Jasmine Singh, the "Punjabi Punisher", is Your Friendly Neighborhood Boxing Barista

Jasmine Singh of Anaheim is an Olympic hopeful for the 2016 games in Rio.
Jasmine Singh of Anaheim is an Olympic hopeful for the 2016 games in Rio.
Josh Chesler

When Jasmine Singh was 16, she decided to try boxing.

She'd seen it on TV, and she always liked it, so Singh figured it was as good of a way as any to get in shape and learn some self-defense.

"You know how it is at that age--I was very self-conscious, and I was a chicken," Singh says. "I was scared of everything."

Singh's first boxing workout left her so tired and sore she was barely able to walk, but that same workout is now the routine that the 23-year-old uses for a warm-up. It's the same warm-up she'll bring to Colorado Springs for the Olympic qualifier this month as a light-welterweight.

"It was the best decision I ever made," Singh says. "Boxing has made me who I am today. I could've gone down the '16 and pregnant' path. Instead, it's matured myself a lot more. You have to grow up fast in boxing, because you have to take it seriously and be ready for anything."

Of course, seven years later, it's easy for one of California's top amateur boxers to say that the sport has changed her life. When the timid high school student from Anaheim initially wanted to start her training, her mom wasn't such a big fan.

"My mom kept saying 'No, you have to be a model!'" Singh says. "Now she can't get over it. She tells everyone about me, I'm like her claim to fame now."

The Boxing Barista from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

Singh's mom isn't just proud of her daughter; the pride is reciprocated. While the Olympic hopeful has her own boxing idols (Roy Jones, Jr. for his speed and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for his experience and power), she says that she looks up to her mother more than anyone.

"I know it sounds cliche, but my mom is the strongest woman I know," Singh says. "She's been to Hell and back, and yet she always manages to hold herself together. She provides for three kids as a single mother, and she always does so much for us. My car got broken into last Saturday, and she ordered me new boxing shoes on Monday with express shipping so I wouldn't have to train in my tennis shoes. I don't know what I'd do without her."

Singh has certainly inherited her mother's work ethic, as the boxer has maintained her job as a barista at Starbucks while training full-time at Garden Grove Boxing. On a normal day, that means the 2014 national championship runner-up wakes up at 4 a.m. for work, and doesn't go to bed until about 10 p.m., living little time for rest or a social life in the middle.

While most 23-year-olds would struggle to keep that schedule for a week, the "Punjabi Punisher" (a nickname she picked to honor her ethnic heritage) rarely lets it get to her. After all, she has bigger plans.

"The goal is the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but even if that somehow doesn't happen, I want to stay as an amateur and work on being on the national team until the 2020 Olympics," Singh says. "Why turn pro when I could be in the Olympics twice?"

Eventually, Singh wants to own her own gym, as well as a slightly less conventional dream for a fighter.

"I want to join the OC Sheriff's Department," Singh says. "A lot of people think I couldn't own a gym and be a sheriff, but look at my schedule now. I think I could do it."

Follow Jasmine's quest for Olympic gold on Instagram @jasminesingh_boxing.

Twitter: @jcchesler. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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