Friday, July 11, 2014

Edmonton Boxer Hopes to Capture Seventh World Title

A blonde-haired woman stands in a sapphire cocktail dress, a silver trophy reflecting off her gleaming smile. At first glance you might think she’s a model who just minutes ago won a beauty pageant. But instead, meet Jelena Mrdjenovich, the current WBC Featherweight who won the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission Boxer of the Year.

Jelena is a sixth-time world boxing champion. It goes without saying that’s she has worked extremely hard to get to where she is today. Her perseverance comes from not only the awards she’s won but the way she began boxing in the first place: Rather than dream of the sport early on, she took it on as a sort of dare. And if Jelena’s career shows anything, it’s that she doesn’t do anything half-way.

“I kind of just fell into it,” she says. “I had torn my ACL playing basketball, and during my rehab was watching boxing on TV with my dad [when he] jokingly said I wasn’t tough enough. At that point I knew I wanted to prove him wrong.”

Jelena has had many achievements that go above and beyond simply being able to get in the ring. Since the day she watched boxing with her dad and decided to go for it, her favourite milestones in her career are of her surpassing people’s expectations, such as the time she received WBC Comeback Fighter of the Year.

“Despite everyone counting me out, I kept my head down, continued to work hard and came back to become a world champion again,” she says. “It was nice to be recognized by such a prestigious organization.”

Another memory that stands out to Jelena is when she reclaimed the WBC featherweight title from Melissa Hernandez that people were calling the fight of the decade. The photos are gruesome but proof of a momentous feat, and the total opposite of the polished woman who stands in a cocktail dress accepting a trophy.

“I was head butt in round two, and despite the constant flow of blood from the cut on my forehead I continued to press forward and win a six round unanimous decision,” says Jelena. “I was proud of this fight because despite the fact that ninety-five percent of people in my position would have quit, I showed courage, perseverance and determination to keep going as long as I could.”

Jelena credits her career to her stubbornness to overcome defeat, as well as the supportive team she has around her. She says that she doesn’t accept failure well.

“I’ve gone through many ups and downs, and every time I’ve fallen, with the help of my team, I dust myself off and we start over. Having an amazing support system and team have definitely helped me along the way.”

It comes as no surprise through Jelena’s determination that her favourite thing to do is train, but in her post-fight she says she likes to be with her two dogs and loved ones, and also catch up on some reading to relax her mind. As evidenced on her Twitter, Jelena also enjoys activities such as getting her nails done and riding roller coasters with her siblings. It’s clear from how she speaks that family plays an important part in her life.

“My family and I are big concert or festival goers, especially when they involve country music,” says Jelena. “One of my fondest memories was of my birthday: I kidnapped my two sisters and my brother and we took a road trip for the night to go and see Garth Brooks in Calgary at the stampede.”
It’s clear Jelena is someone to look up to, for not only her siblings, but those who are interested in getting into boxing, becoming more in shape or even just those who are looking to draw from her inner strength.

“Get out to that gym and try it out – you never know where it might take you,” says Jelena to those who are interested in the sport. “Never be afraid to dream big and jump in.”

With the amount of fight Jelena has in her, it comes as no surprise that she won’t be putting down the gloves any time soon.

“I have a ton of fight still left in me,” she says. “I’m starting training camp for my next bout in June, where I’m hoping to capture my seventh world title.”

Find Jelena on Twitter under @Jelenaboxing

Article published in Edmonton Woman Magazine's May/June 2014 issue.

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