Maize South freshman boxes for national championship

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- It didn't take much convincing for Kenny Pedigo to get his daughter Milana in the ring.

"I had it in the back of my mind that she was going to box whether she wanted to or not," Kenny said. "I brought her down here and Lewis [Hernandez] said this girl's got something. That's when I asked what she thought of boxing. She said 'I think it's pretty cool' and I said 'great, because you're starting tomorrow.'"

Kenny Pedigo is the Strength and Conditioning coach at Hernandez Boxing Academy, home of Olympic bronze medalist Nico Hernandez. Nico's father Lewis is the head coach. These two men knew what they were looking at one year ago.

It only took one year for Milana to win the Kansas State Silver Gloves Championship and qualify for the USA Boxing Silver Gloves National Championship, an astonishing accomplishment in the boxing community.

"To me, it feels crazy because most of the time it takes boxers two or three years before they even get their first fight, and here she is four fights in and she's fighting for the Silver Gloves National Championship," Kenny said.

Milana is a freshman at Maize South high school. The 14-year-old is becoming a super star among her peers from her viral training videos with coach Hernandez.

"Everybody over there started watching and they said 'that's so cool! I hope you do good and I hope you win Nationals!'" Milana said.

In addition to winning medals in the ring, she's also learning self-defense. The Pedigos say it's crucial for young women to protect themselves.

"It's very important," Kenny said. Girls need to defend themselves, especially today, with what's going on in the world right now."

Milana said she developed confidence from the professional boxers surrounding her in the training room. She feels self-assured that she'll handle herself in a confrontation.

"When I come here to box, I feel protected," she said. "So if anyone tries to harm me, I can use my hands and punch."

It also gives Kenny the peace of mind that his daughter will return home safely. The Pedigos said it's easy to separate their relationship from work to home, but Kenny will always see Milana one certain way.

"She's still my baby girl," he said. "I haven't seen her grow up in my eyes, you know. Reality sets in when I'm here, and it kind of hurts."

But helping his daughter reach her potential surely eases the pain.