It’ s been 20 years since she decided to give her everything to be a boxer and succeed. This 2020 marks 12 years as the World Boxing Association’s champion. Yesica la Tuti Bopp is today in a stage of enjoyment with her family with the mind set on how she wishes to give a closure to her career. Next, we share with you an interview with a tour of her current affairs:
What’s it like for you and how are you living through this quarantine?
Luckily very well. I hear that many are enjoying their homes more, doing things they couldn’t do before. For my part, I’m great, enjoying my house. I am a girl who is always working, always in gyms doing things, with projects. Then at some point you look at your house and you don’t know it because you didn’t put your love into it because you were never there. This moment that surprised all of us gave us the possibility to reconnect with ourselves, to check ourselves from the inside out. For me this is an opportunity I needed. And it’s not that I have too much time now, on the contrary, it’s not enough for me because I keep on training through the internet, I keep on training, developing the different roles of woman, mother, sportswoman, housewife. You have to put everything into perspective and if you organize yourself you can do it.
Many have used these days for just that, haven’t they? Reviewing habits, getting organized…
Just like that. I’ve always been a very organized, habits-driven person. This is about knowing how to get through chaos, a situation that you don’t know, that generates a lot of uncertainty which at the same time takes you on a new path of learning and that’s how we learn and unlearn a lot of things. I think it’s a time to be more relaxed at home, enjoying and discovering how we can do what we like..
How is a day in Yesica Bopp´s quarantine?
I get up, I am sleeping a little longer, I have breakfast, I read as much as I can until noon and I organize lunch. I got a little disorganized with the food at the beginning because it felt like a vacation for everyone, but now I’m back to my eating habits, I respect all the meals of the day and every two hours I make a snack that helps the metabolism of the body, to keep it working beyond the exercise you do.
Are you training?
Yeah. Not as hard as I used to because it’s something I’ve been doing for 20 years, it is not like I started now. I told my physical trainer Ivan Fernandez at first that I was not feeling like training and he told me to train at least three times a week to keep in shape, and that it was very normal for me to feel like that. But I continue because all this is going to end and we must return with all the desire for the final stage which is the last thing I have left.
You were programmed and now you have to reprogram yourself for what’s coming. With the trainers of the National Team we also continue with the preparation via zoom to keep up. We continue with our work.
About that last point: You were going to participate in the American pre-Olympic tournament to be held in Buenos Aires. How did you take its cancellation when it’ s already the end of your career as a boxer?
I was given the opportunity to participate in the qualifiers for the Olympic Games and we were gathering with the national team, with everything almost ready, and all the planning fell apart. We thought it would all be over soon and we would be back soon, but everything stopped, the whole world stopped and everything was postponed for a year. So as soon as all this passes, we’ll be back focusing on the competition.
Did it affect you emotionally?
The objective is clear. For my part I will do everything as I have always done it to reach the goal and fulfill it. Clearly we are in a situation of force majeure, I can’t get depressed, I can’t waste time on that. It’s only been delayed for one year and we’ll have to wait. I think that everything happens for a reason but if it has to be next year it will be next year, that’s it. I take the opportunity to do other things, I’ve always been a doer. Besides, I’m going through a moment of decision regarding whether or not to continue with my gym because of this crisis: in order to reopen it they want different ways and I don’t know if they will be able to reopen the YesicaBoppGym because it’ s a very big structure and if they limit the number of people I will not be able to sustain it. So I’m with those questions, not focusing on the problem but on doing productive things to keep growing in all the other projects I have.
More than ten years ago I made the decision to take my sports career seriously, professionally, and today I am enjoying the time at home with my family, with my daughter. I don’t have anything to spare and I don’t need anything but the present: what happened, the future is uncertain and the present is a daily gift that gives you the possibility to have a rematch every day. What I try to communicate to everyone is that they should continue doing their own things, that they should continue planning their goals even if they cannot go out, that they should continue doing what they have been doing.
