PANAMA CITY – With her training uniform and red gloves on, Panamanian Atheyna Bylon symbolizes the strength of a woman who is making her mark in two worlds dominated by men, given that she is both a boxer and a police officer.
“No way are we the weaker sex. I’ve always said that if you set yourself to do something, if you want it, you can do it. Boxing is the best example,” she said.
Bylon, 29, took the gold medal in the welterweight category at the 2014 World Amateur Championships in Jeju, South Korea. Moving up to middleweight, she reached the round of 16 at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro before winning gold in the class at last year’s South American Games in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
In an interview with EFE during a workout at a gym in the Panamanian capital, Bylon said that “women are the ones who have been bringing in the best results in Olympic boxing in Panama.”
“My comrades and I have brought in the best results in recent times in Panama. We give our best every time we go out to represent the country,” she said.
Bylon, a sergeant in the National Police, said that her fellow officers were the ones who encouraged her to dare to enter the world of pugilism, which, she acknowledges, she thought “was for men” alone.
“I always thought that boxing was for men. At first I saw it that way, but now I think differently. Over the years I’ve realized that it’s a sport for everyone,” she said.
Bylon gets up early each day to merge herself into her training sessions with the idea that she is a role model for many women.
Ever aware of her performance and the instructions of her coach, Gustavo Caicedo, she reflected on International Women’s Day on March 8 and said without hesitation that “every day is Women’s Day.”
“If women did not exist, the world would end. If women are not there, men are not born, they do not grow and they do not reproduce. For me, every day is Women’s Day,” she said.
Surrounded by the beat of reggae music and the almost infernal heat that permeated every corner of the gym, Bylon emanated energy in every single blow she threw and steered the conversation back to the capacity of women in any field.
Women nowadays are not meant to stay at home but have the same possibilities that men have, regardless of their way of thinking and skin color, she said while preparing for the qualifiers for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
Being a member of the National Police “is an important part of my career,” Bylon said. “The police force has always given me support when I need to train.”
Bylon did not miss the opportunity to talk about her mother, whom she defined as an example to follow.
“My mother is my idol. She’s the one who teaches me, the one who calls out my mistakes, the one who congratulates me, is always with me, my doctor, my hero and my example to follow. That’s my mom,” she said.