Everyone loves a good comeback, which is why a 36-year-old Mission Bay woman’s return to the sport of boxing could make for one of the most memorable storylines of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Now, all she must do is qualify.
Danyelle Wolf is one of eight women competing for a title in the 152-pound weight class at Team USA’s Boxing Team Trials starting this weekend in Lake Charles, Lousiana.
The winners of each weight class will represent the United States at next summer’s Olympics.
At 36, Wolf is the oldest boxer in her class, and she could square off against competitors nearly half her age.
But, the Pennsylvania native is up for the challenge physically and mentally.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life” Wolf told NBC 7. “I’m ready to show the world that I’m going to be representing USA.”
Wolf found boxing at 28 years old, which is pretty late in life, at least compared to most seasoned fighters. She quickly climbed the ranks and became a three-time national champion with the goal of one day competing in the Olympics.
But, there was just one problem. A big problem: the International Olympic Committee had yet to add her weight class to the Olympic program.
After the disappointment of missing out on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro and having accomplished all she could in boxing, Wolf walked away from the sport to pursue a career in Mixed Martial Arts fighting, or MMA.
MMA offered her a new challenge and possibly more upside financially.
Just like boxing, she quickly made a name for herself in MMA, traveling overseas to pursue fights while planning her pro debut.
During a training fight – against a guy, by the way – Wolf injured her shoulder, requiring her to return home to San Diego for surgery. The injury turned into what she calls a “blessing in disguise” because, unbeknownst to her, the IOC had added her old weight class to the Summer Olympics.
Wolf said if she turned pro in MAA, she wouldn’t have been able to compete in the Olympic games.
Wolf believes her experience with MMA has only strengthened her craft as a boxer and she is now fully recovered from the torn labrum which helped guide her back to her true passion.
“This is the most fit, most healthy I’ve ever been in my life” Wolf told NBC 7.
Her diet could be the most boring part of her comeback, because she eats the same meal, every three hours, all day long: eggs, spinach, avocado, and salsa.
She trains four to five-hour days in the gym, which includes sparring sessions at Steel MMA in Tierrasanta.
Carl Gebhart, who started the gym three years ago, and is Wolf’s striking coach believes her ability to set expectations and push herself is what separates Wolf from the pack.
“She is very strong, her mental capacity, her fight IQ is even bigger than it was before” said Gebhart.
Wolf has dreamed about being an Olympian since she was a child. The only thing left in her comeback is to punch her ticket to Tokyo at Team USA’s trials.
The USA Olympic Boxing Trials begin this Saturday and run through Dec. 15.