Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament Brings Out Southern California's Best Today through Saturday

This year, it’s all about “Girl Power”

Published : Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | 5:43 AM

Pasadena boxers Suzel Sanchez, 22; Fatima Martinez, 20; Asia Eng, 35 and Luis Marroquin, 18. Photo by Kasper Tobias

Some of the best and the brightest young men and women boxers around will descend on Pasadena’s Victoria Park for the Golden Gloves Southern California District Championships today through Saturday.

Coach Fausto De La Torre has some local rising stars in his ranks and for the first time, the young women boxers outnumber the men.

“I have four prospects that will be representing us in the tournament and it’s actually ‘girl power’ this year,” said De La Torre, boxing coach and trainer and recreation specialist with the City of Pasadena. “I have three girls representing us for the very first time. This is only the second year they allow girls to advance to the nationals. They’re breaking ground.”

Fatima Martinez. Photo by Kasper Tobias

Golden Gloves has produced world champions like Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield and De La Torre’s. This week’s young stars also have their eyes on the prize. Winners of this tournament move on to state championships in April. And now that young women are allowed to compete in the Olympics, the sky’s the limit.

Suzel Sanchez, 22; Fatima Martinez, 20; Asia Eng, 35 and Luis Marroquin, 18, comprise De La Torre’s roster, competing against other women and men in different weight divisions from Southern California. They hope to be among the fortunate 12 who move on to the state championships, which may be possibly be hosted in Pasadena also.

De La Torre put in a bid to host the Golden Gloves tournament in Pasadena and it’s a change of pace for the boxing community, because the state championships are usually up north.

The aspiring champs are in good hands. De La Torre has been boxing since he was six years old and he’s a product of the Villa Park program himself. But never before have women had such a presence in the male-dominated, physical sport. It’s a new attitude in boxing today, with women pugilists coming into their own.

Martinez is a good example of the gutsy gals in the sport today.

“I’ve been boxing since the age of 10,” said Martinez, “It became a passion. At first I did soccer but one day I walked into the gym and I’m here now.

Martinez is a Cal State Los Angeles criminal justice major.

While women are coming into their own, there are still some hurdles. Men — and women too — make comments, but not too many directly to Martinez, who’s 5-foot-3 and 178 pounds. She graduated John Muir High School in 2017.

“I’ve gotten a lot of comments from men,” said Martinez, who has five championship belts to her name. “Sad to hear they think women can’t do the same thing. If a woman can do it, she can do it as good as a man. We do the job way better. I don’t want to sound cocky. Women are capable of a lot of great things and boxing is one of them.”

It’s Martinez’ commitment and daily training that will get the job done, she said.

“I just walked into the gym and asked if Fausto could train me,” she said. “We do head movement, hitting the bag and cardio. It takes being consistent and being dedicated. It’s a lot of time, there’s jump rope, we practice shadow boxing, hit the bag and we run. It takes a lot.”

Marroquin, who at 114 pounds is a featherweight, said boxing helped straighten out his commitment to improving himself.

“I can see myself becoming somebody successful in this sport,” he said. “It all starts with heart. If you’re willing to go through pain and sleepless nights, you have to keep going, you can’t stop. You have to keep a positive mindset. Everyone has their own issues outside of the gym. You’ve just got to keep going.”

Who are the strongest competitors?

“Our kids are,” De La Torre said. “There are actually a few boxers from Freddie Roach’s gym, Wild Card Boxing who are likely to bring some of the better competition.”

The California Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament runs Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 6:00 p.m. to- 10:00 p.m. through Saturday, March 2. For information call the City of Pasadena’s Human Services & Recreation Department at (626) 744-6531.

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