“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
It is the first punch of the night, and it is an absolute knockout. "7-8-9-10." I am a champion. My arm is raised above my six-foot body.

Well, not exactly. I am 5'2½" at the time of this event, I am 17, and I am a girl.

When I showed up to boxing the first time, I was not intimidated. Rather, I was motivated by the surprise I elicited as a young woman joining the gym. I felt driven to prove my agility, energy, and determination.

Like choosing boxing over varsity sports, my path through life may not always conform to the group standard. But I have learned that when I do come face-to-face with a blow that sets me back, finding my own alternative course will lead me to achieve my goals.

I will take punches in and out of the ring, and the hardest ones will come when I least expect them. I don't know what challenges lie ahead, but I know that if I can get past them, I will succeed and be stronger for it.

I will always be small, I will always be a woman, and I will always be determined. I may get knocked down, but I will never get knocked out: I will always get back up.

In my life, I will exceed expectations by achieving the unexpected.


— Lily Hayes Kaufman