Italy's Irma Testa brought home bronze in Tokyo, and stands a contender for the top spot in Paris. | LUIS ROBAYO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Name: Irma Testa
Country: Italy
Sport: Boxing, Featherweight
Previous Olympic experience: Rio 2016, Tokyo 2021
Social Media: Instagram

Who is Irma Testa

Irma Testa is only 26, yet the history-maker known as “Butterfly” already has carved a place in Olympic history for Italian women’s sports.

In Tokyo, she fought to a bronze medal in the featherweight (57kg) class and became the first Italian woman to win an Olympic medal in her sport. Testa also won European championships in her division in 2019 and 2022, and earned bronze at the 2023 European Games which clinched her spot in the draw for Paris next month.

Her Olympic breakthrough also led to another step, she came out publicly a few months later.

“That Tokyo medal has become my shield. Now that the athlete Irma is safe, the female Irma can be sincere,” she stated in an interview with the Italian edition of Vanity Fair in December 2021. “And I do it at a time when exposing oneself has become fundamental.”

“There are people who suffer from discrimination, who are victims of bullying, who are unable to build a life for themselves because they don’t know how to relate to a society that is hostile to them,” she continued. “Every human being should be protected and safe. There are still too many people discriminated against and this is not good. I can’t do much, but I can, by telling the truth about myself, also say that nothing is wrong.”

Fitting words given her profession away from the sport. Testa is an officer in Italy’s national civil police. She also been an outspoken voice in a national campaign on violence against women since 2022.

“We women must never let ourselves be pushed into a corner, let’s start showing solidarity with each other. Let’s not let ourselves be overwhelmed by the fear of not reporting,” she said to Italy’s Gazetta Dello Sport last November. “At the Olympics I will dedicate every match to women who are victims of violence.”

One of the roadblocks to the gold could be Tokyo silver medalist Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines (in red) who defeated Testa (in blue) in the semis in Tokyo (Photo by UESLEI MARCELINO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Irma Testa at the Paris Summer Olympics

Testa comes to Paris with a past record of success and as the defending IBA World Amateur Champion in the featherweight class, sweeping the cards to defeat Kazakhstan’s Karina Ibragimova, who will also contest for gold in Paris.

Japan’s Sena Irie won the featherweight gold in Tokyo, but reportedly retired from the sport to attend graduate school in 2022.

However two threats whom Testa fought against in Tokyo will be in Paris with eyes on gold. Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Nesthy Petecio, who defeated Testa in an Olympic semifinal bout, raced through March’s Olympic qualifying tournament to grab her spot in Paris. 2022 Commonwealth Games champion Michaela Walsh of Ireland also landed a spot in the 2024 draw. Testa defeated Walsh enroute to the bronze medal three years ago.

Testa, Petecio and Walsh are also linked in another way: They are all members of Team LGBTQ.

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