Staff Sergeant Naomi Graham Becomes the First Female Active Duty Army Personnel to Contest in Tokyo Olympics 2021

Published 06/29/2021, 4:45 AM EDT


United States’ Naomi Graham will have served her nation in two ways when she laces up her gloves at Tokyo. The women’s middleweight representative for the USA in the Olympics is in the US Army.

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The 32-year-old works as an ammunition specialist and is expected to bag the gold medal in the 75 kilo weight category for her country.

The North Carolina native has walked along a lengthy road to reach the Olympics. She took the third spot in the World Amateur Boxing Championships in 2018 and won the gold at the Pan American Games in 2019.

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Subsequently, she qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and maintained her spot in the team as the games were postponed to 2021.

Currently ranked 6th in the world, Graham holds an amateur record of 48 wins and 16 defeats. She has won multiple accolades in her long amateur career.

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How being a soldier took Naomi Graham closer to her goal of boxing

“Blessed that I will make history as the first female active-duty U.S. service member to box at the Olympics. It was not easy but resiliency and determination runs in my blood. No quit in me,” Graham said in an Instagram post.

 

Graham has attributed her success as a boxer to the US Army’s world-class Athlete Program. In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, Graham said that the USWCAP allows soldiers to completely focus on their sport.

The army take cares of all the equipment, diet etc., for them and really,gives you the opportunity to pursue and just focus on your sport, which is the beauty of it. So I get to be a soldier and athlete at the same time,” Graham says.

 

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Naomi Graham trains with coach Charles Leverette and has been on top of the national amateur ranks for about 7 years now. She placed second in the national golden gloves competition in 2017.

Winning the Pan-American games back in 2019, she had her eyes set on the Olympics. She qualified to represent the United States by placing first in the Olympic trials.

She draws inspiration from Muhammad Ali and a will test her metal in a highly competitive weight class in amateur boxing.

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Akshit Pushkarna

94 articles

Akshit Pushkarna, who has a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication, is an MMA writer for EssentiallySports. Before his current role, Akshit worked on the Urban Development beat at the Urban Update magazine. However, combat sports always called out to Akshit, who pursued both boxing and wrestling at a regional level before shifting his focus to MMA journalism.

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