Mikaela is one of only three women to represent the US Olympic Boxing Team— and the only one in her weight class. A US Nationals winner, she lives by a one-word mantra: Perseverance.
The One X Ten Interview:
1. Where are you from and where do you currently call home?
I am originally from Los Angeles California. I grew up in the San Fernando valley and then spent some years in the art district of downtown LA. Currently I live and train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs while I get ready for Rio.
2. How did you get started in your sport and when did you realize you wanted to pursue it professionally?
When I was 17 I walked into a Muay Thai Kickboxing gym near my apartment in the valley. I had recently been kicked out of my high school and didn't feel I was on the best path in life. I decided I wanted to try something positive and new, so I walked in and signed myself up. Within four weeks of training I told myself I wanted to be the best female fighter in the world. I immedietly fell in love with the sport.
3. What is the biggest setback you’ve suffered as an athlete?
I don't really look at any part of my journey as a set back. For the most part I haven't suffered any major injuries so I definitely feel lucky in that sense, but I guess you could say it was losing in the finals of Olympic trials back in 2012. To get so close and then fall short by a few points on a decision was definitely heartbreaking, but I knew right away that my journey wasn't over and that my dream was still very much alive. 2016 immedietly became my new goal.
4. Best piece of advice from women starting out in your sport?
Just like many other Olympic sports, this is a very hard sport to pursue because it leaves no room for plan B. It's all or nothing, and many Olympic sports aren't collegiate so you don't always walk away with a degree as a backup. I would say if you're looking to walk down this path that it has to be all or nothing. Know that it's going to get tough and beready to fight for your dream at all costs. If not, it's always great to stay fit and have such a productive hobby.
5. What’s the biggest misconception people have about being a female athlete?
I couldn't speak for female athletes in all sports but I think for aggressive/combat sports like boxing, the misconception is that we must not be attractive or feminine. I think female athletes these days are definitely changing that idea.
6. Whom in your sport do you admire the most and why?
I honestly admire my teammates. We all Come from different backgrounds and have such different stories yet we all have the same goal, drive and love for boxing. Each one of us has different strengths that we feedoff of to make each other better.
7. What’s in your gym/workout bag?
In my gym bag I have basic boxing gear such as gloves, a mouth piece, headgear, and a handful of Un-matching hand wraps that I should probably organize. I also have a ton of credentials from different tournaments around the world that I also seem to forget to throw away.
Living here at the Olympic training center our breakfast is pretty standard and consistently the same throughout the week. I usually have oatmeal with tons of almonds and a little brown sugar, a couple hard boiled eggs and some grapefruit. Once in a while I'll have some pancakes if it's been a super hard week and I can afford it.
9. Favorite workout or workout tip?
My favorite workout that we do are our one-on-one sessions with head coach Billy Walsh. This workout consist of strictly technical mitt work and focusing on our best combinations and what we need to improve on. Mitt work is always fun and it kicks your butt cardio wise.
10. We define “The Wonder” as the state of reaching the truly extraordinary—the achievements that most people, including you at one point, could not fathom. What is your Wonder and what has it taken—or what will it take—to reach it?
My wonder is definitely making it to the Olympic Games and getting to compete for my country in front of the entire world. I have thought about it for the last 8 years of my life but the day it actually happens will be indescribable. I hope to soak it all in and truly be appreciative of the journey I have had and what I have created for myself.