It didn’t seem fair. A New York Post article from March of last year told of the first time female boxers were competing in the Battle of the Badges event between the NYPD and NYFD.

Simple enough – cops and firefighters put their day jobs to the side for a few rounds for charity, slug it out and get back on the job.

That’s until you realized that it was Nisa Rodriguez representing the NYPD against the fire department’s Nicole Malpeso. The same Nisa Rodriguez who won eight New York and three National Golden Gloves titles. Poor Nicole, right? Well, not necessarily.

“Funny enough, I saw her in the amateurs,” said Rodriguez. “I stopped her in the Gloves and then I stopped her again for the Metro title and then we went the distance the last two times. This was the fourth time we fought. So she wasn't like no chump from the street. She was decent.” 

Not surprisingly, Rodriguez, one of the best amateurs representing both the United States and Puerto Rico, won all four, and a big reason why is because her competitive fire is on another level than that of most fighters. And as she entered the ring for the Battle of the Badges, she was far from a hundred percent. So there would be a win, but no knockout, and that annoys her a bit.

“The only thing that messed me up is that at that time there was a lot going on,” said Officer Rodriguez. “I was a rookie cop in the city and I was working maybe 80 hours a week, so I was dead. I don't even know how I made it to that fight, And I had cut 15 pounds. But it shows the resilience because it is one thing to be in the sport and have that mental toughness and to have that perseverance. But then when you are on the job, it's a different type of perseverance, a different type of mentality. And you go through these jobs and it's like there's nothing that would scare you because you've seen it all already. And it goes to show that anything I do in the pros, it won't matter, because I've gone through it.”

Wait…Rodriguez is going pro? Yes, she is, and nearly a year after her last bout against Malpeso, she’ll do it in her NYC backyard when she faces an opponent to be named on March 15 at Madison Square Garden’s Theater. How did this happen?

“It was always in my head that I was going to go pro, but once I joined the department, I got so hooked on my position and making a name for myself within that career that it kind of just slipped out of my hands and I was working,” she said. “Then, one day, my son was like, ‘So, you're not going to go pro?’ And I was like, ‘Oh wow, I forgot.’ Not that I forgot about boxing, but I got so caught up in my job that I was like, damn, he's right. And then he kind of bullied me into it (Laughs), so I was like, let's do it.”

Managed by respected boxing attorney Keith Sullivan, Rodriguez has a lot on her plate as she gets ready to enter the pro game. She’s a member of the NYPD’s Rapid Response team for the Chief of Department, specializing in at-risk youth, she’s training for a fight, and she’s a wife and mother. And speaking of her son, when Rodriguez and I last spoke in 2018, Emerson was nine years old and starting to take an interest in the sweet science. Mom wasn’t too thrilled, but she wanted to support her son. Today, he’s 14 and has two New York amateur belts while searching for a Ring Masters title this year.  

“He's gone past me,” said the proud mom. “He's six feet now, so I got to make sure he's still scared of me in the house (Laughs) because he's at that typical age when everything is a challenge. It's ‘I could run faster than you. I could lift more than you. I could punch harder than you.’ He's keeping me on my toes.” 

So how does Rodriguez keep it all together? It does take a village.

“You think about it when you see men that are in the pro game and they have kids, it's always understood that the wife and the family helps out,” she said. “It's different when it's mom. But I'm blessed to have a husband that helps and who’s like, ‘Do whatever you have to do.’ Without him, this wouldn't be possible because there's days that I used to not come home for two days because of the job, and then I had to find ways to train in between, getting two hours of sleep, and he held down the house. So the only way I can say that I do this is with him, which is ironic because usually men say that about women.”

Did I mention that Rodriguez is also continuing the work she’s done for years, helping kids and giving back to the community? Add that to Superwoman’s list.

“Before this, I was a teacher for eight years in Harlem and I feel like I'm still doing the same thing; it's just I'm a cop now,” said Rodriguez, who has been working with the Cops and Kids Gym in Brooklyn to get at-risk youth off the streets and into something productive. “I've always offered the gym and it's a shame that we don't have more gyms like that in New York because I got kids coming from the Bronx, I got kids coming from all the way from Jersey just to come to this gym in Brooklyn. I've been bringing so many people and so many kids into the gym that they (the department) saw that it was doing something.”

Yes, it’s a lot. But now, at least every couple months for the next couple years, Officer Nisa Rodriguez, middleweight prizefighter, will have something for herself where all she has to focus on is someone trying to punch her in the face.

She can’t wait. 

“Anyone that knows me knows I don't half-ass anything, so luckily, the department's behind me and they see what I'm doing,” she said. “I'm all or nothing. I got another good two, three years and whatever's there, I'm going to take it. I'm going to go for any titles that are open. Literally, there's no limit to what I'm going to do right now.”