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Boxing Becomes Young Girl's New Dream

on Wednesday, 09 May 2012. Posted in Voices in Recovery, Breaking News

Addiction Recovery

Twenty-year-old Jena Berman claims that boxing has made her appreciate living. According to, Jena is polite, petite, and pretty with sparkling blue eyes and long hair. She once made the final 100 of 30,000 girls in a casting call for Tyra Banks' "America's Next Top Model." She also co-owned a business selling hair products by the time she was 19.

But, somewhere along the line, she got hooked on drugs. Jena said, "I was never good in school. No discipline. I didn't know the meaning of consequence. Really, nothing helped me." But, boxing finally made a difference in her life. She said, "I can't even tell you how drastically this has changed my life."

She first came to the International Boxing Academy with friends who came to box and do Zumba. Because Jena cannot dance, she checked out the boxing. That is when she met Orlando Hernandez, the academy's director and former amateur boxer.

Hernandez has also been sober for 27 years, and he works as a drug counselor at the Recovery Center. He said, "She wanted to learn how to box. She needed something in her life." Jena started using drugs in high school, and she spent a year and a half modeling, which lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.

She met a chemist with Redken and started a business, but in five months she had run it into the ground. Jena said, "I was just too wild and too free with what was going on. I was very loose with the budget. It ended up crumbling before my eyes." She regrets messing up such a wonderful opportunity. She had no back-up plan.

Thankfully, she ended up at the boxing academy. Hernandez, who makes a living cleaning up lives, put her in the boxing ring, and before long Jena began to view him as a "second dad." She said, "He saved my life. I'm not always the easiest person to work with. I will forever appreciate him for that. He's a beautiful guy." She goes on to say, "It was an instant natural high for me. He taught me discipline and responsibility. I learned if I can push myself here, I can oust myself in every aspect of life. I get crazy if I don't come here. It keeps me sane."

Jena trains 6 days a week, unless she is working overtime at her job as an underwriter. She hopes to make her amateur debut in a month or two. She has dreams of turning pro. Hernandez said, "She has a lot of talent. You don't see too many girls fight like her."

This time, Jena has a back-up plan. She would like to open her own business, and has even considered opening a gym to save kids the way Hernandez saved her. She has been clean for four months, since the day she first walked into the boxing academy.

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