At 5' 2" and 112 pounds, Marlen Esparza may be little, but she's certainly fierce. In 2012 the 23-year-old athlete became the first American woman to qualify for the Olympic Games in boxing, to which she’s said, “it’s a big step—not really just for boxing but for women in general.”
Outside of the Olympics, the pretty powerhouse won the bronze medal in the 2006 World Championship and the gold in the 2008 Pan American Games.
To keep her body in such great shape, she uses a Hypoxi machine. “It simulates high altitude and makes your red blood cells reproduce more quickly. You put it on as a mask and work out with it,” Esparza told ESPN
. “I do sprints or hit a bag, six minutes on, four minutes off, for an hour.”
And when she doesn’t feel like she can train any further? “If I stop, I’m going to feel worse, not better. The only thing worse than to keep going when you’re tired is the disappointment if you stop. For me, disappointment in myself is 10 times worse than any physical pain.”
Photo credit: Peter Hapak for ESPN The Magazine