Naomi Graham is a 32-year-old active-duty service member in the Army from Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Graham will be participating as a member of the U.S.A. Women’s Boxing Team for the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, representing the United States with impressive strength and an equally impressive story to share.
While the inclusion of women’s boxing did not begin until 2012’s Olympic Games in London, Graham took her inspiration from American greats who made it onto that stage across the pond. Standing tall in that group was retired boxer Claressa Shields.
Considered the most successful boxer in American women’s history, Shields is now pursuing a career in MMA, leaving the door open for Graham to make her mark.
As an Army Staff Sergeant, the fighter is ready to showcase true grit, talent as a boxer and love of country.
USA Boxing head coach Billy Walsh spoke on what makes Graham a special fighter among the world’s best, and the spirit that could ultimately make her a gold medalist.
“Naomi really proves that with hard work, anything is possible,” said the boxing coach. “She’s had some setbacks and troubles in her life, and she overcame it and made things better. She made something of herself, and not just in boxing.”
Though an inherent resiliency carried Graham through adversities in her life, which included being homeless, Graham credits her time in the military for showing her how to adapt to any challenge in life — which now includes fighting for Olympic gold.
“The military teaches you to be adaptable in any situation, and I believe I take that into the ring,” said Graham. “Because any style I see, I immediately adapt as soon as I see something that needs to be adjusted.”
Acknowledging the history waiting on the canvas at Tokyo, Graham has prepared mentally and physically in hopes of making an impressive debut and of filling in for the all-time great Shields, despite coming in at a more seasoned age.
Above all, Graham is eager to represent her country, and she is determined to share the American message of overcoming adversity as she seeks to make world history.