Name a current World Boxing Champion out of El Paso, Texas. Yeah, for many people it is a bit of a challenge. If you try thinking of a name, one would first have to come to terms with where El Paso is located. It’s one of the largest cities, in the second largest state in the Country; yet, you never hear much about it. While the 256 square miles of city outline’s New Mexico’s border, the sleepy town is not known for big names or high-profile characters.
El Paso is a town of normality, hard-workers, and family driven lifestyle. Unlike Hollywood or Las Vegas where being noticed is a challenge, in a place like ‘Sun City’ your talents or whatever makes you stand out speaks volumes. You give your community voice.
Now, that our short introduction of El Paso, Texas is complete, we can talk about why one woman, is single-handedly making people pay attention to her hometown. Jennifer Han. Han is the personification of the J-Lo hit “…Jenny from the block”. No matter how bright her star shines, she remains collected, true to herself, loyal and proud of where she’s from. We all remember the cool, confident girl next door you would love to hate, but for some reason can’t; well that’s her. When I first met Han; she was standing next to her coach/trainer Louie Burke and teammate former Super Welterweight Champion Austin ‘No Doubt’ Trout (30-2, 17KOs). Han’s quiet confidence was all I needed to be interested. After, being introduced, I quickly learned the depth of who she really is.
Jennifer Han (13-3-1, 1KO) is the IBF World Female Featherweight Champion. She is an unassuming young pugilist who has been practicing some form of combat sport since she was knee high, under her father Master Bae H. Han. On Friday, April 29, 2016, Jennifer takes on Calixta Silgado (14-5-3, 9KOs) at Southwest University Park, El Paso, Texas.
BoxHerNews sat down with El Paso’s favorite daughter to discuss the many factors, playing a role in her success in and out of the ring, and why the ‘915’ is special for all the right reasons.
Minnie: What drives you?
Han: I want to be a Champion I’m proud to work hard and train hard; but I don’t have an ego, I don’t have a big head
Minnie: How do you balance your femininity with being a boxer?
Han: It’s not too difficult the male boxers treat me as one of their own. I do all the pre-stations the guys did. If I do something wrong they coach me. The guys in the gym are awesome. Outside its different, sometimes I hear people say, “you are too pretty to box.” You get comments like this all the time. Number one, I do my best not to get hit. I want to keep my brain in tack, be smart with a very good defense. I do not want to get hit. Number 2 when I’m in the ring I’m a fighter. Outside I’m just me.
Minnie: You are a 3rd degree black belt; you grew up studying martial arts. How did that play into the fighter you are today?
Han: My dad, Bae H. Han, is the Master of the Martial Art School; so I grew up doing martial arts since I was five; my father is very old fashion. He comes from Korea so he’s all about discipline and respect. So when you are taught that even when you go to different sports you carry that with you and I’m all about listening to the coach. They see what you don’t see so I believe in them and they believe in me. So I have the upmost respect for my team, for my family and even for my opponents.
Minnie: You respect your opponents?
Han: Yes, yes, I’m very competitive I am the Champion and want to stay the Champion. I train to win. I don’t train to be careful. I want to beat them but at the end of the day a lot of them are my friends. In fact one of my opponents, I fought a girl name Crystal Hoy from Vegas. She ended up being my teammate in Mexico. She is like one of the most down to earth people I ever met in my life. Boxing has amazing people.
Minnie: Tell me about your team and coach, Louie Burke.
Han: I have the best team; Austin [Trout] is an amazing champion as well. He’s going to fight for the IBF title so hopefully Louie [Burke] will have two IBF Champions. When I was an amateur I had a coach (Jerry Wright) who passed away so when I turned pro I kind of did it by myself and it was horrible.
Minnie: What changed?
Han: My manager Luigi Olcese got me an opportunity to go to Mexico and fight in a reality show. He also talked me into coming with Louie. Louie was hesitant at first because he never coached a female but he really took me under his wing and it was amazing.
Minnie: MMA in your future.
Maybe I have amazing martial art stand up experience. I did all the karate, Tae Kwan Do, Kickboxing, and of course boxing so I know stand up, but I have zero experience on the ground. If I had experience on the ground I would do MMA. Now my focus is boxing since I’m the IBF Champion.
Jennifer Han will defend her title this Friday, April 29, at 7 p.m. Southwest University Park 1 Ballpark Plaza, El Paso, Texas.
Update: Han (14-3-1, 1 KOs) successfully, defended her crown by winning a unanimous decision over Calixta Silgado (14-6-3, 9 KOs).