The Empowering Story of La Traviesa: Laredo’s First Olympian

Words by Abigail Vela

Every now and then, we hear a story that inspires us to gain the strength we need to continue pushing forward. Jennifer Lozano’s story does just that. 

Jennifer “La Traviesa” Lozano is a 21-year-old boxer from Laredo who qualified for the 2024 Olympics last Fall, becoming the first Olympian in Laredo’s history. Her story caught the attention of filmmakers Nicolas Lewis and Karen Gaytán, who began working on “Traviesa: The Documentary” following Lozano’s journey to Paris. 

“I think for us, being able to chronicle a story of strength and focus and determination is a big honor,” shared Gaytán. For months, Gaytán and her documentary team have worked hard to capture Lozano’s journey, shooting footage as she trained for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

A smiling woman wearing a red shirt of the American flag at an arena.
An exclusive still from the film “Traviesa: The Documentary.” Still image courtesy of Karen Gaytán.

History in the Making for Women in Boxing

In a world where boxing remains a male-dominated sport in the U.S., Lozano is one of the women who continue to pave the way for the future of women’s boxing in the U.S. and her hometown of Laredo, Texas.

 

“There’s that aspect to have the first Olympian be a female as a new name to this long history of boxing excellence that does derive from Laredo,” said Gaytán.  Laredo has had its fair share of boxing legends, such as the Canizales brothers, two brothers who made boxing history as the first to hold world titles simultaneously. However, Lozano is the first person across all genders to represent Laredo for the first time in the Olympics. To have our first Olympian be a female is expanding the horizon to really challenge a lot of toxic traits that we have in our culture about masculinity and what can be achieved by women,” Gaytán said. 

 

The 2024 Paris Olympics marks the first year that the games have reached full gender parity, meaning there will be equal representation of both men and women for the first time in history.

Lozano will compete in the Flyweight division, representing the U.S. Olympic boxing team alongside four men and three women.

An older man with red, white and blue gloves and a young woman in a black long-sleeve shirt training in a boxing ring.
Laredo boxer, Jennifer Lozano training in Colorado with USA Boxing’s head coach, Billy Walsh. Image still courtesy of Karen Gaytán.

The Power of Believing in Yourself

“[This is a story about] a young woman who comes from a [geographically isolated region], where a lot of complex historical and social issues take place. And rather than being a victim of them, she fights back,” Gaytán shared. 

Directed by Laredo filmmakers Nicolas Lewis and Karen Gaytán and produced by Laredo native Amanda Sarabia, “Traviesa: The Documentary” showcases Lozano’s journey from training tirelessly for and competing in the Olympics. Behind the scenes, the filmmakers have followed Lozano since November 2023, shortly after qualifications in the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, winning the silver medal in the 50-kilogram weight class.

While the documentary does not directly focus on the more personal aspects of Lozano’s life, it’s important to understand that her journey as a boxer and upbringing was far from easy, growing up fighting bullies and machismo culture head-on. Despite these obstacles, Lozano found boxing as an outlet that transformed her into, as Gaytán mentioned, “crème de la crème of athletic excellence.”

Lozano grew up surrounded by the loss of friends and family due to violence. One of the people she lost was her grandmother, her inspiration and the woman who playfully called her by the nickname “La Traviesa,” or “the troublemaker.” Her grandmother’s passing is one that many in our region have shared trauma from, for she was a victim of cartel violence.


Gaytán shared,
“To me, seeing Jenny, whose family was impacted by cartel violence, whose family and her experience was impacted by harsh socioeconomic conditions, by a culture that shames women who speak up, for her to have the courage early on before anybody supported her, for her to have the courage to pursue her dreams and prove everybody wrong—I just can’t imagine a more inspiring testament to the power of believing in yourself.”

Jennifer Lozano and USA Boxing head coach Billy Walsh. Image still courtesy of Nicolas Lewis.

Shifting the Narrative about Strength

“[This documentary is] a story about women; it’s a story about shifting the narrative about strength and what strength looks like and to show that the boxer is not a victim because the boxer fights back,” said Gaytán. As July 26 approaches, the filmmakers have been working around the clock, filming and fundraising to send crew members to film Lozano competing in Paris.

We can all see an aspect of ourselves in Jennifer Lozano’s story: may it be through her overcoming countless obstacles, her unwavering determination and her insurmountable perseverance. “Whenever we are against injustice, whenever we are against circumstances that try to make us feel little, we don’t have to accept that and we have what it takes inside of us to stand up,” Gaytán concluded.

Lozano’s story will continue to inspire generations of boxers, women and Laredo communities. Whatever the outcome of the 2024 Paris Olympics, Lozano will undoubtedly make the borderlands proud.

Share Jennifer Lozano’s story and donate to help “Traviesa: The Documentary” come to life.

Mira Más

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