July 20, 2016
The world is a big place and in the smallest parts you can find passion like no other; a passion for the sport of boxing, but also a passion for fighting. Jennifer Chieng has unbelievable passion, undeniable drive, and with the combination of both she has earned her spot to fight in this year’s Olympics, taking place in Rio de Janeiro. Along with this great accomplishment comes the honor of representing her family’s native country and islands of Micronesia. Chieng is very excited to be granted this privilege.
“I’m the first in my country’s history to represent women’s boxing in the Olympics,” Chieng said.
“Micronesia is near Japan and the Philippines, located in the South Pacific region. It’s a very small island nation. My mother is from the Philippines and my father is Micronesian. There really isn’t any boxing program out there which is why I started late. My country is small so I know what I’m up against. I can promise that I’ll do my best. I have a never give up attitude. The competition is going to be tough because it’s the Olympics but I’m ready for it. I am very thankful for this great opportunity.”
Chieng has a decorated amateur background, having won the 2015 Pacific Games (Gold Medalist) and the 2015 NY Daily News Golden Gloves. Chieng is also a 2015 USA National Silver Medalist, 2014 Metro Champion, and 2012-2013 WPAL Champion. Chieng, who is trained by the legendary Cat Taylor and former WBO super featherweight champion Joan Guzman, spars regularly with female world boxing champions Ronica Jeffery and Alicia Ashley. Chieng trains almost every day at the world famous and historical Gleason’s Boxing Gym.
“Everyone has been tremendous with helping me to prepare for this opportunity of a lifetime,” Chieng said.
“I really love the sport of boxing. For the short amount of time I’ve been in this sport I’ve learned so much. I soak in as much as possible. There are things I still need to learn. There is always something new to learn, there’s never a dull moment. Repetition is key and important because there are many scenarios that can take place during a fight so I need to be prepared for anything. I invest as much time as I can to get better in all areas. I love to challenge myself. Each time I step in the ring I learn something different.”
Chieng, who was born in Maryland, lived in Virginia for a few years, and then moved with her family to Hawaii. In high school Chieng had a desire to try out for the wrestling team. An injury caused from a surfing accident prevented her to go forward in that sport. Her love for fighting continued and led her to boxing.
“I wanted to try out for the wrestling team but I got an injury from surfing,” Chieng said.
“By the time I healed I was a senior in high school and preparing to graduate. The timing wasn’t right for me but after receiving the injury I decided to go into boxing. I moved back to the east coast, attended college in upstate New York, and continued from there. I didn’t start fully training until after college. At first it began as a hobby but then it became a passion.”
Chieng’s love for boxing has also stretched over to mixed-martial arts. Chieng sees a great opportunity in joining the professional ranks of mixed-martial arts after completing the Olympics.
“I want to get into professional mixed martial arts after the Olympics,” Chieng said, “there’s more opportunity for women in MMA than in boxing.”
“I really love fighting. I like to kick people. I’m getting better in Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai boxing. If there were more opportunities in women’s boxing I would love to go pro because boxing is my first love.”
Chieng juggles everyday life of being a fulltime mother, working fulltime, and still trying to be a fulltime fighter. Chiengs’s dedication and commitment are her main driving forces to push on.
“In 2011 I had my son,” Chieng said, “and now I’m a fulltime mom and still trying to be a fulltime fighter.”
“It’s not easy but I make it work for me. Everyone has their own personal things that they deal with on a daily basis. I just focus on what I need to do that will benefit me. I work hard, I push myself. I’m no different from anyone else.
Chieng, whose country Micronesia won a wildcard spot for this year’s Olympics, will be fighting at 132 pounds. In her qualifying match she fought at 112 pounds. Fighting with an extra twenty pounds is something that she’s working hard to be successful at.
“There are only twelve spots in each division,” Chieng said, “in the women’s Olympics there are only three weight classes: 112 pounds, 132 pounds, and 165 pounds.”
“In the last qualifier I fought at 112 pounds in China. “The committee from Micronesia and the Olympic committee were in discussions about the wildcard spot. The president of the Olympic committee of Micronesia contacted me and informed that I was chosen to represent the country in this year’s Olympics. For an opportunity like this I will make the weight and do my best. I can only do my best. I’m not just fighting for my friends and family; I’m fighting with an entire country behind me. This is a supreme honor and I cannot wait.”
Chieng is battle tested, has the support of many, and will be making history as the first woman to fight in the Olympics from where her family and ancestors originate. Chieng will undoubtedly step in the ring with extreme pride and a deep sense of culture. A quiet storm is in the midst and its set to land in Rio. Stay tuned!!!
To support Chieng on her journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics you can follow her on:
- Instagram: @jennchieng
- Facebook: @Jennifer Chieng
- Twitter: @JenniferDChieng