A BRIEF BIO OF MARIA ESPINOZA. VIDEO TRANSLATION:
MARIA: “It all started with a pair of boxing gloves. My dad would put them on me.” NARRATOR: This story begins in La Brecha Sinaloa, with a population of merely 2,500. There are no paved streets, here the bare, raw paths are traveled. MARIA’S AUNT: “We may be poor economically speaking, but we have a lot of heart, & that is beautiful.” NARRATOR: This is a town that does not think twice about lending a helping hand. Maria was taught early on that in order to eat, one has to do more than just sit at the table and request. MARIA: “We had to find a way. We had to work to put food on the table. We come from a family of fishermen, so we had to work as merchants.” Her mother did not like being absent from her home , but the economic necessity made it so that Maria and her siblings had to be without her. Thusly, Maria found in her grandfather(on her dad’s side) her best friend. MARIA : “I would enjoy going to visit my grandpa, growing things, farming. It was my way of learning how to grow up tough, learning how stand up to life”
MARIA’S GRANDMA: “We had many animals at our home, & Maria always loved riding and interacting with them.” NARRATOR: Eventually boxing became a fleeting thing. Thanks to heredity she found out she had more potential with her feet than with her hands. She feels indebted to her grandmother for this. MARIA’S GRANDMA: “I have a very large foot. I’ve always had a large foot, it’s even bigger now that I’m older, I ‘m 74. Instructor Ruben Contreras was Maria’s first coach at a gym in La Brechea.
MARIA: “My first competition was in Hermosillo when I was about 5 or 6, my daddy accompanied me on that occasion.” MARIA’S UNCLE: “Early on we saw Maria was a good brawler.” MARIA: “I went to the competition with such joy & energy, I was just a kid. I was like “Wow an actual competition & it’s going to be outside of my city in Guasave! I’m going to meet new kids! I had to battle this young man who was taller then me, I always partnered with him, because there weren’t any girls. So it was like, Oh well let’s do it. There was no other way. I was just happy to be competing.” Then her first disillusion came, her 1st teacher, the one who ignited Maria’s love for Taekwondo decided to leave La Breacha in order travel to the capital in Sinaloa to look for different opportunities. That was Maria’s 1st brief brush with the sport. MARIA: ” A cousin told me later on that there was Tae Kwon Do instruction in the city of Guasave, & I decide to attend.” From La Brecha to Gusave=30 miles. Her dad was away at sea, her mother working as well, but at just 10 years of age Maria found the perfect solution, during what she calls the best chapter of her life .
Her great journey began at noon after she would come out of school.
MARIA: “So that’s 1 hour from La Brecha to Guasave, arrive at the gym around 2:00 pm, train from like 4-5 then back home again.” NARRATOR: These are the echoes of Maria’s adventure. MARIAS’ AUNTS: “Some buses would collect money later on , not at the moment you got on, sometimes Maria was so tired that by the time the collector came around she was fast asleep. During those times they did not charge her. There were times when buses with two doors came to pick her up & she would shoot in the back door. As soon as the door opened she slide for home with all her might.” MARIA: “There was a couple of times that I would just give they driver a coin, not the full fare & dash in. I was thinking of my family and our situation.”
Hardships, escapades & all, Maria had decided Tae Kwon Do would be her life. In Guasave she met a new trainer, Rolando Garcia. Rolando: “Maria would always spar with guys. Maria is so strong that, generally the girls couldn’t withstand her kicks. The guys too were weary of sparing with her, they’d say “No coach, please not Maria”. NARRATOR: Maria spent her days between school, fishing, and martial arts. MARIA: “There was a tourney in Monterrey in ‘02. I didn’t fare so well, but at that point I decided that I really wanted to earnestly commit to this sport. ” It was during this tourney when she experienced her utmost bitter heartbreak. When she was away competing her grandfather died. MARIA: “I was away training, competing, and at that same time he was…He passed away. Up to this day he has helped me a lot, he contributed to my embracing the sport, has helped me in my personal life… I’ve had some tough moments.”
Maria went on to join the youth national team & she obtained a medal in the adult division at age 15. The time came when she had to leave her hometown & move to San Luis Potosi to fully concentrate on her training at a higher level. She soon realized however, that not everything had gone according to plan. MARIA: “While staying in San Luis, I went through rigorous training, & I felt that at times instead of going a step forward, I went a few steps back. There was a time when I felt like, I just want to go home. I can’t, just cant’ anymore.” She moved forward however & during an international competion in Brazil she was up against a Brazilian opponent for the final. MARIA: ” Up against a local, all of the audience rooting for her. I had never been so nervous. It was one the toughest battles I’ve ever experienced. ” Narrator: It came down to a single point, one kick would decide it all. MARIA: “To win under such circumstances, with my opponent having home court advantage was like a bomb.” Maria’s next goal now was, a ticket to the Olympics.