Marlen Esparza, the reigning National Champion in the 112 pound Olympic boxing division was scheduled to compete this weekend in her native Houston for the 2011 Senior USA Open Tournament, Gulf Amateur Boxing Association. She will advance to the state tournament in Lubbock, TX in two weeks on 01-21-11 thru 1-23-11 without boxing. There was no contender for the five-time national champion.
Those are the same time advantages and disadvantages of being a Marlen, a boxer who even in her large city, doesn’t have opponents of the same caliber. There are several women with great potential but whose discipline and dedication to the sport and a number of different reasons, don’t advance at the next level.
But for Esparza there is no excuse. She is in premedical school, works part time at a dentist office and trains everyday. Against her will, sometimes Coach Rudy Silva needs to kick her out and make her rest.
She is strong willed and determined to not let a day to pass without focusing in her dream: to represent her country for the first time in the Summer Olympics, in the 112 pound division and win the precious Gold.
She is featured in this month’s Ring Magazine by Michael Rivest, and has is big part in this week’s article in the Houston Spanish newspaper Rumbo, where my colleague Gustavo Rangel, analyzed the possibilities that Houston amateur boxers –male and female- have to gain a spot in the USA Team and go to the Olympics. He said that the only one that Houston sees with that possibility is Marlen Esparza.
Fighters in pursuit of the Olympic dream –my translation- “In recent tournaments, some Houston boxers have shown they can compete with the best in the nation, but only boxer Marlen Esparza has established herself as the serious candidate who would be on the land for Londoners. Other Houstonian fighters have to prove they deserve a chance in this competition that will be held in the Lone Star Hitters Boxing Gym Club (18906 FM 529 Rd, Cypress, TX).
Esparza will be fighting this weekend in the 112 pound class and if there is no one who can unseat her from the throne as the best in her division in this region, the real competition for the promising fighter will be nationwide.
“Marlen is in great shape and very focused on her goal. There is no doubt that is she has the strength to be in the next Olympics, ” said Juan Moya, president of Texas Gulf Coast Boxing Association.”
I saw Marlen Esparza competing in the 2010 US Nationals in Colorado Springs, and in Barbados at the World Championships. She won Nationals in a great final bout against a very talented, skillful, fun to watch and very serious opponent from Baltimore, Tyrieshia Douglas.
At World’s, Esparza won two of her three bouts. The most significant bout of all was when she upset reigning world champion Kim Ok Hyang from South Korea by showing her technique, concentration, heart to win and desire to get the precious Gold. Unfortunately in her third bout, her opponent, Peamwilai Laopeam from Thailand hit her with her head in her eye. Marlen lost the bout by two points but even if she had won, she would not have been able to continue the tournament because of medical conditions.
After World competition, I visited with Marlen in Houston. For the first time, she was taking a rest from the gym, not because she wanted to but because she needed to heal her eye and another past injury to her wrist. During the holidays, while others were celebrating, the dedicated champion was training to get ready for the tournament this weekend.
But she won’t have a contender and she feels disappointed. “I was mad, I worked out on Christmas and New Years, but that’s boxing, I guess,” Esparza said by phone chat.
She will have her turn very soon at the State, Golden Gloves, National Police Athletic League, and then the US Nationals. The prize of wining is a trip to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in October for the Pan-American Games, where women boxers will be competing for the first time.
This year and next, the road to the Summer Olympics is going to be very interesting to watch. Marlen Esparza has serious opponents in Tyrieshia Douglas, from Baltimore, Cristina Cruz, from NY, Cynthia Moreno, from Phoenix, and Alex Love, Washington State. There are others who are nationally ranked boxers who are either going up or down in weight to make the 112 pound division.
For sure this is going to be a competition that people will want to watch ringside.