Down in the west Texas town of El Paso, you can be sure Jennifer Han (8-1-1, 1 KO) is hard at work perfecting something. It’s what she does.
Jennifer is a college graduate, a national champion in various styles of martial arts, a former professional kickboxer, a reality show star, and (oh, yeah) a boxer.
Don’t let her various interests confuse you. She’s been exceptional in all of them, including what TSS readers might find most important--six amateur national championships in a decorated amateur boxing career where she was also part of the inaugural USA women’s team.
Almost any professional prizefighter you talk to for more than a few minutes will likely make you feel like a lazy bum, but none of them to the extent this super featherweight might. She’s smart, successful and, perhaps most importantly, determined. Case in point, in her last fight, a win over Kita Watkins, she forced herself to gain ten pounds in four days so the typically 127 pound Han could fight someone tipping the scales at over 140.
Han is well known in her hometown, but it’s probably time people outside of it start recognizing her too. She comes from the fighting family of Hans, consisting of herself and her younger siblings (two brothers and two sisters) along with their parents, who own and operate a martial arts studio.
Her younger brother, Abraham Han, is an undefeated middleweight prospect Top Rank seems to be excited about, and Jennifer is now training with him in an official capacity (the two have trained together for years) under New Mexico’s Louie Burke, whose also trains TBRB’s 7th ranked competitor at junior middleweight, Austin Trout.
“He’s been an amazing coach,” she said. “He’s changed his whole schedule for me. I train with him in the morning along with my brother and Austin, and then they continue in the evening. He’s been really great.”
Jennifer told me she wasn’t sure Burke, who had never trained a female fighter before, was interested in training her at first. She said she had lots of opportunities to be around him because of his work with her brother, and that they had even worked a corner together which might have been the linchpin in the deal.
“I look forward to see how much I improve under Louie,” she said.
Jennifer told me she was used to training with her brother. She said her entire family trains together all of the time and that though only she and “Abie” were professional prizefighters, it didn’t matter. It’s what they did as a family, and it’s what they’ve always done.
Jennifer is the cheerful sort, but not in a silly way. She’s warm and friendly, and she seems the kind of person who genuinely loves her life. She was especially excited this week because she just found out she was going to be fighting on Top Rank’s October 27th fight card in El Paso. The televised portion of Azteca America’s broadcast will feature Takalani Ndlovu (33-7, 18 KOs) against Alejandro Lopez (23-2, 7 KOs) and her brother, Abraham, will fight on the card as well.
“My brother and I haven’t fought on the same card since my pro debut, so I’m really excited. We’re going to rock El Paso!”
It can be difficult for women fighters to get enough fights to stay active. I asked her about her experience and she was quite candid in her response.
“In general, it’s difficult to get matches, especially if you don’t have a promoter,” she said. “I’ve been matched up with fighters multiple times only to see the fight fall through! This year is kind of a slow year…but things are rolling now.”
Jennifer told me she loved her time as a professional kickboxer, but she said she’s found more opportunity in boxing. She expects even more opportunities to open up for women fighters now because of the tremendous success of women’s boxing in the Olympics.
“It was awesome! You saw the sold out venues and how exciting all the fights were. I was so happy and so proud. I was so amazed and excited to see Claressa Shields win the gold! I think the success in the Olympics will definitely propel women’s boxing into the future. I stayed amateur so long waiting for it, but I didn’t really think it was ever going to happen. Every time [it was considered] it got shot down!”
Jennifer enjoyed her own tremendous success as an amateur boxer, but she said the move to the professional ranks was the right move at the right time for her, even though this debut was the only one of her ten bouts she lost.
“After that fight, I think I had to make some adjustments to fit into the professional,” she said. “I thought I had won, but I was probably fighting too much in the amateur style. But I’ve made those adjustments and I love the professional ranks.”
Whatever the adjustments were, they worked. She’s undefeated since then with eight wins and a disputed draw on her ledger. Now, she says, she’s ready for the next step.
“I don’t know when, but that is what I am preparing myself for,” she said. “Who fights just to win? I want to be a world champion in boxing. God willing, I’ll get that opportunity soon. I’m 29 years old and I’ve put the work in.”
With her track record, it’s hard not to believe she’ll get it done.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?