Editor’s note: This is a guest blog entry from HISD Police Officer Rudy Silva, who coaches U.S. Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza. On Monday, Esparza won her quarterfinal match. She is guaranteed to win at least a bronze medal. Her next match is on Wednesday.
Marlen and I have been doing this for 11 years. Today, I was about to catch the train and we were about to be in our first Olympic fight. I was thinking hard work really pays off. You always hear people say that, but today it really hit me. We have come a long way. There were times when I know Marlen wanted to stop because people weren’t giving women enough recognition. I told her, “Just keep winning and people will notice.”
Today, when I was getting off the train here at the Excel Center, I started thinking that we’re about to go into the biggest fight of our boxing career. As I entered the building, Marlen called me and we talked for a bit. Once I talked to her, I started to feel a lot better. She wasn’t as nervous as when she first called.
The fight went almost as I imagined. The first round started and Marlen did what she normally does. I felt like she was boxing at our gym. I told her to act like you’re back home at our gym. And that’s what she did. She started lighting up the scoreboard with a lot of numbers.
As she finished, the crowd was going crazy. There were about 15 people from Houston here, including her parents, and we all ran out to go see her. We hugged her. It just felt great. This started 11 years ago and Marlen has stayed focused. She sacrificed a lot of her teenage years. I sacrificed a lot.
I have talked to a lot of students at Davis High School and I tell them Marlen’s story. I tell them, “You have to push a little bit harder. At the end, there is something there. Just stay focused. Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it, because you can.” I get knocks on my door every day at Davis and 70 percent of the kids are just asking for everyday advice. They’ll talk to me, not like I am an officer, but like I am a mentor. I like that kids trust me enough to ask me questions about life and I am able to guide them the right way. I always tell them about Marlen. Her story motivates the kids. I know we are getting a lot of support from Houston. I can’t wait to go back and share this with everyone.
At the Olympics, we are guaranteed a bronze medal, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for gold!