Jennifer Lozano is headed to the City of Lights…
The 20-year-old Mexican American boxer, a native of Laredo, Texas, has qualified next year’s 2024 Paris Games by reaching the final of the women’s 50 kilogram weight class at the Pan American Games.
She will face Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira, a silver medalist in Tokyo, for the gold medal.
With the semifinal win, Lozano has given the city of Laredo its first Olympian.
Laredo has about 230,000 residents and sits on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Lozano said in a recent interview that her city, a mix of poor and better off, is “very small, very closed-minded,” and she wanted to overcome its machismo to thrive in sport.
Next year, both sides of the city will be pulling for the boxer nicknamed “La Traviesa.” It will be a different scene compared with a few years ago, when she was bullied for being overweight and a Spanish speaker.
Boxing changed it all for the hardcore fan of legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. Her other hero is her late grandmother, the main inspiration for her to compete.
“We are going to Paris, baby. La Traviesa es de Laredo, Texas. We are ready for all of the world, we are going to the Olympics,” a tearful Lozano said in a mixture of English and Spanish. “Being the first Olympian from Laredo means a lot to me.”
She celebrated her Olympic berth with family members who traveled to Santiago to watch her compete.
“I am very proud to be Mexican-American,” she said.
Laredo could get a second Olympian in Paris. Boxer Emilio Garcia, who could not secure his spot at the Pan American Games, will have two more events to try to qualify for next year in the 63.5 kilograms category.