(WKBN) — We’ve been following Canfield native 13-year-old Zion Hensley’s boxing career as she competes in matches throughout the country. She just won a silver medal in the 2022 USA Boxing National Championships.
On Sunday, she spoke with us about how she got her start.
“I just found some equipment in a family member’s basement and I just started using it from there,” Hensley said.
She started boxing at 8-years-old and her dad Jason Elliot figured it was just a phase.
“She wouldn’t let it go, usually when I want to get away with something as I raised her, I would say, ‘We’ll see,’ and she would forget about it by tomorrow because children are distracted. But she never let go of it,” Elliot said.
Hensley says it took her a few months to convince her dad to let her train — but eventually, he gave in.
“He thought I could be good because the way I punched, apparently it was good and it wasn’t wild or sloppy,” Hensley said.
Before finding boxing gloves in her aunt’s basement, she didn’t even know the sport existed. She started training at Jack’s Boxing Gym and things started moving fast.
“I was 9-years-old when I first got my first fight, usually they don’t start until you’ve been in it for two years but I got an early fight and I won,” Hensley said.
She tries to stay focused before each match.
“I don’t really get really hyped, I just kind of breathe and stay calm and not really over-exert myself,” Hensley said.
But that rush comes as soon as she steps foot in the ring.
“I really start getting more excited when I’m in the ring and they introduce us, that’s when it all goes away — like my thoughts,” Hensley said.
She wants to influence and encourage other girls to get into boxing. Hensley and Elliot’s advice is to stick with it — even when things get tough, and it’ll pay off.
“If you really work hard, I could have never dreamed the little life that she’s been blessed from her perseverance. It’s taken her all over the country, it’s taught her so much about cultural diversity,” Elliot said.
Hensley wants to be a boxing world champion — but she also wants to be a psychiatrist.