My Daughter, The Champ: Raising A Boxer Seniesa Estrada is a 17-year-old amateur boxing champ with a dad who gave up gang life to be her coach. Their lives changed when she first stepped into the ring — as an 8-year-old.
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My Daughter, The Champ: Raising A Boxer

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My Daughter, The Champ: Raising A Boxer

My Daughter, The Champ: Raising A Boxer

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Here, they talk about how she got her start in the ring when she was eight years old.

SENIESA ESTRADA: I was watching a boxing fight one day with you and my brother. I mean, I don't know too many eight-year-old girls that would look at a boxing fight and think it's fun. But for some reason, I did.

JOE ESTRADA: She said, hey, dad, do girls box? And I'm like, yes. A few minutes later, she says, can I box? And I'm like, sure, baby, you can box. All right, will you take me to the gym? I say, yeah. A month went by...

ESTRADA: Maybe even like two months went by.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ESTRADA: ...and she just brings it up again. Hey, dad, can you take me to the gym? You told me you were going to take me to the gym. I remember you keep telling me over and over, huh?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ESTRADA: I didn't know how hard it was, either. I just thought I was going to go to a gym and get in the ring and fight, because that's what I wanted to do.

ESTRADA: She went into the ring with this little boy and got hit in the stomach really hard. She looked at the little kid, like, I'm going to get you. And she just went right at him and just...

ESTRADA: I was just swinging.

ESTRADA: No technique in her punches.

ESTRADA: No technique. I was just swinging.

ESTRADA: She just whaled away. And it was like, wow, I just saw that. And it was like, the coach said, stop, stop. They stopped the fight. The little boy was crying, and that's the moment where I said, my little girl's a fighter. She was meant to do this.

ESTRADA: How does it feel when you see me in the ring?

ESTRADA: Well, it hasn't changed from the first time I saw you in the ring. It's kind of hard. The first time I watched you get hit, I really wanted to jump into that ring.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ESTRADA: You'll see me moving and trying to slip every punch that's being thrown at you. I'm actually moving around, so it's like if they're hitting me. How is it for you? What do you feel like when you're in the ring?

ESTRADA: It's a feeling that's like, hard to describe. Before I'm fighting, I feel so many different emotions. It's crazy. But once I'm in the ring, I really don't feel anything. I mean, because I'm so comfortable in there. It's what I'm meant to do, and I want to keep fighting.

ESTRADA: Oh, cool. That's good.

ESTRADA: What I admire about you is how you changed over the years and just the person you've become. He's...

ESTRADA: I'm not who I used to be, you know?

ESTRADA: Yeah. You came a long way from being into gangs and stuff. All of a sudden, me wanting to box, it just all changed.

ESTRADA: I completely stopped doing all the drugs and everything that I used to do before because at that split second when you made that decision, it's over. I mean, I'm going to stand right behind her and be a good father to her. And I love you with all my heart, baby. And I'm proud of you now and I'll always be. I love you.

ESTRADA: I love you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Seventeen-year-old amateur boxing champion Seniesa Estrada with her dad and coach, Joe Estrada, in Montebello, California. Their interview is part of StoryCorps Historias, recording the voices of Latinos. It will be archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. You can get StoryCorps podcasts at NPR.org.

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