USA COACH CHRISTY HALBERT LEADS ROAD TO ANTALYA

USA Coach Christy Halbert at the Olympics
USA Coach Christy Halbert at the Olympics

Twenty-three young women boxers who will compete in the AIBA Women’s Junior & Youth World Championships, April 24 through the 30th, in Antalya, Turkey have been training for the past 10 days and will be coached by USA trainer and Women’s Task Force Director, Christy Halbert.

Coach Halbert was selected by AIBA as the leader of a team of seven coaches, who train and coach boxers from 13 countries that don’t have the economic capacity to send their boxers to world competitions. Halbert has been coaching and helping the programs of women boxing around the world and was instrumental in getting women boxing into the 2012 Olympics.

The 23 female boxers are part of the total compliment of 264 young women from 45 countries that will compete in Antalya, Turkey.

The countries of Kazakhstan, Russia and turkey are sending full teams. The youngest contender in the competition will be 14 year-old, Lalfakzali from India.

The junior championships are staged in 13 weight categories and the youth in 10. The competition will take place at the Kepez Belediye Kapali Sport Salon in Antalya. Each match will consist of three two-minute rounds, with a minute of rest between them.

From the Americas, USA, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina will not be represented at the event. From the Europe, the nations of Norway, Belarus and Czech Republic, will also not participate in the championships.

Dr. Halbert was also one of the coaches in the Road to Barbados last year. She is the author of the book ,”The Ultimate Boxer,” holds a Ph.D in Sociology, and is the owner of the Boxing Resource Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

BOXERS READY FOR PANAMERICAN QUALIFIERS

On March 24 – 30, 2011, the city of Cumaná, in the country of Venezuela, will be the host city for the first of three, Pan American Boxing qualifiers.

USA boxers, Marlen Esparza, Tiffanie Hearn and Queen Underwood are getting ready to make a big statement at this event. Prior to departing for the qualifying event, all athletes and personnel will travel to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center for a five-day training camp, March 17-22, according to Harol Addonis, president USA Boxing.

The organizers are expecting 170 women and men athletes from Cuba, United States, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Canadá, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and the Virgen Islands, among others.

In the meantime, seven Venezuelan boxers and event hostesses have been in a training camp in Cumaná since the begining of the year, said Richard Chourio, Venezuelan coach. From the seven, they will select three that will represent the country in the first of three qualifiers.

Nicaragua is another country ready to send three female boxers, Narda Wilson, 112 lbs, Blanca Sampson, 132 lbs, and Leddys Mayorga in the 165 lbs weight division.

Brazilian Lightweight and four time Pan American Champion, Adriana Araujo said she is ready to go to Venezuela and win there so that she can gain a spot for the Pan Am Games.

“It doesn’t matter with whom we will need to box, we are ready for a positive result,” said the 132 lbs boxer from Bahia.

PINK, WOMEN WRITERS AND BOXING: A POWERFUL TRILOGY

Nellie Bly, the famous 19th century female journalist and fan of the color pink, ‘Pinky’ was her childhood nick name, wrote the first boxing story in 1889.

Her interview with prizefighter John L. Sullivan was printed in the Sunday edition of the New York World newspaper on May 26, 1889 in the Q/A format and in first person – below is the link.

Not only did Bly step into the world of men, but she also defied the most of the “macho” sports. As an undercover reporter, she is considered the mother of investigative journalism.

In a dream conversation I had during my sleep last night with Ms. Bly, this is what she told me:
“Not only we, the pink boxing writers, are the best trilogy combination, but we are called to give women boxers the place in history they deserve. Don’t be afraid and throw your words to the world. I’ll cover your back from where I’m at.”

Well if she did it 122 years ago, why can’t I do it now?

So here I am, blogging about my love for pink boxing and trying to get the world to know and understand about the true women boxers in general and amateur women boxers in particular.

US WOMEN BOXING NEWS

Team USA in Barbados after one Gold and two Bronze medals. Photo by Adriana González.
Team USA in Barbados after one Gold and two Bronze medals. Photo by Adriana González.