How did the proposal to participate in the Olympic classification come to you?
The President of the World Boxing Association, Gilbertico Mendoza, approved the participation of his champions. So when he came to tell me about it in Argentina and met with all the team leaders and the national team, they nominated me with my team because they trained me to be the professional I am. This was the possibility of fulfilling a pending dream that as amateur I did not have because women’s participation in the Olympic Games did not exist, years ago I was determined to be as a trainer for the national team and life gave me another chance, a rematch and I took it. The flame of an athlete’s dream awoke in me again because nothing to motivate me in my career anymore. So I had to start reprogramming myself again as an amateur and start working hard to be able to keep up because obviously amateurism is not like professional boxing. So I started a new stage of adaptation, going through new obstacles to be able to carry on with training, for the trips, the competition. When we were in Colombia, for the WBA Future Champions it was a beautiful experience with the opportunity for me and my team fighting three rounds again. Wonderful for me.
Well, you also had the opportunity to meet an Olympic medalist in your division, the Colombian Ingrit Valencia…
Well, many countries participated in Medellin, Colombia. There, some matches were held and the national team’s technical staff thought that I could fight with the best in my division in view of the Pre-Olympic Games. So I had to face Ingrit who beat me by points and I didn’t feel bad, on the contrary, I accepted that everything is part of a process. The following day I fought against a Venezuelan girl and in my head I thought for a second that I was not going to lose that day. It hurt me to have lost the day before when I realized that I had put a lot of pressure on myself, so was in front of the Venezuelan and I told myself that I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone and I went upstairs more relaxed, focused but relaxed. I am very competitive and demanding with myself but I realized that I needed more time to adapt.
Being competitive is a part of you now…
Yes, but I take it as practice. It was a question of technique and tactics because fighting as an amateur is about scoring points, keeping your distance and not hitting hard. After the second fight, the feeling of celebrating the return to amateurism was already there. After a professional fight you hurt all over, and get back to the headgear, the bigger gloves was a party.
When it was announced in Argentina that you and Erica Farias had been given the chance to be part of the ranking, many people reacted badly. How did you take those criticisms?
I really don’t care. I was given the opportunity because I had this dream of being an Olympian and I understand that there are many amateur girls who also have the same dream and the same abilities but they are smaller and have a lot of time to prepare. There will be many Olympic Games ahead. And looking at it objectively, there was no better boxer to get an Olympic medal for the country. The people who chose me and know me is because they know that I am a professional fighter and that I am going to prepare for the circumstances.
Now, what do you think of the mix of amateurs and professionals?
Well, you saw, we didn’t kill anyone. Nor did the Olympics ran us over. If that girl who beat me in Colombia fights with me in the professional category, it was a very fair mistake because in Argentina they saw me win and in Colombia they saw me lose, then it was demonstrated that there is not much difference. It is a sport and today the professionals were given the opportunity but not all of them made the decision to be part of the pre-Olympics so we are extraordinary because we are doing an extra. We don’t have to prove anything as athletes and those who have followed us for a long time know that we always go after glory, in this case for Argentina, and we don’t go after silver because we don’t charge a penny. It’s about pure love for amateurism and being able to bring a medal to our country and boxing.
I spoke to many girls in my category and told them that they should take advantage of us because we are the ones who opened the way and this still continues because within women’s boxing we still have to keep fighting. If we had not brought medals when we were amateurs, nowadays there would not be girls with scholarships in the national team, with five or ten sparring partners that we did not have, we did the best we could with the tools available and we opened a whole path. Marcela La Tigresa Acuña, who was a professional at the time, and I, who was an amateur, worked as a team. Everything in search of equality and to be able to grow in our sport.
If on the way to qualifying, now that it was postponed for a full year, the possibility of a professional match comes up, would you do it or would you just focus on the Games?
