NEW ORLEANS -- This is how amateur boxer Ariele Davis introduces herself: "I am Ariele Davis. I am a former collegiate basketball athlete transformed into an amateur boxer on my journey in pursuit of the 2020 Olympics."
She says "transformed" because she wasn't always a boxer. Just two years ago, she played basketball for the University of New Orleans.
"Going into my senior year of basketball," Davis remembers, "I walked into a boxing gym so that I could cross-train to just be in better shape."
She started boxing to help her basketball career. But, it turns out, her basketball career helped her become a boxer.
"I learned so much discipline with being a college athlete, having to wake up, go to class, go to practice, this and that," Davis says. "When I thought about it with the discipline with boxing, just because I was such a good athlete with basketball, it just became second nature."
It must be second nature, because in just her second year boxing, Davis has already become one of the top amateur boxers in her weight class of 141 lbs. She won a national Golden Gloves title--the first time in 14 years that a boxer from the Mid-South region has won a national title. And so far this year, she is undefeated and has beaten the #1 and #2 ranked boxers in competition.
"When I began training Ariele, I immediately knew that Ariele was something special," says Valrice Cooper.
Cooper is known as the "The Cornerman" and has trained champions in the past, including one of the best ever, Roy Jones, Jr. He's excited about training Davis.
"Ariele can take boxing and bring boxing to the next level," he says. "This girl here can be something. I can do something with this."
The high praise is only raising the expectations for Davis, who responds with hard work.
"A typical day for me would be waking up in the morning to train, to do my strength and conditioning," she says. "Then waiting a couple of hours, maybe one or two resting, coming to do my boxing training, and then going to work. I work full-time because I am, you know--I don't get paid as an amateur athlete."
Money is often an issue for amateur athletes. To help out with her training costs, Davis has started a GoFundMe. But, that's just one more obstacle to overcome on her way to her goal of reaching the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"When I am hitting the bag, or when I am runnning, or when I am thinking about the Olympics or the goals that I have set, I can not allow myself not to give 110 percent," Davis says, "I have to complete it. I just have to at least give my best because I can't fathom getting to end of my life and saying that I didn't try."