MARQUETTE - Mikaela Mayer has overcome the odds against her to realize a boxing dream.
Now the United States Olympic Education Center boxer is a champion after placing first at the 2011 Golden Gloves National Championships July 3-9 in Port Charlotte, Fla.
"I'm very happy for her. She earned it," USOEC boxing coach Al Mitchell said through a USOEC press release. "She's a very good athlete."
In winning the Gold Gloves tournament, the West Hills. Calif., native and freshman at Northern Michigan University will be the first USOEC female boxer to compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Women's boxing will make its Olympic debut at the London Games in 2012.
"It has been a tough past year and a half," Mayer said in a release. "I've had more losses in the past year than wins.
"(But) I kept learning from it, which makes going to the trials 10 times better. Hard work really does pay off."
In the final round, Mayer took a 5-0 decision over Selina Barrios, who had beaten Mayer last year at nationals.
"There was a lot of pressure going into the last match," Mayer said. "I had made it this far and I didn't want to lose the chance.
"I was confident in my training and knew I was much better than the last time I faced her."
On her way to the finals, Mayer posted 5-0 decisions over Amorena Baca and Heather Hardy, and a 3-2 decision over Caroline Barry in the first tourney match.
"The toughest fight was against Barry, a four-time national champion," Mayer said. "I had never fought her, but it was a huge relief to knock her out of the tournament.
"Overall, I overcame two very strong opponents. It was unreal winning the Golden Gloves. I have accomplished the first step of my dream and it's the best feeling in the world."