Yes. I discussed it with my technical team that when everything is back on track I’d love to have a professional fight this year and then go back to focusing only on the Games. I still have time to readjust. Having enough time to readjust, you can do it. Being active is better for me. I have the team to work with me.
For a long time you have been asked to fight against a bigger opponent. What do you think about the possibility of facing a Marlen Esparza, Seniesa Estrada, for example?
Well, the fight with Susi Kentikian was not possible for economic reasons; and those were the names I to ask for just before the possibility of participating in the Olympic Games arose. In fact, they are two Golden Boy boxers and they already made them both fight and Seniesa Estrada won in the fly division. The truth is that they are trying to open the market with them and I would love to fight in the United States. The thing is that the money offered did not suit me. There are no offers that close. The idea of fighting there is more than going to fight, it’s going to have a great evening in a big stadium, in the place we deserve and get paid what we deserve. If all that happens, great. When I talked to the organizations, for example with Gilbertico who told me that after the Olympic Games we are going to fight Estrada. And that’s it, I close my career with an Olympic medal and a fight in the United States. That’s what I want. If we’re going to dream, we’re going to do it big. All or nothing. I want big things otherwise I’ll stay at home with my daughter.
What do you think of the current state of women’s boxing?
As long as there’s room for women’s boxing, there will be women willing to do it. For example, the Argentinean Bermudez sisters, who are always trained, do not deny anyone and are willing to face all, are excellent representatives that we have. Because that’s what it’s all about, being willing and prepared for when the time comes. For me, this is a very good time for women’s boxing: there are the fighters, there is the level, there are women like Tigresa Acuña who is fundamental as an example, a woman who is still active after so many years, that is what women’s boxing should be about. Then the system is not going to leave you but you always have to be willing and ready otherwise do you choose to do it.?
And what do you think about the woman fighting 12 rounds of three minutes, for example?
If the rules are adapted and they say that a woman fights twelve rounds of three minutes for a title, they have to adapt the purses as well, otherwise there is no agreement, there is still discrimination. The purses must be made equal. I admire the boxer Alejandra Olivera who was willing to do it and did it but she was not paid the same as a man in those conditions. So why are we going to do it if there are no equal conditions? We still have to prove that we can do it and when we prove it, nothing happens. And it’s not that we refuse because otherwise we wouldn’t be fighting in an Amateur 3-minute game, which means we can. The issue is another. And surely the knockouts will rise in three minutes and be more surely valued.
The French sociologist and philosopher Émile Durkheim spoke of sacrifice as a religious question, expressing that “by sacrificing oneself, one generates a new being from the previous one”. Boxing has a lot of sacrifice. What new being did you achieve from all the sacrifices you have made?
Every sacrifice leads you to make the better version of yourself, I give you everything or I give you nothing. In my case, I didn’t have many options when I was young and I was either the worst or the best of me. In that way I always aimed to be a better person every day, to be able to help others and create a better life for myself. That is why I am a sportswoman, a woman, an entrepreneur who understood that if I give my best I deserve the best. Whenever there is a possibility of being able to have a better quality life I follow it. And not just for me but thinking of helping my own and others. That discipline, that effort was given to me by boxing because it has a lot of conscience, of human quality. The dedication and perseverance required to be a boxer is what brought me here because I understood that the only way was to be well trained, well fed and well in mind. That’s where the balance is. I worked very hard on my own to get better when I was in therapy. I studied, I graduated as a social psychologist at the same time as I became a mother. I didn’t just work in sports. You polish yourself up all the time. I’m in a very peaceful moment that I never hurt anyone, that I always fought for the best for everyone I love.
How do you keep the Olympic dream flame burning?
I always say the same thing that when there’s a dream you have to date it when you’re going to make it come true. In this case it was extended for another year but it continues. There will always be something that motivates you to keep going. I continue feeding myself well, training myself, I continue to fulfill small daily goals so that when they accumulate and the time comes I will have a positive result. It’s not that I give up on the dream, but that I feed it every day. Dreams are worked on every day.