Super Sparring Session in SoCal

Sparring Session Brings Dozens to Duarte, California

Despite seven days of rain more than a dozen female boxers descended on the foothill city of Duarte in Southern California.

A mixture of young amateur boxers and veteran professionals answered the call to arms at the Duarte Boxing Club last Saturday. It’s the home of many standout boxers and where former female world champion Rhonda Luna called home.

Female boxers are not as plentiful as the men so it’s much more difficult to arrange sparring. Historically women have rallied together to provide sparring for each other for the last three decades.

In the past, fighters such as Mia St. John, Lissette Medel and others have traveled lengthy distances of more than 100 miles roundtrip to provide or receive sparring. Female boxers are very willing to sacrifice their time and expenses to lace up gloves and trade punches.

Arriving on early Saturday morning were some old faces and new faces arriving from as far as Perris, California and as close as nearby Azusa.

Former amateur stars such as Adelaida Ruiz mixed it up with former world champions such as Kaliesha West. Others like Celine Roman and Faith Franco exchanged combinations with each other and the younger girls saw action too. Each got an opportunity to discover what it takes to succeed inside of the boxing ring.

“It was one of the Duarte Boxing coaches Danny Sanchez who organized getting all the women boxers together that Saturday,” said Franco one of the participants. “I just reached out to Kaliesha West since she’s one of my good friends and she put it on her social media.”

Outside of the small gym it was rather cool but inside it was steamy from the more than 100 people that gathered to watch the female sparring session. Coaches, trainers, parents and fans watched the females in the boxing ring that lasted two hours.

“I think the whole reason for having this all women’s sparring session was to promote women’s boxing, especially motivate the young girls as you saw,” Franco said. “Overall as women, we all have each other’s back in this male dominated sport.”

Several notable pro trainers were in attendance such as Victor Valenzuela and Juan West who trains Kaliesha West. She was among those working hard with several girls.

“It was really cool seeing some familiar faces such as Adelaida Ruiz and also some familiar faces that are back in it such as Celine Roman and Faith Franco,” said West, a former bantamweight and super bantamweight world champion. “I feel as though the Olympian female boxers are inspiring a lot of the girls to compete again. I am grateful to be a part of it all.”

This year seems to be a special one for female boxing.

“It’s nice to see so many female boxers involved in boxing now.” said Adelaida Ruiz. “I absolutely loved the sparring session. Great work for all of us.”