In Conversation With Daisy Bamberger

Multi-Division National Boxing Champion Daisy Bamberger has her sights set on the 2024 Olympics, but being an Olympic gold medalist is not the only thing driving this star teen athlete.

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Although the 19-year-old boxer from California used to be bullied when she was younger for being overweight, everything changed when she stepped inside the boxing ring for the first time at the age of seven. Since then, Daisy has racked up title after title, including 2016 USA Boxing Junior National Champion. While there weren’t many tournaments over the past year because of COVID-19, Daisy is hoping to begin competing in USA National Boxing tournaments again this year and to keep competing all the way up until 2024, when she hopes to qualify for the Paris Olympics.  

Daisy’s strong willpower is evident not only in her quest to become an Olympic gold medalist, but also in her unshakeable consistency at maintaining that healthy lifestyle she’s worked so hard to build. This May, Daisy teamed up with Girl Up at our first-ever virtual Global Fitness Challenge—a month-long fundraising initiative centering wellness in communities worldwide—to inspire people of all ages and genders to do the same.  

We caught up with her after her action-packed boxing session on May 7 to chat about the benefits of incorporating a daily routine of physical activity, where she finds the drive to “keep pushing”, and the need for greater female representation in professional athletics.  

Now that the gloves are off, what do you hope participants learned from attending your session and how do you hope they feel after?  

I hope participants learned that boxing is a great form of exercise and an excellent way to stay in shape. I hope after they feel empowered and strong from learning a little bit of boxing!  

Why were you inspired to join the Global Fitness Challenge and which part were you most excited about? 

I was inspired to join the Global Fitness Challenge after learning what it was for. It’s an honor to be a part of helping expand refugee girls’ access to education! I was most excited to lead a virtual workout; it was something I’d never done before! It was also pretty exciting to be able to teach something I love to do. 

You’ve said before that you started boxing when you were seven as a way to become more fit & healthy. How did becoming an athlete and starting a routine of physical activity change the way you act, think, and even feel about yourself? 

It’s definitely affected me a lot. When I was younger, I started [boxing] because I was overweight, and the doctor actually told me I was pre-diabetic. At seven years old, I didn’t really understand what that meant, but it changed me. Going to the boxing gym every day, seeing myself lose weight—it gave me a lot of confidence. As I’ve gotten older, being healthy and trying to make the right food choices has just become a part of my life and my everyday routine. 

As a 10-time National Champion ranked No.1 in the USA, you’re no stranger to winning. What motivates you to get up and keep going every morning—even on those rare days you lose? 

I would say, for one, my family. They’re a big motivation. They push me and they’ve always supported my dreams no matter what they’ve been. Other than that, being an Olympic gold medalist is something I want so bad. So those two things push me every day. 

Boxing is as mental as it is physical. How do you train your mind to stay healthy, strong and focused both inside the ring and out?  

Boxing is a lonely sport, but a big thing is having a support system that understands the sacrifices you have had to make. I’ve had to sacrifice school events and things like that. But, to stay strong mentally, I talk to myself, basically, ‘keep pushing, keep pushing’. I think that’s important to help with the mental part of it.  

Do you have a mantra that helps you keep pushing? 

I don’t have a mantra, but whenever I’m hitting the punching bag, my dad or my coach will tell me to take my mind somewhere else, to think of something else to get through it.  

Where do you take your mind? 

Food! [Laughs] My mind thinks about what I’m going to eat after the gym!  

What advice would you have for those who are struggling to incorporate exercise into their daily life and maintain a physical regimen? What’s the first step they should take? 

Start with little things—taking a walk or doing something just for fun! It doesn’t have to be competitive. Go outside to the park and play basketball on the court or just throw a ball around. 

Statistics show that 80% of girls feel they don’t belong in sports and 64% will have quit by the time they’re 17. With the 2024 Olympics fast approaching, of which you are a hopeful, how do you think we can encourage more girls to pursue and stay involved in sports? 

A big thing for me has been losses. Losses are hard to deal with, but you have to push yourself. Push yourself and be confident that there are lessons within the losses. Always learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to lose. With anything—no matter what it is—don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. 

Traditionally, boxing is a predominantly male sport. Why do you think greater representation and equality of women in professional athletics are important?  

It’s important because we work just as hard as the guys—in any sport. We work hard, we’re talented, and I think we deserve the same recognition and representation.  

In the decade or so you’ve been an athlete, have you seen anything change? 

Well, when I first started in the gym, women’s boxing wasn’t even a thing in the Olympics. In 2012, they allowed women to compete in boxing at the Olympics for the first time. I remember watching it when I was 10. So, I think it’ll keep pushing forward. There’s a lot of talent and there’s a lot of girls who are turning professional so the women’s boxing team on the professional level is going to explode; it’s going to be big. 

What did seeing those female boxers at such a young age mean to you? 

Everything. They showed me that it was possible. 

In case you missed Daisy’s “Squaring Up Your Arms: Boxing Challenge” on Friday, grab your gloves and watch the recording on our YouTube channel —you (and your muscles) don’t want to miss it! Plus, don’t forget to check out all the other exciting sessions we have in store for your minds, bodies, and souls this month at our Global Fitness Challenge portal

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length. 

About the 2021 Girl Up Global Fitness Challenge 

We’re calling on our global network of leaders, partners, and supporters of all ages to join us in our first virtual Global Fitness Challenge. The Global Fitness Challenge centers wellness in our communities while fundraising to expand refugee girls’ access to education in Ethiopia. Each Friday in May, Girl Up will be hosting activities, conversations, and fitness challenges led by pro athletes and trainers rooted in Girl Up’s three wellness components: mind, body, and soul. By participating in the month-long fitness challenge, you’ll help us reach our goal of raising $50,000 for Girl Up’s work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) while learning how to move, think, and eat in ways that value your entire self. To find out more about the Challenge and how you can participate, click here.   


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