Jajaira Gonzalez was just eight years old when her father, Jose, who is also her coach, required that she learn self-defense. Being forced into something is hard enough, but when you are born into a family of boxers, the pressure is on. Yet Jajaira has no problem living up to her family’s expectations and even got as far as being a Youth Olympic Champion.
Jajaira and a teammate made U.S. history when they become the first boxers to medal in the Youth Olympic Games last summer in Nanjing, China. Jajaira brought home the gold medal in the lightweight division.
Winning world championships is not new for Jajaira. In 2014 she won the Junior and Youth World Championship, and in 2013 she was the Junior World Champion in her weight category and was the Junior World Team Open Champion. Her competitions have taken her around the world.
When Jajaira started to box, she was only learning self-defense, but the more she practiced, the more she fell in love with the sport. Even her friends acknowledge all the time and effort she puts into it, along with all the sacrifices she makes. For the last ten years she has been training non-stop to reach her goals and make her family proud. According to her father, they train seven days a week and travel to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for weeks at a time to train. The biggest sacrifice is not seeing her family often.
Still she manages to keep in contact with her family and friends even while in a different country. You cannot say the same with school though. With traveling constantly and training for hours, schoolwork is bound to pile up. She maintains passing grades, but both training and traveling have caused her grades to drop, she says.
Her father says he is very proud of her, both as a coach and as a father. He also says that it does hurt him when she gets hurt, but he is confident that she will not let anyone get to her. When asked about how hard the relationship is, he responded, “The relationship is tough, but we try to not mix up anything. They know when I’m being a coach and when I’m being their father.” His sons also box competitively.
Jajaira has been so successful that she has the opportunity of making boxing a career. When Jose was asked about the future, he said,“I know that if we got the opportunity to make it even bigger in the sport, she will, but also she would have to deal with the doubters.”
Jajaira has won 15 awards and is a three times world champion. She is planning to put off college for a year to participate in the 2016 Olympics.
Despite her struggles and sacrifices, Jajaira has a good head on her shoulders. She says, “Boxing has taught me to have more discipline, more responsibility and independence. I feel like I have been humble. My key thing is that I don’t want to be stuck up.”
With a good attitude and a good support system, we can only expect many more achievements for Charter Oak’s very own Rocky.
Photograph provided by Jajaira Gonzalez.