Good Sports: Marisol Lopez

FRESNO, Calif.

"Don't let the looks fool you," said Marisol's father Sergio Lopez. "She's beautiful, but she's very -- she's like a tiger in the ring."

The 15-year-old Lemoore High sophomore isn't just a pretty face. She's an established boxer, a 2011 Junior Olympics champion, and as of just two weeks ago, the U.S. West Region Silver Gloves champion for girls 15-16.

"It was pretty tough but everybody trains as hard as I do," said Marisol Lopez. "Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to go big."

Lopez is on the fast-track. Already a nationally-respected fighter, she lives a disciplined lifestyle -- watching her diet at all times and rarely going out with her friends. Not that she minds.

"No, it's because this is what I want," Marisol said.

"She works very hard, and she trains very hard," said Sergio Lopez. "The dedication I see and the fire that I see burning inside her is incredible."

She fights out of Avenal's Kings Boxing Gym. Central Valley boxing enthusiasts know it as the same gym that has produced top-ranked amateur Jose Ramirez, a fighter Lopez looks up to as a mentor. Ramirez has trained with Lopez for the last two years, and isn't shy to explain why she has earned his deepest respect.

"She wanted this from the beginning," Ramirez said. "She was always at the gym early. She was the first one to train. She would always stay up with me. She would do the same things I would do. She would keep up with my workouts and I was just impressed."

With the addition of women's boxing to this summer's London Olympics for the first time, Lopez now has set her sights on representing the United States at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro games. She has a believer in Ramirez.

"She has her eyes set on that already and I can see it," Ramirez said. "I see it every day in the gym. And I feel like she will be there if she stays focused and disciplined."

And she'll do so knowing the effect she has on young women everywhere looking to shatter stereotypes in athletics.

"I'm a big role model now for the young girls that come in," Marisol said. "They look up to me and that motivates me even more."

A deceiving boxer: she's just a small girl, but with a big heart, and even bigger dreams.

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