Jesselyn Silva, a.k.a “JessZilla,” is ten years old and she’s already making a name for herself in the boxing ring. In a recent documentary by the New York Times, she discusses how difficult it is to be a girl in the very masculine world of boxing, but she is determined to compete in the Olympics one day.
Director Emily Sheskin’s documentary is anything but ordinary, following the adventures of a seriously badass little girl. Jesselyn Silva is ten years old and boxes with passion and determination under the name “JessZilla.”
The six-minute short posted by the New York Times gives us a powerful glimpse into the life of this young and ambitious boxer. Sheskin plans to follow Jesselyn over the next seven years until the 2024 Olympics, where she plans to win the gold medal.
The film will be titled JessZilla and the excerpt they’ve already released really leaves us wanting to see more. When Jesselyn began boxing, she was made fun of by some of the kids at school.
They told her that girls weren’t supposed to box and that it was a men’s sport. But when she got really good at it, people began to write articles about her and she appeared on television, the kids at school finally began to support her.
A Young, Badass Boxer
Her father, Pedro, says it takes a lot of courage to get up in the ring, but he’s never doubted it was the right place for his daughter. No matter what others may think, he says: “I may not be made for boxing, but she is, and she’s a girl.”
Being a girl boxer does have its challenges, particularly when it comes to training. At age 10, there aren’t a lot of girl opponents out there. They are either much older or not as skilled as she is.
As for the boys, she explains that the 13-year-old who trains in the same gym as her is a bit hesitant to spar because he doesn’t want to be beaten by a “little girl.”
But these obstacles are far from stopping Jesselyn, who already knows she’ll become a professional boxer one day. Her father is afraid of the injuries that adult professional boxers can get, and would ideally like it if Jesselyn stopped boxing at a certain age.
But she says it’s out of the question. She’s got a very specific goal in mind:
“For my big goal, I want to go to the 2024 Olympics and win the gold. I want to show everybody that’s always doubted me that I can win a medal and represent my country.”
And apparently it’s a realistic goal for the documentary director following her on the path to the Olympics. We feel pretty confident in JessZilla’s determination too. As she says:
“I never ever ever ever ever, like a hundred evers, think that anything’s too difficult for me.”
Jesselyn’s relationship with her father is at the heart of Sheskin’s film, who explains that “Pedro is not the kind of dad who is pushing his daughter to do something she isn’t interested in and, instead, is following his daughter’s lead, supporting her as best he can.”
“I hope the end result is as much about girls breaking athletic barriers as parents fostering drive in their children – encouraging them to do what they love and do their best.”