As Team USA prepares to compete later this week at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, top American female featherweight Yarisel Ramirez, was, ironically, born in Cuba, America's boxing arch-rival and measuring stick.
The 19-year-old Ramirez, who resides in Las Vegas, was born in Guantanamo, Cuba. During her relatively young boxing career - she started boxing in 2011 - she has captured gold medals at the 2018 Western Elite Qualifier, 2016 and 2017 Youth Open, and 2015 Junior Open and 2015 National Junior Golden Gloves Championships.
She also has placed in two international tournaments, second at the 2015 Junior World Championships in Taiwan, and bronze at this year's Strandja Tournament in Bulgaria.
"My best achievement in boxing to date is winning a silver medal at the Junior World Championships," she noted, "and qualifying for the Pan Am Games."
Unlike many of her Team USA stablemates who started boxing due to disciplinary or street-survival reasons, Ramirez started boxing when she 11 simply to lose weight.
"I started boxing only to lose weight, but I had other teammates and they were competing," she explained her reason for turning to boxing, "They were competing, and I just loved the adrenaline and energy, when they were about to fight. Of course, I was the only girl in the gym, and everybody would tell me I couldn't do it. I proved them wrong."
Ramirez was eliminated in the Pan American Qualifier by the eventual winner, Leonela Sanchez, of Argentina. She is the likely favorite heading into the start of this week's 2019 Pan Am Games
"Fighting at the Pan Am Games is a huge opportunity for me to open a lot of doors and show the world my talents," Ramirez said. "I think my main competition there will be from Argentina and Puerto Rico."
Women's boxing is on the rise and Ramirez is a beneficiary of what pioneers in the industry have done and continue to do.
"I feel that female boxing is on the rise now and it'll only get bigger as time goes by," Ramirez concluded. "We are making a difference today. This is the first time that there are five weight classes for females in the Olympics and Pan American Games."
Yarisel Ramirez, despite being born in Cuba, represents the future of USA Boxing's females.