Speaking to the World
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US Boxing Champion & Olympian
Marlen was born in Houston, Texas and grew up in a family that adored the sport of boxing. Her introduction to the ring came at age 11, when she started babysitting her younger brother while he worked out at a local gym. Marlen was soon begging her father and the gym's trainer to let her try the sport. They were hesitant, but soon gave in under one condition: She had to behave in school. Marlen kept her end of the bargain and by her senior year she was named class president and graduated with a 4.6 GPA. Although, she had won two Women's Boxing U.S. National Championships (2006, 2007) and captured bronze at the 2006 World Championships, Marlen was ready to quit the sport and go to Rice University, where she had been previously accepted. Read More >
All of that changed in 2009 when the International Olympic Committee announced that women's boxing would debut at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Soon after this announcement, Nike, Coca-Cola, and CoverGirl signed Marlen to sponsorship deals. This was huge for Marlen because she was able to quit her job—she had been working as a dental assistant—and her focus on training became even more intense for the only title left for her to win.
Marlen went on to win the 2009, 2010, and 2011 U.S. National Championships and qualified to the Olympic Games at the World Championships in China. This would clinch her spot in history as the first ever American female boxer to ever compete in an Olympic Games.
In the debut of women's boxing at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Marlen Esparza brought home the bronze medal. Her original plan was to leave the sport after the Olympic Games, but after bringing home the bronze Marlen realized that she wasn't quite finished with boxing.
Marlen has kept her U.S. National Championship winning streak alive by taking the title in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Marlen also took home the Gold medal at the 2014 Women's World Championships for the first time in her career.
Marlen has turned pro, signing with Golden Boy Promotions in 2017. She dominated her pro debut in March by a unanimous decision win on ESPN and is currently 4-0 in her professional career, as her third fight was a part of the Canelo vs. GGG undercard in Las Vegas.
Marlen is also an avid runner and came in 49th place out of 25,000 at the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco.
She is passionate about creating a voice for women's sports and inspiring young girls to go after their dreams, whatever they may be.
Marlen has been featured in several print and internet publications and digital media outlets, including: Vogue, CNN, ESPN Body Issue, Today Show, ESPNW, TV Guide, People Magazine, Cosmopolitan, The Steve Harvey Show, ESPN Deportes, Runner's World, Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Women's Running Magazine, America's Elite (Season 1 Episode 7), Sports Illustrated, USA Today, New York Times, Shark Tank, Boxing Insider, Women Fitness, Chronicle Live, Team USA, ESPN W, Vivala, Stylecaster, PopSugar, Buzzfeed, The Boxing Tribune among others. Read Less ^
As a little girl, speaker Marlen Esparza passed up Barbies and Polly pockets in favor of a slightly more unusual game: boxing. Watching it on television with her dad and brothers and accompanying them to the gym to watch them practice, she developed an irreversible passion for the sport. But it came with a serious challenge: her father and coach told her she couldn’t box because she was a girl. Undeterred, she started training—and winning—proving them all wrong. In this keynote, Esparza shares her story of fighting obstacle after obstacle in order to achieve her goals—from being taken seriously as a female boxer to competing in the Olympics.
As the first Latina boxer—and the first to have top sponsors such as CoverGirl, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Nike—Marlen Esparza hopes to open the door to future generations of Latinos, encouraging them to compete in women’s boxing and all sports in general. In this keynote, she discusses how Latinos don’t have to fall prey to typical stereotypes, such as not graduating from high school, and instead should feel empowered to pursue their dreams. She shares her story and her plans to go back to college as a pre-med student while training for Rio 2016 and working on launching her own beauty and fashion line. Her message is simple but powerful: if you can dream it and believe it, then you can do it.
Speaker Marlen Esparza was the first US female boxer to qualify for London 2012 in an Olympic sport that didn’t even allow women to compete until 2009. A pioneer in the industry, Esparza not only opened the door to all other women wanting to get into boxing, but as the first US female boxer to medal with a bronze, she proved that they could excel in the sport. Esparza shares her journey—candidly admitting that it wasn’t always easy and glamorous, as there were days when she simply did not want to train and had to drag herself out of bed—and motivates all women to follow their dreams, no matter how daunting they might seem.
"The event went great! It was perfect and awesome to have Marlen speak to our Latino youth. She was very genuine and delivered her message powerfully! She is a great role model for our young Latinas. We were grateful for the opportunity!"
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