I- USA Boxing Events

1.The USA National Championsiphs will be host in Colorado Springs Christian School from June 20-25. Finals will be at City Auditorium. USA Boxing is expecting more than 300 athletes.

2. 1st Pre Pan American Qualifying March 24 to 30 in Venezuela. The USA National Champions 2010 in the Olympic divisions, Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood and Tiffanie Hearn will be competing with the rest of boxers in the Americas to gain their classification to the Pan American games.

3.Training camp in Gdansk, Poland, March 29-April 4. USA Boxing will take three athletes in the Olympic divisions 112, 132, 165 pounds. Tyreishia Douglas, Patricia Manuel and Alyssa DeFazio will be traveling one week prior to The Feliks Stamm Tournament that will take place in Warsaw, Poland, April 5-9. According with USA Boxing this is a great opportunity for USA boxers to compete with the European elite athletes. The three boxers will be coach by Bruce Kawano and Clara Savannah. Coach Savannah is considered in the Texas region as a pillar to the boxing youth scene. “She is one of the foremost hand-wrapping experts in the area.” Said Michael Campbel.

II- AIBA Events

1.Women World Youth/Junior Championships, April 28 to May 8 in Antalya, Turkey.

2.1st Pre Pan American Qualifying (Elite Men & Women) March 24 – 30 Venezuela.

3.2nd Pre Pan American Qualifying (Elite Men & Women) April 30 – May 6 TBD

4.3rd Pre Pan American Qualifying (Elite Men & Women) June 8 – 14 TBD

5.Cordova Cardin Tournament (Elite Men & Women) June 1 – 7 Havana, Cuba

6.American Women Confederation Championships (Women) August TBD

7.More AIBA events and confederations events go to Competition Calendar

RUMBO TO THE PANAMERICAN GAMES

Marlen Esparza, 112 lbs
Marlen Esparza, 112 lbs

Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood, and Tiffanie Hearn, USA National Champions 2010 in the Olympic weight divisions: 112, 132, 165 pounds will compete for spots in the first Pan American Games Qualifiers, March 24-30 in Venezuela. The three athletes prior to the competition will make a stop at the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs where they will have a five-day training camp.

Guadalajara, México is the host city for the 2011 Pan American Games in October.

Dr. Christy Halbert, USA and AIBA Women’s Comission said that “US will only name one boxer per Olympic weight category”.

There are three Pan American qualifiers between the months of March and June 2011, but USA Boxing don’t have the funds yet to send other boxers in case it will be needed.

“At this time, there is not definite funding for the sencond and third qualifiers,” said Julie Goldsticker, USA Boxing Director of Media and Public Relations.

Queen Underwood, 132 lbs
Queen Underwood, 132 lbs

Tiffanie Hearn, 165 lbs
Tiffanie Hearn, 165 lbs

 

HOUSTON’S EYES ARE ON BOXER MARLEN ESPARZA AS THEIR PROMISE FOR OLYMPICS 2012

Marlen EsparzaMarlen 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.

Stay tuned!

DRESSED IN GOLD

I remember that Saturday night in September in the Caribbean Isle of Barbados, as if it was today.

It was the first time since I became an US citizen that I really wanted to know the lyrics to the US National Anthem. As I watched the US Flag being hoisted, my eyes were moist with joy.

USA National Champion Andrecia Wasson, standing at the number one podium with the gold medal garnishing her chest, was making all of us, coaches, teammates, team doctors, her mother, and the two American journalists, burst with pride.

Minutes before that memorable moment, Andrecia had the most difficult bout of her young career as an amateur boxer. With the serene heart of a champion she won a very close bout over her English opponent, 2010-second place European champion Savannah Marshall.

Andrecia Wasson at the podium in Barbados. Photo by Adriana González
Andrecia Wasson at the podium in Barbados. Photo by Adriana González

The British champion came in with 17 international bouts, but Wasson had the steel in her gloves to give her country the only gold medal of the AIBA’s 2010 World Boxing Championships.

