Petite and soft-spoken, 29-year-old Mayra Hernandez sits in the office of the Engine Room Boxing Gym near East Sixth Street and South Peoria Avenue. The rhythmic pounding of speed bags and the sharp buzz of the gym timer sneak in under the closed office door.
With her friendly smile and relaxed manner, it might be easy to underestimate the power hidden in Hernandez’s compact frame or overlook the glint of determination in her brown eyes. But that would be a mistake.
Growing up in Tulsa, Mayra Hernandez loved to watch boxing on television with her family. Her father, a native of Mexico, would tune in matches on the Spanish-language stations every weekend. Her mom didn’t think it was an appropriate sport for girls.
Today, Hernandez is a professional boxer — and a very good one.
Her dad is her biggest fan.
Undefeated, with five pro fights to her name, she’s gearing up for another this month in Okmulgee High School’s Brock Gym.
"I don’t have a social life right now," Hernandez laughs. "Everything is devoted to working out."
She works 12-hour shifts, six days a week at Webco Industries in Sand Springs, where she operates overhead cranes, affixing heavy chains to thousands of pounds of metal tubing and steel coils and transporting them around the plant. Most days she heads directly to the gym from work, putting in another three hours of cardio, boxing or weights before coming home to crash.
According to Hernandez, it’s a far cry from the life she led in her early 20s.
"I was partying and just living the life," she says.
Hoping to lose some weight, Hernandez joined east Tulsa’s King Street Boxing Gym, where she soon found herself in the ring.
"I got in the ring with this girl," she says. "We went at it, and I was crazy. I’d never really been in a fight."
Six years later, Hernandez dreams of a world championship and a trip to Mexico City to box. "I have family there who have never seen me fight. I’d bring the whole family to the event. It would be awesome."
Hernadez's mom, proud of her daughter’s accomplishments in the ring, no longer thinks boxing is just for guys. She’s at every match, cheering through every round.