YONKERS, N.Y. -- Krystal Correa wants to go to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, not for its beaches and nightlife, but to fulfill her quest to be an Olympian.
Correa, a 20-year-old from Yonkers and sophomore at Dobbs Ferry's Mercy College, is working on her boxing skills for a chance to earn a spot on the U.S. team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Currently ranked fourth in the nation in the 165-pound class after a recent Olympic tryout competition in Spokane, Wash., Correa says boxing has been an unexpected and life-changing adventure.
"Honestly, I was never an athlete at all," Correa said. "When I was a kid I use to play on a soccer team for a couple of months with my cousins. But I gave that up -- pushing myself to try out for teams -- because of my weight. I was extremely self-conscious."
Correa said she and her Aunt Marilyn were overweight and heard that boxing was a great way to lose weight. Once in the ring, she was motivated become a boxer by YMCA boxing teammates Christella Cepeda, a two-time Golden Glove Champ; and Ivette Delgado, a 112-pound Golden Glove Champ.
"I watched (Cepeda and Delgado) fight their Golden Gloves finals at the Madison Square Garden in 2012," Correa recalled. "I pulled my coaches Pat Mitchell and John Morrison aside and told them. 'I want to become a boxer'."
A nursing major at Mercy, Correa has used her boxing discipline to help motivate the other aspects of her life. She has trained hard over the last two years, dropping from 215 pounds to her current fighting weight of 165. she won her first Golden Gloves match in upstate New York in March 2013.
“I love everything about it,” said Correa. “I don’t think of it as violent, I don’t hate the woman I am fighting, it is just a sport and you have a job to do. I’ve learned about setting goals and achieving those goals at all costs. I’m so much more disciplined now.”
As for all the bruises that she inevitably gets, the confident brunette calls them “warrior wounds.” Correa currently trains four days a week, four hours a day at the Yonkers YMCA.
"The other three days I train as well to maintain and become a better fighter each day," Correa said. "The physical challenge of boxing is being consistent in every aspect of staying in boxing shape and improving boxing techniques by increasing my running, sparring, weight training and calisthenic and becoming physically fit and healthier way of living."
And all the hard work keeps Correa's dream of Rio de Janiero and the Olympic Games alive.