14:31 PM

Boxing Champion Marlen Esparza Brings Olympic Spirit to UHD

Marlen Esparza meets with UHD students

By Raven Ambers

Students at the University of Houston-Downtown Marilyn Davies College of Business met Olympian and World Boxing Council Flyweight Champion Marlen Esparza during the Fall 2021 Week of Welcome. During the Aug. 24 event, students took photos alongside the popular boxer and received autographs.

Esparza, a Houston native and Pasadena High School alumna, was one of the first athletes to compete in women’s Olympic boxing when it debuted at the 2012 games in London. Her hard-fought efforts led to a bronze medal. In addition to her Olympic medal and WBC title, Esparza has held a number of other titles and championships.

“We wanted to host an event to make our students feel especially welcome after COVID has kept us apart for so long,” said Dr. Charles Gengler, Dean of the Marilyn Davies College of Business. “Marlen Esparza was a perfect guest to illustrate the kind of success we can achieve with 20 years of hard work and dedication.” 

In addition to Esparza’s appearance, award-winning Houston artist Betirri Bengtson brought a sample installation of his "Female Power" mural showcasing Esparza and fellow local Olympian Emily Chen. He also met with students who attended the event. 

“I have always tried to inspire others, especially younger generations, to do what they love ever since pursuing art a decade ago,” Bengston said. “The art career has no instructions on what to do next, but it is just a matter of following your gut and staying hungry. I hope I inspired some of these students and let them know that it is possible to do what you love if you are persistent and patient."

The event also came with a special gift from Esparza who dedicated signed boxing gloves to the college. 

“This is the kind of dedication our students show us every day, and the reason they will also achieve great success,” Gengler said. “The signed boxing gloves she gave us will symbolize her determination, and we will display them proudly as an inspiration to our students.”