SAN DIEGO — Three years ago Raquel Miller left her family in San Francisco to pursue her dream of professional boxing.
She followed her longtime coach to San Diego and spends her days training and teaching at the Boxing Club in East Village. At 33 years old, she now has the chance to build her boxing resume with a world title.
Miller considers herself a bit of a tomboy. She fell in love with the sport of boxing when she was 19 and gave up twice before deciding to jump back into the ring at 25.
“I wanted to lose weight as well, so boxing was something that kind of pushed me to the next level because I was at the gym and I wasn’t really that motivated to stick on the treadmill,” said Miller. “So I’ve lost about 50 pounds to have my first fight. The journey to get there, the adrenaline, the training, the mental focus — it was something I had never experienced before.”
Miller spends anywhere from two to six hours a day training, which involves strength and conditioning, cardio and, of course, boxing.
“You’re just focused on sharpening up your skills, making sure your cardio is on point, you’re sparring. It’s a lot that goes into it,” she said.
Miller fought in more than 70 amateur boxing events. In 2012, she made Team USA and went to the Olympics as an alternate in London, accomplishing all of this before turning pro in 2016.
“I’ve been really, really fortunate to do well and to be able to travel with Team USA,” said Miller. “I’ve been to China and Poland and Dominican Republic and all these different countries, and it’s been a journey. Now I’m a pro and I’m 7-0 as a pro and going for my first world title soon.”
A chance for the world title comes on Jan. 31 at Viejas Casino and Resort, when Miller fights for a chance at the WBO World Title.
“You can do anything you put your mind to and I don’t really say that in a way where it sounds cliche, I mean literally,” said Miller. “Go in there and work so hard that they can’t ignore you, work so hard that they have to see that you’re there and deserve to be there and you’re coming for your moment and not taking no for an answer.”
In the boxing ring, she goes by “Pretty Beast,” a nickname that started as a joke but stuck for good reason.
“I don’t want you to feel like you have to be defined by something,” said Miller. “I don’t have to look all rough and tough to be a boxer. You can be pretty, you can like nails, you can like heels and still be able to box.”
In 2007, Miller started her own nonprofit called Ladies in Power, a mentorship to help young women transition into adulthood.
“I also do a camp yearly, it’s called ‘Fight Like a Girl’ and it’s just a day to have young girls come out and feel empowered,” said Miller. “To feel strong and to learn some basic boxing, but just to also know that you belong in the gym or anywhere that you decide to be and that you can be strong, you can be beautiful, and in power.”
In a sport dominated by men, Miller knows what kind of example she hopes to set.
“I think that that’s a big reason why I box, because I don’t want girls to come into the gym and feel like they have to shrink. You don’t,” said Miller. “You can stand tall and be amazing and do it your way.”
Whatever that way may look like.