EL PASO, Texas - 18-year-old Kayla Gomez is one of El Paso’s most prized fighters, spending her days training for the 2024 Olympic Games on El Paso’s East Side.
But the fighting for Kayla started before the ring at the El Paso children’s hospital, where Kayla received treatment for epileptic seizures until the age of 5.
“All I remember is it was pretty bad," says Kayla of her time in the hospital. "They would give me nothing but medicines. I would always be in the rooms fighting them (doctors). I was a little kid you know.”
But with treatment, Kayla outgrew epilepsy at age 5 to now become a 13-time boxing national champion.
In 2021, Kayla was named USA Boxing Youth Female Boxer of the Year and earned a place on the United States National Team among 11 other fighters from across the country.
Is she the best 18-year-old fighter in the United States?
"Humbly, I say yes but I don’t say that in a cocky way," says Kayla, who is coached by her mother and grandmother. "I mean I work hard for what I earn and I believe so.”
Kayla certainly has the credentials. She just became the first gold medalist at the Junior Pan American games from Team USA last December.
As for her next goal?
Her next goal?
“2024 Olympics. That’s the goal right now. I want to be a gold medalist."
She said she intends to use that same fighting spirit she’s had since the hospital and adds that she still keeps in contact with her doctors and nurses.
“Determination to fight from epilepsy to boxing. Just proud of me in general. They’re alongside me."
"Everywhere I go they always message me congratulations I’m proud of you and it’s a great feeling to know that my city is proud of me.”
Kayla's quest for the Olympics begins this February with regional qualifiers, where she will now be fighting against boxers age 18-40.