It’s tough running a small business, especially for a 24-year-old.
But one Kansas native refuses to lose when it comes to achieving her dream of running a boxing gym. At only 5-foot, 3-inches, E-Lisa Moreno may be small in stature but she knows how to pack a punch.
Moreno first launched her gym, RNE Boxing, three years ago in the Kansas City suburb of Merriam, Kansas. After realizing her passion for boxing and teaching youth, Moreno convinced her father to help her open shop.
“I love seeing a kid who people saw as ‘bad’ become someone who has accomplished something,” she told the National Journal. More than 10 of RNE Boxing’s members are at-risk youth.
As a teenager, Moreno found her love for sparring while passing time at a gym where her two younger brothers took boxing classes. A coach allowed the 17-year-old to slip on a pair of gloves that would eventually lead to her destiny. After just a few months, Moreno dropped almost 50 pounds, and soon, she began spending more time at the gym while her father assumed the role of her coach, traveling with her to compete throughout Kansas.
Her hard work paid off. Moreno took second place in her weight category at the 2010 National Women’s Golden Gloves tournament in Florida. While attending community college on a scholarship from the Kansas City Golden Gloves, Moreno pursued her professional boxing career and coached children as well.
But it was her belief in a 13-year-old girl that inspired Moreno to open a gym. After coaching the tween to three national championship titles, her student passed away in a traffic accident. Instead of returning to the gym where she trained the girl, Moreno decided it was time to open her own place to coach.
In memoriam of the young girl, Moreno named the gym after her student’s initials, RNE. Business was booming when they first opened. Just six months after RNE Boxing opened its doors, the gym boasted around 500 members.
But within a year, local regulations for a sprinkler in case of a fire led Moreno and her father to downsize. The building owner refused to pay for the upgrade, and the Morenos had no choice.
“The cheapest estimate we got was $20,000,” Moreno said. “So we started looking for another place.”
Now, RNE Boxing is run out of a smaller building that can only hold around 60 people, which led to members abandoning the once spacious gym. But that hasn’t stopped this twenty-something from chasing her dream of working with troubled teens.
Moreno now works a day job as a waitress at a Mexican restaurant while her father has also taken a day job. When she thinks about whether she should have made another career choice, she remembers, “It’s all about the kids,” she said. “It’s always been about them.”