▶️ After 4 kids and surgery on both hips, Bend boxer punching for Olympics at 36


It’s the type of comeback story movies are made about — an aging boxer gets knocked down, literally and figuratively, but refuses to stay down.

This “Hollywood” story is true, playing out in Central Oregon. It’s the comeback story of boxer Whitney “Hollywood” Gomez and her unlikely return to the ring.

“Her life is a bit different than the normal boxer. I mean, she has three children. She’s married. She works out during the day. She teaches classes, fitness classes and then she comes to practice at night again,” said boxing coach Richard Miller.

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Whitney is the first female from Oregon to go to the Olympic Trials. This is a big deal. You know, it’s not like it’s not the district championship or the state championship. This is the to make the Olympic team.”

“Just to imagine being there and walking in the opening ceremonies and just that feeling and the energy. It sometimes is a super overwhelming feeling, but in a good way,” Gomez said.

It’s been four years since Gomez was boxing at the Olympic Trials in Louisiana, fighting to make the U.S. Olympic team before falling just short and having her lifelong dream shattered.

“Heartbreaking. Almost made me feel lost for a while,” Gomez said.

These days, life looks a little different for the now 36-year-old. There was an eight-year gap, but in 2021, she had her fourth child. At the end of 2022, she had surgeries on both her hips.

“Had to learn how to walk on the leg again and my glute muscles were shut off,” Gomez said. “A lot of tears. A lot of pain.”


Gomez went from boxer to teacher, sticking at home and homeschooling post-pandemic.

With the writing on the wall, she let her Olympic dreams die. Her hips and health forced her to hang up the gloves and transition into coach.

I asked her in April if it was over for good. She left the door cracked, but only barely.

“I don’t think I’m done, but I also am OK if that is what comes to be,” Gomez said then.

‘This is stupid. I’m boxing again’

But then, in June, driving home after a coaching session, Gomez had a change of heart.

“I just felt like, you know what? This is stupid. I’m boxing again. I can’t not have that be part of my life,” she said now.

She didn’t care that she was 36. She didn’t care that her hips weren’t cooperating or that everyone was going to tell her she couldn’t or was crazy. She decided that she didn’t want to be a former boxer. She wanted to be a current boxer,” Gomez said.

“I told Richard, if you’re on board and you’ll help me get ready, that’s what I want to do,” she said.

“I didn’t see it coming, but I’m not surprised by it either,” Miller said.

Cue the training montage

It’s one thing to say it, but it’s an entirely different thing to do it. Gomez was just two years removed from having her fourth baby, only seven months removed from those hip surgeries. She couldn’t squat. She couldn’t pivot. She’d gained weight and she wasn’t in boxing shape.

“At the beginning of June, I weighed 170 pounds. July, I was 160 pounds. So I still had like 15 pounds to lose,” Gomez said.

To make matters more difficult, she had only six weeks to train for a last-chance qualifier. It’s an event like the name suggests — the last chance to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

“I had to do cardio every day on top of boxing. You know, 4 to 5 days a week and strength training 4 to 5 days a week,” Gomez said.

“You only get so many chances in life. And if you don’t do it, if she didn’t do it, then three years from now, she’ll be regretting it,” Miller said.

“Hollywood” was back, and she wrote her Hollywood ending, punching her ticket to the Olympic Trials.

“If you had asked me four or five months ago, would I get to this point, I would have laughed in your face,” Gomez said.
She was already the first woman in Oregon to make it to the trials. Now, she’s the first to make it twice.

“It’s a feat in life that most boxers you don’t see, either male or female. I mean, there’s very few that do that,” Miller said. “What she overcame in the last four years. You know, she had two hip injuries, a neck injury. She had another child. And to come back from that, it’s quite the story.”

Win or lose, she’s already beat the odds and written a comeback story for the ages.

“I honestly thought I would never be able to get back to this point. My body would never let me,” Gomez said. “But it’s all about your mindset, right? You can have these huge stumbling blocks and these huge roadblocks in your way. But if you can change your mind, I swear you can just bulldoze them right out of the way.”


UPDATE: Whitney was defeated at the Olympic Trials Thursday night.


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