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Naomi Graham reacts after defeating Morelle McCane during the 2020 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team Trials at Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino on December 15, 2019 in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Cumberland County has its second Olympian, as Fayetteville-native Naomi Graham has qualified for Team USA boxing as a middleweight fighter for the Tokyo Olympic Games. SSG Graham is a Fayetteville native and currently serves in the U.S. Army

Graham joins Hope Mills native Quanera Hayes, who made Team USA in the Women’s 400m track and field event, as Cumberland County athletes scheduled to compete in Tokyo starting later this month. Graham’s journey to the Olympics hasn’t been quite as traditional as many athletes might have seen.

Graham is a 2007 Pine Forest High School graduate, but according to a story from the U.S. Army, found herself homeless in 2012. A year later she was in the Army, and sent to Fort Carson, Colorado, where the Army’s World Class Athlete Program is based.

That led her down a path that ultimately has her now as the eighth overall boxer in her weight class in the world.

“It feels unreal that I am going to the Olympics,” Naomi Graham said in a USA Boxing story. “I continue to surprise myself by finding my own limits, and then having the courage to blow past them.”

Graham is also the first active-duty female to fight for Team USA in an Olympic Games, and she will serve as the team captain.

Graham’s first fight in Tokyo is currently scheduled for sometime on Sunday, July 25.

Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.