Grace Penney was tired of being bullied for being a lesbian, so she took matters into her own hands — or into her own gloves, as it were.
The 20-year-old now spends six or seven days a week training for her competitive amateur boxing debut in Chicago's Golden Gloves tournament this month, reports DNAInfo.com. But she isn't just looking after number one. Penney also launched an antibullying training class for youth who find themselves picked on for any reason.
"I would have loved something like that when I was little," Penney told DNAInfo. "I knew I was different, and I found an outlet in combat sports. I became my own hero."
Penney currently coaches three grade-school children in the "Gracie Bully-proof Program," which sounds like it's named after the young boxer, but is actually a reference to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gracie family, notes DNAInfo. Penney's twice-weekly sessions teach children how to fend off bullies who are often larger than them, and uses real-life scenarios to help kids practice standing their ground against a bully.
"We try to imitate situations," Penney told DNAInfo.
Penney will take the ring for the first time on March 23, when she competes in the Golden Gloves tournament in the 106-pound weight class. Both she and her coach are optimistic that Penney has a chance to make it through to the finals of the prestigious amateur competition.
"We definitely have a very good outlook," her coach Ivelin Tzontchev, himself a Golden Gloves champ, told DNAInfo. "We hope to definitely make it to the finals."
Watch Penney in action below: