next for Sierra Martinez

If Martinez is selected at the end of the month, she then heads to Italy in February to secure her spot in a second qualifier.

Countries aren’t guaranteed a spot in boxing at the Olympics and boxers must qualify individually. If another hopeful is selected, Martinez still has the opportunity to qualify based on her counterpart’s showing in Italy.

“Really, it's two more steps,” Martinez said. “It's this evaluation camp and then it's Italy, or overseas, to qualify my name into the Olympics.”


Reposted with permission of Simon Martinez (Sierra's Dad).