KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There are only a little more than a dozen light welter-weight female pro boxers in the country. One of them happens to be from right here in Kansas City - and she's determined to make it big.
Nina Jo Pastena, 23, who transforms into 'Minka' in the ring, says she knows what it feels like to be knocked down.
"My career has ultimately given me myself back, I finally believe in myself," she says. Raised by a single mother here in the metro she says like wasn't always easy.
"I struggled a lot growing up and I had a little bit of an anger issue a lot of issues, just what a normal kid would go through and it kind of haunted me and one day I woke up like I really want to learn more about this I always wanted to do it the right way but didn't have the tools to do it," Minka told FOX 4.
These days instead of getting knocked down Minka is throwing knock outs. She fought in her first pro fight in March - with no amateur experience. Her coach said at first he thought she was crazy.
"What I learned as I met Minka that she's not just really doing this for the boxing, boxing is like a metaphor she's fighting every negativity ever came across her way and she refuses to lose," said her coach, 'Big Ron' Ronnell Jones from Pound for Pound Elite Boxing Academy.
Minka lost that first fight by decision. But her coach -a former pro boxer himself - says you can't keep her down.
In September, Minka won her second fight - a total knock out in the first round. Her manager and promoter John Carden, Owner of Legacy Entertainment, says she has the potential to one day be a world champion.
"If she keeps working and performing the way that she's shown so far, anything is possible because she has a loss on her record but she hasn't lost yet if that makes any sense to you," he says
Minka says she's training to be the best.
"I want to be the best not just in boxing but I think it's going to touch a lot of other aspects as far as inspiring women and showing that we really can do it and that anything is attainable no matter where you're from, or what you grew up or how you grew up," she says.