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Brazilian boxer aims for Olympic gold in women’s lightweight

By Dani Morera Trettin

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Beatriz Ferreira’s boxing career began at the age of four in her family’s garage.

Today, 27 years after she first picked up the boxing gloves, the Brazilian and daughter of two-time Brazilian boxing champion Raimundo Oliveira Ferreira is the favorite to win the lightweight gold medal at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

She grew up in a poor neighborhood of Salvador in the northern Brazilian state of Bahia, and her father converted the family’s garage into a makeshift gym.

“He cleaned out the garage, set up a punching bag and invited the neighborhood kids to train. It was his way of keeping us off the streets,” she told Reuters between sparring matches at the Brazilian Boxing Federation’s training center.

To realize her dreams, she moved to Sao Paulo to train with the Olympic team.

“I didn’t know anyone in Sao Paulo, but I had a dream and the money I earned from boxing. I trained with the Olympic team, which was a priceless experience,” she says.

Despite financial difficulties, she persevered even when she ran out of money. Her commitment paid off when she was selected as a substitute for the Olympic team.

“It was a great honor. I learned what it means to be a high-performance athlete,” she said.

Ferreira has reached remarkable heights on her journey.

She is a four-time Brazilian champion and the first Brazilian to win a silver medal in an Olympic boxing competition in Tokyo (2020). In addition, she was a two-time world champion in 2019 and 2023.

Ferreira is a passionate advocate of women’s boxing.

“In 2016 there were only three women’s categories. Now there are six,” she said. “Women’s boxing has come a long way.”

However, she admits that there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve equality in men’s boxing.

“It’s about perseverance. If you live with doubt, you’ll never know if you could have done it,” she said. “For me, winning an Olympic gold medal would be the ultimate validation of my journey.”

(Reporting by Dani Morera; Editing by Toby Davis)

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