Violet “The Warrior Princess” Lopez is determined to convince people that boxing isn't just a "boy's sport."
The 14-year-old is a four-time amateur boxing champion who's shaking up her sport in a major way, and she's paving the way for other girls to make their own mark in the boxing ring.
Lopez first shared her story with TODAY All Day.
“People say boxing is not meant for girls. I want them to see me as someone who shows you that you can do the sport you love even though it’s a sport that people say is not meant for you,” she told TODAY.
Lopez was born with the heart of a fighter and she's the youngest female boxer to ever compete out of United Community Center, her local community center in Milwaukee. She got her start in the sport when she was 8 and she won her first fight that same year. But she never anticipated that it would become such a major part of her life.
“I didn’t think when I had started boxing that I was gonna come this far. I didn’t know I was gonna grow this fast," she explained.
Just as Lopez was getting started in boxing, she had to slow down and wait another two years for her next fight since there wasn’t another female competitor in her age group. That led her to have doubts about her future with the sport.
“For two years, she just trained. They would have show fights here and all the boys are fighting but she wasn’t; she was just watching from the stands. She started to kind of think if it was for her because she didn’t feel like there was enough room for females in boxing just because there were no opportunities for them,” Lopez's mom, Brittni Lopez, told TODAY.
All that time Lopez spent preparing for her next fight only fueled her fire even more and by the time she was 12, she became the top ranked amateur boxer in the country in her division. She even won gold at the Junior Olympics and in five national championships.
“I want everyone to know that I worked really hard to get to where I am right now and it’s not always easy,” she said.
Outside of the ring, Lopez has always had to contend with stereotypes that are familiar to many female athletes and her mother said it's been difficult watching her daughter question her talent at times.
“(The) biggest challenge is the fact that they are a female and not a male. People just assuming that they have it easier, people thinking that the training may be different for them, not as hard, they don’t have to do as much," she explained.
Lopez was supposed to have her biggest boxing season ever in 2020, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit and everything changed.
"I had to take off a year, of showing people what I can do and who I want to be and what I want to change for boxing,” she said.
Flash forward to March 2021, and the teenager was back in the ring for the Youth National Championships. When she finished third and her national ranking dropped from first to third, Lopez realized she might have to step up her game.
“I think I needed that loss. That was my first loss in a long time. I gotta work harder because I want to get back to the No. 1 spot because that’s where I should be," she said.
The last few months have been pretty busy for the teenager. After graduating eighth grade, she took home a bronze medal at the 2021 Junior Olympics in Lubbock, Texas and she's determined to restore her No. 1 ranking next.
“My goal is to get my No. 1 spot back because that’s what I want … Period!” she said.