Wasson, hungry for gold and determined to drop it all in the ring, attentively listened to her coaches’ instructions that put her at the end of the fourth round as the new amateur welterweigh World Champion.

A tied score in the four two-minute rounds, with an opponent much taller and with a longer reach, who always tried to break Wasson’s defense, didn’t frighten the 18 year-old from Michigan. To the contrary, Wasson gave the audience a show of courage and intelligence.

At her young age, and with only two international bouts of experience before this tournament, the sister of four and full time school student, doesn’t believe in making excuses.

“I never give up for anything,” said the newly crowned champion, two minutes after winning her bout at the Garfield Gymnasium in Barbados.

The young athlete humbly said that she couldn’t have won the precious medal without the help of many.

“I feel blessed and want to thank my mom who is always with me, my team and my coaches,” said the round light brown eyed, whose pants hang from her hips and her dreadlocks dance while she walks.

WHAT CESAR DIAZ SAID ABOUT ALYSSA DEFAZIO

During Oct. 1, Empires Collide in Chinatown, NY, is a tournament organized by US Boxing where national silver medalist in three Olympic weight divisions saw the Chinese in-the-ring equals, César Díaz, from Latino Sports, wrote this about Alyssa Defazio’s performance.

“While the Chinese team appeared united, the United States team had plenty of character with fighters of various styles. Two fighters that I enjoyed watching were Alyssa Defazio (Women’s 165 lbs.) and Alex Martin (152 lbs.). Watching Alyssa counter-attack her more skilled opponent, Jinzi Li, to a victory was beautiful to see because both fighters were landing heavy shots and spraying the front row audience with their sweat. The fact both fighters were willing to tear each other mentally and physically apart in the ring is what fight fans wanted to see. In my opinion, this was the fight of the night.”

I will tell Cesar Diaz that it wasn’t a fight, it was a bout, and quoting Dr. Christy Halbert in her book, The Ultimate Fighter, she said: “I’ve often been asked why I participate in the art of fighting. My answer is that boxing is not fighting, boxing is a sport. Boxers do not go into contest angry with each other. Inherent conflict is not present among boxers who compete against each other. Boxers, in fact, usually admire each other because they have respect for each other, since boxing is an activity that involves mutual and voluntary participation.”

However, I agree with Díaz about Defazio’s skills, congratulations Alyssa!

JULATON: THE FEMALE PACQUIAO?

Ana Julaton at the HP Pavillon San José taking a new belt.
Ana Julaton at the HP Pavillon San José taking a new belt.

Throwing her fastest combinations, the American-Philippine Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton became the new WBO Junior featherweight champion of the world last Friday night, at the HP Center in San Jose, CA, with more than 8,000 Californian eyes as witnesses.

Her opponent, the experienced Donna “Nature Girl” Biggers, from North Carolina, couldn’t stop the jabs and left punches that opened her right eyebrow in the second round. She bled for the rest of the ten two-minute rounds. Biggers’ strong will enabled her to stay dancing in the ring and throwing some of her power punches that have given her the 90% knockout wins of her career.

But Julaton’s speed and constant attack unanimously won the fight in the cards of the judges and in the hearts of the public. With this victory, 29 year-old Julaton becomes the first female boxer who retains the WBO 122 pounds world belt and adds it to the IBA Junior Featherweight Tiara, she won last September.

In Julaton’s corner was Carina “La Reina” Moreno, a four-time world champion in the Strawweight division (105 pounds) and their mutual trainer, Rick Noble, known for his dedication to make his boxers the best all around.

Julaton is the first female boxer to attract as much media attention as did Laila Ali, and also the first fighter whose bouts have been profiled as the main events in a card shared by male boxers.

Will Julaton be the first female boxer in history to be profiled in a card with Many Pacquiao?

Don’t be surprised if it happens! She has already received recognition by the Philiphine President and support and advice from Pacquiao’s corner.