Janet Perez-Martinez ends high school with a ‘K.O.’

Darina Lubenov, Editor-in-Chief

For many, the familiar 3 p.m. ring signals that school is over and the day is done. For senior Janet Perez-Martinez, it signals that her day is only halfway there.

Perez-Martinez has a highly accomplished boxing career outside of school, and her schedule reflects her hard work, from balancing school, managing a part-time job and vigorous training for growth and tournaments. 

Owing it all to her father’s influence, Perez-Martinez began boxing at a young age. 

“It just turned into a hobby that was an everyday thing where I would ask, like, ‘oh what time is it, is it time to go to the gym yet?’,” Perez-Martinez said.

Perez-Martinez’s passion for boxing turned from a hobby to a sport, and she started officially competing in tournaments during her freshman year of high school.

Now as a senior, her latest accomplishment is local, but no small title itself: the Chicago Golden Gloves boxing tournament.

The Chicago Golden Gloves is an annual boxing tournament in its 99th year that features ameatur boxers in all divisions ranging from open to masters divisions. Perez-Martinez fought in the female division.

Perez-Martinez won her day’s fight with ease, but that’s thanks to two months of time and training she put in the gym, physical and mental. One of Perez-Martinez’s ground-rules for her fight days is to stay calm and not push herself.

Perez-Martinez’s strict fight day schedule starts at 5 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m.

“I think as I get older it gets easier to manage time and I learn how to set my ground rules, get my work done, and then train,” Perez-Martinez said. “I trained really hard for this tournament.”

During her hectic schedule, Perez-Martinez is still able to set aside another hour of training during Advanced Physical Education, led by Michael Radakovitz. There, Perez-Martinez is able to have support outside of the gym.

“I talk to her about the other kids in our districts that win golden gloves and have a boxing career,” Radakovitz said. “I think the biggest thing is that you try to show students the power they have inside of them and being supportive.”

Creating and following a rigorous schedule doesn’t always allow for down time. Graduating this year, Perez-Martinez has the opportunity to participate in senior activities, but can’t at times because of boxing.

“I feel like I don’t really get that high school experience because I’m in the gym,” Perez-Martinez said. “But I do feel like sometimes it’s okay not to be at the gym sometimes and to have fun in school.”

But in the end, winning the Chicago Golden Gloves was worth the two-month turmoil for Perez-Martinez.

“If you love something, you make time for it because it’s worth it in the end,” Perez-Martinez said. 

Perez-Martinez plans on staying local for school so she can continue spending time in the ring and following what she loves the most.