WORLD CLASS. DETERMINED.
Canadian Provincial Fighting Champ, Scarlett Delgado, is a skorts wearing, jiu jitsu fighting, wrestling and boxing kind of girl. This aspiring 2020 Olympian, nicknamed "the pit bull" can do just about everything but quit. Proving she's not just a female fighter, she's the fighter we've all been waiting for, ready to take on any opponent.
My name is Scarlett Savannah Rene Delgado, named after Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind. Currently, I am a competitor in Olympic amateur boxing in the 54kg division.
I was born in Brampton, Ontario. Both of my parents were (and still are) young, gorgeous and wild, my mother especially. My mother, from a European background, met my father at Champions Boxing Club in Brampton when she was nineteen years old; my father was twenty-nine. My father was a former competitor, one of the best in the country, and had retired into full time coaching early in his life. He was handsome, very fit, focused and determined. They fell in love quickly and spent a month in Ecuador, my father’s birth country. It’s also where they found out she was pregnant with me. When I was around two and a half years old, they broke up. My mother was very young, so my grandparents helped raise me.
I called my grandmother “Nanny” and my grandfather “Guggy.” Both were full of life and very outgoing. My Nanny took care of me like I was her own daughter—she loved me more than air—and I became my Guggy’s world. They both spent every second of the day with me and gave me a beautiful, loving family. I always felt safe with them. Guggy taught me anything I wanted to know: piano, drawing, swimming, math, science. He took me for long drives out into the country road, to the park every day, dropped me off and picked me up from school every day, and read a different book with me every night.
I saw my dad as much as I could, who lived in the projects in Toronto. I felt like an outsider to my grandmother on my dad’s side. She never accepted me because I was the only white mixed grandchild of hers; all my cousins and sisters were fifty-fifty Ecuadorian and Filipino. I didn’t have a name to my grandmother—I was only called “the white one,” and she spoiled all the other kids except for me.
I felt very awkward as a child. I always felt like I was an older person trapped in a child’s body. I had a hard time maintaining friendships because I was too mature as a child for other kids my age. And all because I was a child, no one took me seriously. But I had witnessed and been through more than most kids my age. And this was never more evident than the day my Guggy died.
Your appearance is a reflection of how you take care of yourself. I’m a world-class high performance athlete; I eat very clean and work and train hard. My body represents that—I am very fit. Since I was young, I’ve always had “muscular” features. I was very lean and had a lot of muscles; boys made fun of me, and girls always asked why I would want to look like that. I used to want to look like the girls on cover magazines. I dated a boy once who didn’t like that I was in martial arts or rough with the boys, and he told me very openly that I was too muscular. This really offended me, because I actually liked him and there was nothing I could do to change that part of me. I cried, thinking that in order to look like the “ideal” woman, I would have to give up doing the things I loved, which I was not willing to do. So I thought that no matter what, every guy would eventually leave me because they would find what they are looking for in a more physically attractive girl. The only man I knew that fully accepted me 100 percent was my Guggy—and of course he was long gone by that time.
My dad sat me down for the first time when I cried to him about the issue. And he told me very straightforwardly that to have the body, features and mindset I have is very unique. If I need to fight to protect myself, I can. If I need to run from danger, I can. If I need to do physical labor, I can. If I want to speak up and have a voice in the room, I do. These are all things every person, not just women, want in this world. Because of gender stereotypes and inequalities, far too many women don’t embrace their rights to freedom as such. He made me see (and love) the quality of being brave and doing what I want in my life.
After losing my grandfather in my arms and feeling that anger and isolation, knowing that no one else accepted me the way he did, I had no idea how to have an outlet. Out of the blue, maybe because I was the girls’ same weight and size, my dad asked me to go into the ring with his provincial champ and do light partner work with her. Prior to this, I’d had no thought of ever stepping in the ring. The girl was twelve years my senior and years advanced in training. She gave me one hit to the forehead, and something in me snapped. Every single thing I’d ever been angry about came to surface and I went after her and couldn’t stop. My dad had to jump into the ring to pull me off of her. I ran into the change room and started balling my eyes out. I’d felt salvation. I’d felt free for those fifteen seconds. I’d felt like I had a purpose. I told my Dad through my tears: “I never knew how strong I was until I had to fight. This is what I am meant to do.”
My passion now, and forever, is fighting. I have trained in boxing, national level wrestling, capoeira, kali, Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo and kick boxing. But my heart and focus is boxing. A lot of my strength comes from overcoming a lot of obstacles in my early life I never thought I could as a child. When I fight, I never give up, I never get hit “too hard,” I never get “tired” or “gassed,” I never get “out-classed.”
There are not a lot of female boxers, and a very common stereotype is that they are very “manly” or “butchy.” Whenever I walk into the arena, people didn’t take me seriously, especially since I’m the only female boxer in the province who fights in skorts. I hear all the time, “You’re too pretty!”
“This sport is too brutal for a pretty girl like you,” “Aren’t you nervous?”
I love proving them wrong.
I don’t think my dad really thought I was going to exceed his expectations. He himself told me I should go into dance instead, until I started coming home with trophies from wrestling in high school, which I did behind his back. When I was sixteen, I brought the boxing registration forms to him and told him that if he didn’t train me, I was going to go find someone else who would. From that point, he trained me as another male athlete of his. I worked very hard, never complained, and we fought constantly. He wanted to prepare me to fight a 180-pound male in the ring, that way I had an easy fight against girls. His style was to hit and not get hit. I wanted to be the absolute best and prove to him and everyone who doubted me that I could be the best. I wanted to prove that yes, although I was a scared small girl, there was a ferocious lion inside of me, ready to come out when I needed to be protected. I wanted to know I could do it for me.
I know that anyone who gets a glimpse of my path in life sees that there is someone out there fighting for their dreams. I have my goals for my career lined up, this is for after I achieve my ultimate goal, and that is competing in the 2020 Olympic games representing Canada. My hopes are to show the world that nothing can break you, champions have no “off” season—this does not solely apply to my sport, this is with everything in life. Unless one fulfills themselves there will always be an empty void that will draw in negativity. You get what you focus on, so focus on what you want: it’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
One of life’s hardest lessons is letting go, whether it’s guilt, anger, love, loss or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold on and we fight to let go. Life will never stop teaching; therefore, never deny yourself the chance to learn. Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved. It is okay to be scared, nervous, afraid, but it is never okay to back down. When these emotions surface, it is because you’re about to do something brave. Hold onto that feeling and embrace it.
Courage is a love affair with the unknown.
SCARLETT DELGADO X UDD
I will literally never give up, and therefore the person across the ring from me during a fight will never truly “beat me.” If I could stand tall and overcome the hardships in my childhood, what makes anyone think I will let another random person break me down in a ring?